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Blogging - Is it worth it?

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As a small business, companies worry about having the time to create successful blog content. They also worry about the frequency of blogging. While the fears our clients have are legitimate concerns, the positives of blogging far outweigh the negatives. I am here to share a few statistics that will convince you that blogging is a necessity for your website.
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Blogging – The Small Business (Not-So) Secret Weapon

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Small business owners may find themselves unsure where to focus their online marketing resources. Email endeavors, newsletters, and the plethora of social media options (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and so on) – the number of channels can be overwhelming. And finding the time to dedicate enough resources to those efforts adds another layer to the puzzle. That’s why the simplicity of business blogging – the not-so-secret weapon of a small business – is so appealing.

Blogging may seem unsexy compared to some options, but it works. Here’s how:

  1. Blogging - Small Business' Content Marketing WeaponBlogging creates credibility – Potential customers are looking for expertise. Blogging offers an easy way to convey your stature as a key thought leader in your industry. And those customers are likely to tell their cohorts about their new source of expertise.
  2. Blogging gives your company a voice – As an extension of building the perception of expertise, blogging enables you to position your organization. It also provides a channel to talk about services or products your company offers, the latest industry news, and upcoming events.
  3. Blogging allows you to begin conversations with potential customers – Marketers are always looking for ways to speed up the sales cycle. A blog gets that relationship started by increasing online activity. Companies that blog generate 55 percent more website visitors, 97 percent more inbound links, and 434 percent more indexed pages. In addition, 7 of 10 businesses believe blogging has led to an improvement in their lead generation success.
  4. Blogging on a consistent schedule builds a library of content to share across other social networks – Your social media audience is looking for valuable content. By pushing blog posts through these channels, you’re pulling people back to your company site and encouraging your network to share your blog posts with their extended networks as well.
  5. Blogging improves search rankings (SEO) – The more you blog, the more often Google will recognize the value of your content in its overall algorithms. As long as the content is of high quality, your ranking will improve.

Blogging is here to stay. More than one-third of companies now use blogs for marketing purposes, and those companies that do blog receive 55 percent more website traffic than companies that don’t. More traffic leads to more opportunities for sales. For the small business owner, ignoring the value of blogging as a marketing tool is a poor business decision.

Does your company need assistance creating a blog and putting together a content marketing strategy? If you are planning an upcoming web design or website development project, don’t forget to include a business blog.  Marketpath can help get you started. Contact us at our Indianapolis office today!

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Why Blog? Statistics Show the Benefits

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Debating whether blogging makes sense for your business? Read the stats. Many show why blogging is one of the most effective content marketing strategies in use today.
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Garbage Content In = Garbage Results Out

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Today is trash day. Every home in my neighborhood takes their trash out to the curb and a service comes to pick it up so we never have to think about it again. It's also recycling day. Next to our trash, with no less than three feet of space between adjacent objects, we place our oversized recycling bin. This is always full, which typically leaves us with only half of one trash can.

Every week I notice how some of our neighbors always have 2-3 full trash cans and often additional bags beyond that. These folks don't recycle, which is fine. Everyone has their own M-O. I do believe in it, though, and it boggles my mind how they have so much garbage, especially when many of them are empty nesters. Then it dawns on me - fast food or frozen, packaged foods.  I know several of them eat quick to prepare garbage food which equals lots of garbage at the curb. Food that is not terribly healthy for your health's bottom line. Lots of garbage coming in = lots of garbage going out.

Garbage Content In = Garbage Results OutThe same can easily happen with your blogging and content marketing effort. If the content you write and share with your audience has little to no value and only serves the purpose of filling a void or a schedule then it is very likely garbage content. And with garbage content, you'll get garbage results.

 

 


Don't "Just Write" - Write to Engage

There are many advocates of the "just write" philosophy which essentially means don't worry about the quality, just write as much content as you can to gain more search engine visibility and eyeballs. I don't subscribe to this. While its important to gain visibility through search engines, their models of determining what content is important and what is not changes monthly. And in the end, you have real people who read your content. If you put out garbage, they will become Tiggers and bounce away quicker than you can say "Bouncing is what Tiggers do best!" 

There is also something to say about frequency and this is where content writers often get tripped up. If you don't write often enough, then it's like a guy standing in a crowded place and only once yelling "I have the answers!" Some people will probably throw a glance but they won't stop. But if he yells "I have the answers" every few minutes, people will eventually stop. And if he truly has the answers and provides reasonable value, the word will spread and more people will stop to listen.

That balance, where content engages on a regular basis, only comes with practice, monitoring results, and tweaking. Practice is at the foundation of the "just write" mindset. But don't let that fool you into writing garbage content, or in other words, content that really has no value to your target audience. People don't like listening unless it is valuable to them and engages their attention. Your "practice" should be more about writing style and flow where the underlying topics hold real value.

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3 Mistakes Your Corporate Blog May Be Guilty Of

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So, you’ve taken the plunge and launched a corporate blog.  Congratulations!  All of the people that have been telling you for years that it’s a must finally won out, right?  Now, the hard part is here…making it actually worthwhile.  If you just said “Wait, what?” I don’t blame you.  Nobody told you that it was going to be difficult and time consuming.  Nobody told you that it’s not just as easy as throwing up a random thought here and there.  So, if that was your strategy, think again.  Here are 5 common mistakes businesses often make with their blogs, and some tips on how to improve them.

Lack of Updates

Consistency is KeyFirst things first, if you have a blog, you have to update it.  No exceptions.  No taking weeks at a time off (hi pot, we’re kettle).  Consistency is key here, not only for readers, but for search engines as well.  Nothing can kill a little momentum like an extended gap of silence. 

Tip – Combat this by creating a lot of content at once and scheduling that content to be released on a set schedule.  Shoot for 2 blog posts a week starting out.  Sit down at the beginning of each month and map out 8 blog topics, content associated with those, and which images are needed.  This may be a full day’s work, but it’s crucial for consistency.

Lack of Original Content

Corporate blogs aren’t meant for just PR and news items.  Sure, adding some of those types of posts in from time to time can be beneficial to your branding strategy, but news and PR should not dominate your blog.  The truly valuable content comes from thought-leadership, interesting conversation, and new ideas.  Try to avoid reliance on the PR type of article, as that content is better used elsewhere.

Tip – Your corporate blog is your chance to showcase your expertise and explore interesting topics.  Utilize sales and marketing collateral, find and explain industry trends, or showcase case studies.  As a general rule, one case study can often times be broken down into multiple blog posts.  Focus on one specific topic per post and create a series.

Lack of Promotion

Promote your BlogYour blog is part of your website (hopefully), but it doesn’t mean that it will gain any traction without some amount of promotion.  Why spend all of the time creating this great, original content if you’re just going to publish and forget about it?  These posts need promoted if they are going to get any value whatsoever.

Tip – Social media is a great way to promote content and gain new readers.  Focus on popular topics (hash tags on twitter) and be sure to promote the post via a simple tweet.  Look for opportunities to guest post on other blogs and be sure to reciprocate as well.  Growing your following on social media can have a tremendous impact on your blogging. 

What are some other pitfalls for corporate blogs and how do you avoid them?  Sound off in the comments below!  



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Zen and the Art of Marketing Maintenance

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Maintenance is a topic that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Maintenance of my lawn, house, vehicles, finances, children, diet, relationships, hair, and clothing are just a few of the things that must be maintained on a regular basis. Marketpath also requires regular maintenance of our finances, infrastructure, culture, client relationships, custom software, and much more. The key to success is maintaining items in small doses on a regular basis (i.e. performing small tasks here and there). The more consistent I am with regular maintenance, the more likely major problems won't appear. Failure to maintain each item in my life leads to neglect, which leads to me having to spend a lot more time and a lot more money which leads to great frustration.

Website marketing requires regular maintenancePart of the reason I've been contemplating the importance of maintenance is that I've been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (yes, I stole the title for this post) - a philosophical novel that blends an attempt to define "Quality" and the importance of regular maintenance of our environment and our individual self.

Website marketing isn't all that different than anything else in our life. At Marketpath, we maintain our relationships with our customers and audience via our blogs, email blasts, social platforms, webinars, phone calls, and in-person meetings. I'm always pushing the importance of touch points and, if regularly maintained with good quality content, those touch points will result in a future sale or referral. Failure to regularly maintain  those touch points leads to a complete fall off of our audience engagement and an evaporation of sales and referrals.

Most marketers maintain a giant calendar with all the activity planned over the next few months. This is obviously important for the big items (trade shows and campaigns) but it is also import for the smaller, more easily maintained activities like blogging, social engagement, email sends, phone calls, etc. While these tasks may become slightly mundane or monotonous, they are still very important collectively over time.

If you fail to keep up your house it will fall into disrepair. Bringing it back to a normal state then requires more money, more time, and more frustration. Neglecting your website marketing efforts by not keeping a consistent schedule and constantly tweaking your message to keep your audience engaged will cause your marketing to fall into disrepair just as well. Then rebuilding the level of engagement you once had, or almost achieved, will require more time, more money, and more frustration. Keep it human, keep it consistent, and keep it meaningful.

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How Easy is Marketpath CMS? SEO Tools make Optimization Simple!

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Your website isn’t maximizing its value if no one can find it- right?  That’s why Marketpath includes on-site search engine optimization (SEO) services with every website design we provide our clients.  But optimizing a new site is only the beginning.  To improve your rankings with search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, you’ll need to have a living, breathing site that continuously provides new, relevant content for your target audience. 

Marketpath makes it easy to add content to your site, but that’s just the start.  Marketpath CMS also provides SEO tools that allow you, the non-technical user, to easily optimize your new content (pages, images, videos) for on-page search optimization.  What our short video to see how easy you can optimize new content on your site.     

Stayed tuned for our next installment to see how you can easily leverage Marketpath Blogging to create engaging, SEO friendly blogs.

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Migrating to a New CMS

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Migrating Content Management SystemsAre you starting to outgrown your current web content management system or blogging platform? Migrating your website or blog to a new content management system can be an intimidating task, depending on how much content your current site has.  But no matter what the reason for the move (capability, cost, support, etc.), there are a few steps that you should ensure are handled carefully while performing the migration.  First things first:

Get Your Content

Whether this means getting into a database and downloading all of the previous content or posts, or copying the content manually, don’t shut the old site down until you have a copy of everything that you’ve done in the past. 

Grab Your Old Sitemap

You may be building a website from scratch, so a lot of these pages might not be getting transferred to the new system.  That’s okay, this step will make sense, I promise.

Set up New Pages/Posts

Within the new content management system, build out your website like its being built from scratch.  When naming pages, consider the SEO value of each page name (be descriptive, but to the point).  Copy the old blog posts into the new system and take note of how the URL is generated. (www.URL.com/blog/blog-post-title)

Set Up Redirects

This is probably the most important, and often times painstaking piece of migrating to a new CMS.  Each blog post from the old system should be set up as a redirect to the new URL. For instance, if your old blog created URLs like this: blog.URL.com/blog-post-title, but the new CMS creates them like this: www.URL.com/blog/blog-post-title, then you want to make sure you redirect the old URL to the new URL as to not lose any link value.  URLs from the old site (you grabbed that old sitemap, right?) should be setup as redirects to new, corresponding pages on the new site. 

Migrating systems can be a daunting task.  Have a plan before moving forward with any content migration to make sure each detail is preserved, and a whole bunch of 404’s aren’t created in the process.       



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User generated marketing

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There is a certain level of pleasure that comes from making new connections about our history and the social web. Most people think this whole socialization thing on the Internet is new and sometimes it takes a short post by a well known Author to say otherwise. The only part that's new is the Internet. The socialization piece has always been around.

Seth Godin's post today is titled "The most important page on the web is the page you build yourself." It's about user generated content and the demise of mainstream mass media. Read it. It's short.

I recently had a meeting with an auto dealership and they discussed putting together a series of videos that would talk about the great features and conveniences of the cars they sell. After much debate and discussion about how much it would cost (tens of thousands) to produce and edit the videos, I stood up and suggested they have their customers produce the videos for them. First, it's free. Second, it's more honest and believable if someone other than the dealer tells the story. 

We're seeing this more and more in marketing where customers produce their own content. Whether it be interactions with others by commenting on a blog, guest blogging, writing product reviews, or producing videos, the job of the marketer is changing. No longer is their sole responsibility to write, design, and produce every bit of content to be puked out to prospects and customers. Marketers now have to build the playground where their constituents can voice themselves and then coordinate those interactions without intruding upon their freedom to contribute.

It's not simple, yet. It's a lot more work while we still hold on to the reigns of the past. The biggest challenge is designing and building the infrastructure that allows your customers and prospects to contribute and then making sure it gets used to its fullest. Once it is built, though, that job takes on a different shape. Customers interact, customers promote (if what you're selling is any good), and customers provide you a much deeper insight into your products and services than you would have ever had before.

Just don't expect that telling your customers what you want them to hear will hold water much longer. As soon as one of your competitors begins letting them into their social community, your legitimacy will begin to fade.

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How Easy Is Marketpath CMS? Add an Image to Your Site in less than Two Minutes!

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Marketpath CMS was built on the foundation of simplicity.  Everything we do is geared towards helping small businesses and organizations to be both more effective and efficient running their website marketing.  In our opinion, the best way to do that is to make things easy!

That’s why anyone can manage and market their website using Marketpath CMS, our easy to use web content management solution. With Marketpath, you don’t need any technical expertise or knowledge of HTML.  Anyone can successfully market their website, adding new pages, blogging, inserting images and videos, managing event and calendars, creating web forms, surveys, and landing pages.  You can even manage meta data to drive enhanced SEO rankings!  And the best part is that all the above tasks can be done in literally minutes. 

Starting today, and over the next few months, we'll show you just how easy it is to market your website using Marketpath CMS.  Watch our quick video and see how you can add search friendly images to your website in minutes!  


Stayed tuned for our next installment to see how you can easy manage videos using Marketpath CMS.
 
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Avoiding Comment Spam in your Blog

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If you keep up a blog then you are probably well acquainted with comment spam. This is an inevitable fact of life if you allow comments on your blog (which you should in most cases). At Marketpath, we reached a point with our blogging platform where we were receiving a great deal of comment spam for our own blogs and many of our customers' blogs. Here's an example:

Example of comment spam

Notice how well-written this comment is? Notice its perfect grammar and its amazingly descriptive word choices? That's sarcasm, of course. 

The good news is that if you are using Marketpath CMS, you don't have to worry about this type of comment rearing its ugly head on your blog. Every comment must be reviewed and approved before others can see it and it's very easy to do so. You'll receive a notification about the comment and can quickly jump into CMS to approve it.

Most other CMS platforms provide some sort of comment moderation as well and may even run comments through an detection engine to determine how likely they are spam. The best tool for this, however, is using good ol' fashioned eyeballs. Not everyone who comments writes well so you'll want to be careful not to ignore legitimate comments.

Why do people spam your blog? The biggest reason is that they are trying to improve their own website's search engine position by creating backlinks to their site. They will embed keywords and utilize the URL field to create the link.

Marketpath helps eliminate spam not only by requiring approval of comments but also by using a REL="NOFOLLOW" tag in the links. This tag tells search engines to ignore the link and alerts most spammers (those with a decent understanding of SEO) to avoid it because they know they won't get any credit for the link. Marketpath also strips HTML tags from the actual comment. If a spammer tries to embed a link into the comment, it will be stripped and removed completely. And the final tactic we employ is requiring visitors to enter a number verification (captcha) so automated spamming systems won't get through.

All in all, comment spam is a fact of life and will continue to be for quite some time. Simple measures, like I discussed above, whether you're using Marketpath CMS or some other evil CMS platform, should be a standard part of the technology to keep these comments from ever seeing the light of day.

Here are a couple more posts about comment spam that may interest you:

Hard facts about comment spam (Google Webmaster Central Blog)
Spam in blogs (Wikipedia)
 

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Getting Started with Content Creation in 3 Easy Steps

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For small-to-medium sized B2B companies without dedicated marketing departments, content creation can be a daunting task. You’ve been hearing that content is king for years when it comes to search engine optimization, but you just can’t quite put together a process for creating engaging content.  You may feel like your product or service is self-explanatory enough and doesn’t need to be discussed.  You may feel that your product or service isn’t sexy enough to have a blog post written about it.  Whatever the reason (or excuse), content creation  just isn’t being done…which is hurting your bottom line.  Here are a few easy-to-follow steps that we use at Marketpath to help add to our blog:   

Thinking Man
Look Familiar to your Current Process?

Step 1:  Commit to a content creation schedule

Without a schedule, the blog becomes a backseat passenger again to everything else that your day-to-day requires.  Start small – 1 blog post a week for the first 6 weeks and stick to it.  Block out time on your calendar for it.  Commit to it.  Once you have proven to yourself that you’re capable of putting together a blog post, it will become easier…I promise.

Step 2:  Utilize questions from sales meetings as blog post topics

Here is a little secret – if your prospective client has asked you a question in a sales meeting, there is a good chance that he/she has also Googled that same question.  What if you had written a blog that addressed that concern or topic and that customer finds your site?  You’re one step closer to a sale.  There is no secret that people a searching for answers to their questions long before they are ever picking up the phone to find a solution provider – they may not even know your company exists to solve their problem.  Sales questions always make great blog topics.

Step 3:  Write your ideas down as they happen

What a novel idea, right?  But how many times have you had a great idea (for anything, not just a blog post), but don’t record it somehow…pen, paper, voice recording on your iPhone, email, etc?  Once blogging becomes a part of your weekly schedule (because you’re sticking to Step 1, right?), blog topics will begin to pop in your head at random times during the day.  You can never predict when this will happen…Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative, has a great perspective on the idea that you can’t force yourself to come up with ideas…it just doesn’t work that way…So when it happens, write it down.

Now, these three steps won’t necessarily make you the next best-selling author, or a top 50 blogger, but they will help you get started into the world of content creation.  Keep in mind that each post should be engaging, and provide value to the reader.  If you’re struggling with this sort of thing, it might be time to reach out to a professional new media agency for some help.

 

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Top Blog Posts of 2016

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As the end of 2016 approaches, we’re looking back at some of our most memorable, interesting, and useful blog posts related to web design and development, SEO, social and content marketing. The following is a list of our top 11 most popular articles of the past year from our Digital Marketing Insights blog.
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How To Use Google Analytics: The Basics

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Google Analytics is a powerful tool in helping you understand what people are accessing on your website. It can help drive the content and strategy for your website and overall marketing when you know exactly what the consumer wants. It can also point out flaws in a website if you notice users are never getting to the destination you want: conversion. But how the heck do you even access that data??
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Proprietary vs. Open Source CMS: Part 2 of 3

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In the previous article, I laid out for you what open source CMS and proprietary CMS software is. In this article, we'll get further in depth into open source CMS detailing the benefits and drawbacks of the system. 
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Marketpath's Visibility, Engagement, and Conversion Funnel

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Visibility, Engagement, and Conversion. These are the three pillars of effective website marketing I started writing about in 2008. A great deal has changed since then but the basic premise behind these has not. Let's dive into each and learn how building a fundamental understanding of each phase can help you become a better marketer.
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Ten (10) Questions to Determine if You Need a New Website

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So you work for or own a small or medium sized business. You have a website, you’re not sure if it is adding any value, but you’re also not sure you want to spend the time and money to upgrade it.
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