The Benefits of Small Business Blogging (our specialty at Prose 4 SEO)

Customers are looking for help and knowledge. Queries beginning with “how to” are among the most popular type of search on YouTube and have enjoyed a growth rate of 70% as recently as 2015. Some of these lessons are better done on video, others opt for the standard written blog. Nevertheless, given the growth of this particular type of search, helping customers and clients with a blog can be greatly beneficial to a business’s social media presence.

One significant benefit of blogs is increased search engine optimization (SEO). Keywords are critical for one’s website to appear on page one of a search when a description of one’s website is entered. Blogs are a great platform for increasing the use of the desired keywords that drive viewers to one’s website instead of a competitor’s. Obviously, the more blogs that are written, the more often the necessary keywords can appear in a website, prompting better search engine results, and by extension, more traffic to one’s website. That benefit will also be increased when you or other share blogs on social media sites. Another advantage is over time, a blog can become a knowledge base. If the knowledge is regarded as reputable and helpful, the site, and by extension the business, reinforces their reputation as an industry expert. Third, customer trust is built and reinforced. By repeatedly reading a blog, a customer relationship is built. If the customer has been helped or entertained by the blog, it’s likely the customer is open to hearing about product or service offerings and ultimately making the purchases that are necessary to sustain a business.

How often one needs to blog depends on a particular business. However, sites with over 200 blog posts tend to see increasing amounts of traffic. Most small business should post at least once a week. Assuming a business can post more often while keeping the content both engaging and high quality, once per business day can also be beneficial. Quality is more important than quantity in this regard, and speaking of quality, it’s best to post to blog on one’s own site and avoid blogging sites such as WordPress. And as mentioned earlier, once the blog is written, it’s critical to post to all relevant social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and (with blogs) Tumblr—to maximize the exposure and benefits of the blog. It’s also recommended that businesses go back and update old blogs. It’s estimated that 70% of blog related traffic comes from posts that are over one month old.

While blogging can be an activity where many do not want to participate, the benefits of online exposure are tremendous. Companies such as prose4seo.com can help a company with blog articles if the business leadership is unwilling or unable to write blog posts themselves. Once a site builds a reputation for offering content that’s high quality and consistent, the SEO, reputational benefits, and ultimately, product and service conversions, are too great to ignore.

How Often Should a Small Business Post to Social Media?

How often a small business posts to social media can sometimes be tricky. Post too little and your customers might forget you exist, post too often and they might feel spammed and remove your business from their social media. Even when a business makes the right amount of posts, it’s also important that the content be interesting and engaging to customers, as the more activity posts see, the more exposure a business receives

Many studies have been conducted on this topic, and posting frequency is greatly dependent on the platform. Twitter doesn’t filter results so tweets have a very short life cycle. Given this reality, the concern is that a business’s tweets don’t get lost in the shuffle. On this platform, it’s very difficult to post too frequently. The only other platform where multiple daily posts receive positive feedback is Pinterest. One survey showed positive results with 5-12 pins per day was ideal and that a business had to add more than 30 pins in a day before any drop off in customer interest was seen.

Facebook on the other hand does filter results based on how often a customer likes, comments or shares post. The first concern is getting seen. Once one’s posts are appearing on news feeds, the life cycle of a post can be hours or in some cases, days. Most studies have shown that more than two posts per day on Facebook can be annoying. Hence, the ideal frequency is going to be once a day. This is confirmed by the fact that posts beyond the first post suffered a noticeable drop off in customer engagement. Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and LinkedIn appear to follow similar patterns to Facebook in terms of posting frequency. The difference with Instagram really appears to be consistency. LinkedIn posting etiquette will also be similar to Facebook, the difference with LinkedIn being that LinkedIn suffers a noticeable drop off in users on the weekends. Google+, the platform arguably most similar to Facebook, is well-served by following Facebook guidelines.

A business benefits greatly with social networking sites that engage the interest of the customer as well as builds and maintains a community that ultimately improves a business in terms of sales and reputation. In terms of how often to post, social media managers must strike a balance between presenting a business as an engaged and respected part of the community without posting frequently enough to cause mass unliking and unfollowing. Businesses who strike this balance well will frequently be on customer’s minds and likely the business they choose when it comes time to buy.

Should Small Businesses Utilize LinkedIn Showcase Pages?

LinkedIn showcase pages are a great fit for many businesses. For example, a company like Toyota can have its company page and has the resources to manage showcase pages for its lines of SUVs, trucks, sedans and many other offerings. While many small businesses can also benefit from showcase pages, many are not going to have the type of product line needed to take advantage. Small businesses need to analyze the benefits and drawbacks of showcase pages and decide if they’re worthwhile.

LinkedIn defines showcase pages as “extensions of your company page designed for spotlighting a brand, business unit, or initiative.” Showcase pages are not without advantages. If a company is trying to reach out to separate segments of its audience, showcase pages are a great solution. Showcase pages are also a great opportunity to improve SEO. It creates a platform where one’s keywords can again be added, increasing exposure of targeted SEO words. LinkedIn allows for up to 10 showcase pages per company page, and the page owner may also create an SEO-friendly name for the webpage link that does not necessarily include the company name. For example, if one were in the widget making business, one could have a URL for their showcase page as https://linkedin.com/company/widgetmaker.

Despite this benefit, utilizing showcase pages can present a challenge. Even if the small business has different segments, separating the segments out is a challenge. The social media manager must figure out whether the content should be on the company or the showcase pages and has worries that followers who only follow the company or showcase page might miss out on some marketing meant to be seen by all followers. Customers may even think they’re following a company page, when in fact, it’s just a showcase page. With a showcase page, companies have to start over in a sense, as showcase pages are compelled to attract followers separate from the company page. The pages could easily increase the social media workload by double, triple or perhaps more without a corresponding improvement in customer experience.

So, when should a small business utilize showcase pages? If a business needs to increase its web exposure and improve their SEO metrics to appear in a higher place on search engines, showcase pages can help with that. Outside of the SEO benefits, the advantages for small business showcase pages are limited. Any small business who chooses to utilize showcase pages should proceed cautiously, working to improve SEO without confusing their customers.

Using Twitter for Small Business

One of the many questions in small business social media is how best to use Twitter. The short message platform and limit of 140 characters make Twitter an appealing platform for posting both links to the web and links to other social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and videos from YouTube. Using Twitter in both its free and paid formats can greatly enhance a business presence on social media.

A common Twitter feature is the mention, meaning an “@” followed by the name on Twitter, and each Twitter site has a unique name, like @Prose4SEO. This allows others to promote a given Twitter page, mention a specific page in a piece of content or string of replies, or send a direct message to a recipient. The other common Twitter feature is the hashtag, which groups Tweets based on a mentioned topic. If one wanted to group messages about #Prose4SEOBlog or any other person or entity would use that. This can also be a great promotional tool to get a message or promotion out immediately, #JoesPizzaHalfOff could easily get the word out about a half price deal. Both the mentions and hashtags allow businesses to find customers (or be found) through a common interest.

Use of Twitter is free, although Twitter also allows businesses to run ads to further that supercharge the free features. Although Twitter has many types of ads, the ones relevant to small business are promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and direct mail. Promoted tweets show up in the newsfeed of those who are not yet following a business but fit into a target profile. A promoted tweet is often a website card which will direct users to a given website. Promoted accounts put a business in a list of suggested tweets for a given target audience. This can lead to more followers than simply showing up in those results organically. One great feature about Twitter ads is they’re fully functional tweets. Organic actions such as likes, retweets, or replies cost the business owner nothing. Assuming one goes with the pay per click (PPC) model, only when the ad is clicked is the business charged. If one wants to engage with the educated Twitter is likely an ad platform of choice. Like with Google and Facebook, ad costs are a bidding process, though each click tends to cost about 25-30 cents each. Additionally, some users will also utilize Hootsuite, AWeber, or other social media management sites to send automated messages for promotions or to reach out to groups of followers. This feature can be helpful in promotions of products, other social media sites, or simply to communicate personally.

A social media presence can be economically and efficiently enhanced by utilizing Twitter. With its over 300 million users, free promotional features, and ease of reaching non-followers with common interest, Twitter provides a substantial benefit. And if a business has an advertising budget, it can be utilized to further enhance these features. While Twitter is not recommended to replace Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms, it can be a great way to communicate quickly and bring in the followers needed to have an impactful social media presence.

 

For more posts on business for social media, go to https://prose4seo.com/blog

How to Improve Online Business Exposure and SEO at No Cost

Search engine optimization (SEO) has increasingly become an important aspect of marketing. Nearly every consumer uses search engines such as Google (or sometimes Yahoo! or Bing) to find information on a business that attracts their interest. This is often not easy, even when the user performs a search using the name of the business. To make sure this is not a problem for their enterprise, business owners must employ SEO techniques to be found on search engines. While employing a budget and a team to improve one’s social media presence is ideal, some of these techniques can be employed with zero budget.

 

When seeking a business of a certain type, users type in a series of keywords in a search engine. On top, users will find ads that are designed to target a series of keywords. Many businesses who have neglected SEO or wish to improve their search results may create an ad (or hire digital marketing specialists) to appear when certain keywords are used. However, the more respected results are the organic (meaning unpaid) results appearing below the ads. Users rarely venture past page one on these results, so being on the first page is critical. This is especially a problem for small businesses. Prospective customers will often type in the name of a restaurant only to get review sites such as Yelp, Google and other results that may mention the restaurant. In these circumstances, the actual restaurant website is nearly impossible to find.

 

Fortunately, many zero-cost strategies can be employed to counter this, the most prominent technique being social media. The good news is people will search sites such as Facebook to find a business, and setting up a Facebook business site is a simple, no-cost prospect. As the most widely-used social media site, no business should ignore Facebook. Twitter also adds value as it’s well-suited for short messages and is the easiest platform to find followers that may not necessarily have a connection to the business. Twitter and Facebook posts can also be linked to one another, and Twitter can be set up to send automated messages to new followers that can advertise a business’s other social media sites among other things. Additionally, building a Google+ page is helpful. Google+ has now combined with Google Maps and Google Search to form Google My Business. That platform can go far in promoting a business on Google, which is by far the most widely used search engine. Finally, a LinkedIn business page, though it won’t need to be frequently promoted or maintained, gives a business a foothold on what is becoming an increasingly important search engine. Posting at least weekly on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (and LinkedIn to some extent) serve to build advertising bases and give owners increased online exposure, which of course helps SEO ratings and search results.

 

Other techniques and sites can help as well depending on the business type. Sites such as Instagram and Snapchat can also have applications for some businesses, though wouldn’t be viewed as necessary for every business. Another common technique is blogging. Blogging allows businesses to write short articles that can be of interest to a customer base. A blog is a great opportunity to get business customer and search engine exposure and are a great way to keep a business on the minds of customers and direct customers to a website or a social media site. Blogs can also be added to RSS feeds and sites such as Tumblr and can serve as a press release, which of course yields advertising and SEO-related benefits. If blog posts cannot be written, it would still be helpful to perform a search on and copy the link to an existing article. Both a blog and the description tag on a blog can be an opportunity to add a business name and desired keywords which will contribute to better SEO results.

 

Business owners increasingly need and can easily employ web-based marketing to help its search engine prominence and advertise at no cost. Facebook, Twitter and Google+/Google My Business. These sites can be easy to set up and can be maintained with a minimal time commitment if the owner so chooses. It’s still recommended that entrepreneurs post at least weekly and venture beyond free techniques to more directly improve SEO. But even with a modest effort, a business can have a substantial online presence and be an enterprise that’s found by and engaged with its customer base.

Utilizing the Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn has risen to become the premier social media site for business in the world. The site currently has 500 million unique users throughout the world as of the time of this article’s publication, 133 million in the United States alone. It’s believed that two new profiles are created every second. With an estimated 106 million visitors a month, LinkedIn’s influence in the business world cannot be ignored, and with a couple of simple techniques that influence can be greatly beneficial to users.

 

Most people reading this likely already have a LinkedIn profile, those that do not need to set one up as soon as possible. If one is still in the business world (or has an interest in being in it), prospective workers and business owners are ignoring a very large potential network by not being on the site. It has become the #1 search tool for recruiters, with over three million active job listings and a general resume for its users. Sites such as Monster and CareerBuilder, which at one time were destination sites for job seekers have now been forced into obsolescence by LinkedIn’s network and powerful search tools. About 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn, and if one applies for a job, or recruiters evaluate a prospective employee, that employee can be assured that their LinkedIn profile will be evaluated in the process. This site will accommodate any profession – students, engineers, doctors, analysis, freelance writers (including separate pages for their business), and even CEOs utilize this site. It’s little wonder Microsoft paid $26.2 billion to acquire this asset.

 

Treating LinkedIn as the newest, best alternative (or perhaps even replacement) to the resume means having a LinkedIn profile that attracts the attention of recruiters. The best way to take the most advantage of LinkedIn is to — take the most advantage of LinkedIn. One does this by filling out a LinkedIn profile as completely as they can. For example, the Headline category below the name allows for 120 characters. Hence, it’s recommended to have one’s headline be as close to 120 characters as possible. Below that, the Summary section allows for 2000 characters, and like with the Headline section it’s beneficial to come as close as possible to the maximum number of characters in that section. Filling out any and every section one can helps a profile to become more prominent. One should only be limited by integrity in this regard. Most people reading this are not going to have a patent, but if one has a patent, it most certainly should be included in the Accomplishments section. In fact, all Accomplishments from high school and college through the current point in one’s career make for great additions to the Accomplishments section. Please include accomplishments as well as descriptions of these accomplishments to the maximum point LinkedIn will allow.

 

One accomplishment that one also needs is LinkedIn connections. Once a profile reaches its 501st connections, LinkedIn will list the number of connections at “500+”. While there are no limits to the number of connections one can have, a profile will be scored higher for reaching this “500+” designation. While one may not want to connect with certain people for personal or professional reasons, connecting with everyone else, friends, connections, connections of connections. If one has 500 connections, and all their connections have 500 connections, that adds up to 250,000 1st or 2nd degree connections (which are connections of connections). If one assumes all 2nd degree connections have 500 connections, the number of 3rd degree connections (connections of 2nd degree connections) amounts to 125,000,000 people in the 3rd degree or closer. With nearly half of all users having over 500 connections, most users have millions of people in their network, and even a modest network of connections can be very helpful.

 

LinkedIn has emerged as the most powerful tool in business social networking and one of the most powerful tools overall. With its dominance in the market place and the large number of users, this is a network that few in the business world can afford to ignore. Due to the network and the ability to describe all of one’s best career attributes, people in the business world have an efficient, reliable tool with which to promote themselves. By taking full advantage of LinkedIn features and connecting with as many people as possible, users will find the time spent on LinkedIn to lead to connections with the people one needs and a more focused, fulfilled career.

 

 

Be sure to check out the Prose 4 SEO blog for future articles on the power of LinkedIn.

Why Every Business Should Have a Facebook Page

Facebook is the most widely-used social media platform in the world. With almost two billion users, it has an audience that’s too large for any business to ignore, yet few understand its value as a business tool. Most business pages are static and rarely updated, and that’s assuming they exist at all. If a business creates and runs an active Facebook Business page, it can create marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) opportunities easily and affordably to reach Facebook’s large group of users.

 

First, if the business page doesn’t exist at all, Facebook makes it easy to set up a business page at no charge and within a few minutes. Assuming the business owner has a personal Facebook page, all a business needs is a short description of the business, two photos (often a logo, professional headshot, or a banner), and a call to action to get started. No link to the personal page will be visible unless the user chooses to add that. The “call to action” can be as simple as prompting users to visit the website, which drives website traffic if nothing else. This also creates an ideal path to the website, as many users will search Facebook instead of using Google or other search engines. Page owners can also post to the business page, similar to how personal users post. For an additional fee, Facebook can also boost posts, which places posts higher in the news feed so more customers can see them. Users can immediately begin posting after the page has been set up, and Facebook Messenger allows the business page to interact with customers. The page will also have a section for insights, so the owner will know how people are engaging the Facebook business page. An owner can also directly list products or services, which will give the owner a quick way to pique customer interest to explore both the Facebook page and the website further.

 

An owner can further inspire customer interest with Facebook Advertising. These ads can promote to customers that haven’t yet liked a business page or on other platforms. If one chooses Facebook Advertising, the platform will take them through a series of steps. First, an advertising goal will be chosen. This can be anything from promoting an e-commerce site to simply increasing brand awareness. Second, the owner can target a specific audience. Location, demographics and behaviors are among the metrics Facebook uses. For example, if an owner wants to target college-educated residents of a particular metro area or region, Facebook can accommodate this request so the business owner doesn’t pay to post ads outside of the target demographic. Users will then choose apps on which to promote, meaning Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network (which is Facebook’s ad network), or any combination of these. Users can also set the budget, and Facebook will work with most any budget to make ad placement affordable and effective. This is done by regulating where and how often an ad appears until the time limit and/or the budget is exhausted. Finally, owners can choose whether to use photos, videos, slideshows, carousel, or canvas ads.

 

Facebook makes setting up a business page simple and gives owners the opportunity to post, communicate, and advertise to a customer base and beyond. This page can offer tremendous benefits to a business owner, allowing owners to advertise directly and indirectly to customers and to drive traffic to business pages outside of Facebook. And the increased content and interaction improve SEO, which is critical to appearing in a higher place on organic search engine searches. With an increased business presence at little (or sometimes zero) cost, a Facebook business page is a tool every business should use.

The Case for a Bare Minimum Web Presence

Small businesses have many reasons for not having a web presence. Some believe it’s not worthwhile since they don’t utilize e-commerce, others believe that they have a customer clientele that’s not online. Concerns about privacy also abound, and many business owners are put off by the high costs of higher-end services such as hiring bloggers or search engine optimization (SEO) that may not be economical for small businesses. The truth is technology has advanced to the point that average users can set up a website affordably with no programming knowledge. Both the low cost and ease of set up make the case for all businesses to have a bare minimum web presence.

 

Professional-looking websites can be very cheap nowadays, even free if one allows advertising on a site (though that’s not recommended if one wants a professional appearance). While having a website built ranges from $300-$1,000 plus maintenance fees for just a simple website, hosting companies such as Jimdo, Wix or WordPress allow users to set up a website free of charge with Jimdo charging only $7.50/month for maintenance. All packages have professional-looking, ready-made templates allowing for simple and quick site creation with little computer knowledge. Additionally, these packages include everything one could want for a simple business website – mobile compatibility, inserts for photo galleries or videos, contact forms, blogs, interactive maps, and many other features, including the technical support needed for creating and maintaining the site.

 

Social media links are also included with these website packages, and these social media pages are also important for a bare minimum web presence. In many cases, customers will look for a social media page before they look for a website. Setting up a business site on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other sites is free and can be maintained with minimal effort. As for which social media sites to utilize, the bare minimum recommended would be having sites on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is recommended because it’s the largest platform, Twitter for its simplicity and reach outside of one’s network, and LinkedIn because it’s the platform of business. While having more likes and follows on a site helps, merely having the site exist is the most important action. The social media sites serve as a low-cost way to periodically remind clients and customers of one’s presence or as an efficient way to relay non-confidential information. Depending on how many social media sites a business chooses to use, many software packages allow users to maintain all sites at once (Facebook and Twitter can also be linked to one another). If one is a minimal user using few sites, a copy and paste of postings to each site will suffice.

 

With low costs and ease of use, the case for a minimal web presence is self-evident. These sites can serve both as a form of advertising and a way to relay information for a small fraction of what traditional advertising costs. For a few dollars per month and a minimal time commitment, businesses can show that not only are they active, they are also engaged and ready to serve.

The Power of, “Hey, I’m Still Here!”

Small business pages often contain a link for a blog. These blogs can contain a host of information about the company and industry in general. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to maintain these blogs over time, creating an impression the business is struggling or possibly is no longer in existence. Sometimes just the power of saying, “hey I’m still here” is a powerful tool for a business.

Indicating you’re still in operation and relevant can have a positive effect on businesses. The most immediate benefit is increased traffic to a website. It serves as a form of advertising. When people look at a business’s website more, that business is the first company customers think about when they need a product or service that that business provides, and of course, this visibility improves one’s reputation as an industry leader. Developing compelling content that draws customer interest in your business emboldens a company’s reputation. When a customer receives helpful tips, it adds to one’s reputation as an industry leader and source for relevant information. When paid services are needed, that company will be first on the minds of everyone who regularly reads the blog.

The ultimate marketing goal for these blogs (next to sales themselves) is improved SEO (search engine optimization). SEO relies heavily on fresh content. When a blog posting is added periodically, a website is perceived as more relevant in comparison with peers. And the more relevant the website, the more likely it is to appear at the top of search results when a prospective customer types the right keywords. The ideal is to have one’s business come up first (or at least on the first page) when a customer conducts a search for like businesses. Alternatively, a business can utilize a service such as Google Adwords and have a business appear in page one and pay a cost of x every time a prospective customer clicks on the link. That kind of service has its place (especially when starting out), however appearing in organic (meaning non-paid) searches is more difficult and hence, leads to an impression of credibility.

The simple act of saying “hey, I’m still here” is the cornerstone of a strong online reputation. By making periodic blog postings, customers know the site is being well-maintained, and the web crawlers critical in determining the SEO placement of a business know the site is viewed and the content is growing. Hence, blogs play an important role in customer engagement, and ultimately, sales and profits.

Why Prose 4 SEO?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

An up-to-date website is critical to all businesses. Having a customer see that there’s been no blog or social media posts in weeks or months can create questions as to whether an entity is still in business, and that doesn’t even take into consideration how search engine queries are affected. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to a business in appearing relevant, even as some businesses have a limited budget they can devote to such a practice. Prose 4 SEO was created for the purposes of affordable providing up-to-date content for these websites, as well as improving search engine results.

Prose 4 SEO (found at prose4seo.com) was started because so many websites appear to be out of date, even as business may be thriving. In an age where companies are spending thousands of dollars per month simply to appear on Page 1 of the Google search results for a certain set of keywords, keeping a website up to date is a constant struggle. Not only does a company need to appear current to its customers, it also needs to be specifically tailored to appear current and relevant to search crawlers from Google, Yahoo!/Bing, and on occasion other lesser-known search engines. In addition to optimizing the site itself for SEO, frequent, up-to-date content and a long-term track record thereof is the best way to stay SEO current as well as sending a subtle message to customers that they’re both engaged and relevant.

At Prose 4 SEO, not only can we provide blog postings and articles to make your website more engaging to your customers and to Google search engines, we can also help you find keywords you want to target and (if it has not been done already) help you optimize your website in a way that will maximize your potential for SEO referencing. Any company can pay a search engines to advertise their company at the top of search results, however a company appears most credible when it tops organic (meaning non-paid) search results. We also know that businesses (especially small ones) are not able to spend several thousand per month in a constant struggle to top organic search engine results. In all honesty, having a website top the results in today’s competitive environment is a constant, long-term struggle that progresses slowly in the best of circumstances. Unless your company has the budget for paid searches, any firm promising a company will appear on Page 1 of the organic search results in a short time frame is likely not being honest with their clients. While Prose 4 SEO cannot promise instantaneous Page 1 search results, what we can do is provide your site with engaging content that will pique customer interest and improve SEO results over time, even on a smaller budget.

Keeping a website relevant and search engine-friendly is difficult, especially when a company is limited by a budget. However, if you’re looking for adding some blog posts or other written material to enhance your site and bring an SEO benefit, Prose 4 SEO can help. Contact us today at prose4seo.com for questions or to get a free quote.