The Power of Business Cards

The Power of Business Cards
By Alfred Ardis January, 2016

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It may come as a surprise that, in today’s highly digitized world, business cards are still highly useful networking tools. A good card is like a good suit or even an office: it’s not necessary in the strictest sense of the word, but it signals to other professionals that you’re the genuine article. Your business cards should be an extension of your professional persona, one that reminds the holder of why they got your information in the first place. When tailored to your personal brand, they can be a gateway for professional opportunities. For such small pieces of paper, business cards carry a lot of weight. Here are some tips to help you get the right print.

 

Don’t Skimp on the Stock

One of the easiest ways a print shop can make business cards more affordable is by reducing the thickness, or stock, of the paper used. While fiscal responsibility is always an important principle in business, this is one area where you shouldn’t cut corners. It’s more than a piece of paper; it’s a lasting reminder of that first impression. A flimsy piece of paper sends the signal that the professional it represents is flimsy, too. You want to convey success with your card, even if you’re just getting started.

 

Size Matters

The standard size is 2 inches by 3.5 inches-stick with that. A lot of people these days are trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to size and shape, making pieces that are bigger, smaller, circular, etc. While these might be memorable, they’re also likely to get cut if they don’t fit neatly into a wallet or holder.

 

Include a Visual Cue

Your card should remind the holder of who you are and link back to some memory of where and why they got your info. If you or your company has a pattern or color scheme, incorporate that. If you are in a business where you trade on your personality (salesmen, attorneys, realtors, etc.), it’s a good idea to include a photo of your smiling face in order to convey the winning personality that has made you a success!

 

Keep it Simple

Even with a photo or color scheme that serves as a visual cue, don’t over-complicate things. Your business cards represent you; they don’t speak for you. You don’t want something that requires people to search for the information they need. Ultimately, the information should be quick and accessible so that the holder can contact you, not get caught up in the paper.

 

Raised Text

This one is optional and, admittedly, a bit more expensive. But it’s worth it in certain contexts. If you attend networking events where people trade their info left and right, something that stands out sensually can make a huge difference. If a potential client has 20-plus cards, the feeling of that raised text as they leaf through could make the difference between a connection and the recycling bin.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Alfred_Ardis/663300

Adjusting Your Strategies to Google’s Encrypted Searches

3 Oct 2013 – Adrienne Erin – Featured –

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When Google completely cut off keyword data at the end of September, it may have seemed out of the blue, but the first encrypted searches appeared as far back as 2011 and many believe that the events prompting this change date back even further.

Regardless of the causes, Google has delivered another major blow to marketers following the recent implementation of the new Gmail tabs.

On Sept. 24th, Rand Fishkin of Moz said in his special Whiteboard Tuesday that he believed about 75% of Google’s searches were encrypted and predicted that 100% of keywords would soon be hidden. For marketers this change means new challenges as they try to determine how to navigate keyword research without referral data.

While it’s scary to think about how to work around this major change, let’s break it down to see how you can rise above encrypted searches and maybe even use the change to your advantage.

What Are Encrypted Google Searches?

Encrypted searches use HTTPS, meaning keyword data won’t be revealed to site owners. These types of searches won’t allow Internet marketers and site owners to track users’ keyword searches anymore; web analytics software was previously used to break down users and their keywords searches, but this tactic will no longer be possible.

The reality is that even if you can still see some keyword data, eventually 100% of your referrals will probably result in the keyword not being provided. Keyword data will be gone. Google has removed the ability to view what a user searched for before visiting your site.

Why Keyword Referral Data Is Important

A lot of marketers use this keyword data for tasks that not only improve their own page ranking, but to better the web as a whole. Keyword data can help our ranking efforts and our ability to effectively serve our customers. If you notice a keyword is getting a lot of search traffic, but the page still has a low rank, you realize you’ll have to brainstorm ways to make the page rank higher. And if a search term is sending a lot of people to a specific page, but your conversion rate is low, you know you need to improve the page.

Keyword data is also important when examining how users view our brand and content. Looking at users’ searches allowed us to get inside our customers’ minds in regards to specific products or content; however, this task just became more complex without keyword data.

As for marketing opportunities, keyword data was previously a goldmine. We could figure out ways to optimize for keyword phrases that didn’t have a high rank. There were ways to confront and improve low-ranking keyword phrases – now we’ll have to find another way.

Adjust Your Strategies

This change is undoubtedly going to make our job as marketers more difficult, but don’t get angry about it; instead, look for ways to adjust your strategies. A lot of brainstorming and conversations need to happen in order to figure out where to go from here, but here are a few basic ideas to get you started:

  • Start looking at page level data. When you can’t see the keyword data anymore, how are you supposed to improve a page’s ranking? Try using the connection of various sources of data, as the Moz blog explains. Which pages on your site are getting search visits? Start looking at page-level data instead of keyword-level data.
  • Organize your search terms into categories. You can track your rankings based on multiple different categories to see which one is improving your ranking. For instance, organize your terms by head terms, long-tail, branded phrases, non-branded terms and more. Then you can examine the pages with search traffic from each category to see how successful they are.
  • Use other sources to analyze perceptions of your brand. You could try keyword suggestion sources like SEMRush or Google Suggest to view the keyword expansions associated with your brand and content. Another easy tactic is looking at what people are typing in your internal site search bar, giving you insight into how customers view your brand.
  • Target specific keywords with AdWords campaigns. Unfortunately, this may be what Google is aiming at by using encrypted searches. Running Adwords campaigns may be expensive, but they will allow you to view expansion opportunities, see where you’re missing organic traffic and possibly bid on certain keywords.

Use This Change to Your Advantage

It’ll take time for Internet marketers to adjust to this change and find ways around the lack of keyword data from Google. Bing will still send keyword data, even though it’s not as widely-used as Google. It’s important to remain optimistic and use this change to your advantage.

If you have clients for whom you do SEO, use this as an opportunity to start conversations with them. They may be uneasy and confused, so they’ll be looking to you for solutions. This is a great time to step up your efforts and use your knowledge to continue pleasing your clients.

Take this as an opportunity to start reading and learning more. There’s never been a better time to refresh your practices and learn from the industry around you. Every marketer will be dealing with this problem, so you’re not alone. Stay current with conversations and learn from others in your niche.

Encrypted Google searches definitely change the way Internet marketers will perform their job. What are your ideas on how to circumvent the loss of keyword data? Have you found any useful workaround articles? Please share in the comments!

Video Content for a SEO World

02 Aug 2013 – Tina Courtney-Brown – Featured –

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Video content is the life force of the web, infusing movement, sound, and priceless engagement to the legions of people waiting to hear and see your message. Done with aplomb, videos create indelible experiences for people to bond with your message and brand, in ways that can literally be unforgettable.

Video content can also equate to SEO gold. In a recent study on content, ReelSEO proclaimed videos are a whopping 50 percent more likely to be found in a search, compared to plain text. With conversion rates having this much potential, it’s time to seriously consider your move into the world of viral videos.

 

Why Videos Rock SEO

A 50 percent increase in search clicks may not be the norm, but it’s clear that this kind of optimization is more than possible. Why? Because the web is built on text content, and anything that stands out from the pack is immediately more likely to draw attention.

Sure, it may seem like YouTube is overflowing with generic video content, but compare that to the sea of web pages, and video is a tiny pixel on a big screen full of data. That equates to a leg up in your SEO efforts. Only a small fraction of current video content is properly optimized, which means there’s a serious potential for getting your audience’s undivided attention.

 

Don’t Think Like a Marketer

The first step in creating video content that moves your SEO needle is to stop thinking like a marketer for your brand, and start thinking like someone searching for your goods or services.

Videos usually accomplish one of two goals: they entertain, or they instruct – preferably with notable expertise or engagement. Take a gander through YouTube’s treasure troves, and you’ll see a lot of popular videos with “How To” in their titles. Assess what works, and what makes the most sense for the message you’re attempting to share, and move forward with your vision.

Video titles, as you can well imagine, are absolutely critical to finding your intended audience. They need to be concise, informative, and they should clearly articulate what the viewer can expect when they choose to watch. Equally important, your title should be eye-catching; the title alone will sometimes make or break a user’s decision to press play, so spend serious time crafting the perfect hook.

 

Choose Keywords Wisely

Just as paramount to your video’s title are the keywords you choose to describe it. Ideally, at least one main keyword will appear in your title too. The process by which you’ll choose these keywords is actually pretty identical to that of text content. The difference is simply where you’ll place your selected keywords; in the case of videos, these will appear in your title, description, and tags. Use standard tools like Google Adwords to verify your keywords are in fact frequently used in similar searches. Then weave them into each descriptor with clarity, brevity, and a little pizzazz.

 

Placement Matters

Once you’ve produced a video you’re proud to show the masses, it’s time to rein in the eyeballs. To get the most out of SEO, you’ll want to post the video in a variety of places. At the bare minimum, video content should be showcased on your YouTube channel and your company’s website. If you have a company blog, definitely show-off the goods here too. You don’t need to post the actual video each time, but can always link to it on your YouTube page.

Every time you post the video online, however, it’s equally important to choose your words carefully once more. This means integrating your keywords and insuring text links are short and to the point. And here’s a rarely used but very powerful tip: transcribe your videos for maximum SEO magic. Sure, this can be tedious, but if you’re smart in production and script out your content before shooting, you only need to modify the existing text a bit to make it reader-appropriate. The result will be oodles of SEO-friendly text content to accompany your video – a very powerful duo indeed.

 

Share and Share Alike

Now that your video is produced and proudly showcased, your final step is some well-strategized social callouts. Use your active Twitter and Facebook accounts to alert your existing audience, and once again, choose the words that accompany the blasts very succinctly. It’s also wise to stagger your social shares across a number of days, rather than inundate your audience all at once. Since some of your fans are likely to follow you on more than one social channel, you’ll save them a little redundancy.

Finally, make sure to take a fair amount of compelling screenshots of your video to integrate into various campaigns. Don’t fall into the trap of posting your video and then forgetting it; allow it to continue to assist in your marketing strategies for as long as it feels current.

With statistics showing the popularity of videos over plain text in search results, and so few video content providers knocking it out of the SEO-park, there is ample opportunity to make major marketing headway with a few smart steps. Adopting a holistic and step-by-step approach to video production that includes smart SEO-tactics could equal a major marketing windfall for your team. Be ahead of your competitors; perfect the art of video search engine optimization.

SEO is Neither Dead nor Dying

25 Jul 2013 – Paul Teitelman – Featured –

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In the past few weeks, the Internet has exploded yet again with the latest round of obituaries dedicated to search engine optimization. The same old questions pop up under a slightly different context. What is left for SEO when Google shoots down each new exploit and tactic? If every useful technique eventually becomes obsolete, what is the point of developing it to begin with?

These laments are heard every time the search engine wipes out another fraction of its search results. The most recent source of woe is Penguin 2.0, which cracked down on the spam backlinks that many still used despite repeated warnings from Google. Besides shuffling a small percentage of pages, Penguin sent a message: The Wild West days of the Internet are over. The law is coming with guns blazing.

It is true that SEO has changed dramatically from its earliest days. In that sense, the SEO of keyword stuffing and link farming is well and truly dead. Arguing that optimization no longer has a place in online marketing, however, is short-sighted and dangerous. There have been many setbacks, but SEO is here to stay.

 

The Many “Deaths” of SEO

In 2010, Google introduced its newest search feature: Google Instant. Rather than waiting for users to finish inputting a query, the search engine instead began throwing out suggestions while they typed, based in part on their browsing history. The decreased standardization of Web searches had some experts predicting the imminent demise of SEO.

Three years later, having survived both Panda, Penguin and social media, experts are still forecasting its doom. And that only covers the last few years; the gradual progression of SEO since Archie debuted in 1990 has seen many such panics, each as unfounded as the last.

 

Who Says SEO is Dead?

Although SEO is still a vital factor in Internet marketing, it no longer commands such prominence as in the past. Many still use it as a blanket term to cover more than on-site optimization and link-building, but succeeding online now requires a strong social media presence as well. The old methods no longer work, and in that sense SEO is caught up in a constant cycle of innovation and limitation.

Others making this argument are less nuanced. Some use it for a sensationalist headline, while others claim to have discovered the technique that will fill the gap left by SEO. As with all things in the marketing community, take everything you read with a grain of salt.

 

Why SEO is Still Going Strong

As long as there are search engines, search engine optimization will be necessary to help worthy websites reach interested viewers. Given the incredible proliferation of websites and pages online, it is reasonable to assume that systems will always need a way to find information that users cannot. The methods, on the other hand, are sure to change, as well as the organizations setting the rules that govern them.

No matter what name it goes by, search engine optimization is simply a means of bringing publishers and companies to readers for mutual benefit. This practice predates the Internet and will outlast it, but until the last search engine shuts down, SEO will remain a vital piece of any website’s business strategy.

 

Modern SEO

The question, then, is what currently works in SEO? When a so-called expert cannot find an answer that he likes, he declares optimization dead. Those who wish to continue profiting from the remarkable opportunities of the Internet, however, must stop and take stock of what has been left behind.

Link building has not been eliminated. In fact, the need for high-quality inbound links has never been greater. Rather than paying for or spamming links, webmasters must now court recommendations from reputable websites and social media users. It demands effort, helpfulness and cooperation. The quick tricks are being picked off one by one, and real finesse is now needed to bring a page to the top of the rankings.

 

Adapting to the Future

In a few months, the outrage and despair of Penguin 2.0 will have faded into the background, only to be replaced by a new harbinger of doom. Through it all, Google will keep moving toward its vision for a strong search environment: one free of spam, exploitation and excessive commercialization. Anyone who pays attention to the rumblings of the giant’s press releases and mouthpieces like Matt Cutts should never be taken by surprise.

So, when everything is considered, it is not SEO that is dying, but rather the obvious black-hat methods that have flourished unregulated for so long. Google and its fellow search engines are ushering in a more civilized era in online marketing. Who will pull ahead and who will lag behind remains to be seen.

How to Make Google Now Work for You

July 2013 – Tina Courtney-Brown – Featured –

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If you haven’t yet discovered the glorious world of virtual assistants, it’s time to meet Google Now. A bit like the more robust version of Apple’s Siri, Google Now acts like the quiet, informative personal assistant you’ve always wanted but couldn’t justify affording. Sure, it certainly pervades your privacy to figure out just what you need to know and when (just like the human variety!), but if you’re willing to take that risk, the rewards are plenty.

 

Google Now: A Definition

Google Now officially launched in the Jelly Bean Android operating system what seems like ages ago, and is now available in both Google Play and Apple app stores. It works on tablets, too. Because it needs to access all your personal data, it is necessary to first turn Google Now on, as the default is set to off (which is a good thing, or some of us would really get paranoid.) You’ll also need to enable Web history, location services, and other allowances, depending on the features you’re after.

Once triggered, Google Now will serve you a series of “cards” throughout the day, which aim to keep you informed about valuable time-saving tidbits. Examples include weather forecasts, flight information, meeting schedules, and sports updates. These will either show up as notifications, or will display when you launch Chrome via your enabled smartphone. Keep in mind that just like most apps, Google Now is a work in progress. What you currently see is likely a skeleton of what it will become.

 

An Upgrade from Siri

Google Now is like hiring a more efficient and reliable Siri, Apple’s own version of a virtual assistant. Although both have their strengths and weaknesses, Google Now seems much more robust and functional over the not-so-reliable Siri. Like its Apple counterpart, Google Now responds to voice commands for a host of functions. The good news is this aspect of the app works like a charm. Use it to verbally set appointments or alarms, ask what time a business opens or closes, find out where the nearest Starbucks is located, or inquire if you need to bring an umbrella out on the town this eve. Essentially, what Google Now excels at is providing little time savers throughout the day. These really add up over time, however, and you may find an extra chunk in your busy day to do something other than chase down pertinent information. Siri covers a few of these commands, but definitely not all of them.

 

A Sampling of Google Now Cards

Below is a list of some of the more functional Google Now cards, including a couple just added this month. If any of the recent additions are any indication, you’re going to want to offer your new virtual assistant a raise (good thing he’s free.)

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Traffic – For those among us who endure small and large commutes, this card gives you a real-time snapshot of your loaded route. Google Now uses recent searches and common location patterns to determine the places you visit most, or you can set your home and work locations to take away the guess work.

Appointments – Synced with Google Calendar, this card works with the Traffic card to give you reminders and route suggestions. Just before you’re set to leave. Google Now will alert you to traffic complications too. And you don’t even have to ask.

Translation and Currency – These two cards are indispensable if you travel overseas. They offer instant conversions and suggestions in just about any international language and currency.

Weather – Each morning along with your friendly alarm, Google Now will give you a local forecast for both your home and work destinations. Immensely useful, for obvious reasons. (This card only works if you’ve set your location to “on.”)

Places – Also useful for the frequent traveler, this card suggests local restaurants, coffee shops, and points of interest, all based on what Google Now has learned about your habits thus far. Without even needing to inquire, you’ll receive great dinner suggestions, and even a cocktail hotspot too.

Books, TV Shows, Video Games, Music, Movies – Google Now also suggests various types of media tailored to your preferences. It’s a clever way to help drive Google Play sales too, in addition to being valuable to the end user. This is why we can hire a stellar virtual assistant for free; because the assistant does some heavy lifting for the real boss, Google. It’s a fair trade-off.

 

The Issue of Privacy

It’s painfully obvious that for Google Now to have the ability to suggest truly relevant content and updates for a given user, it needs to know a lot of personal information: GPS location, your travel plans, meeting times, etc. For many, the trade-off is well worth the privacy invasion. If you are wary, be comforted with the knowledge that you must trigger Google Now on for any of this data to be accessible. If the allure of a virtual assistant helping throughout your day is not enticing, even at the hourly rate of free, then don’t activate the service, and sleep well at night. It is admittedly creepy, and also admittedly really, really helpful.

The true allure of Google Now is not that it’s a genius new app, but that it’s quietly intelligent, and only grows more so as it learns all about the uniqueness that is you. There are no bells and whistles, no whiz-bang features, just a steady stream of valuable, customizable information, unsolicited, that often lands at the moment you need it. For busy professionals, this kind of repetitive time saving assistance is worth its weight in gold. The one thing we can never seem to have enough of is time. Google Now gifts back that precious commodity, a few moments at a time, which of course adds up in a hurry. Although it’s true that the tool is invasive, it has to be to provide this level of value. It all comes down to trust. Do you trust Google with this information, or not? If you do, get Google Now – now.