10 Reasons that Top 10 lists work for Small Business Blogs

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

small business blogs

There is not a niche in the world that top 10 lists don’t work for, but in recent years the power of the top 10 list has become a little saturated. You see, everybody is writing them, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine which ones are quality.

Still, there is no other format of article with as much social traction. Lists are an excellent way to increase social shares and get potential customers talking about your business.

Here’s 10 reasons that top 10 lists work for small business blogs.

 

10. Deliver a promise and build trust

How many times have you clicked on an article thanks to its snappy headline only to be left frustrated by the lack of good content? Top 10 lists give a promise to the viewer about what they’ll find and this will help to build trust among a blog readership. So long as you always deliver quality top 10 lists, your local business blog will be able to build a community of like-minded viewers.

9. User-generated content

Local businesses thrive on their customers, but many fail to harness their customers’ passion in the online world. Top 10 lists combined with an easy to use commenting form can lead to lots of user-generated content (comments) and lists combined with polls can too (votes). Lists provide your readers with your opinion, and it is only right that the reader should get to share their own. Whether they agree or disagree, every comment is valuable with regard to building a community.

8. Deliver information fast

Do you have a FAQ page on your website? If you do, chances are it’s full of fantastic information. But does it deliver the information your potential customers are looking for fast? Top 10 lists can be used to rectify this. Top 10 reasons to work with X, 10 killer reasons X is the X service provider for you. Lists do not always have to be aimed at a wider audience. If you have any company or service information you think could be clearer, put it into a list.

7. Scannable content

All content should be scannable online – internet users simply don’t read huge paragraphs of text. Instead, they skim through pages looking for headings and keywords. Top 10 lists are great because they are formatted in this way naturally. Your readers will be able to find the information they want in an instant and lists will give your viewers a pleasant reading experience.

6. Organisation

Humans like to organise things, and the more organised information is, the easier it is to digest and interact with. Lists are well-organised articles that have all of their information laid out in a pre-determined format.

5. Lists are easy to read

Blog posts need to be as easy on the eye as possible – you only have a few seconds to keep the attention of your viewer. Lists are great at keeping attention as they are simple to read and to scroll through, although some websites ruin this by having users load a new page for each point.

4. Lists are easy to churn out

Top 10 lists are, in general, easy to churn out for writers. This means that bloggers can keep up with writing for their blog and focus on delivering good content, rather than meeting deadlines. In order to be effective the lists do need to contain quality content, so easy does not equal lazy.

3. Establishing expertise

There is a huge opportunity to establish expertise with lists. “Have you tried these 10 amazing ways to increase health” is an example of an article that is intriguing and powerful. Use lists to demonstrate your thought leadership and help your viewers out a little.

2. Adjectives grab attention

10 killer tips and 10 stellar tips are prime examples of adjectives at work. These words grab the attention of the reader and drag them into the remainder of a blog post. When these articles get shared, every potential reader will see a catchy and intriguing headline that begs to be clicked.

1. Lists are shareworthy

People are only going to share blog posts if they are worthy of it, and that means that the blog posts need to be valuable, evoke emotion, and connect with the viewer. Combine all of the elements above, and you have share worthy pieces of content. This actually works two ways – a bad top 10 list can draw just as much attention, if not more, than a good one.  The aim of the game with a top 10 list blog post is to get as many shares as possible and list-based posts have flourished in recent years.

Photo credit: yoppy via photopin cc

How To Make The Most Of #Hashtags

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

hashtags

“Hashtags” is a term that many may have heard, but not necessarily know very much about. It has fast become a social buzzword and it’s now encroaching on more and more social media sites. In essence, the hashtag is a word or full phrase prefixed by the hashtag symbol (#) which are hyperlinks to relative topics. Originally a stand out feature belonging to Twitter, it can now be found on Google Plus, Facebook and Instagram.

 

How It Works

When using hashtags, you are posting links directly from your update into a forum of related, categorised topics, words or phrases. In essence, it allows both you and others to search for keywords or phrases related to your market by collecting all updates which share the same tagged content and grouping them into one place. For example, if you hash tagged #SocialMedia in an update and then clicked on the tag, you would be taken to a page where that tag has been used by others. From there, you can reply and connect with people who  you know are talking about the same interests.

 

How To Make It Work For You

Hashtags are a simple yet effective social marketing strategy for any business simply because they are a really great way of connecting with people and thus, expanding your audience or customer base via social marketing. By adding a hashtag to your social posts, you are increasing the level of engagement as you are creating links to allow others to find you.

For example, if you’re a book shop, you could be using #Books followed by the genre #Crime #SciFi #Romance and so on. This way, people can not only see what you have on offer if they are searching for those keywords.

If you’re company is having a sale, be sure to hashtag #sale so that you have an extra marketing tool at your exposure to target more people.

 

Avoid Making A Hash Of It

Although they are a fun, quirky and key social marketing tool, it is possible to use them in an adverse manner which could do your brand more harm than good.  Key hashtag do’s and don’ts are:

  • DON’T jump on the bandwagon. Just because a certain hashtag is trending, don’t try and use it to your benefit if it’s irrelevant to  your brand. For example, if #OneDirection is the days most popular tag, adding it to one of your updates about the new kitchen appliances your shop is now selling is inappropriate and could result in ridicule and bad feedback.
  • DO keep it simple and keep it short. Single words are great for hash tagging and so are short phrases, but adding full sentences wont work as it becomes hard to read and looks odd. For example #thiswouldbearathersillyuseofhashtags!
  • DON’T use spaces or punctuation between words if you’re using more than one. You can differentiate between words by using capitals instead. #ForExample
  • DO remember to use it across all social platforms. Long gone are the days when it was a Twitter exclusive, be sure you use them on Facebook, G+ and Instagram also to really make the most of them.
  • DON’T over hashtag. You only need one or two tags per update. Hash tagging too many words per update will look wrong and defeat the purpose of impact key word marketing. #Do #Not #Hashtag #Every #Word – Watch the video at the end to see how using too many hashtags can look.
  • DO remember that you don’t need to just think of what it is you’re hash tagging. Search the various platforms for keywords that hashtags flag to see who else is talking about those topics and then reach out to them.

 

Conclusion

Social media hashtags are a really excellent way of both marketing your goods and offers as well as finding others who have posted about them and allowing you to connect directly. It’s a proactive tool which all businesses should be embracing on social and increasing engagement and consumer audience.

#Over #Use #Of #Hashtags!

Photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

Don’t Forget About the “Marketing” in Content Marketing

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

content marketing

If you’ve embraced the idea that content is king – and you should, if you want to come out a winner in the online marketing game – you’ve probably amassed a considerable amount of it. Stockpiling high-quality content isn’t enough, though. For it to do you any good, it needs to be seen. That’s where the “marketing” component of “content marketing” comes into play.

Like many business owners, you may not have the slightest idea about how to get your content in front of the right audience. A few tricks include:

 

  • Engage Your Audience – Wrap up your content by posing a question to your audience. Don’t just ask what they think about the topic at hand. Instead, come up with a thought-provoking or even slightly controversial question that people will feel more compelled to answer. This will generate buzz for your content, which will help it get more exposure.
  • Share Your Content on Social Media – This isn’t to say that you should post links to your content at random. It’s far more effective to search for conversations that involve the topic at hand in some way. Sharing your content with the people who are having such conversations will increase the odds of it being useful and interesting, which will make it more effective in the long run.
  • Comment on Forums – You’re probably already familiar with forums that revolve around your products, services or industry. Visit them regularly and share links to relevant content when appropriate. You’ll be amazed at how well-received your comments will be when they actually enhance the conversation at hand.
  • Promote Your Content in Real Life – Who says the online and offline worlds need to be kept separate? Many of the folks who come into your bricks-and-mortar store may be completely unaware that you create and share interesting, informative content online. Why not tell them about it? You can do so by just mentioning it during in-store interactions, or you could even create small flyers and hand them out to customers. By raising awareness about your online presence in this way, you will be able to expose your content to a much wider audience.
  • Ask People what They’d Like to Read – People love sharing their opinions. By asking current and prospective customers what they’d like to read about, you bring them in on the act and show them that you value their opinion. This approach has the added bonus of providing you with new topics that you might not have otherwise considered.
  • Find Out What’s Working for Others – It pays to keep an eye on the competition, and doing so can reveal techniques that allow you to more effectively market your content. Pinpoint your competitors’ most popular blog posts and articles. What kinds of characteristics do they have? How are they being shared? What steps are being taken to market them? The answers to these and other questions can help you find new, effective ways to market your own content.

The main takeaway here is that while it’s important to create fresh, exciting, informative, unique content, it’s just as crucial to make sure it’s seen by the right people. To that end, dedicate plenty of time and effort to marketing it. Your efforts will pay off well in the long run.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Why Guest Blogging is Still Important for Local Business

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

guest blogging for local business

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about guest blogging and whether it still has a place in online marketing. For a long time, guest blogging was considered to be one of the best ways to build relevant, high-authority backlinks. Not surprisingly, the strategy was taken to extreme lengths by many, which resulted in countless poorly written, uninspired guest posts that were solely designed to build new incoming links for the bloggers who wrote them. Guest blogging isn’t such an effective way to develop backlinks anymore, but when done right it still has a valuable place in any online marketing strategy.

 

Quality Content and Effective Marketing

More than ever, the best way to effectively market a business or brand online is by developing informative, unique, interesting content. In other words, the focus should be on creating high-quality content that people actually want to read. This rule applies just as much to guest blogging as it does to anything else. In fact, guest blogging is a terrific way to share exceptional content with a wider audience. The trick is writing it for the sole purpose of educating and enlightening those who read it rather than so you can slap a link to your website at the end.

 

Build Relationships with Guest Blogging

One of the top benefits of writing guest blogs is that it allows you to broaden your horizons so that you can build relationships with others in your industry. In doing that, you more effectively establish yourself as an authority, which helps to enhance the visibility of your company online. Think of your guest blogs as seeds that you’re planting all over the Internet. They may not instantly bloom into links that raise your Google ranking, but they can quite easily develop and grow into relationships that will serve your business well for a long time to come.

Links Still Matter Too

All of this isn’t to say that your guest blogs shouldn’t include links to your website at all. Quite the contrary. The point is that the link shouldn’t be the point. It will still be there, and it can still drive referral traffic to your website. However, it’s more likely to go a lot further when the post itself is useful, interesting or otherwise of value for the intended audience. Those who read it are more likely to share it with others, which will send your content to all kinds of new places. Wherever it goes, it will act as a powerful branding tool.

 

Share Your Knowledge and Insight while Effectively Marketing Your Business

Improving the online visibility of your local business should be a top priority, and guest blogging is one of the best ways to make it happen. When you write a guest blog, make the focus on delivering high-quality content to your readers. Remember that your name and the name of your business will be included on the post, so the quality of your content is a reflection of the quality of your company. Keep in mind that your guest blogs shouldn’t be overtly salesy. They’re powerful marketing tools, to be sure, but they shouldn’t blatantly promote your company. Sharing content that’s useful, compelling and memorable is a lot more effective. Because you’ll be writing about what you know, generating these posts should also be easier than you think!

Photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

25 Smart Ways to Promote Your Local Blog

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Is your local blog working for you? Without getting a decent amount of traffic, it’s not doing you much good. Writing posts regularly is just a part of the equation. Promoting your blog is crucial too. Luckily, there are plenty of effective ways to do so. We’ve hand-picked 25 great examples to get you started.

  1. Facebook logoFacebook – If you’re not already sharing your blog posts on Facebook, it’s time you started. There are even ways to automatically share new posts as they go live. By including some thought-provoking comments in your posts, you can attract even more attention.
  2. Twitter logoTwitter – You never know who’s on Twitter looking for information that you provide. Sharing links to new blogs on Twitter is simple, and it’s a highly effective way to cast a wider net. You can also actively search for users who are talking about topics that relate to your blog and promote it to them as well.
  3. Pinterest logoPinterest – Sure, Pinterest is a highly visual social media site. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used to promote a blog. Simply share photos that relate to your blog and embed links so that users can find it.
  4. Instagram logoInstagramInstagram is similar to Pinterest in that it’s primarily visual. Like Pinterest, you can use the service to share photos and links with your followers. Links on Instagram aren’t clickable but if you then share to Twitter or Tumblr then they become so.  The popularity of this service is growing by leaps and bounds, so it’s well worth it to get on board as soon as possible.
  5. LinkedIn logoLinkedIn – Although LinkedIn is mostly about maintaining and developing professional connections, it can also be used to share new blogs with followers. You just have to include a link while sharing an update. Be sure to add a link to your blog to your LinkedIn profile as well.
  6. Google Plus logoGoogle+ – What better way to get love from Google than by sharing and promoting your blog on Google+? As a local business owner, you should already have a Google+ page for your company. Whenever a new blog post is made, be sure to share it with your Google+ followers.
  7. Social Media Sharing Buttons – It only takes a few seconds to add buttons for sites like Facebook and Twitter to your blog. This provides visitors with a quick and easy way to share what they’ve read with their social networks, which can enhance your blog’s visibility in a major way.
  8. Google Authorship – You know how some Google search results include the author’s photo? This makes a listing more visible, right? You can accomplish this by adding Google authorship tags to your posts. Detailed instructions are readily available online.
  9. Email Newsletters – Most active Internet users check their email at least a few times per day, so it’s well worth it to send email newsletters from time to time. When you do, you can highlight a few of your most recent blog posts to ensure that everyone is aware of your blog’s existence.
  10. Signatures – Like many people, you may use a signature file for emails and forum posts. Adding a link to your blog to your signature is a fantastic way to quickly and easily spread the word. Every time you respond on a forum or to an email, the recipient will receive a link to your blog. If you use Gmail then an app like Wisestamp makes the process pretty simple.
  11. StumbleUpon logoBookmarking Sites – Set up profiles on popular bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon, Reddit and Digg and make a point of getting actively involved in relevant threads. When it makes sense to do so, post links to your blog.
  12. Scoop.itCuration Sites – Curating content from around the Internet and putting your own spin on it is an excellent way to draw traffic to your blog. Curation sites like Scoop.It make it easy to do. With a click or two of the mouse button, you can create posts highlighting content from elsewhere online, which can draw in traffic from many different areas.
  13. Forums – Online forums continue to be very popular. No matter what kind of business you own, there are sure to be at least a few forums that relate to it. Get to know them and post on them regularly with links to your blog. You could also check business networking forums and local business or Chamber of Commerce forums as well.
  14. Quora logoQuestion and Answer Sites – As a business owner, you’re an expert in your industry. Share your knowledge with people who are looking for help on question and answer sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers. While you’re at it, link back to relevant blog posts so people can learn more.
  15. YouTube logoYouTube – Take a few of your most popular blog posts and create videos based on them. Post the videos to YouTube and write detailed, keyword-rich descriptions. Some people simply prefer to watch videos, and this is a great way to attract them to your blog too. YouTube is owned by Google so you can probably guess the benefits!
  16. Slideshare logoSlideshows – You can also take popular blog posts and create relevant slideshows. Share them on a site like Slideshare and include highly detailed descriptions. You can also link back to your blog so people can get more information. Slideshare is owned by LinkedIn and so it’s a great way to link your presentations together.
  17. IFTTT logoSyndication – With the click of a button, you can instantly share your latest blog through syndication. Sites like IFTTT.com and NetworkedBlogs.com are incredibly useful for this kind of thing.
  18. Guest Posts – Find blogs that relate to yours in some way. Read them for a while to get to know them, and then (politely & professionally) approach the owners with offers to write guest posts. Your guest posts can include brief biographical information, and most of the time it’s perfectly fine to include a link back to your own blog.
  19. Press Releases – When you have news to share with the world, a well-written press release should do the trick. In addition to being packed with information, your press release can and should include links to your website and blog. In fact, you can issue a press release for the sole purpose of promoting your blog. Just make sure there’s something newsworthy to share.
  20. Flyers – Printed materials still have a place in promoting a business. Why not print up some flyers with information about your blog? You can then pass them out to customers. It may also help to promote your blog on company letterheads, business cards and other printed materials.
  21. Comment on Other Blogs – There are sure to be blogs out there that relate to your business. Seek them out and visit them often. When it makes sense, post related comments to engage in the conversation. Include links back to your own blog. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you can generate by doing this.
  22. Identify Influential Bloggers – Perhaps there are dozens – or even hundreds – of blogs that relate to yours. In that case, zero in on the most influential ones and focus your efforts there. From posting comments to writing guest blogs, there are all kinds of ways to make effective use of popular blogs in your industry.
  23. Tell People – During the course of a normal business day, you may interact with many customers directly. Try to mention your blog whenever you do. Encourage your employees to do likewise. If you’ve written a post specifically to answer a client’s question then make you let them know!
  24. Interact on Your Blog – By fostering a sense of community on your blog, you’re more likely to attract return visitors. This is also a great way to generate buzz and to increase the odds of people sharing your blog with others. Make a point of chiming in on the comments section from time to time to show people you’re paying attention.
  25. Have a Contest – Create a contest that requires people to visit your blog in order to participate. Even those who wouldn’t regularly consider visiting your blog will be encouraged to do so for the chance to win something.

By trying as many of these techniques as possible, you’ll have a much easier time promoting your local blog. Before too long, it should be receiving plenty of attention!