Build Your Online Network

Networking has always been a powerful business strategy. It will never go out of style. However, the ways business owners and managers are networking have changed in the past 20 years. The world has shifted to online reputation management and social media networking. If you are not proactively building a strong online network, you are falling behind.

Sure, nothing compares to a firm handshake in a personal meeting, and a quality phone call will accomplish more than emails and social media posts/tags when it comes to building a long-term business relationship. Still, online is where most business is done these days and it will only continue to go further in that direction as time goes on and technology keeps evolving.

Let’s look at a few online networking strategies you can implement:

1. Social Media

This is number one for a reason. Social media allows you to connect with so many different people (other business owners, vendors, employees, competitors, and customers) easily and immediately. You need to be active on social media to build up your network. The bigger your network and the more influence you have in the social marketplace, the better off your business will be. There’s no doubt about that.

2. Email Outreach

Email is still a useful tool for connecting with existing customers and business partners. You need engaging messages and reasons for people to open up emails. Just think about how many emails you get in an average day. Most of them are junk/spam, so think about how you can get people to first open the email, then read it and take action.

3. SEO

SEO and online networking may not seem to be related, but they certainly go hand-in-hand. Being good at both is good for business because they impact one another. If you have good SEO, that means more people visiting your website and your social media pages. That leads to a bigger/better online network. A bigger online network creates more links and interactions that are in turn good for your SEO.

4. Link Sharing

Speaking of links, we recently posted a whole article about incorporating links into web content. One of the ideas discussed was link sharing. Reach out to your vendors and business associates. Post links to their sites on your page, and ask them to do the same for you. Those inbound links will boost organic traffic and SEO appeal.

5. Customer Reviews

Encourage all your customers to write reviews. Whether the comments show up on your website, your Facebook page, Google, Yelp or any other review sites, they are all good for business. Keep your eyes peeled for negative reviews and make a concerted effort to engage those reviewers for better online reputation management. Make sure you have pages on Yelp, Google/Google Maps, YP.com and any review sites that relate specifically to your particular business (i.e., Angie’s List, RepairPal, HomeAdvisor, TripAdvisor, etc.).

6. Online Advertising

Strategies 1-5 you can technically do for free if you want to devote the time to your social media pages and web content. Online advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook/LinkedIn ads, etc.) will cost you some money, but it is another good way to boost web traffic, get more likes/follows on social media and increase SEO.

These are just some of the basic strategies you can implement to help improve your online reputation through social media and other online networking opportunities. If you want to grow your business and keep moving forward with today’s (and tomorrow’s) incredible technology, online networking is the key.

For more information about online networking or SEO-building web content, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free marketing consultation.

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Links?

Links (or hyperlinks, if you want to get technical) have been around since the dawn on the Internet. Quite simply, they are a way to jump immediately from one page to another. If you don’t understand what a link is or how it works, then you probably aren’t ready for anything else we’re about to discuss.

Seriously, though, links are a powerful enhancement to your web content. They can boost SEO and keep your customers engaged. They can help you build better relationships with vendors and fellow businesses. And, if you are not utilizing links in your content, you are missing out.

There are three types of links we want to focus on in this article. I’ll explain the differences and offer some helpful tips on how to get more out of how you use them.

1.External Links

These are links that take someone to a site that is not yours. Perhaps you are referencing another article in one of your blog posts, or you want to provide resource links to manufacturers, service providers and vendors that you work with. Maybe you have a news feed that pulls from other online sources.

There’s nothing wrong with including external links from time to time. They show that you are providing useful information to your customers. The obvious recommendation is that you always set your external links (and all links for that matter) to open up a new browser window. You do not want someone clicking away from your site and not coming back.

Another good tip is to trade links with those manufacturers, service providers and vendors that we talked about. Set up a resources page on your site that links out to everyone you do business with and other reputable businesses in your community. In exchange, ask them to do the same. Everyone benefits from those inbound links, which is what we’ll talk about next.

2. Inbound Links

Inbound links are hyperlinks from other sites that point to specific pages on your site. They are very valuable when it comes to SEO, so inbound links are good for your business in just about every way. In addition to the exchange links we talked about earlier, social media is another great tool to create your own inbound links. Share your blog posts on all your social media accounts and periodically share links to various informational pages on your site. Make sure links to your home page are there in your bio sections. Of course, review and search sites like Google, Yelp, YP.com, etc. will also give you some inbound links. Pay-per-click and pay-per-impression advertising on search engines and social media will also boost your inbound link count.

3. Internal Links

Internal links are best for keeping a site visitor engaged. Have you ever watched a YouTube video that someone shared on Facebook? And before long, you have watched 10 more “related” videos on the side! That illustrates the power of internal links. By including links to your other pages and other blog posts within your own web content, you have a better chance of keeping the visitor on your site longer and getting across more marketing impressions. You may have even noticed several internal links in this article.

As mentioned earlier, also make sure internal links open up new browser windows/tabs. You always want them to come back to the page(s) they started on.

All types of links are easy to include in your web content and they all offer positive aspects that will help improve SEO, strengthen your overall content strategy and engage customers. You don’t want to overload your content with too many links, but you do want to incorporate them on a regular basis for positive results. To learn more about using links in your content, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Web Content?

Most of the time, I find that small business websites do not have enough content. To be competitive and improve the chances of customers finding you, you need well-crafted content and plenty of it added regularly. That’s why people hire NextGear Marketing for custom web content and blogging.

However, I often get asked by clients if there is such a thing as too much web content? Talk about a loaded question!

Quality vs. Quantity

First, it’s important to understand the purposes behind your web content. There are many reasons why content is king, but two stand out. First, there is SEO. Second, is customer engagement. Both are vital, and both are impacted to varying degrees by quality and quantity.

From an SEO standpoint, search engines value a lot of content. At the same time, the algorithms and techniques they implement get more sophisticated every day. The quality of your content is increasingly important. They value well-written content, unique content and fresh content, along with the SEO tags, page titles, meta descriptions and keywords integrated into the content.

What is Fresh Content?

The idea of fresh content is a good one to focus on. Some web developers will load up a site with a ton of content at the beginning, but then nothing is ever added or changed. The site might be overwhelming with just too much going on. You certainly want to start with an ample amount of quality content relevant to your business, but then build upon it naturally. Regularly add to your site, make strategic edits to existing content or start a blog, which is the perfect way to keep adding dynamic web content that is both engaging and SEO-friendly.

When it comes to your visitors, whether they are prospects or existing customers, you don’t want the quantity of content to feel overwhelming. The site needs to be easy to navigate and the individual pages/posts should be concise. Provide the information needed and work in the SEO stuff without writing a book on every page. Above all else, the content needs to be well-written and provide valuable information/insight that will capture their interest and spark a response.

So, How Much is Too Much?

To sum up, it’s hard to say what is considered “too much” content. Most small businesses will never encounter such a concern. The important thing to remember is that quality comes first, but quantity is still important. Find a balance of both when you start your site and then put your focus on frequency of adding new content on a regular basis. This will give you a more effective content approach.

To learn more about managing your web content or starting a blog campaign, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free web content review and consultation.