Your Blog with an Eye on the Needed SEO (Right from the Start)

We all know that we need to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) whether we are experts or not (or whether we want to be experts or not!). So, how do we start a new blog, equipped with the needed SEO foundations, without losing our head or losing our enjoyment of creating the blog?

Let’s discuss that!

A blog is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools you have at your disposal, but only if you know how to reach your target audience. Blogging is one of the quickest ways to increase your following and build your brand.

Even though there are millions of blogs online, it’s easy to make yours stand out even in the midst of the competition. In fact, even if you are like me and already have quite a few blogs online, that doesn’t mean that you cannot venture out and create yet another unique and brilliant blog!

We could probably sit down and list all of the fun aspects of the creation of that new blog, especially if it is one for which we feel passion. However, if no one is listening, it can get a bit lonely, eh? That is why it is so important to ensure that we are getting the word out, or more accurately, that we are drawing traffic to our blog, so that we have that audience.

By having that audience, it can help us to grow our passion even more and that will come out in the quality of the content that we produce on our blog. What is one of the most foundational aspects to growing that audience? It is ensuring that our blog is SEO optimized, right out of the starting gate.

Ok, have I really told you something that you don’t already know? After all, that is likely one of the reasons that you visit seochat.com, eh?

Ok, back to our topic… we can always “get the word out” at intermittent, strategic, and/or consistent intervals (preferably), but if we don’t start with a blog that has the basics, when it comes to SEO, we have a lot more work ahead of us. And, who wants to work when we can be producing content with all that brilliant passion, instead?

So, let’s get it started correctly, eh? In other words, it is easier to work “smart” than to work “hard,” right?

Getting Started… First Steps

Getting your blog up and running is much easier than one may think. In less than 30 minutes, you can have your blog up and running. So, without further adieu, let’s have a look and see how we can set up a blog in a few quick steps. Then, we will come back and talk a bit more about that SEO.

Choosing a Platform or Approach

Deciding where you want to create your blog is step one. If you are looking to save money, WordPress.com is an option. By far, it’s the largest blogging platform in the world, with an endless array of plugins and add-ons. You pretty much have an infinite amount of choices when it comes to designing your blog. There is also an option to host a WordPress installation in a self-hosted environment.

To Host or Not to Host (Also, To Register or Not to Register… a Domain)

Before we go any further, you need to decide whether you want to self-host or go with a free alternative. While there are pros and cons of both options, take note that with a free service, you won’t be able to have your own domain name.

If you are just blogging for fun, that’s okay, but for businesses trying to make a name for themselves, it is much better to go with a paid service where you can “own” your domain. (Technically, you are registering a domain name and leasing it, but many times people confuse that with ownership and it is called “owning” a domain, in slang terms.)

Along with SEO, this (“owning of the domain”) can increase website traffic by leaps and bounds. You see, having your own domain establishes your brand and your credibility. It helps to build trust in your business.

Design Your Blog

Designing the blog is where you get to choose your theme. Before jumping in with both feet, think about your business and what type of vibe you want people to get when visiting your blog. While creativity is key, you want to make sure whichever theme you choose goes hand in hand with your product and/or the service you will provide.

Even if the service is “only” the delivery of content (no shame in that!), it is still a service and the delivery of the product of your digital content. So, keep that in mind when deciding what you want your site to look like.

For an excellent in-depth discussion of these topics, visit this article on setting up your blog: “How to Start a Blog.” Then, come back here and we will continue our discussion on getting those SEO foundational blocks in place.

SEO is King

After you have set up your blog and brainstormed some ideas of what you want to blog about, it’s time to hone in on SEO. Remember, we are still putting together the framework for our search engine optimization foundation even as we build our blog (site), so this is just the right time to do it, remember?

Like we said earlier, SEO is what brings visitors to your blog. It is what keeps the conversation going. It is essential to your success as a blogger, as a publisher of digital content.

Due to the fact that every blog post you write actually becomes a web page, you need to make the most of the SEO opportunity. Write about keyword-rich topics that you would search for online if you were a consumer. SEO is far more than a few strategically placed words throughout your blog.

It is a matter of knowing which words to use, and when. It is also a case of knowing why these keywords and keyword phrases work so well (in drawing traffic). Now, use that knowledge!

The Successful Strategy and Use of Keywords

When used properly, keywords (and keyword phrases) should have the following characteristics:

  • They are only used a handful of times in your post. Overkill of keywords will only have your post flagged as spam by Google.
  • They flow naturally throughout the conversation of the blog post.
  • They are a combination of several words or a single word that directly relates to what you are blogging about in that post (or series of posts).

Continuing Your Success

In the world of online marketing, your focus needs to be on developing a relationship with your visitors. Proper and strategic use of SEO can get the traffic to the site, but you also need to ensure that you keep your audience combing back to the blog/site for more brilliant and entertaining digital content.

This is done through your effective relationship-building process and keeping the conversation going. That is why a well-written blog combined with strategically placed keywords, combined with that personality of YOU, will help build your online reputation and over time, increase traffic to your website. It is like a well-oiled circle. Then again, who oils circles?

Branding Your Business in 2016: Quarter 4 Highlights

Branding has increasingly become more mobile-friendly, focusing on stronger online presence, increasingly more visual marketing and straight-on communication. With detail intuition being the closest thing to making an impact in your industry, the question is how to brand your business better and more efficiently?

Discussion points:

1.       Branding Yourself – the Highlights

1.1. Why You Should Create a Brand

2.       Tangible Brand Fundamentals

2.1. Visual Branding – Detail Intuition

2.2. Visual Identity through Design and Graphics

3. Marketing Highlights

1.     Branding Yourself – the Highlights

What is Branding to You?

Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer – that is why you are here. For a business, branding means adding personality to the "needle in the hay", and making it stand out. Simply put: you pick a name for your business and want people to recognize it locally, nationally and/or internationally.

1.1. Why You Should Create a Brand

There are at least 3 major reasons:

a)      You want to become visible and stand out from the rest

b)      You want to share your message with the world

c)       You want to sell: B2B, B2C, B2D* (*business-to-distribution channel), H2H* (human-to-human); because there is either a gap in the industry or competition isn’t delivering enough quality.

d)      Bonus: There is room for everyone. Or you just simply can!

2.       Tangible Branding Fundamentals

First off, a brand is a long-term commitment and like every commitment, it relies on "doability" (the ability to make and build), which does not happen overnight. Tangible elements refer to the actions we take to build a certain brand identity. These include:

  • Brand architecture
  • Brand voice and tone
  • Brand logo and visual vocabulary
  • Brand security

2.1. Visual Branding – Detail Intuition

A few words on each. 

Brand architecture means mission and vision: what you promise to your customers, clients and fans and how will it serve them. 

Brand voice and tone is related to how you translate the brand to your brand consumers and potential consumers and in what way you wish to communicate your mission and vision to them (friendly, formal, business jargon, close communication, or a combination of all). 

Brand logo and visual vocabulary refers to the Typography used (i.e. Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman) in CAPS or Non-CAPS, the Fonts (Regular, Bold, Italic, mixture of two or more), the colors to define the visual identity (primary brand colors and brand accent colors), the Logo that allows the design to "breathe", the road from Mark to Trademark. Let’s not forget how details make the difference and include here the Minimum size display and the Clearness grid.

Notable enough, every brand should have a human face to display near an email signature.

Brand security and protection refers to domain name market registration and management solutions, as well as digital measures to ensure that your brand’s digital assets and identity are safe from harm (i.e. online theft).

Detail intuition combines all the resources and allows you to determine details in future trends. This enables companies to gain a real advantage in the way they position the brand, services and how they address potential customer needs.

2.2. Visual Identity through Design and Graphics

This is the focus part of building an online brand. Visual identity principles are closely related to the way we define the look and feel of a brand.

First off, every brand should have a "most recognizable" mark that represents the company: a typed drawing, a specific figure, an element in a deliberate font and color displayed in a series of renditions (each appropriate for every context). A rendition can contain just a logo or the trademark (when the case), additional words and phrasings such as "powered by", along with a tagline, in different sizes and patterns.

Contrast plays another role in how the visual identity stands out. Dark bold backgrounds can be the "make it or break it" point, and it all depends on the amount of good contrast and clear legibility between background color and the mark. A color-based or black version of a logo should only be used against light or white backgrounds, whereas a white or light color-based logo versions should only be used with dark or color-stroked backgrounds.

The Graphics also play a vital role, think of every social media profile, every picture on your blog, every banner, every infographic or graphic material your team produces – each contributes to how the audience perceives you.

3. Online Marketing Highlights

Online marketing is on the brink of change as well, on a clear and simple premise: people’s trust cannot be won with pushy sales strategies. Inbound marketing is the only way to go, combined with social listening and brand sentiment.

Core principles of inbound marketing include a consumer-oriented approach, where the mission is to live where your audience lives, and attract new potential customers, as opposed to hard selling techniques. The content you create circles the idea of providing real solutions and addressing customer needs, instead of blatant advertising of your services. A brand will win customers over by answering their questions, solve cases, involve and promote the audience, and start a long-term relationship with them.

Trending Ideas to Boost Your Marketing

Here are a few creative ideas to use in your marketing strategy:

  • Create heat maps with local resources to answer your customers’ local needs
  • Compile a resource page based on customer data
  • Optimize your newsletters as a weekly issue where trending information and creative solutions are listed, instead of just your product or service updates
  • Organize regular video/audio webinars for live interaction with your customers
  • If customers use some of the social media platforms as CRM channels, then structure your social media content as an addition to customer support
  • Do short surveys to better understand your audience
  • Keep it simple, keep it personal – this is the human-to-human principle
  • Embrace the new: Instagram stories, the new Facebook pages format, Snapchat videos
  • If possible, meet your customers face to face, take pictures with them, and use this as fresh content
  • Invite your customers to add and create content of their own. This will enhance the voice of your community.

These are our recommendations in terms of taking your branding to a higher level in quarter 4. The year is far from over, and in many industries, autumn means a new business season. So take the lead, and do not lose to competition.

We love suggestions, so should you have any on how to make this article even more useful to our readers and friends, do not keep them to yourself. Sharing is fun!

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New Instagram Curation Tool to Boost Your Instagram Presence

Instagram has been online marketer’s hottest toy lately. And for a good reason: Instagram is growing like crazy! According to the site itself, their userbase grew from 90 million active users to more than 400 million active users in less than two years (2013-2015).

Instagram has the most engaging community: Engagement with brands on Instagram is 54 times higher than on Pinterest, 10 times higher than on Facebook, and 84 times higher than on Twitter.

Truly, Instagram is the marketing goldmine which is why i am so excited when a new Instagram tool comes out to open up new possibilities to market at the visual marketing monster.

Yotpo has come up with the new Instagram curation tool allowing brands to leverage the power of authentic user-generated photos from Instagram.

Enhanced Instagram Searching Capabilities

Yotpo offers some unique Instagram searching options allowing you to search for:

  • One or more hashtags
  • One or more @usernames

Search results contain Instagram updates that satisfy one of your criteria. This way you can curate Instagram effectively combining several search terms within one search results page.

This comes particularly useful when you:

  • Track your brand hashtags in order to collect authentic visual reviews and testimonials (many brands have several branded hashtags these days including the main #brandname hashtag, all your past contests, product names, giveaways, etc.)
  • Make sure you are not missing a single entry to your Instagram contest
  • Monitor several of your competitors

Enhanced Instagram Engagement Capabilities

With the enhanced curation options comes even more impressive engagement possibilities. With Yotpo you can now meaningfully engage with many Instagram updates in bulk thanking users for featuring you and your product, welcoming contest entries and asking for permissions to republish brand-relevant content to your own marketing presences..

You can set your messages using curation settings:

Yotpo curation settings

Now, using the search feature, find the most relevant Instagram updates and post your customized message with one click:

ask permissions

You can also enroll your team into curating Instagram updates for you sending the selected entries into the moderation queue from where you can review and publish the content to your properties.

Publicize Curated Instagram Updates on Your Blog

With you and your team curating Instagram, you’ll want to best publicize the effort. Yotpo offers a customizable widget you can embed on your pages to serve as the social media proof displaying visual testimonials and authentic reviews.

I am pretty sure Yotpo has come up with some really unique Instagram functionality brands will find very useful for lots of Instagram marketing efforts.