What Makes Content Attract 1000s of Social Shares?

Buzzsumo’s a cool tool that lets you see how many social shares a piece of content gets. Check it out for Search Engine Journal:

Top posts get 4,500 shares…all the way up to 8,200.

Wow!

How do you get a piece of content shared that much? A little bit of luck’s involved. But you can do it with persistence.

Here’s what to do:

  • First, You Must Have the Right Media Outlet
    You won’t get thousands of shares on your own blog. Sites where this happens have massive, loyal audiences they’ve spent years building. And they typically have at least small teams of professional writers creating content.Pulling the same off at your own SMB blog equates to more than a miracle. So, you have to approach these big-name blogs to get the exposure to a large enough audience.
  • Buzzsumo Reveals The Most Shareable Ideas
    You can’t copy someone else’s idea exactly. But when you use Buzzsumo to see what gets the most shares, you have a general idea of what works well at that website.That may inspire an idea of your own which that website’s audience will like. There’s a little bit of luck from there. You have an idea of how well your topic could do. But you never know how many people will actually share it.
  • Your Idea Must be New, Different, and Maybe a Little Surprising
    With a large enough audience, even a standard idea can get a couple thousand shares, or so. But if you want your content to get shared as much as possible, you have to know the topics a media outlet covers…and have a new and different one of your own. Surprise works quite well.You don’t have to be outrageous or controversial (unless you want to try). But if you have a new angle that you know challenges conventional thinking, that can be a great way to get much more attention.
  • Unique Stories
    Within your content, stories work incredibly well to engage. This could be a personal story. Or, it could be a legend or myth. Or, it could be a story you heard from a friend.Stories engage the human mind. Facts get forgotten. So if you have a great story from your life that you tell friends or clients, and you get a great reaction from it, it makes sense to use that story in your content too (as long as you can tie it to your topic).

Is Writing Highly Shareable content Easy?

No way. A 1000-word post could take 10 or more hours to write…even for a skilled writer.

Top writers make every word count. And they fine-tune until they believe they’ve created the most valuable piece possible.

There’s no guarantees on the number of shares and exposure that result. But, you do get valuable results with consistent effort.

What Trends are Driving Digital Marketing?

Seems like just yesterday you only needed a website to market your business. Then you needed SEO. Now you need a responsive site.

You can’t hire just a single SEO consultant anymore. These days, you have to hire a whole team. SEO consultants have a network of contractors. They rarely operate independently. If you go with an agency, they have employees and contractors.

Running a website is no longer a simple, one-person endeavor.

And sorry to do this…but it’s only going to get more complex.

Here’s some of the coming trends that will shape how you operate your company website:

  • It’s Tough to Get Around Paid Advertising
    Paid advertising is now becoming necessary. Today, you can do it through PPC in Google Adwords. Bing/Yahoo have their own network too.Every major social network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest etc…) now has a paid advertising option. Facebook’s grown so powerful that they keep redesigning their algorithm so it shows your posts to fewer followers.

    Unless, of course, you fork over more cash.

    Any of these digital properties act as one of the major gateways to the internet. You can bet that any website with major traffic will continue to find ways to charge you money to advertise on their platform.

  • Security Will Remain a Top Concern
    Ever noticed how some websites start with “http://” while others begin with “https://?”What’s the difference? “https://” stands for “HTTP secure.” With regular HTTP, the former internet standard, third parties can see the traffic and data that passes between your browser and local web server. That information could include your credit card number or social security number.

    To encourage a safer and more secure web, Google now docks your rankings if you don’t use HTTPS, even if your website doesn’t receive sensitive information from visitors. HTTPS means that all information between your browser and server gets encrypted.

World superpowers like Russia and China have government-sponsored teams of hackers (though they’ll never publicly admit to this). And every country has its own share of independent hackers.

Smart hackers know small businesses may be less lucrative, but they’re easier targets.

Recent data shows:

  • 43% of cyber attacks target SMBs
  • Just 14% consider their security “highly effective”
  • 60% go out of business within six months of a successful attack

And It Certainly Doesn’t End There

The reality is there’s much more to digital marketing than this. Artificial intelligence, marketing automation, influencer marketing, the increasing rise of algorithms (to sort email in Gmail’s tabs, among other things), and live streaming video will continue to shape digital marketing too.

The key to all this is having someone you can trust to help you understand and identify what really makes sense for your business.

Top 4 Benefits of FAQ Pages

Your website has a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page, doesn’t it? Many, but not all, websites do.

Why?

Improve Your Search Rankings

Your FAQ page includes some of the most commonly asked questions about your business. Of course, people type many of these questions into Google. So, you immediately get exposure for those questions.

Nice.

They Can Reduce Unnecessary Customer Service Phone Calls and Shorten Call Times

You know how your customers ask the same questions over and over. Some are quite complex and definitely require a phone call to address. You sometimes have to know specific customer information to give an accurate answer.

That’s good use of your customer service time.

However, sometimes you get questions with easy, straightforward answers. Better to use your website’s time and energy, rather than your employee’s, right? You can save on your customer service time and costs with a well-constructed FAQ page.

You Can Repurpose Your FAQ Content

When you use content to market your business, it takes a fair amount of time and money to do. In certain industries, it takes weeks to produce a quality piece.

You can cut down on that time and cost by repurposing your FAQ page. You can offer brief questions and answers in your newsletter. Each FAQ could become a social media post. You can also create in-depth blog posts with extended answers to each question.

Or, you might even turn the whole FAQ into a downloadable PDF your potential customers can take with them so they don’t forget you (few other small and local businesses do this). You could also use it to put behind a form asking for people’s emails.

Increase Your Sales

You get customer objections in person. Not every customer fully trusts you to buy from you immediately. You know how to alleviate their fear of purchasing. So, do the same process with your FAQ page. Turn that question into an opportunity for further engagement…or to close the sale.

Many websites don’t prioritize the creation of a FAQ page. That means it gets forgotten. It’s a huge missed opportunity. And now that you know the benefits of a FAQ page, you can get a quick win your competitors don’t even bother to look for.

2 Elements to A/B Test on Your Website

Scientist uses modern technology for its research

Know what an A/B test is? It’s when you compare two slightly different versions of a single web page against each other.

You’ll make a small change to one page. But you won’t make any changes to the other. The point is that you learn better what your visitors like so more take the action you want on each page.

It can be a painstaking process. You do focus on minutia, testing each element at a time until you find what works best.

What would you test on your local business website? Just about anything. But here’s some of the first, and most major:

  1. Headline

This is the first thing a visitor to any page on your website notices. It bears the most weight on what they do on the rest of your page. So, it makes sense to change what your headline says.

Now, the most important part of headline testing is finding the specific words your market wants to hear. Do they want “HVAC repair services?” Or do they want “HVAC services that make you comfortable?”

Many customers really want “comfort.” So, you’d run a headline including that word, and then see how it does versus one without it.

You see how long visitors stay on the page, how many bounce, and how many call or use your contact form.

Once it’s clear you have a winner, you determine that headline to be the best one that you use from now on.

  1. Call-to-Action

“Just call…” That’s your call-to-action – when you ask your visitors to do something. How you phrase your call-to-action has a large effect on how many people take it.

Many businesses simply phrase it “Call 555.555.5555 for your free estimate.”

That’s better than nothing. But it’s not overly enticing to your visitors.

A couple techniques you can try to boost your number of actions further are:

  1. Highlighting pain avoidance – “To stop sweating and get your HVAC repaired today by a reliable contractor you can trust, call…”
  2. Reminding visitors of the benefits they can get with you – “Want to feel cool and comfortable again? Just call 555.555.5555 today and we’ll have your AC fixed in under 24 hours.”

Typically, the first approach works best. But, you’ll have to try it out to confirm how it works on your website.

You Can Easily Explode Your Conversions

A/B testing done to a website that hasn’t had it before can easily drive your conversions up 50% – 300% or more. The results for each website are totally unique to that website because each website, its design, and the marketing copy are unique.

You can A/B test all you want to drive your conversions up even further. But doing at least a basic round should be done to every website.

You’ll be glad when you do it.

How to Drive In-Store Visits with Online Marketing

She's always one step ahead of the latest fashion trends

Not getting the in-store visits you want?

Remember how Best Buy had this problem years ago?

In mid-2012, Amazon had pounded Best Buy’s stock price down to $11.99. 5 years previous, Best Buy’s share price was $52.71. At the bottom, there was question as to whether Best Buy would have to cease operations. Today, their stock price sits at a healthy $44.43.

It’s no secret that Best Buy was acting as a “show room” for Amazon. But they managed to recover.

What about you – a much smaller business? How do you keep getting in-store sales and beating your on-line competitors?

Here’s some ideas for driving in-store traffic via your internet marketing:

  1. Make Your In-Store Experience Unique, and Highlight Customer Experiences Online

Take photos and videos of your customers shopping in your store. Highlight those experiences across your social media profiles. Share what your customers say about their experiences. Encourage them to share their experiences on their own social media profiles.

There’s certain things that can only happen in-person, and not online.

  1. Make Special Offers or Promote Certain Items for In-Store Customers Only

You can advertise these online across your website and social media profiles. Don’t do it too frequently because you’ll cut into your profit margins and possibly alienate customers who want to buy online only. However, it is one way to get people into your store.

  1. Train Your Employees for Top-Notch Service

When was the last time you went in-person to any store, and had an amazing customer service experience? Doesn’t happen often, does it? Most employees keep to themselves, not even bothering to greet customers. Or if they do, they’ve been trained to hassle the customer about buying something or signing up for a store credit card.

Train your employees to truly focus on customer interests. They should ask customers what they’re looking for, or why they came in that day. The point of the conversation isn’t to win a sale, but to understand what the customer really wants.

Customers rarely feel “served.” They usually feel interrogated, like just another number on the bottom line. Again, highlight the resulting stories and feedback you get on your social media profiles.

  1. Promote the Benefits of In-Store Shopping

When customers shop in your store, they get what they want now. If they need a return, they don’t have to wait. They get answers to their questions fast. They get to actually talk with a real human being.

It’s impossible, and in other cases difficult, to get these same benefits online. However, you have to keep talking about those benefits for them to remain important and beneficial to your customers.

Yes, You Can Beat Amazon

You’ll certainly never beat Amazon in volume. But, you can offer an in-store experience and quality products they can’t match.

That’ll keep you in business in any economy.

How Qualified is Your SEO Traffic?

Blue keyboard button for search engine optimization

Rankings and traffic are often the most important indicators of web search success to small business
owners.

Sense a “but” coming?

Here it is:

But, you have to think about those metrics in the context of your business and your own SEO.

Typically, they’re a good indicator of search marketing success. But, take a look at some of the ins and outs before you sit back and relax, thinking everything’s okay:

  1. What’s the Source of Your Traffic?

No website has 100% perfect traffic from awesome sources. None. Spammers hit every domain on the web to some extent.

Take a look at the source of your traffic in Google Analytics. You will see some sources that come from foreign countries where you’d never possibly do business (like Russia or China).

We’re guessing you don’t want any HVAC customers from that area.

That’s an obvious example.

But, it gets less obvious. Again, if you’re an HVAC company, how valuable are certain keywords and phrases like “fix your air conditioner?”

You have to be a little careful with some of your traffic sources.

  1. What Keywords Do You Rank For?

Just like traffic sources, you have to know what keywords you rank for and consider their context. If you have great rankings for keywords that aren’t really relevant to your industry, those rankings really aren’t valuable at all.

It’s hard to find all the keywords you rank for these days. Google’s concealing that data, making it harder to access so you move over to their profit center they call “Adwords.”

  1. This Is Where Experienced SEO Companies Come In

Technically, your SEO is never done. You can always do another thing or try something else to grow your business online.

The web is so complex. And it changes so fast.

Some SEO companies are better than others at finding the right keywords for your niche. And that’s really where their experience makes a difference for your company.

Other companies can find keywords that will drive you more business. However, they may miss some of the best opportunities.

That’s why you want to go with a company who’s been around in the SEO game for a long time. They’ve navigated the murky waters of SEO. And they know how to choose the highest-converting keywords right away.

It’s some helpful advice that you must keep in mind to ensure your success online.