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    Advertising 101: The Wide World of Online Ads [Infographic]

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Online advertising can be a cost-effective way to generate new leads, build your brand online, and boost your business. But what types of online ads are best for your local business?

    In our latest infographic, “Advertising 101: The Wide World of Online Ads,” we explain some of the most commonly used types of online ads –  like text ads, display ads, Facebook ads, and video ads – and how they can help improve your online marketing efforts. 

    What types of online ads are you using to promote your business online?

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    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

    3 Social Media Tips to Drive SEO

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Clicks on organic links make up about 70% of clicks from searchers online. This means that the “shelf space” that organic links take up on a search engine results page is valuable territory. So, how can your business own more of the shelf space for your business keywords online? Claiming, optimizing, and posting content to business profiles on the top social media sites can help your business own more of this important digital space. Here are a few tips on how to optimize your presence on top social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest so that consumers find your business when they search online.

    Optimize “About” Copy & URLs for Search

    When it comes to helping your social media profiles rank well on search engines, the more relevant content you provide about your business, the better. So take advantage of the places in social media where people expect you to talk about yourself, like the “About” section and your URL. Without keyword stuffing, you should update your introduction on Google+, bio on Twitter, and the About sections on Facebook and Pinterest to accurately describe your company. Make the copy in these intros reader-friendly, while using 2-3 business keywords you think people will use when looking for your types of products or services to help it rank in organic search. In addition, provide a link back to your website, which can help create inbound links to your website and boost its SEO. For Google+, you can even link a particular keyword in your introduction back to your website.

    Another key to your search rank are the URLs you choose for your social media sites. Each URL should contain your business name so that these sites will show up when someone conducts a search for your business online. On Twitter, your Twitter handle will be your vanity URL, so try to choose a handle that’s as close to your business name as possible. For Facebook and Pinterest, you can create a unique vanity URL through your profile settings. Google+ is still rolling out its vanity URL function, but soon enough everyone will be able to change their vanity URL. Keep your user names and vanity URLs as consistent as possible to make your social media presence user-friendly, consistent, and scalable.

    Craft Social Media Content for People and Search Engines

    Did you know that your social messages on your Facebook fan page, Twitter profile, and Google+ page could strongly affect how those pages rank in search? When brainstorming and crafting content for your social media sites, remember to factor in some SEO best practices. Here are a few things to remember for boosting your presence in SERPs:

    First, create content that’s entertaining and engaging for social users. Your goal with social media content should be to create emotions that will drive social engagement and shares. The more users interact with your business online, the more authority you create for your business within each social media site. Major search engines look at this authority to determine how your business’ social pages should rank in search engine results. Also, share photos, videos, infographics, and other engaging items on your social profiles, because this can help boost the authority of your profiles. 

    Additionally, including an important, relevant keyword and your geographic location in your social media content can help drive SEO for your social sites. Don’t use the same keywords over and over again in each social media post, because this can make your content much less reader friendly, potentially limiting its reach and authority. So be sure to use a variety of messaging techniques, keywords, and topics. 

    Post Regularly to Your Social Media Profiles

    It’s no secret that search engines like fresh and updated content, so post consistently and frequently to all your social media sites to get them to rank on the search engines. Keeping your social sites updated will not only keep the search engines happy, but also your audience. But make sure not to go overboard! Even though posting frequently is important, you don’t want to over-post and irritate your audience. So, monitor and measure your social posts and their results in order to determine the times that work best for your business on each platform. Experts say that on average, it’s good to post to Facebook 5-10 times per week. One study showed that posting to Facebook more than 7 times per week created a 25% decrease in interaction rates. Post more regularly to Twitter, where people can see content in real-time in the feed and has a shorter lifespan. On Twitter, you can try using hashtags, which provide a 21% increase in engagement when used a maximum of twice in a post. For Google+, it’s recommended to post 2-3 times a day, but make sure the posts are spaced throughout the day.

    All in all, there are many factors that search engines consider when ranking your social media sites organically. With these tips, you’ll be able to boost SEO results for your social sites and increase the chances for consumers to find them when looking for information about your type of business.  

    About the Authors:

    Ashley Stalnaker is an experienced Web Presence Professional at ReachLocal. Her expertise in SEO and social media marketing make her a valuable asset to her clients at ReachLocal.

    Lindsay Paramore is an expert in online marketing and branding for business owners. She also works as a Web Presence Professional for ReachLocal.

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    3 Small Businesses that are Successful on Facebook

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Today, Facebook is still one of the most popular social media sites for small businesses. In fact, one survey showed that 73% of small businesses use Facebook as part of their online marketing strategy. But how many of these small businesses use Facebook to its full potential? Here are three examples of businesses that have seen great success on Facebook, how they did it, and tips you can learn from their success.

    Polly’s Pies: Deliver a Great Product
    4,650 Fans – 336 Check-ins – Joined Facebook in 2009

    A family-owned pie company located in Southern California, Polly’s Pies Restaurant has been in business for 40+ years and currently has 16 different SoCal restaurant locations. Throughout the past four decades, a significant and loyal fan base has emerged on Facebook for Polly’s Pies, due in part both to their impeccable pies, branding efforts, and top-notch customer service.

    For a small business like this with an existing loyal fanbase, Faecbook brought the opportunity to bring that community online. So the company joined Facebook in 2009. They post content on a weekly basis, such as new offers, information about charity events, or new menu items. They also make a point to post on days like National Pie Day, Cookie Day, and Maple Syrup Day, which are a big hit with their fans and see great engagement. Throughout the past three years of actively building and maintaining their Facebook page and fan base, Polly’s Pies now has a total of 4,650 fans and 336 check-ins!

    Key Takeaway: Always keep in mind that your true fans “like” your business on Facebook because they like and support your business already. So leverage your existing fan base, and share content that they will not only like, but share with their friends to grow your fanbase both online and offline. 

    Prolase Laser Clinic: Support a Cause
    1,704 Fans – 612 Check-ins – Joined Facebook in 2009

    A step up from a neighborhood med spa, Prolase Laser Clinic strives to deliver the highest level of service and treatments such as hair removal, acne scars, skin tightening, and more, to their patients.

    On Facebook, Prolase Laser Clinic has formulated a way to both gain new fans and receive online engagement from them by catering specifically to the wants and needs of their clients. From monthly specials to Facebook posts referred to as “Fun Fact Friday”, Prolase has discovered what works for them on Facebook, and as a result, receives likes, comments, and shares on nearly every post. Their posts about their community involvement, from supporting a local veterinarian clinic to raising funds for a children’s hospital, have also boosted their fan engagement. One Facebook campaign that worked really well for the clinic was for Breast Cancer Awareness month. During the month of October, they donated $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every new “Like” on their Facebook page. The campaign generated 107 new fans.  Over the past three years of actively building and maintaining their Facebook page and fan base, Prolase Laser Clinic now has a total of 1,704 fans and 612 check-ins. 

    Key Takeaway: Supporting and promoting causes that relate to your business and that your fans support can help increase your likability and continued fan loyalty. 

    Penn Oaks Golf Club: Share User-Generated Content
    305 Fans – Joined in 2010

    One of the most sought after and highly acclaimed golf courses in Pennsylvania, Penn Oaks is also a prime location for weddings, holiday parties, banquets, special events, and more.

    Since their debut on Facebook in 2010, Penn Oaks has 305 Facebook fans who share their enthusiasm for Penn Oaks on a regular basis through engaging with the content posted each week. Most recently, Penn Oaks has created two different contests specifically for Facebook that require direct participation from fans, while still focusing on the business itself. Fans who have recently tied the knot at Penn Oaks were asked to submit their favorite photo taken at Penn Oaks during their wedding to be entered into a contest to win a gift card. These same newly married couples could also send in a brief bio of themselves with a photo that was featured in a monthly post called “Get to Know Us”. Both of these campaigns not only generated a ton of engagement from fans who were married at Penn Oaks, but more importantly, they provided the club with a plethora of user-generated images they can use to promote their wedding services.   

    Throughout the past two years of actively building and maintaining their Facebook page and fan base, Penn Oaks Golf Club now has a total of 305 fans and 3,145 check-ins. 

    Key Takeaway: Your fans can sometimes be the best source of content for your Facebook page, so acknowledge them and give them opportunities to share their own great experiences with your business on Facebook! This creates positive content not only on your Facebook page, but also on your fans’ Facebook pages when they interact with you. 

    What’s Your Facebook Story?

    Success on Facebook looks different for every small business, but the good news is that no matter what your location, industry, or business type, you can build your own Facebook success story. What Facebook success have you seen from small businesses? Share your thoughts in a comment!

    About the Author

    Jillian Chopin is a Senior Web Presence Professional for ReachCast. Leading a team of WPPs who focus on cosmetic and medical campaigns, Jillian is passionate about her career and about serving as a Web presence expert and “go-to girl” for her clients.

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    5 Resolutions for Your Business Web Presence in 2013

    Last updated 1 year ago

    It’s that time of year! Time to make plans and resolutions for what you want to accomplish in 2013. This holiday season, more and more consumers received digital and mobile devices they’ll use to go online. So, now more than ever, it’s important to focus on your business Web presence in 2013. Here are five resolutions to keep this year: 

    1. Complete Your Google+ Local Page

    Having an optimized Google+ Local Page will be vital to your business’ Web presence in 2013. Your Google+ Local page is an online presence tied to your Google map listing. It features your basic business information, photos and videos, reviews from your customers, and more, so it’s one of the top places consumers may see when they search for your business online. You want to ensure that your page is 100% complete and owner-verified. Owner-verifying your page is the first step in establishing that all the information listed on your page is current and valid. Next, populate your page with keyword-rich business information, content, and photos, to allow consumers to get an insight into your business. In the upcoming year, focus on asking current happy customers to leave you a review on your Google+ Local page so you can leave a lasting impression with consumers who visit your page. Download our free ebook to walk you through the process of claiming and optimizing your Google+ Local page.

    2. Nurture Relationships with Your Fan Base

    Your business’ Facebook fans and Twitter followers are important to your online presence.  Social media engagement such as likes, comments, tweets, retweets, and shares can drive online word of mouth and social discovery from friends of fans, helping build awareness of your business online.  As you and your business transition into the New Year, remember to nurture your existing relationships by showing appreciation to your current fans and followers while making your new fans and followers feel welcomed and recognized. Here are a few quick and easy things you can do:

    • Set aside a few minutes each week to create personal posts mentioning individual customers and thanking them for their business.
    • Post photos of your customers to your social sites (with permission from the subjects, of course!) Be sure to tag individuals in the photos to alert them and entice them to comment, like, and share the posts.
    • Create a special offer for fans and followers in the New Year, because offers are a great way to thank current customers, gain more followers, and promote brand loyalty.

    3. Ask For Reviews – And You Shall Receive

    The New Year is the perfect time for businesses to ask happy customers for reviews! After a holiday season full of sales and service, your interactions with many of your customers may still be fresh in their minds. So, use this time to reach out to customers you are already connected to via email or social media and ask them for a review. You can also create a review flyer that you can hand out to new customers that asks them to review your product or service on sites like Yelp or Google+ Local after a good experience. You could also ask them to write a review in-store that you could post on your blog or website as a testimonial.

    4. Give Your Web Presence a Facelift

    There is no better time than the present to give your brand a full facelift! Adding new photos of your staff, interesting videos, and first-of-year specials is a great way to keep your website and social media pages fresh and relevant in the New Year. You can also take this time to update assets like your business logo, landing pages, or your online ads. Keep in mind you should always keep your brand consistent across all your ads and pages, so make sure that any changes you make are consistent across the Web. Also, if you have recently added any new products or services, locations, or team members, be sure to add them to all your sites, profiles, and listings as well. 

    5. De-clutter Your Web Presence

    Is it time for your online image to lose a little weight? Now is a great time to browse through all of your pages, website included, and de-clutter any old or obsolete information. Check for old services or products that you no longer offer, former employees that no longer work for your business, expired offers or specials, and any copy that is no longer relevant. After you have checked all your pages, be sure to go back to Resolution #4 and add in any new pertinent information to these pages as needed.

    Keep in mind that as your business grows and changes, so must your Web presence. Even though many of these items might fall at bottom of your priority list, remember that your online pages are live and viewable to anybody at any time, so it’s important to keep them in the best shape possible. So, resolve this year to get your business Web presence in the best shape ever!

    About the Author

    Jillian is a Senior Web Presence Professional for ReachCast. Leading a team of WPP’s who focus solely on cosmetic and medical campaigns, Jillian is passionate about her career and about serving as a Web presence expert and “go-to-girl” for her clients as well as colleagues. 

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    Recapping the Top Social Media Mishaps of 2012

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Because of the time-sensitive nature of social media, mishaps are bound to happen, and more than a few incidents occurred over the past year. In 2012, some major brands, like Gap and KitchenAid, saw some major mishaps on their social media pages that resulted in a few dings to their brand as well as their online reputations. Here is a closer look at some of the top social media blunders of 2012 and what we can learn from them.  

    KitchenAid Breaks the “No Politics on Social Media” Rule

    We all know that for businesses, talking about politics online is a social media no-no. But, when an inappropriate political tweet comes from a well-known company like KitchenAid, it can cause quite a stir, whether intentional or not. During the 2012 election, one of Kitchen Aid’s Twitter team members accidentally posted an inflammatory personal tweet from the brand’s account: “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics.” 

    The brand quickly apologized, but not before it was subject to lots of negative criticism online. The lesson: If you’re managing a business’s Twitter account, make sure you keep the personal and professional separate. When using social media management tools that allow you to manage multiple accounts, it’s best either to double check that your posts are syndicated to the proper channels – or simply to use separate accounts or platforms to manage your personal and professional accounts.

    #Aurora is Trending – But Not for the Reason They Thought

    It’s safe to say that some businesses don’t do their research before diving into a social media trend, which can be a big mistake. This year, the UK-based company CelebBoutique started posting to the trending topic of “Aurora” on Twitter, promoting a new product of the same name. What the company failed to realize was that the term was trending because of a terrible shooting incident in a Colorado town. 

    Online, the insensitive message was retweeted hundreds of times, and people called for a boycott of the company, ultimately hurting the company’s brand. The lesson from this mishap? While timeliness is critical, it’s also important to do your research and fully understand a trend or meme before associating your brand with it.

    Skittles & Arizona Tea Post Insensitive Facebook Posts

    When it was reported that the last two items shooting victim Trayvon Martin purchased before his death were Skittles and Arizona Tea, both companies posted questionable and controversial Facebook statuses shortly after this information was released. Arizona Tea asked, “What would it take for you to give away your last AriZona?” And Skittles posted, “What would someone need to do to get your last pack of Skittles?” Many fans were disturbed by these posts, replying, “Ask Trayvon Martin,” and both brands received negative media coverage for their remarks and how they handled the situation.

    The lesson here? Think carefully about whether and how to respond to incidents that involve your brand, especially if your business is not really involved in the incident. Also, consider how your fans will perceive any message before posting it.

    Businesses “Newsjack” Hurricane Sandy

    Also in 2012, major companies used social media to take advantage of all the online conversation around Hurricane Sandy. But, rather than expressing their sympathies for those affected by the storm, they used the disaster as a promotional tool for products or services. This act, known as “newsjacking,” can have a negative impact on both your brand and on your community, far worse than any complaints you might receive. During this weather event that impacted many lives, several major brands were criticized for their comments:

    Gap – Using both Foursquare and Twitter, Gap posted to the #Sandy hashtag a message with a light tone that didn’t reflect the seriousness of the situation while simultaneously promoting shopping on the company’s website.

    Urban Outfitters – This brand also took a humorous tone to the weather event and used Twitter for some shameless promotion of free shipping.

    Sears – Also took advantage of the #HurricaneSandy hashtag to promote its survival gear on Twitter.

    As each of these brands began to receive flack for their messages, they removed their posts and apologized for their blunders. But, even some of the biggest names in business can make glaring mistakes on social media. The lesson from these mishaps? Rather than using a catastrophic event to promote your business, products, or services, offer your sympathy, or better yet, help and support to those in need.

    So, what can your business take away from these social media mishaps of 2012? First, be careful not to use politics or controversial topics on social media when promoting your products and services on those channels. Second, make sure you have an experienced person running your social media accounts to help you avoid running into issues like these. And lastly, use separate management platforms if you have both a personal and a professional account on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

    What were some of the biggest social media mishaps you saw in 2012? What are you doing to make sure your business steers clear of these types of online reputation blunders in 2013? Share your thoughts in a comment!

    About the Author

    Lindsay Paramore is an expert on online marketing and branding for business owners. She works as a Web Presence Professional for ReachLocal.

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