5 Self-Branding Tips for Small Business Owners

The Importance of Self-Branding for SMB Owners

Every business owner knows that the odds are stacked against them when starting out; more than 50 percent of startups fail in their first four years.

When businesses do end up failing, the entrepreneur behind them is equally destroyed; that is, unless they were busy building their personal brand as well.

The Importance of Self-Branding

SMB owners must understand that personal branding far exceeds the desire to accumulate more wealth and actually translates into a multitude of benefits that would be difficult to achieve otherwise.

Personal branding can help entrepreneurs become authorities in their field, separate from what their company offers. By becoming a public figure, business owners can develop new and fortuitous relationships and connections, recapture momentum if a business does fail, or even create entirely new businesses much faster.

People like Bill Gates and Tony Hsieh have created powerful personal brands that revolve around their personalities and values rather than their infamous corporate enterprises; this is part of what gives these men staying-power in the public eye.

As an entrepreneur, your best bet at establishing long-term career success is to shape and promote your own personal brand in tandem with your business’s identity.

If you are aching to become an authority in your niche, a thought leader, or otherwise notable individual, here five methods for bringing this dream to life.

Self-Branding Tips

Find Branding Master Mentors

One of the best ways to successfully achieve anything is by looking to those who have already achieved success; absorb their knowledge, learn their secrets, and apply it to your strategy.

One of the biggest misconceptions about mentors, however, is that these need to be people you have face-to-face interactions with and personally know.

While this certainly is ideal, mentors and mentor-mentee relationships come in many shapes and sizes. These people can be personal associates, but they can also be digital influencers, keynote speakers, or authors of books that you have reaped rewards from.

In a Huffington Post interview with Tai Lopez, one of today’s most prolific and sought-out investors, entrepreneurs, and digital business influencers, he candidly proclaims that his fervent book-reading is what allowed him to tap some of the world’s greatest minds and gain mentorship, knowledge, and direction. These valuable tools allowed him to attain his massive success and build a robust personal brand.

The key is finding mentors who have successfully built strong personal brands and who resonate deeply with you; this will allow you to really internalize much of their teachings.

Find Your Social Niche

It’s undeniable that social media is one of the most essential aspects of business and branding today – personal or otherwise.

Most entrepreneurs, however, rush into establishing a website, figuring out logos and branding elements, and making their mark as a thought leader.

Urgency is not your best friend when establishing your brand. Be intention, and focus on things like:

After you have accomplished these objectives, start cranking out valuable content that will help your audience and provide obvious value. If you are a cook, start posting images of dishes on Instagram with the recipe as the description. If you are aiming to be an influencer in the realm of psychology, start catering to your audience with Facebook Live. Want to make how-to carpentry videos? Then YouTube is where you need to be.

After you start building your audience through valuable and pragmatic information, then you can start creating the actual elements of your brand. But finding your voice and your audience is the most powerful first step.

Create a Personal Website

Now it’s time for your digital zip code. Websites are a necessity for anyone who is cultivating their personal brand. Without a website, the internet controls your brand reputation as there is no central source of info when someone Googles your name. Without a definitive destination, bad press might be the first search result; this will surely turn off most would-be visitors.

Don’t rely on social media to be your home; that’s leased real estate. You don’t own your image there, you are only borrowing that space to spread the word. Your website is your domain, literally; don’t do this process without creating a rock solid web presence.

Whenever possible, create a website with a URL that is consistent with your full name (firstandlastname.com) so that when people search for you, it will be the first result.

On your site, be sure to include professional photos of yourself, a bio framing yourself as an industry expert, links to your personal brand’s social channels, and a link back to your company website.

Additionally, if you have any external articles or blogs you’ve written, link to these as well. You should have more content on your site than just some external links, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need to hire a development firm to build some A-1 destination; start by using a service like Wiseintro or Squarespace as they are quick, easy, affordable, and look amazing.

Provide Value through Content

In addition to the content you have been cranking out on social media, you are going to need to provide your website visitors with an abundance of valuable information as well.

This means that you need to implement a blog or vlog section to your site where you can build a portfolio of thought-leadership-type pieces that provides your audience with unique and pragmatic knowledge and tools. Be sure to share these materials across your social properties as well to drive additional traffic and engagement.

Additionally, to help give your audience something more substantial to chew on, implement a piece of specialized content like an eBook, premium checklist, or similar download. These can be given out for free in exchange for an email address. This way you can begin to build an email database of interested prospects for the next phase.

Remember, the ultimate goal of your site is to reinforce your personal brand while providing visitors with unparalleled value through content and other offerings.

Launch Your Product

To ensure that your personal brand does not just become an affiliate portal, develop your own products or services to sell to your audience.

The biggest thing that this will provide to your brand is credibility and credence; not money (though that is a nice perk).

For most personal brands, the best offerings to sell are knowledge. This could be books, speaking events, in-person or online courses, and similar ways of transmitting in-depth information.

As you begin to cultivate and refine your personal brand through content, recognition, and the natural evolutionary process, you will begin to develop new and exciting opportunities that unchain you from relying on the sole success of your company. Through this route, you can become a success in your own right, and find an entirely new career path that can lead to much more profitable and stimulating pursuits.

Self Branding Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Self-Branding Tips for Small Business Owners” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends http://ift.tt/2qIUqI9
via IFTTT

Mobile Minutes: Facebook controversy; CIA hack leaks; Trump’s tech hiring; Ride-hailing leads to gridlock

Today in mobile marketing – Facebook slammed for not removing sexualized child images; WikiLeaks says it has secret CIA hacking tools; Trump’s gift to China tech hiring; The downside of ride-hailing: more New York City gridlock .

from Mobile Marketer Marketing Sectors Feed http://ift.tt/2mEMrJB
via IFTTT

7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing

7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing

One of the requirements for a sustainable content marketing campaign is the aptitude for generating topic ideas. It may sound easy, but at some point, you’ll realize that this can be harder than producing the content itself — whether it’s a blog post, podcast or any form of visual content.

Smart marketers capitalize on tools that randomly generate titles based on keywords. There are also content research tools like BuzzSumo that can help you identify what’s trending in your niche. While these can help you obtain rough ideas on what your next piece will be about, they rarely provide you with usable titles that are worth publishing.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

Take note that you need a strategic approach when generating topic ideas. But before you finalize and start working on any title, be sure to ask yourself the following questions first:

1. Have You Done Anything Similar Before?

Some content marketers are guilty of reusing the same idea for multiple content pieces, especially if they contribute to different publications. If you’re really struggling to come up with something new, then you may revert back to old topic ideas.

Reusing a previous title idea can be advantageous as long as you’re doing it knowingly. Otherwise, you may disappoint subscribers who religiously follow your blog.

The first thing you can do is to explore the topic from a different angle or furnish it with a new set of actionable steps. If possible, you can also present it using a different format to appeal to new audiences. Old data-rich posts, for example, can be repurposed into infographics, which garner three times more engagement on social media.

2. Are There Sufficient Resources Online?

If you answered “no” to the previous question, then you probably lack comprehensive knowledge on the topic you chose. Sure, diligent content producers can relate to anything with extensive research, but it’s very difficult to instill value to new content if there aren’t enough information sources online.

Unless you have firsthand experience on a subject, make sure there are abundant research materials available before you get started. To establish yourself as a credible, authoritative brand, you should only provide 100 percent accurate information that’s validated by studies and other resources. And if you really need to delve into a topic, then be prepared to purchase reports and studies from certified research firms.

Additionally, make sure you only reference the most recent sources available. A simple trick is to filter results through search engines and content research tools by date instead of relevance.

3. Is There Similar Content Elsewhere?

Let’s face it — all content marketers have at least considered copying ideas or “borrowing inspiration” from other content producers. With millions of websites publishing content every second, it’s hard to come up with something that’s truly unique.

Although it’s fine if you don’t have first dibs on a new content idea, you should aim to make your version better in every single way. This is doable if you can update old data, add more information, or incorporate additional visual elements. But if you can’t do any of these, then you should ditch the topic and start anew. This involves getting links from authoritative websites that linked to the original content, making the technique highly beneficial for SEO.

4. Can You Offer Original Views and Add Value?

Take note that content marketing is now much more difficult than ever. If you keep on repeating everything that other publishers already shared, it’ll be impossible to cut through the content noise and make your brand stand out.

In addition to making your content better, assess if you can offer your original views to elevate its value. You can apply the information yourself to gain deeper insights and expound actionable steps. Finally, the content should also align with your brand’s voice — something that fosters familiarity between you and the online audience.

5. Can You Be More Specific?

Another way to be more unique is to dissect a topic into smaller pieces and focus on those individually. For example, if you initially wanted to cover influencer marketing, you can shift your focus on subtopics such as researching potential influencers, writing your outreach email and tracking relationships with brand advocates.

Every topic can be narrowed down with a little creativity and resourcefulness. Apart from finding subtopics, you can also tailor your new content to a different audience type. Play around with demographics such as age groups, employment status, income level, and location. This can unlock new topic possibilities with the same set of ideas.

6. Do You Have the Best Content Type in Mind?

In an interview with Mention, Rand Fishkin of Moz says that content marketers should explore new content types if they want to stay relevant.

“Content marketers are going to have to be more unique with the types of content they create,” says Fishkin. “They’re going to have more niche — serving smaller and smaller interest groups, but doing a better job of serving each of those.”

The good news is, brands don’t need a huge amount of capital to start diversifying their content arsenal. For example, simple visual content like infographics, quote cards and data visualizations can be created with a tool like Canva. It is a drag-and-drop platform that offers templates, icons and other features that can help you create shareable images within minutes.

Most modern smartphones are also capable of recording short video clips for social media. According to Cisco, videos will account for 80 percent of all online traffic by the year 2019. So rather than planning another blog post, consider writing an explainer video script instead.

7. Will It Come with a Catchy Headline?

The final touches of a topic idea involve crafting a captivating headline that’s searchable, audience-oriented, and compelling. After answering all the previous questions, make sure you can wrap everything up in as few words as possible.

According to Kissmetrics, the perfect headline is only six words long because readers tend to focus on the first and last three words. But since this is nearly impossible to pull off consistently, aim for anywhere from eight to twelve words. Ideally, you should use numbers and power words to make the headline more interesting.

Team Session Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends http://ift.tt/2mxq2yz
via IFTTT

To Pixar and Beyond) My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History – Lawrence Levy

The untold and unknown story of how Lawrence Levy worked hand-in-hand with Steve Jobs to reinvent a tiny video graphics studio and grow it into one of…

Continue reading

Small Businesses Should Focus on Ebooks (Infographic)

The Future of Books: Printed Books vs Ebooks Infographic

Do you download your favorite books to read them electronically or do you prefer the feel of traditional paper when reading?

Social media and internet marketing company, NowSourcing, created an infographic titled, “The Future of Books Print vs Digital” for blurb, a self-publishing website for authors. This interesting infographic shares data and other information which provides a unique comparison of the two types of books.

Print or Digital – The Ultimate Comparison

Many people are heavily divided on this issue with each side providing good points. For example, eBook lovers claim that hefty paper books lack the convenience and accessibility of their favorite reading materials. However, print fans argue that eBooks are hard on the eyes, and the feeling of paper simply cannot be replaced.

Is Print Becoming Obsolete?

A few years ago, people were convinced it was the beginning of the end for paper books. Between 2008 and 2010, eBook sales skyrocketed 1,260 percent following the release of improved eReaders. However, in 2015, the pendulum began to swing back with a blockbuster year for print, a 2 percent annual increase in paper book sales, and a 10 percent drop in eBook sales.

Ebooks Can Be Powerful Marketing Tools for Small Business

Although paper books are popular again, there is one issue that remains. If you are a small business owner with books to offer, you’ll be potentially spending a lot more money having them printed and mailed. Depending on how much you charge for each book, you risk spending more than you earn in revenue.

However, by offering eBooks through your website, people can purchase and download them to their electronic devices without the hassle. It’s a win-win for both sides.

The Future Looks Bright for Reading!

Whether you read or sell paper or digital books, the future of reading is looking bright. People will always want to read good content, regardless of the format. The key is to always provide your audience with the valuable information and stories they want to read.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about print vs digital books:

The Future of Books: Printed Books vs Ebooks Infographic

Images via Dashburst

This article, “Small Businesses Should Focus on Ebooks (Infographic)” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends http://ift.tt/2kImiIT
via IFTTT

The Best Ways For eCommerce Businesses To Use Online Advertising

There are many options for spending advertising dollars to promote your ecommerce business. Here are 3 types of online ecommerce advertising to consider.

You’ve finally done it.

You’ve bought your domain. You’ve set up your website. You’ve even created some social media accounts. And you’ve set up your online store.

It’s time to start selling!

But there’s one problem … nobody’s coming to your website. Nobody’s buying your product. As a matter of fact, nobody even knows you exist!

That sucks, right?

But don’t worry. Every eCommerce business owner runs into this problem. Fortunately, there are ways you can attract more web traffic and get your eCommerce business started.

For most eCommerce businesses, online advertising is the best way to get more people to your website. In this post, I’m going to give you some helpful tips to maximize your online advertising efforts. When you use these tips, you will see how much easier it can be to get more traffic to your website and earn more business.

You’re welcome.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is one of the most common online advertising platforms. It’s also one of the most effective. If you’re going to use paid advertising, you should try out Google’s platform.

Here are some of the benefits of using Adwords:

  • It’s highly flexible. You can target many different types of customers
  • It’s a huge source of traffic. Google is the most popular search engine. 67.5 percent of search engine users use Google to find the information they need.
  • You get transparent results. You can easily see how your ad campaign is doing at any time.

Google is one of the most popular online advertising platforms. If you use it the right way, you can get tons of traffic to your website.

Know Who You Want To Target

Yes, I know this sounds obvious, but it’s really not. Many business owners fail to target their ads effectively. Their ads end up targeting people that aren’t interested in what they have to offer.

It’s important to know what your prospects are searching for online. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool that can help you figure this out. And it’s free!

When you’re writing your ads, you need to make sure you’re addressing the actual needs of your prospects. Don’t just tell your prospects what you offer. Tell them what problems you will solve. That’s what they’re looking for.

Make sure you have a clear call to action. Let them know what you want them to do, and why. This is the best way to make sure you get more click-throughs.

Use Negative Keywords

So what are negative keywords? It’s simple. These are keywords that you don’t want your ad to show up for. It keeps you from wasting time and money showing your ad to people who aren’t a good fit for your offer.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re an attorney who specializes in estate planning law. Your ads cater to prospects that need to draft a last will and testament. In this case, you don’t want your ad showing up for people who are looking for a personal injury attorney. So “personal injury” would be a negative keyword for you.

You need to create a list of keywords that you don’t want your ads to show up for. This is how you maximize the effectiveness of your ads. You can make sure your ads aren’t showing to people who wouldn’t be interested in what you’re offering. If you learn how to use negative keywords, you will get more of the right traffic.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook is a great advertising platform if you want to gain more exposure for your business. It’s the most popular social media platform, which means that you have a higher likelihood of reaching your target audience. It’s the best online advertising platform for eCommerce businesses.

Here are some of the benefits to using Facebook ads:

  • You can target your ads more effectively. Facebook allows you to use demographics to target your prospects. You can be pretty precise in the type of person you want to see your ad.
  • There’s a HUGE pool of people to target. Facebook has 1.28 billion users. Over 800 million of these users are active on a daily basis.
  • Using it gives you an edge over your competitors. Many businesses are not taking advantage of the benefits that Facebook offers.

If you use Facebook ads correctly, you can greatly increase the amount of visitors to your website.

Rotate Your Ads

Don’t just use the same ad over and over again, even if it seems to be working. You want to rotate your ads on a regular basis.

Why?

Because you don’t want people to get tired of seeing your ad. If you use the same ad over and over again, people will stop clicking on it. If you get less clicks, your cost per click (CPC) will go up and your campaign will become more expensive.

Don’t make that mistake.

Develop an ad schedule for your campaign. Create a few different types of ads. Use different pictures. Change the ad copy. You need as much variety as possible. Not only will this keep people from becoming tired of your ads, it gives you a chance to see which types of ads work the best.

Use Landing Pages

This may sound counterintuitive, but you don’t want to send your visitors straight to your website when they click on an ad. You want to send them to a landing page first.

Landing pages allow you to make the most of the visitors who click on your ads. With a landing page, you can educate your customers before trying to pitch your product. You can give them more direction on what you want them to do.

If you connect your ad to your home page or a product page, your visitor won’t know what to do once they get to your website. That’s why it’s best for them to see a landing page first.

Your landing page will give your visitor a clear idea of what you want them to do, and why they should do it. If you’re paying for the ad, you might as well make sure that you increase the odds of getting actual customers from it, right?

LinkedIn Ads

Using LinkedIn for advertising is one of the best decisions you can make for your eCommerce business. This is especially true if you have a B2B company.

Here are some of the benefits to using LinkedIn ads:

  • It allows you to target actual professionals in any industry.
  • You get more variety in the type of ads you want to create.
  • LinkedIn ads offer a higher conversion rate.

LinkedIn gives you access to tons of professionals around the world. It’s one of the best ways to reach major decision makers in the companies you target.

Choose The Right Ad Format

LinkedIn offers two different types of ad formats:

  • Sponsored Content.
  • Text and Image Ads

Both of these types have their own pros and cons. You’ll need to figure out which type works best for your business.

Sponsored content is an update that appears on your company LinkedIn page. These posts are targeted to a specific type of audience. They will show on your homepage feed. It’s best for advertising promotions that are happening for a short period of time.

Text and image ads include a headline, description and image. These types of ads are meant to be more long-term. You can target these ads to a specific type of prospect. You can target many different types of professionals in many different types of industries.

Make Them Valuable

Make sure you’re emphasizing the value of what you’re offering. You need to communicate what your prospect will get when they click on your ad.

On LinkedIn, the best way to create an ad is to speak to a specific problem or goal that your prospect might have. You want to show them how you can help. It’s about making their lives easier.

Final Thoughts

Using online advertising isn’t easy. It takes time to master. Creating the right types of ads requires a lot of trial and error. But, if you keep at it, you will earn a lot more traffic and get more customers. When you use the tips given in this article, it will become easier to get more people to buy your product.

Smartphone Shopping Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Best Ways For eCommerce Businesses To Use Online Advertising” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends http://ift.tt/2irsK6P
via IFTTT

9 SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

It’s January, which means you’ve probably read about 200 expert predictions on the future of SEO in 2017 by now. But if you stick with me, I promise this post won’t be like any of the other SEO predictions posts you’ve seen so far. You know …

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

When it comes to making SEO predictions, a lot of experts take the safe route. We all know mobile SEO is going to be increasingly important. Talking about the obvious is always safe.

If you’re anything like me, the SEO predictions for 2017 have let you feeling underwhelmed. No one has been sticking their neck out this year.

Mobile will be big?

UX will matter?

Really?! You don’t say!

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

I think it’s time for a few more bold predictions – nine of them in fact. These SEO predictions will be a bit more out there – maybe you could even call them a little crazy.

Just don’t blame me if/when these predictions become reality. I’m just the prognosticator, basing my predictions on the things I’ve seen lately – and where I believe Google is heading next.

SEO Predictions

1. We’ll Experience the Biggest Rankings Shift in the History of Google …

Major algorithmic changes are always a big deal – from old school classics like Florida and Caffeine to more modern algorithmic updates like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and RankBrain.

So here’s my first SEO prediction for 2017: We’ll see the biggest shift in rankings in the history of Google.

Machine learning and AI was an undeniable force in 2016. And I expect machine learning signals to become a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. In case you’re unfamiliar with RankBrain, here’s a simplified diagram that breaks it down:

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

RankBrain helps Google select and prioritize the signals it uses for ranking. Engagement is one of the very important signals Google looks at for ranking.

It’s been my theory that RankBrain (and/or other machine-learning elements within Google’s core algorithm) are increasingly rewarding pages that have high user engagement. In other words: Google has built its own ultimate unicorn detector to ensure that the pages people are clicking on and engaging with the most are rewarded with better search positions.

2. … But Nobody Will Notice Anything!

Remember how, for a few months before RankBrain was officially announced in that Bloomberg article, everyone in the SEO industry knew a big algorithm update was brewing? Remember all the discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and the top search industry publications?

Yeah, me neither because it absolutely didn’t happen!

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

So here’s my second SEO prediction for 2017: Even though we’re about to see the biggest shift in the history of Google rankings, nobody will notice anything.

RankBrain is more subtle than updates like Panda and Penguin, where up to 90 percent of your organic traffic disappeared instantly overnight. It was easy to see such a ridiculously huge traffic drop, that occurred on a specific date, in your analytics.

But with RankBrain, the rankings shift is happening every day, bit by bit, rather than all at once in one big update. Google is shifting traffic away from your donkeys (pages with average or below average engagement) and toward your unicorns (pages that have 5-10x higher engagement metrics than normal).

Whatever SEO rank-checking tools or weather reports you’re looking at aren’t set up to notice these small and gradual types of changes. They just get lost in the noise.

3. Google Will Unite Featured Snippets and Organic Listings

Why is Google’s featured snippet so often different from its top-ranked organic listing? Basically, Google is currently saying to its users: “Our first listing isn’t really the correct answer, so use this other answer instead.”

Huh? Why isn’t the first listing simply “the answer” instead?

My third SEO prediction for 2017: Google’s featured snippets and organic listing will converge.

Here’s my theory. Snippets were just a sandbox/testing environment where they could try out user engagement signals in search and the rest of the rankings didn’t use them. Now that they’ve bought into this idea, they can consolidate the two concepts.

4. Google Will Kill Organic Positions 6-10

As a result of new user-engagement signals being used in search rankings, fewer and fewer people are clicking on results in lower positions, while clicks on the top positions are trending higher. Check out this surprising click curve WordStream put together:

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

(Note: This data was obtained from the Google Search Console, tracking the same set of keywords in the Internet marketing niche for three separate 30-day periods)

This chart really illustrates the idea of a subtle change, as discussed in my second prediction.

What’s it all mean? That it’s time for my next SEO prediction: Google will eliminate the bottom half of search results in 2017. (Bonus prediction: SEOs will freak out BIG TIME!)

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

As a result of machine learning, I believe Google will decide that it no longer needs to show positions 6-10. The decluttered SERP will be populated with more ads (which will generate higher CTRs than the organic listings they replaced).

Think it can’t happen? Let me remind you of that time waaaay back in early 2016 when Google killed right-side text ads on the desktop. But when you looked at the data, it made sense why Google did it: only 14.6 percent of desktop clicks came from the right ads.

What happened after Google eliminated right-side ads? CTRs increased and traffic remained steady.

I imagine the same will be true when Google eliminates the bottom half of search results. The actual impact for most websites should be minimal because most people aren’t clicking on those organic listings now anyway.

5. We’ll Say Goodbye to Local SEO

Google Shopping (a.k.a. Product Search) used to be great. Then Google changed the game and Google Shopping became a 100 percent pay-to-play system.

The local SEO train has gone on for way too long. These are 100 percent commercial queries and Google’s next big land grab.

There’s no easy way to cushion the blow for my fifth SEO prediction for 2017, so I’ll just say it: local SEO as we’ve known it will die.

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

 

Google plans to make $5 billion from local search. So that means one thing: goodbye local organic packs.

6. Black Hat SEOs Will Create Fake Engagement

Google already has a pretty lengthy list of tactics that are against its Webmaster Guidelines. Well, expect that list to expand in (or after) 2017.

One thing we’ve been talking a lot about so far in this post is the importance of engagement metrics and how this can impact your SEO success. This includes metrics from click-through rates, to dwell time, to task completion rates (a.k.a. conversion rates).

Well, you know how it goes. Anytime somebody sees some success with an SEO tactic, then everyone starts doing it. But a select few who can’t make that tactic work legitimately will figure out a way to fake it.

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

This is exactly how the whole link buying problem got started 10 years ago. People knew links increased rankings, so people went crazy buying links, not worrying about quality, only quantity.

Which brings us to SEO prediction number six: CTR and engagement hacks will become the new black hat SEO.

Look for huge spammer innovation once more SEOs finally start realizing that improving CTR and dwell time also can help improve rankings in today’s machine-learning world. The black hat revolution won’t be televised, but people in the know will know all about it.

7. Google Will Declare War on Tool Providers

Why does Google have a TOS (terms of service) and not enforce it?

Companies like Raven Tools have been bullied to not include rank checking. But Google allows it on some tools but not others?

So, my seventh SEO prediction is that Google will declare war on tool providers that violate their TOS.

Why should Google care more about this now? Probably because rank checkers screw up CTR and bounce calculations.

A few Google people have tweeted about this actually.

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

If Google wanted to be really mean about it, they could devise a kind of penalty where if they found that you were doing excessive rank checking of your domain, they could infer you were violating the TOS.

8. An SEO Company Will Die

Following on the previous prediction, and other factors, here’s my next SEO prediction for 2017: one or more major SEO vendors or service companies will be sold off.

Google sometimes “makes an example” of a small company they believe is behaving badly by publicly punishing them so badly that they close.

9. SEO Will Be More Valuable Than Ever

Though much of this post may seem like doom and gloom, one thing’s for sure: SEO won’t die. (Though it’s an extremely safe bet the entire practice of SEO will be declared dead and/or dying at least a few times this year!)

Despite all of its challenges (and the many more on the horizon), SEO will be an even more valuable marketing channel to the lucky winners in 2017 and beyond.

SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind

My final SEO prediction: Fewer and fewer winners will win bigger and bigger SEO jackpots. 

So find and focus on your unicorns!

What Do You Think?

The over/under for these predictions is 50 percent. What do you pick? Over or under? Which do you think will come true and why?

Images: WordStream

This article, “9 SEO Predictions That Will Blow Your Mind” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends http://ift.tt/2ixoFcq
via IFTTT

5 Marketing Tasks Your Competitors are Successfully Automating

If you're still performing all of your marketing tasks manually, it's time to look into marketing automation for small businesses.

We live in a business world that’s largely ruled by automation. As a result, you’re losing time and money if you’re manually doing something that your competition is streamlining through automation. But are you aware of the various marketing tasks that your competitors are already automating?

What to Know About Automation

Automation is a big word with big consequences. It’s not as simple as identifying a problem, finding an automated solution, and implementing said solution. There are certain areas of your business that are naturally conducive to being streamlined and then there are other areas that need lots of manual input.

It’s also important to recognize that automating a task doesn’t mean you’re completely stepping away and severing all human ties with that task. Automation simply means that you’re able to eliminate some of the time wasted and relocate resources elsewhere.

“Businesses looking to adopt automation must realize that it is far from a one-size-fits-all solution,” IT pro Barclay Ballard says. “There are areas of your businesses that can become more efficient and productive by being automated, but even these are likely to require some human involvement. What’s more, there are likely to be some companies or teams that are completely unsuited to automation.”

The point is that you need to spend time carefully evaluating your needs and understanding what can and cannot be automated within your organization. What you discover may surprise you.

Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

Five Marketing Tasks the Competition is Automating

One area of automation that’s experienced a lot of growth over the last couple of years is marketing automation. There’s a ton of competition in this niche, with many good vendors to choose from. You can either select some sort of all-encompassing automation platform or pick and choose which tasks you want to streamline with individual tools. Either way, here’s a look at some of the tasks your competition is already automating as you read this article.

1. Social Media

Social media is the best place to start since just about every business with a solid online presence is automating their activity in some form or fashion. There are a multitude of tools and you can find applications for automating posting, sharing, engaging followers, syncing accounts, and much more. While there’s still a place for manually monitoring your account, automation can greatly reduce the time and manpower it takes to complete very basic tasks.

2. Blog Promotion

Blog promotion is a huge undertaking that has a considerable impact on your ability to grow your brand and generate leads. With the help of marketing automation tools, you can streamline many of the smaller tasks that take up your time – such as sharing posts, split testing headlines, finding high-quality images, and more. Most marketing automation platforms have a handful of blog promotion features packed inside.

3. Email Marketing

How’s your email marketing going? If you aren’t automating parts of this time-intensive area of your business, chances are, you’re missing out on opportunities to capture more leads and push them through the conversion funnel. Email marketing is naturally conducive to automation and with the right system in place you can segment lists, personalize messaging to the recipient, schedule email blasts, integrate relevant calls-to-action, and much more.

4. A/B Testing

A/B testing is something that a lot of marketers are scared to get involved with because they feel it will overcomplicate things. Well, thanks to automated tools that effortlessly handle spit testing, nothing could be farther from the truth. You can set up A/B tests in the background and you won’t even know they’re running. Then, based on the results from the tests, you can set up a system that automatically changes various landing page elements to satisfy what your audience responds best to.

5. Analytics

If you look at your analytics data and feel like it’s composed in a foreign language, you aren’t alone. But if you aren’t doing anything to deconstruct and understand what the data is telling you, you’re in the minority. Thanks to an influx of new analytics tools in the marketplace, it’s easier than ever to automate the collection and interpretation of data so that you can see exactly what’s happening in clean, visually stimulating reports.

Catch Up With the Times

“To carry out an automation project correctly requires time and investment in both software and people. It is not a quick fix,” Ballard says. “However, the businesses that succeed in automating the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks will reinvigorate their workplace by giving their employees the ability to work faster, more efficiently and more intelligently than previously possible.”

Automation Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Marketing Tasks Your Competitors are Successfully Automating” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends http://ift.tt/2jeZu2Q
via IFTTT