6 Rules You Must Know for Using SEO and SEM to Grow Your Business

If you’re managing a business, you know how important a web and mobile presence is. Whether you’re selling tacos, tiaras, or terabytes, customers need to be able to find you.

You’ve probably dipped your toe into the complex world of organic or “free” search, also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and paid search, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). But what do you really need to know about SEO and SEM?

I spoke with SEO/SEM expert Andrew Shelton, founder of the digital marketing agency Martec360, who gave me six rules that you need to pay attention to right now if you want to increase your sales through search:

1. Mobile is king

Need evidence of the importance of mobile? Some 96% of smartphone owners use their device to get things done. About 70% of smartphone owners use their phone to research a product before purchasing it in a store. Half of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

Furthermore, Google has begun to make its search index “mobile-first.” That means that Google will primarily index mobile content and use that to decide how to rank its results.

2. Paid search pays off on mobile

On mobile, paid search (SEM) is increasingly paying off. Shelton says he used to tell his clients to focus on free search (SEO) but with users putting mobile first, the continuum has changed.

“The greatest return on investment is email,” Shelton says, “because you have those customers in house. But paid search is next.” He estimates that paid search spending went up by factors of 25% to 50% in 2016.

3. Have a solid content strategy

The old adage is the new adage: “Content is king.” You need high-quality content for your website if it’s going to compete in the free search business. You can’t go about that blindly.

Consider what customer problem you’re solving. What customer questions can you be answering?

Do you have a mechanism for customers to ask questions? There could be a wealth of ideas for blog posts, FAQs, and buyers’ guides right there.

4. Social media is worth your return on investment

Social media can be vexing for many businesses. You definitely have to perform a cost-benefit analysis on it. Spending six hours a day sending out tweets that don’t lead to conversions is going to be a losing proposition.

Treat social media as “an engagement with an ongoing conversation with your customers,” Shelton recommends. “It’s not just for selling.”

In fact, if your social media channels are too hard-sell, they’ll be counter productive. You have to create value. Tools like Hootsuite, Falcon.IO, and Curalate can help.

5. Manage your online reputation

According to Shopper Approved, an app that helps its clients collect online ratings and reviews, 88% of all consumers read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business.

All of those reviews are part of the SEO equation. They can help you, or they can hurt you. But an app like Shopper Approved can help push more positive reviews where you need them.

6. Measure and monitor your progress

The only way you’re going see your business grow exponentially through SEO, SEM, and social media is to measure what you’re doing. You have to know where you’re starting, set some benchmarks, and monitor your progress.

Install Google Analytics. There is a plethora of other e-commerce tools you can use for analysis. Data is your friend. Get used to swimming in it.

And if you need help, find a consulting firm that understands your customer and your goals.

Just remember, effective search is process. You won’t get it right the first time. But you’ll get better at it with everything you learn.

About the author:

Kim Folsom is the Founder of LIFT Development Enterprises–a not-for-profit, community development organization with a mission to help underserved, underrepresented small-business owners – and Co-Founder and CEO of Founders First Capital Partners, LLC, a small business growth accelerator and revenue based venture fund. Learn more about Kim and her company’s mission to help grow and fund 1000 underserved and underrepresented small businesses by 2026 via their Founders Business Growth Bootcamp program at www.foundersfirstcapitalpartners.com.

 

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2 useful Google Docs features you probably aren’t using

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Even with the once-touted add-ons for Android program apparently in limbo, Google Docs has some handy and easily overlooked options for making your mobile or desktop-based document work a little bit easier.

Two such examples I myself forgot about up until recently and then was delighted to rediscover:

1. Explore: Intelligent in-document multitasking

Ever find yourself editing a document on your phone and needing to get more info about a particular subject? Google Docs’ Explore is just the thing you want.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

Google will try to combat fake news using search and user feedback

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Google is also implementing Feedback links for users to report on the accuracy of autocomplete search queries and Featured Snippet text.

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Cisco names 10 cities using its cloud-based smart service

Cisco, which has promoted its smart city technologies for more than two years, today announced that 10 cities, including Paris and Copenhagen, are using its cloud-based service to connect to traffic, parking and environmental sensors in real time.

Insights from the data collected from the Internet of Things sensors can help city agencies make operations more efficient, reduce costs and respond quicker to emergencies, Cisco said.

Cisco is showcasing the technology at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2016 in Barcelona this week. The networking giant calls its service the Cisco Smart+Connected Digital Platform.

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CIO Cloud Computing

TmaxSoft is using clear licensing to woo Oracle database users

It’s no secret that Oracle’s aggressive licensing tactics can be a source of considerable pain for its customers, and that’s just where TmaxSoft is betting it has an edge. 

Not only does the company promise users of its Tibero database roughly half the license fees, it also uses a licensing model so transparent that it recently became the first to be verified by the Campaign for Clear Licensing.

Tibero’s price list is “a single page and very easy to understand,” said Martin Thompson, chief agitator for CCL, when the verification was awarded late last year. “The prices and products are clearly set out, and there are no hidden extras that customers need to look out for.”

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CIO Cloud Computing

Intralinks adds security layers for high value content collaboration using SharePoint and other systems  

This column is available in a weekly newsletter called IT Best Practices.  Click here to subscribe.  

 Recently I was engaged by a large corporation for a writing project to support a product launch. This project had a small team of people who needed to collaborate on developing some promotional materials using content that had to remain confidential until launch day.

The company was so protective of the content’s secrecy that it provided me with a company-issued laptop computer, VPN access to their network, and a login ID for their network. In particular, I was given behind-the-firewall access to the SharePoint repository where the in-progress documents were kept. This way I was fully integrated into the internal team for the duration of the project, and the confidential documents would never have to leave the safety of the company’s network.

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Network World Cloud Computing

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Here’s a look at how you can collaborate with iCloud.com, the features it offers, and what’s missing.

Getting documents into the cloud

icloud icon 2015

When you create iWork documents, you can store them on iCloud Drive. Once your documents are in the cloud, you can share them with others on iCloud.com. To use iCloud Drive, you need at least iOS 8 or OS X Mavericks.

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