Since 1994, Cool Site of the Day has featured the best of the web — a unique, random site every day!

See Today's Site!

Click Here!

5 Tips for Using Your Blog as a Key Marketing Tool Everyone talks about the power of blogging for promoting conversions, increasing your brand awareness, and raising SEO rankings. However, simply writing and publishing a few blog posts a week won’t be enough to give your business a much-needed advantage. Here are five ways to make your blog work for you:

1. Set Clear Goals

Yes, a basic blog will assist your search rankings in some small way, and can provide some information to consumers who were already planning to do business with you. But if you don’t have a goal in mind, you’ll leave potential on the table.

Decide what your blog can offer. Do you want higher organic search rankings? Do you want higher sales? Do you want to resonate with your audience and develop a greater following?

Your goals will define your content and web presence. After you’ve established your primary goal (and maybe a couple of secondary backup plans), create an action guide, including a schedule of events. You’ll find that this online platform is far more effective with a plan in mind.

2. Create an Effective Blog Structure

Although you want your blog to mesh well with your website, treat it like a separate entity. It’s not a half-hearted addition to your current website; instead, it’s a useful resource that can singlehandedly raise sales and attract loyal customers.

First, consider the design. Is it easy to read? Does it have good navigation? Are the pages optimized for SEO? If you aren’t sure how to improve your blog’s design, consider getting an hourly consultation with a web designer.

Next, pay attention to the voice and style of the articles published. It should be based on your target audience. If the audience is a younger consumer audience, a more upbeat, conversational tone is in order. A B2B audience might require a more professional tone.

Then, have a standard structure for the blogs you post. At the very least, a blog post should be at least 300 words, use eighth-grade level writing (for B2C companies), use short sentences and paragraphs, and be clearly defined in sections. If you’re after higher search rankings, your on-site blog posts should be at least 1,000 words in length.

Finally, establish your publication schedule. According to Hubspot research, companies that published blog posts 16 or more times per month had 3.5 times the traffic of those who posted four times or less in a month. Make a schedule to post at least a couple of times per week for best results.

3. Brush Up on SEO

Know how to get the most from SEO. A regularly updated blog has 434 percent more indexed pages to help your rankings. SEO leads also have a 14.6 percent higher close rate than outbound leads like direct mail or print advertising. If you use your blog to raise your SEO rankings, you’re more likely to get found by actual customers, not just idle visitors.

There are many factors that go into good SEO, but two of the most important are keyword research and link building. Explore the best-performing keywords in your industry, and make them a part of your blog.

Then, work on a backlinking strategy. The best way to get backlinks is publishing links on third-party sites. Establishing publication relationships with third-party sites is difficult, so it’s best to use an SEO company or content creation organization that focuses on backlink building.

4. Write Promotional Blog Posts

Once you’ve defined your goals, set up your blog structure, and learned more about SEO, your blog can promote your products and services. A promotional blog post will explain the benefits of using your specific product or service in your location (if applicable).

For example, look at this blog post from a law office in Milwaukee. First of all, it sticks to a good structure, as it’s designed to rank for certain keywords like “motorcycle accident” “Milwaukee lawyer,” and “personal injury attorney.”

But more than that, it explains the value of hiring a personal injury attorney. The SEO keywords and structure of the post get a consumer on the page; then their explanation of motorcycle accident injuries and a person’s rights create a solid connection between consumer and business.

5. Use Multimedia

It should be common knowledge today that blogs need visuals to perform well, but many small business blogs are only composed of text. Blogs with images get 94 percent more views than those without. What’s more, blog posts featuring videos will attract three times as many inbound links.

An essential part of your blog structure should involve multimedia. In some cases, your videos and infographics will enhance your blog posts, and in others, they’ll replace them entirely. Just make sure multimedia is a key part of your marketing strategy.

Doing so will set you up for greater connections with your customers. Go where your customers are, and be the kind of knowledge resource they need. When you carve your blog in such a fashion, you’ll identify your clientele and use this medium to speak directly to them.

7 Technology Hacks to Improve Content CollaborationContent marketing is an area that demands input from multiple people. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll likely have multiple creators, you’ll have strategists whose goals are to come up with the best direction and ideas, and you’ll have analysts dedicated to measuring results. Your success depends on these people being able to collaborate with each other, freely and efficiently, to exchange ideas, stay up-to-date, and ultimately, produce the best results.

Many software platforms and other technologies offer convenient ways to enable better collaboration—but if you want to get the most out of them, you’ll need to put them to use creatively.

Top Technology Hacks

When selecting and implementing your content collaboration tech, try using these hacks to improve your results:

  1. Diversify your software choices. Many businesses choose to keep their technological assets narrow in scope; they choose a single software partner and seek their products for all their collaboration, communication, and organization needs. There are some advantages to this approach, but you’ll get more for your money if you opt for a multi-vendor approach, with a more diverse set of products and services. This allows you to capitalize on specialty software from multiple sources, maximizing your potential return and giving you more flexible choices for adoption.
  2. Collect feedback from staff. This may seem like an obvious step, but many new content collaborators miss it. Obviously, you’ll want to improve productivity and performance, but bottom-line statistics (such as the number of messages exchanged or the number of tasks completed) can’t tell you much about how useful a product feels, or what shortcomings it might have. For that, you’ll need to interview your staff, and collect as much detailed feedback as possible to inform your future choices.
  3. Institute clear protocols for communication. It may seem silly to set up rules for how to talk and message each other, but most collaboration platforms only come with basic instructions on how the platform can be used; they don’t come with recommended protocols for when to take certain actions, or how messages should be organized. You’ll need to be proactive and outline these expectations proactively; also, don’t worry about getting something wrong. You can always change your protocols later.
  4. Rely on multiple mediums. Even if you find what appears to be the ideal platform for content collaboration, resist the urge to make it your only communication medium. Different mediums offer different advantages, so you’ll always need to have a range of different options on standby. Make sure you have chat apps, message apps, voice, and video options, as well as options within your task management platform(s).
  5. Have clear decision makers in charge of tech use. Rather than making every tech choice a group decision, designate one person the sole decider and representative authority on tech-related issues. This will eliminate the “design by committee” problem, encouraging faster decisions, and will also imbue one person with more expertise on the subject, to make higher-level and more informed choices.
  6. Specify areas of expertise. While you’re at it, try to designate your team’s responsibilities as clearly and specifically as possible. Instead of having three “content developers,” give each content developer on your team a specific area of expertise, and certain parameters for how to interact with the rest of the team. This doesn’t mean you need to establish a strict hierarchy, but you should help eliminate some problems with redundancy and confusion about who’s responsible for what.
  7. Improve efficiency through monitoring and assessments. Finally, keep a close eye on how your team performs while your new tech products are in use, both subjectively and objectively. Keep asking your staff how they feel about their performance, and try to spot communication issues before they become too problematic. Remember, new technology is always rolling out, so if a platform isn’t cutting it, you should probably eliminate it and find something new to replace it. There’s always room for an upgrade.

Is It the Product or the People?

Certain platforms will claim to boost your productivity, or enable specific types of collaboration that weren’t previously possible. Adding them to your repertoire can help you see better results; but ultimately, it’s the people on your team who will determine what gains you can make from this adoption. The type of technologies you use in content collaboration matter, but how your people use them is even more important.

Is Social Media Optimization Replacing SEO? How To Do It RightThanks to Google’s elimination of exact phrase matching and implementation of search personalization, SEO rules have changed. Websites can no longer compete against each other for first page rankings because results are no longer standardized.

However, don’t toss out SEO just yet. Keyword optimization is still important, but Google relies on latent semantic indexing (LSI) more than individual keywords to determine the value of a page.

LSI in a nutshell

Rather than looking only for keywords and phrases, Google’s algorithm identifies whether the content is relevant to a user’s search by looking for phrases related to their search terms. When it comes to being found in the search engines, context, not content, is king.

Although important, SEO is no longer a guaranteed strategy to bring you relevant leads. However, social media optimization is. By understanding it, you can leverage it.

Social media optimization doesn’t increase SERP ranking

SMO is not a technique to boost your website’s ranking in the SERPs. In fact, it’s completely unrelated. Social media optimization is a method of efficiently engaging your target market through social platforms.

The goal of SMO is to make your content easily shareable across social media platforms. It’s important because many websites get more traffic from social media than they do from Google. For example, this chart shows how Comedy Central, Forever 21, Etsy, and other websites receive more traffic from social networks than from Google.

Social media optimization is designed to drive qualified traffic

The user experience of a website determines its value, not its technical structure alone. SMO is a long-term strategy that develops trust and authority through an active social presence. The more value people derive from your content, the more they’ll engage with you and share your content with friends.

As of February 2017, nearly 50% of webpages were viewed from a mobile device. Remember that the goal of SMO is to make your content shareable, so pay close attention to how your content appears to mobile users. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Just because your WordPress theme says it’s “mobile ready” doesn’t mean it looks good on a mobile device. It takes skill to build good mobile layouts. Look for yourself to make sure your site looks professional on a mobile screen. Make sure your pages have appropriate share buttons so mobile visitors can share your page without having to dig through their Facebook newsfeed to rediscover your post.
  • Create a Google My Business listing. Instead of typing out your phone number and hours on social media each time you’re hosting an event or a large sale, link to your Google My Business listing instead. Once on your listing, mobile users can click on your phone number to call, or click on “directions” to get driving directions.

    It’s not a stretch to say having a Google My Business listing contributes to safer driving. Although nobody should be looking up directions while driving, providing directions with a single click does reduce the amount of driver distraction.

    A December 2014 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that “in 2013, 21,132 passenger vehicle occupants were killed and 2,046,000 were injured in traffic collisions on U.S. roadways.” Many of these incidents were due to distracted driving.

Don’t get swindled by impossible ranking promises

Anyone who promises you a first page ranking on Google using any method is suspicious. Due to search personalization for every user, that promise is impossible to fulfill. The results one person sees on the first page will not be exactly what others see, even for the same search phrase.

It’s easy to manipulate results to make it look like this promise has been fulfilled.

When you’re trying to generate traffic, you want to put your site in front of people who haven’t been to your website. That’s what a solid, long-term SMO plan is for.

Google doesn’t use social signals to rank your website

A few years ago, rumor had it that Google was using social signals to rank webpages. The idea was the more your links were shared, the higher they ranked in the SERPs. Some SEO companies added this to their list of services, and people paid thousands of dollars to have their website URLs tweeted and posted across Facebook.

In 2014, Matt Cutts published a video dispelling this myth. According to Cutts, Google doesn’t use social signals because they’re often blocked from crawling social sites. Also, social media content is subject to constant change, which cripples their ability to rank objectively.

Although social signals aren’t used directly to rank your website, Cutts emphasizes the importance of using SMO to be ranked as an authority in your industry. Being seen as an authority is the secret to getting more traffic from social media than search engines.

Kick The Habit Of Being A Yo-Yo Entrepreneur: Keep Your Day JobToo many entrepreneurs yo-yo back and forth between running their business and working a full-time job. They feel pressured to go “all in” because that’s what other entrepreneurs told them to do. However, they end up in survival mode, and their savings account gets drained to pay the bills.

What if quitting your day job to focus on your business is bad advice?

If you’ve given up your day job to pursue your business but find yourself struggling to survive, it’s not a sign of failure. Research is clear: It’s better to keep your day job while starting a new business.

Research proves you should keep your day job

In 2014, two management researchers studied the decisions and outcomes made by over 6,300 entrepreneurs over a 14-year time span. Entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs were 33% more likely to succeed than those who didn’t.

The researchers said that entrepreneurs who keep their day jobs “benefit from the ability to learn about the quality, potential, and feasibility of their business idea” while they build it. In other words, having a regular source of income pays the rent and puts food on the table while you figure out how to run your business.

Starting a business without an existing source of income is like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. If you aren’t ready to jump, don’t jump.

Stop the swing and get stable

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, you need a day job. Don’t wait for your dream job, though. The faster you get into action, the sooner you’ll have a paycheck. There’s no shame in being an entrepreneur with a job. Having a job doesn’t mean you’re a bad entrepreneur; it means you’re responsible and have the guts to do whatever it takes.

Having a day job will give you confidence and peace of mind, knowing your rent, food, and other bills are taken care of. You’ll never build your business if you’re stressed out about paying rent or having your car repossessed.

Get committed to your goals

No matter what strategy you use, only intense commitment to your goal will produce results. You’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. This includes getting up early in the morning to maximize your waking hours, and ditching habits that give you an excuse to quit. Habits like quitting at the first sign of rejection, or quitting when you don’t like having to change the way you work with people.

You have to be more committed to your goals than to your habits to achieve success. To illustrate this point, consider the goal millions of people fail to achieve year after year: weight loss. It’s not complicated and there are systems that work, but old habits destroy progress.

Nutrisystem, the world’s most well-known weight loss system with a track record of success acknowledges the need for personal commitment to reach a goal: “One of the biggest mistakes that people make when dieting is reaching their goal weight and then reverting back to their old habits. Needless to say, this is exactly why so many people gain the weight right back and become yo-yo dieters.”

The system doesn’t get you results automatically – you have to create your results by changing your habits.

The same can be said of entrepreneurship. You have to be more committed to your goals than your habits if you want to be stable. To stop yo-yoing between survival mode and your business, you need a consistent source of income. For most people, that’s a day job.

We’ve all read plenty of “rags to riches” stories of entrepreneurs who made it big by starting with nothing. These stories are inspiring, but not always completely true. You don’t need to ditch your stable income and struggle, just to have a good story to tell.

Beliefs are habits, too

If you’re not sure you should keep your day job, perhaps the first habit you need to break is believing that having a day job is wrong. Keeping your day job ensures your survival and can even help you learn how to run your business.

Being in survival mode is scary. Keep your day job and spend your free time working on your business instead of stressing about money. Don’t concern yourself with the opinions of others. You don’t need to build your business in a fortnight.

You Can’t Survive in These 3 Industries Without an Investment in ContentWe hear about the need for content marketing on a regular basis. You may have even committed some of your marketing budget to producing content that engages your audience.

But depending on the industry you’re in, content marketing may be even more crucial than you realize.

Three Industries Where Content Really is King

You write a blog post here and there. You occasionally team up with other websites and write guest blog posts. Perhaps you’ve even tried your hand at visual content and gotten your creative team to design some infographics and memes.

But when it comes down to brass tacks, do you truly accept that content marketing is one of the keys to long-term success? If you operate in one of the following three industries, it’s nearly impossible to deny the connection between quality content and success in digital marketing.

1. Real Estate

It used to be that homebuyers drove around and sought out for-sale signs in yards. Today, most of the initial stages of shopping for a new home take place online. That’s why so many real-estate agents and brokers invest time and effort into arranging for perfect listing photos.

“But having great photos on a website won’t guarantee a sale or even get prospective homeowners in the door. The key is to use content marketing and social media to nurture your leads,” digital marketing expert Brian Hughes explains.

“Prospective buyers may start searching 12 or 18 months out. They want an agent they can trust. Today, this trust is built just as much through content as it is through referrals and reviews.”

2. Law

What’s the first thing you do when you have a problem? If you’re like most people, you’ve been conditioned to open your Internet browser and type a few words into the Google search bar.

Do you know what all legal clients have in common? They have a problem or an issue. In order to get that problem or issue solved, the first thing they do is run a web search. From a law firm’s perspective, the key to attracting potential clients is to produce quality content that answers questions and addresses relevant pain points.

The significant word in that last sentence is “quality.” Thin content doesn’t do an attorney much good. You need meaty content that offers substantive value to the reader.

Here’s an example of “meaty” content from Marks & Harrison. Notice the length and variety of stylistic elements. These are some of the items that make the content valuable.

3. Finance

This might come as a surprise, but content marketing is an essential in the finance industry, as well. In fact, leading companies in this field excel at content marketing to such an extent that finance has the highest average attention time and second-highest engagement rate across the board.

American Express is one of the top examples in finance. It’s done a tremendous job developing its OPEN Forum, which is a community blog that provides concrete advice for small business owners, one of the company’s key audience segments.

Not only does the OPEN Forum give American Express a chance to feed its core business, but it also builds thought leadership with online readers and enhances trust in the brand.

Recognizing the Need for Content

It’s challenging to be successful in almost any business today without making an investment in content marketing. It’s all but impossible to thrive without content if you’re in one of the three industries cited above.

Not only does content improve your search ranking and online visibility, but it strengthens your relationship with the audience and builds trust between your brand and consumers. So isn’t it time you recognized the need for content, and invested the appropriate amount of resources?