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We all know that blogging, when done effectively and cross-linked to your website, can be a very effective way to increae your SEO and engage your visitors frequently. But sometimes, finding topics to blog about is difficult.

Here are some tips to help:

  • not like the other guy – try not to pick topics that your competitors are also writing about. Try to be unique – that can equate to higher rankings if there are fewer people blogging about the same thing
  • been there, done that – avoid topics that are already represented by other content on your blog or website. For example, if you are a REALTOR, don’t blog about a new listing – that listing is most likely already present in the property search area of your website
  • local, local, local – search engines LOVE hyper-local content. Blog about things going on around you – events, seminars, community, neighborhoods, or even achievements of a business associate
  • read trade or industry publications to come up with trending ideas that others may find interesting
  • write a follow-up to a previous blog post that was read  alot or commented on a lot
  • sometimes your own hobbies can give you some great blog ideas
  • show me how – write a quick how-to or guide for something in your industry that you do well, and can perhaps help others to do better
  • don’t be afraid to be funny – sometimes a blog post can go off the beaten-path and have nothing at all to do with your blogs usual posts. Jokes, funny happenings around you, or even a funny movie or TV show and provide humorous interludes for your blog that readers will appreciate

Don’t be afraid to experiment. There is no WRONG blog post. Some may not be as popular as others, for sure. But if you experiment a little, you may stumble across a post that becomes more popular that you ever thought it would, and it turns out to be something completely different than you usually post about.

Do you post any blog articles with unusual topics that surprised you in their popularity? We’d love to hear about it!

Responsive website design allows your site to change orientation, resolution and layout based on the device a user is visiting from. But is that always the best option for every type of site?

Some sites that require detailed user interactions don’t scale well to a very small device. A thorough site and usage analysis needs to be performed to
Real Estate Responsive Websites

determine the best solution for your website. Sometimes, a site with very specific pages designed specifically for phone-based users with options and content designed for a particular function, are more appropriate.

Let’s take a travel reservation site as an example. Typically, the actual reservation process is done from a desktop computer, which offers multiple options for adding hotel and car reservations to your travel package. But once the travel reservation is complete, that user may only use the mobile version of the site to check in or confirm a minor change. The full compliment of reservation functions isn’t used often and might not scale well responsively to a small platform. This might be due to technical limitations of technologies used on the desktop site not being deployable in a mobile form. It might also be due to space restrictions imposed on small devices. Or, your site might require extensive keyboard input, requiring the user’s mobile keyboard to be visible most of the time, reducing the amount of screen visible to your application. But whatever the reason, a proper usage study is needed before you decide to invest in a mobile deployment of your web application.

With proper planning, the right choice can easily be determined. Have you recently built a mobile version of your site and see some shortcomings? We would love to hear from you.

Content Marketing

With all the attention to the update Google has been doing over the last year or two, it has become clear content is paramount for any website. In a nut shell Google wants to find content that is clearly written to the audience, content that is relevant and original. Today it is not enough to just write good content and SEO but you need to have a strategy on how to market your content.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Content Marketing, here it is;

Content marketing is a practice of creating relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving business.

The premise here is to build your brand, gain trust, position yourself as an authority and capture your target audience.

Because you now have a goal you need to plan on how you will engage your audience and then convert that to a sale.

Here are a some tips to help you get started.

1. What do I want to accomplish?

Define what your ultimate end game is.  Why are you writing the content? Is it to build trust, retain clients, attract new prospects, highlight yourself, build brand awareness, build loyalty, or just build SEO.

2. What type of content should I publish?

While I am a big believer in blogging, today blogging is not enough.  You need a cornucopia of mixed media, web pages, blogs, video and eBooks.  You need to cultivate your audience along the sales pipeline.

3. What resources will I need?

This is a complex answer because you first need to consider the size of your firm and what resources you have available.  Once you consider who is writing what and/or if you are going to outsource any of it you can then begin to evaluate what types of content you want to produce.

4. Write is Natural Language

When you write your content you need to write as naturally as you can.  Long gone are the days when we wrote to game Google into positioning our content to inflate our SERP. The thing to remember here is to build your authority as an expert.

Don’t forget just because you have created all of this great content and then do not share it you are just wasting a lot of time and money. Another thing to consider is do you have a quality CRM application?  Do you use any marketing automation?

 

Last week, social media giant Facebook bought the mobile messaging platform WhatsApp for a cool $19 billion. So what does Facebook want with WhatsApp?

Well, maybe it’s their 450 million users. And they’ve made it no secret that they want to be the focal point of your daily communications regimen. Recently, Facebook completely “un-bundled” their messaging app, Messenger, to run completely independent of the Facebook app on your phone. This is an attempt to brand the Messenger app and bring awareness to it as a powerful private communication tool (as opposed to Facebook wall posting which is generally public to all of your friends).

Facebook has stated that WhatsApp will remain completely independent with no changes in staff or pricing. But exactly what’s different about WhatsApp that your regular mobile SMS can’t do (or Facebook messenger). Well, first of all, it’s GLOBAL. With WhatsApp, you can communicate with anyone who has the app installed. And of course, WhatsApp does not use your carrier’s SMS plan. It communicates using your data plan. Some other notable goodies are:

  • simple to use group chat
  • voice messaging – speak into your phone and record a message that can simply be instantly played by the recipient
  • embedded audio and video capability
  • Broadcast messaging – send a message to a group without revealing all of the recipients to each other (like BCC)
  • GPS aware so it can send your location with a map link if desired

And what does it cost? Well, at the moment, it’s completely FREE for the first year. And there are NO ads and NO pop-ups. After the first year, it’s just 99 cents a year. Yup – 99 cents.

Give WhatsApp a try and let us know what you think. Is it useful for you?

Last week, Google purchased NEST – the startup company that makes the trendy Learning Thermostat and Protect Smoke Detectors, for $3.2 BILLION. Yes, you heard that right. That’s a lot of money. They previously owned 12% of the company through investments. Google made this move to acquire the terrific talent at NEST, which includes the infamous Tony Fadell (father of the original iPOD), and really make an aggressive move into the Smart Home market.

The NEST team will be transitioned into Google’s Core Hardware Group, inventing new products for the home beyond thermostats. All of this comes on the heals of Google shedding it’s Motorola brand name, selling it to Lenovo for $2.9 billion (but keeping most of Motorola’s juicy patents). Just when you thought you would benefit from Google owning a cell phone hardware manufacturer – what a perfect way to provide a complete mobile Android  hardware AND software solution to consumers (can you say APPLE). But Motorola turned out to be something that was dragging the company down. So Google has moved on… to NEST.

Do you have a NEST device in your home? Is it worth the premium price you paid for it (the thermostats over over $125 and the smoke detector almost twice that)? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

It may not come as a big surprise, but in Shareaholic’s Q4 2013 Report, Facebook accounted for just over 15% of all inbound referrals from social media (including direct traffic, social referrals, and searching) to the over 200,000 sites that are part of the Shareaholic network. This is a 48% increase since September, spread over $250 million unique visitors.

What’s most noteworthy about the new report is how poorly Google + and even LinkedIn are doing, compared to the other social media outlets.  And while Twitter is in 3rd place, it’s growth is relatively flat, and it’s penetration 1/10th of Facebook’s.

We’d love to see how you track your social media referrals and how your site stacks up against Shareaholic’s sampling.

Is SEO Dead?

A client asked me last week “Is SEO really dead?” He had read an article saying just that.  The article went into how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has gone and had been replaced with Google’s new view on quality content.

I thought for a second and said well to me SEO really means the art of optimizing your pages so search engines like Google rank your page better than someone else.

Sure years ago people were able to beat the system and artificially inflate rankings by black hat techniques and even white hat practices for that matter by knowing what Google was looking for.  For example years ago Google heavily relied on page rank, links, keyword density, keyword prominence, etc.

Today Google is trying to instead rely on original and high quality content and the interaction between your pages and the outside world.  But does that mean linking, directory submission, deep linking, search engine submission and social book marking are not relevant.  It does mean they are certainly not going to be as important

But the point that SEO is all about making your web pages optimize is not entirely accurate in my opinion.  SEO has evolved into a melting pot of some of the older techniques and there is certainly more emphasis on quality content now a days.

Some people refer to the old art of SEO as gaming the system and I agree when people used black hat techniques (techniques that were meant to fool Google into thinking the page had more relevance that is really did.

But White Hat techniques such as looking at your keyword density, linking relevant content, directory submission are not dead and are still an integral part of your over SEO game plan.

So what was my advice to my client?  Well it was definitely there is no easy way to become ranked high in the search engines. Most people like taking the  easy way out.  Google has caught on to this and has invested probably millions of dollars and man hours into making content the most important factor when it comes to rankings.

So the moral to this story is you NEED original and high quality content.  Mix in some traditional techniques, broadcast to your social sphere and you have a good marketing plan from which grow from.

So what do you think of SEO in 2014?

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