It all starts with your online home- your website.
Almost nobody creates a website from scratch because it simply takes too long. You can easily manage your website through what is called a Content Management System (CMS), a software that provides a friendlier way to update content, publish blog posts, create event pages and so on.
The most widespread CMS in the world is WordPress, which empowers 60+ million websites all over the world. Two of the main reasons it earned such a large adoption are the increasing number of available plugins (free and paid), and it’s huge, vibrant community filled with developers, designers and many WordPress advocates who can be great resources when you need help.
A theme is like the dress you will add to your “core engine”. And since we’re talking about WordPress, you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of results for a Google search such as WordPress themes.
So, before you start looking for a theme, clarify in your mind what the goal of your website will be:
Will you sell goods?
Will blogs be an important aspect?
Will you feature content just for some of your users?
Don’t forget that the first impression plays a key role in the success of your online business. So don’t get over-excited by seeing the thousands of free themes and invest some money in having one that perfectly represents your business value.
If you don’t know how to code it yourself, consider outsourcing the customization of your WordPress theme to high-quality experts who can work their magic for you.
Step 3 – Build the 4 pillars of your online business
The “showroom” page is a page not about you, rather about people who support you or have bought a product or service from you. Testimonials, reviews, positive comments, and all that could reinforce the perceived value of your offer.
Step 4 – Turn your website into a selling machine with plugins
Now that you’re able to sell to your website visitors (and accept payments), you should capitalize on your efforts. Everyone knows that publishing great content is a powerful way to attract new visitors to your website and rank better on Google. But that’s just the first step. To build a successful online business you have to create a mailing list.
MailChimp and AWeber are the most used services when talking about email marketing. Since the former is free up until 2000 subscribers, we recommend starting with that.
The most important thing you should create at this stage is a page where your visitors can subscribe to your newsletter. These kind of pages, called landing pages, are crucial to any online business because they’re fully committed to turning traffic into leads.
With so much new content published every second online, just hitting “publish” isn’t enough to get exposure for your online business. That’s where social media marketing steps in to bring your content to a wider audience that it wouldn’t normally reach.
Since you’re at the beginning of your business journey, you’re probably in charge of everything that your online business needs. Taking care of the social media can quickly become a long-hours activity you don’t have enough time to focus on.
Here are two powerful tools that will make your social media activities a breeze.
Buffer helps you schedule social updates and links from your website or blog. This means you can optimize your time while providing social updates about your latest blog post or new product throughout the day.
Spreading your content and updates is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to social media.
Another important part is to monitor relevant conversations about your business in real-time.
To do that, you should consider using a tool such as Hootsuite and its column-based interface.
Thanks to the ability to create separate columns, you’re able to keep track of mentions, replies, saved searches for relevant keywords to your business and also hashtags. To start using Hootsuite, just read this quick start guide.
Step 7 – Create unique visuals that will amaze your visitors
Written text is ok. But an image along with text is more powerful.
Our brain loves visual content, and it processes it way faster. For your message to be better understood and (hopefully) shared around more, include imagery with your blog posts and social updates.
Don’t worry, even if you aren’t a designer and haven’t worked with photo editing tools, you’ll be able to create some pretty cool imagery.
Here are some great image creation tools;
With a huge library of free resources, like fonts, icons, layouts, symbols, photos and a pre-formatted canvas – you’ll love Canva.
Just pick one or more element from their library and you’ll be able to create a unique visual in minutes.
With Placeit you simply upload your image or screenshot on one of the many available mock-ups and download your creation.
Find stock photos and edit them
Finding cool stock photos to use at no cost sounds like mission impossible – but it’s not.
There are a bunch of websites that aggregate the best high-resolution stock photos every day. One of the most interesting ones is Unsplash, from Crew. If you don’t like it, there are many more worth looking at.
Wrapping things up
Creating and growing an online business isn’t easier than creating any other “real life” business.
The key difference is it’s convenient. It’s way more affordable since you won’t need an office for quite some time. Most of the tools you use are free (or cost low monthly fees), and many of them offer trials so you can evaluate whether they’re a good investment or not.
So if you’re good at something and always wanted to create your own business, today is the day to take that first step because everything you’ll need to pave your future entrepreneurial path is in your hands.
No more excuses!
Guest Author: Matteo Duò is Content Strategist at Codeable, the #1 outsourcing service for WordPress providing top-notch WordPress experts to small businesses, agencies, and bloggers. Wanna know know more about WordPress and entrepreneurship? Check out Codeable blog.
Every writer experiences the challenge of making their content go from good to great. Editing your content is important to help you catch any mistakes and improve your writing skills specific to your readers.
By paying special attention to headlines, visuals, proofreading and social media, you will be able to give your blog post an extra boost in audience appeal.
Your headline is the most important aspect to generate traffic for your blog, especially in search.
A quality headline alone can increase the traffic to your article by as much as 500%. Less than a quarter of visitors will actually read past your blog title, which means it has to be shareable and enticing enough for people to want to read your blog.
This automatic headline optimization plugin for WordPress has proven to increase blog traffic by addressing title creation intelligently.
For creator Noah Kagan, who took a few extra steps to implement this strategy into his blogging process, the payoff was an increase in blog traffic of 17.8%.
The plugin allows you to type in as many titles you can think of in WordPress. These titles are then shown to visitors and shared with others. The algorithm will be able to determine the best-performing title, where in-line statistics will then let you know which title to choose.
Reminiscent of writing lines as a child, this tool that was inspired by Upworthy, Kissmetrics, and Hubspot – concentrates on the ‘practice makes perfect’ method for headline writing.
Much like the perfect Tweet, the length of a blog title is one of the most crucial aspects to attracting readers. This tool will help train your stream of thought to create a title at the ideal length on the first try. Other features include checking Twitter length, and if your title reads like email spam.
The difference between a smart editing tool and the more popular grammar checker, is that only one of these types are able to measure and adapt to your way of writing, and who you’re writing for.
Great content involves good grammar, the writer’s style, and an understanding of your reader’s behaviour and interests.
With an abundance of blog writing resources, often writers might not be able to keep true to their own voice.
To help maintain your identity, ProWritingAid is your objective eye to your content. Some features offered are the ability to use statistics to measure readability, find overly wordy sentences, and overused words to suggest edits that will make your content more punchy and interesting.
You will be able to identify errors to improve your overall writing.
Stock photos & gifs
Picking the right images that match your writing is crucial to increasing traffic to your blog.
The appropriate visuals can increase your total pageviews by 94%, helping visitors understand the tone of your writing and visualize your written content.
In addition to naming your images with accurate alt text, having a select variation of tools available with specific uses will increase your time for creating great visuals.
By having imagery that relates to your content and your audience, you will be able to establish a strong connection and elicit emotion out of your reader.
As the ‘best place on the internet to find beautiful free stock photos’, this website delivers high quality and high resolution pictures daily.
They differentiate themselves from the stock photo pack in the curation process and social sharing options. Only a select group of photographers within the network are able to carefully select and publish the content available to you. Users are able to see how many people have viewed, favorited, and downloaded the image, creating a sense of community and highlighting a photo’s popularity.
After accumulating over 12 years of professional photography experience and hundreds of photos, founder Ed Gregory started this site as a personal project releasing photos free to the public.
As the numbers climbed, requests for a more diverse selection of people, locations, and cultures increased. Realizing he could not fill all the demand by himself, he funded a new sponsorship program that provided 12 new photographers with $500 worth of photography equipment. Their only requirement was to contribute 50 photos to the site a month, encouraging personal and creative growth, and work ethic.
After just one year, this site had just under a million page views, and 200,000 downloads in 197 countries.
As a mobile app that combines animated gifs and your photos, this app has become extremely popular, landing on the front page of Reddit without any formal marketing.
Adding a bit of humor into your everyday, this app can be a powerful and customized way to reach your audience. For example, if you are doing a behind-the-scenes blog post, and have a picture of your set with a dancing Carlton in the background, you’ll be adding more enjoyment to an already engaging topic.
Knowing the reading and sharing behavior of how your specific audience prefers to engage with your content is an up-and-coming topic online.
By understanding which of your blogs people liked, and the days that had the highest performance, you will be able to create an effective editorial calendar. The information that AtomicInsights analyzes includes your social media, Google Analytics, and blog history data to help you determine the direction of your blog.
This useful web app helps you ramp up your social media regimen and stops your posts from going to waste.
Like most writers, you have blogs that are not reshared more than a few times within a few weeks of publication. The accumulation of green content will most likely not be seen by the end of the month, because many new articles would have already outranked your blog by that time.
With this app, you are able to categorize your content, schedule and cycle through posts according to the category, while updating your content library.
Described as “Your weekly plan-of-attack to grow on social media”, this email-based subscription system sends you weekly reminders of ideal content you should be posting for your social media schedule.
Topics like upcoming calendar events, popular hashtags, photos, tips and guides for social media will be sent to your inbox to help build your social media presence alongside your blog.
If you work with a marketing team or are looking to increase engagement, Post Planner helps you find the right content to post in conjunction to your blog for a boost in engagement. With access to a library of amazing content like images, articles and status ideas, your audience will appreciate everything you share.
Having methods to guide you through the processes surrounding your blog writing will help to encourage your content’s reach. Give these tools a try and implement what you’ve learned in your blogging strategy.
What tools do you use to take your writing from good to great? Share them with the community!
Guest Author: Initially a self-taught social media enthusiast, turned Social Media Marketer, Amanda Chiu writes posts, shares news, seeks industry knowledge, and engages with online communities daily. Her attempts at clearing her ever-growing reading list continues to be unsuccessful, and she really does believe that sharing is caring.
Google Ad Words has the widest reach. Facebook has the most categories. Twitter is probably the best for mass marketing.
But nothing beats LinkedIn if you want to laser-focus your ad campaigns to audiences in the business community.
In this post I will show you the types of ads you can run and how to advertise your business on LinkedIn in the most effective way.
Downsides to advertising on LinkedIn
Like everything though, there’s a dark side.
Firstly, your ads are only seen by people when they are on LinkedIn. However, this time is increasing according to Forbes research. It reports that more than 50% of LinkedIn users spent more than two hours a week on the site in 2014, a figure that’s up about 10% from the previous year.
Advertising on LinkedIn is also more expensive than other social network. There is a minimum cost per click (CPC) spend of $2 and a daily minimum spend per campaign of $10. For comparison purposes, Facebook and Google Ad Words both have minimum CPC costs as low as $0.01.
Now that particular amount wouldn’t get any clicks, so although the ‘concept’ is valid, the technical comparison is just a tiny bit unfair, but you get my point.
As Meryl Streep says in the movie of the same name, it’s complicated. LinkedIn has comparatively low click through rates – only about 1 in 500 impressions result in a click, compared to 1 in 250 on Facebook and 1 in 100 on Twitter. This is bad.
However, this low click through rate is offset by higher conversion rates… This is good.
In other words not as many people click on your LinkedIn ad, compared to a Facebook or Twitter ad, but those that do are more likely to buy.
Of course you can cheat a little bit by modifying your ad, because new ads score higher CTRs than old ads.
You can also create multiple versions of one advertisement in a campaign, then keep an eye on how each one is tracking and eliminate the duds. This makes it perfect for those of us who are a bit obsessive about return on investment.
Caption: These three ad variations are straight out of LinkedIn’s own best practices ‘How to’ guide. They demonstrate three ad variations in the same campaign.
A final upside – Linkedin sends nearly four times more people to your home page than Twitter and Facebook. What’s not to love about that?
What advertising options are available on LinkedIn?
Don’t ask me why but it can be quite difficult to get detailed information about the choice of LinkedIn ads available. Following is a summary of what’s on offer.
1. Sponsored updates
You can pay to have one of your posts (updates) displayed outside your immediate circle of first connections.
Caption: Example of a LinkedIn sponsored update
2. Sponsored InMail
Pay to put sponsored InMail at the top of your prospect’s inboxes. Sponsored InMail messages have average open and click through rates of 20% respectively, which are well above the industry standard.
Caption: Example of a sponsored inmail
3. Pay-per-click (PPC)
PPC allows you to create multiple variations of the same advertisement. You define your target audience and set your own price. These advertisements are displayed prominently at the top of the LinkedIn page as a text ad, or with a photograph in the right sidebar.
Caption: Example of a PPC ad and display ad on LinkedIn
4. Display Ads
These ads are the same as the PPC ads but differ in placement and size.
The medium rectangle (300×250 pixels) appears on the home, profile, company and group pages.
The wide skyscraper (160×600 pixels) appears on a user’s inbox and message page.
A textlink – line of text – appears on the home, profile, company, group and message pages.
A leaderboard (728 x 90 pixels) landscape image that appears at the bottom of certain feeds, making it the last thing a user sees before leaving the site.
5. Social Ads
Featured company (300×250 pixels) generates awareness and interaction for company pages.
Follow company (160×600 pixels) or (90 characters) or (300×250 pixels) gives companies the ability to target professionals, generate awareness for their company page, and convert them to engaged followers.
Caption: Follow company ad – 160×600 ad
Caption: Follow company ad – 300 x 250
Group ads (300×250 pixels) are targeted, personalised and relevant group-specific ads created to drive membership to custom group communities. (180 characters of text including spaces)
Caption: Group ad
Spotlight ads (160×600 pixels) or (300×250 pixels) comprise of a headline, image, 4 lines of text, 2-line logo title, a call to action and click through URL.
Caption: Example of a spotlight ad on LinkedIn.
6. Job posting
It’s worth noting that LinkedIn advertisements are also shown on LinkedIn partner sites such as New York Times, Business Week and CNBC but these sites are not so widely viewed outside the US.
2. For each campaign (one client profile) you can create 15 variations of the same advertisement to test different headlines, descriptions, images and landing pages.
3. Define your target audience. Your goal should be to define an audience who requires your product and who will convert to a customer once they click through, so go for quality not quantity. As you build your perfect client profile, LinkedIn provides you with a handy counter that displays an estimated number of people who exist with the attributes you’re specifying.
4. Create your ad. If you have the choice to use a photograph, be aware that a woman typically drives the best click through rates. (sigh…). Avoid company logos.
Caption: This Afgan woman is reportedly ‘one of the most iconic photos of all time,’ because of the emotive power of her eyes.
5. Set your budget. You have a choice of a cost per click (CPC) or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM). Choose CPC if you want conversions and CPM if your advertising campaign is about increasing brand recognition. Always use the absolute minimum of $2 per CPC or CPM.
6. Capture leads. Either via your landing page or via emails automatically sent through to you (and LinkedIn will only send it to one email address) when someone asks to contact you about your ad.
7. Measure results and refine your ad. Track impressions versus click-through-rate of each variation via LinkedIn ad analytics. Turn off the least successful variations. Experiment with new variations to create the highest converting combination of copy, images and landing pages. Refine and repeat, so on and so forth.
If your target audience includes businesses or business professionals, LinkedIn is a perfect advertising fit, and getting better.
Forbes reports that 70% of users give the site a 4 or 5 rating (out of 5). This is significant when you consider only 9% of users thought the same way last year.
Guest author: Lauraine McDonald. Former circus performer and adventure junkie. Now social media, marketing and communications veteran committed to discovering and sharing best practices. Connect with her on LinkedIn.or via her social media marketing company in Melbourne – Media Momentum.
The end result of this effort to market the show Parking Wars was a total of 1.5 million users.
The experience was unified because the user didn’t have to leave Facebook to access the game.
In terms of consideration, why are “users” on Facebook to begin with?
Parking Wars was so successful because users could play with friends. There’s nothing quite like social motivation.
2. Make viral tweets
Going viral is the Holy Grail of social motivation. And Twitter is a good place to seek the Grail because it’s so easy for users to retweet what your content.
As with everything in the social media world, there are no absolute predictors of what will go viral. Humans are an unpredictable bunch. But we do a lot of research, and there are tools.
One of these tools was developed by researchers at Cornell University. They developed an algorithm to predict what will be retweeted, and a program to determine which wording is more likely to garner retweets.
Portray your brand without overly promoting: Be clear about who you are
Have a marketing plan: Lead the viewer to a possible point of sale
Have concurrent branding/marketing efforts: Don’t make a video in a vacuum
These rules could apply to any type of content marketing.
There really aren’t scientific formulas for this. Where we’re going there are no roads – just great social media content.
So let’s all sit down and watch a favorite, excellent example again. And again. And again.
Guest Author: Daniel Matthews is a writer, part-time social worker, and musician who loves to explore topics ranging from technology to business culture and psychology. He has written for Social Media Today, Triple Pundit, Smart Data Collective, and YFS Magazine, among others. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0
When it comes to a Google search – a whole lot of factors play a part in where you turn up.
But thanks to the 2011 Panda Updates these factors no longer include low-quality, ‘thin’ website content that is stuffed with keywords. If your website is seen as “high-quality” in Google’s eyes, these Panda updates will reward your website with ranking boosts, and more importantly – traffic boosts.
For example, the image below shows that sites like Ebay were slammed by the Panda update in 2014, which caused them to lose over half of their organic traffic almost overnight. This is due to the website being full of duplicated & thin content, ads, and links to other product pages within the website.
What does this mean for your content marketing strategy?
Content marketing is becoming increasingly popular in the digital marketing space, and as we can see above, Google is rewarding websites that are offering high-quality content. This means that including what Google considers as “best practices” in your content marketing strategy, will ultimately help your website rank in search engines.
Where do you begin?
For this process to begin you will need a website. Thankfully, there are a number of website builders and web hosting sites that make this a relatively pain-free process. To get started, here is a list of the top five website builders and another of the top five web hosting companies. It is important to choose the best supplier for your website’s goals, since each service has its pros and cons.
Now let’s talk about optimizing your website and its content to Google’s standards.
Once you have decided on a web-hosting service, next is keywords. Keywords are the lifeblood of your website’s visibility, as they are what Google uses to understand exactly what your site is talking about.
With this in mind, it is of high importance to analyze your target audience and ensure your website is passing the correct signals to Google. There are a variety of factors that play into choosing the correct keywords to target.
What does your website provide?
Who does your website cater to?
Local? Global? National?
These are all questions that need to be asked during the beginning keyword analysis stages. Once these questions are answered you can use tools to ensure they are the best keywords to target, based on the competitive nature of the keyword(s).
Searched is the term “social media”. At first glance we can see the top ranking websites for this keyword are enormous, high-authority websites, like Wikipedia and The New York Times.
Trying to outrank these websites is essentially impossible. It would be a better idea to target more long-tail keywords such as, “how to design a social media campaign” which is much more attainable to rank in the top 10 for.
Google is constantly changing their algorithms to help better the search engine results, and user experience is something they care about. While designing your website you must ensure your website can be “crawled” by Google. This means you must structure your website in a way that Google and your customers can navigate your website’s content efficiently, and know exactly why they are looking at each specific page.
Another important component about usability and Google’s ranking factors is responsive design.
Since this mobile trend, Google has released an algorithm update, “Mobilegeddon”, which has caused websites that lack a responsive design to seemingly disappear from their rankings. Therefore, responsive design is clearly a must-have in today’s online world.
Tools for the Job
Browsershots – Browsershots allows web designers to see how their webpage will be viewed on any internet browser platform. This will allow you to analyze the responsive design of your website across all browsers and make tweaks where necessary.
Is the content on your website worthwhile in the eyes of Google?
As content marketing is becoming increasingly relevant, it is important for a website to regularly provide quality, informational content. The days of stuffing content with keywords and hoping to increase search engine rankings are over.
Google recognizes these tactics and is actively penalizing websites who do this – don’t do it no matter how tempting it is! Providing worthy information to your audience is a necessary tactic to maximize brand loyalty and is one of the many traffic driving assets of an optimized website.
Once you have created a piece of content for your community it is important to treat the release as a grand opening. However, the ultimate takeaway here is to provide great community engagement and get your content in front of the people who want to see it.
If you are providing high-quality information to your readers this will assist in building a trusted brand around your website, and Google will take notice of this behavior. If Google sees your website as a useful source, then it will want you to be the answer to the community’s questions in the search results.
A win for both SEO and your content marketing strategy.
Tools for the Job
HubSpot SEO – HubSpot SEO will allow you to design content with search engine optimization in mind. This tool will analyze your content, and suggest improvements based on Google’s ranking factors.
Wrapping it up
Overall, it is very important to keep up with Google’s updates and ensure your website is relevant to both your customers and Google. Doing this will help launch your content marketing efforts into the realm of success. Thank you for reading!
Let’s continue the conversation in the comments and/or on twitter: @Trvshlvrd_RR.
How do you incorporate SEO into your content marketing strategy?
Guest Author: Taylor Tomita is a creative writer and musician residing in Boise, Idaho. He loves all aspects of marketing and social media, and spends too much time researching these topics. In his free time you can find him creating music or exploring the town in search of good pizza. Follow him on twitter.