The Power of Good Practices

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In almost everything in business, there is a generally accepted “right way” to do things. There might be some variation on that way, and many may in fact find great success from creatively developing new ways to do things. But still, there is usually a right way. Unfortunately, there is almost always a wrong way as well. Maybe it looks like it will save time, maybe you think you aren’t going to get caught, or maybe you were just offered bad advice. Either way, as a business person, you will be faced with these choices every day.

I would love to think that everyone would want to do the right thing just because it is right. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. From corrupt corporate executives to bad SEOs, there is no end to the list of people who picked the wrong way. And how does that work out for them? Maybe they got some short-term benefit. Maybe they were rich or very successful. But eventually that ended. Some went to jail, most just continue to struggle in their chosen profession.

The issue at hand today is search engine optimization and the tools we have at our disposal. Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media goes into detail discussing some of the recent changes to the Google algorithm and how this has affected SEOs in this post. I think she summarizes it pretty well when she says,

“You’re investing in SEO to grow your business and your brand over the long-term. That is not done through shortcuts, through buying links, or through acting out because you’re PO’d at Google. It’s done through putting in the work. “

Best practices are not just called that because they are morally correct. They are also the most effective. Maybe not in the short term, but if you are looking for sustained success, then they are the way to go. Despite any complaints about the recent “Panda” update to Google’s algorithm, the bottom line is that Google and all the other search engines will most likely improve over time. There may be ups and downs, but through all the changes you will be better off using legitimate, ‘white hat’ SEO tools. Obviously link farms and scraper sites provide little benefit to actual people. Do you really think they are going to help your site forever?

Bottom line: do the right thing. It’s in your best interest and the best interests of those around you.  Not just this week or this month, but in the long term.

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How Can My Blog Stand Out In A Sea of Identical Content?

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There must be millions of blog posts with generic content such as “How to Leverage Facebook to Help Your Business” or “10 Ways you Use Twitter to Build Your Brand” or other similar topics. They all seem to have identical content and all appear to have been written after reading “8 Steps to Writing a Great Blog Post.” I’m not saying my posts are always revolutionary or my strategies completely original. As an aspiring blogger and social media user, I am faced every day with the challenge of sharing my experiences and insight to others in new and creative ways. My advice here is not a description of the path you must take after having been there myself. It is more my own strategy stemming from the experiences I have had and the things I have learned from others before me.

Keep in mind while reading this that writing great website content is the #1 thing you can do. So don’t just ramble on for 400 words. Truly provide fantastic, quality content that is useful to your readers. The following tips are simply additions to that advice.

Become a leader, not just a follower. There is a lot of great info out there, and a lot of it will help you in your life and in your business. But not most of it.  Learn what you can from others, then collaborate with them and bring your own thoughts and ideas to the table. Don’t spend all day concentrating on the work of others. Think one step ahead of where everyone is at the moment. You can spit out the same thing in different words, but if everyone has heard it before, no one cares. Obviously you can’t just become a leader overnight, but if you have legitimately, consistently great ideas time and time again and you are active in your online community, people will recognize you for that.

Realize that posting a numbered list does not automatically make people read your content. There are a million strategies consisting of very simple things you can do in your blog that some of the great bloggers have done and found to increase their success. Do not use these unless you actually have something good to say. At best, they won’t help you at all. At worst, they will make your blog seem gimmicky and annoying. Focus on the content, ideas, and personality behind the posts rather than the gimmicky formatting and titles.

Get involved in your community of bloggers. When it comes time to sink or swim, the ones that make it out alive are those who have someone holding them up. Comment on a blog post that you think is great. Share further ideas about the topic. Make friends with the bloggers. Write your own blog post involving ideas from other bloggers, and give them credit for it. If what you are posting is worth reading, you will eventually get to the point where others in your community will be talking about it. And that is when you will really start to see success.

Facebook Pages Update Allows for New Primary Administrator

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Until recently, many companies who got into the social media sphere early had a serious problem. I have heard it time and time again… They asked their secretary or an intern to set up all their accounts. The individual would then go to Facebook, log in to their personal account, then set up the new company page. It all seemed good and well at the time.

A year or more passes. Enter my company. The long-dormant page has been collecting dust for some time. Ever since that intern left or the secretary quit.

“We don’t remember the log-information,” they say. Of course you don’t. Why? Because the log-in information for your page is your former employee’s personal Facebook. When they left, they took your company page with them. If you were lucky, you at least got administrator privileges on another account. But that personal account was permanently attached to the page… This led to many problems for a lot of companies.

But as of this week, this problem is a thing of the past. As part of Facebook’s new “upgrades” for pages, you can now delete the original page creator as an administrator, and add new administrators with full privileges. This has certainly made my life a whole lot easier, and hopefully to anyone out there who has faced the same problem, it will make your life easier too.

Despite these improvements, here are a few best practices when creating your company Facebook page:

1. Create the page using a company profile that you will always have control of. Ideally it would be a real person to satisfy Facebook’s EULA, but a fake person with your company name is still better than an intern.

2. Save your login information, and keep it somewhere safe. Anyone within your company that will be using the company page should have access to this.

3. Add another administrator to the page just to be safe.

As always, anything dealing with Facebook could change at any moment, but for now, these simple rules should help you out considerably.

3 Ways Social Media Improves Your Web Presence

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Social Media outlets are more than just additional ways for a company to communicate with the world. They can have a dramatic impact on your overall web presence. I have highlighted three of the main ways you can use Social Media to your advantage.

1. Interaction with peers and customers everywhere they are talking

This tactic is at the heart of any social media strategy, and with good reason. Conversations are happening everywhere… and they are talking about you. Why not join in? Interactions with others in a variety of different online settings increases both the amount of unique content relating to your company online and your overall online reach. Your website should not be the only place for anyone to reach you. With social media they COULD go to your website, or they could visit one of the other dozens of places where you are actively involved with the online community. It might be your blog, Facebook, Twitter, an industry forum, or even a review site. The goal is to encourage as much positive conversation about your brand as possible, and in doing so, become more visible online.

2. Improve Page Rankings

Every time Google sees a mention of your brand and your industry combined with a link back to your website or other social media profiles, it gives a little bonus to your page rank. Your page rank is essentially what Google uses to determine your popularity. And popular pages are what people want to see and what show up on search engine results pages (SERPs). The simple way of thinking of this is that every time any profile or page you own gets mentioned, it is more likely to be visited in the future. The more involved you are in your social media, the more likely you are to be found in the search engines. Even when links have a “nofollow” command attached to them (which makes Google ignore it for popularity and page ranking), anyone who clicks that link and ends up on more of your content is still helping to increase your traffic.

3. More Results in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Everyone wants their site to be the #1 result for their keywords… But what about the other slots? When someone searches for your company name, for example, the results should show your website, your Facebook page, your Linkedin page, your Flickr photostream, your Google Places page, your Blog, and hopefully many more. If done right, your social media profiles can dominate the SERPs for all of your keywords. If your company sells custom lawn ornaments, for example, a search for “custom lawn ornaments” should return your website, some pictures from your Flickr, your facebook page, and even your blog. More well-maintained and active social media accounts lead to more places for people to find you.

The benefits of active involvement in Social Media span many aspects of a brand’s online presence. If used correctly, you will increase traffic and visibility of both your website and your brand dramatically.