The webinar on ‘The New SEO Paradigm – From Keywords to Context’ threw light on what has changed as far as SEO is concerned and how marketers can adapt to these changes. A number of interesting questions were asked by the attendees. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here.

The New SEO Paradigm - From Keywords to Context

View the Recording

You could also take a look at the Webinar FAQ here.

Google plus has become a very important platform for businesses in terms of attracting new customers and building a community. Whether you have a Google plus account, Google plus local page for your business, or Google Places account, here are 11 Google Plus Best Practices for Businesses that you can try, to rank well on Google. Used wisely, it can benefit your business and significantly increase ranking chances on Google.

Here are 11 Google Plus Best Practices for Businesses:

1. Provide complete details about your company/business

Most people tend to overlook this but it is actually very important. You must complete your profile and provide essential details such as

  • Name of the company/business
  • Location
  • Telephone numbers
  • Image
  • Link to the official website

Here’s an example: A complete Google Local Page.

Complete profile

In addition to all the important business details like address and timings of the business, you must complete the other sections of the page/profile as well. Use a tagline that is brief, precise and interesting. The introduction should briefly sum up what the business does and the areas of expertise. The timings, phone number and website url add to the completeness of the profile. You have the freedom to add links to different sections of your website if you want.

2. Add a Google+ badge to your Website

Google+ Badge

This point holds good for all other social platforms that your business is a part of. However, a Google Plus follow button, or a badge would help you establish Google publisher markup as well.

Read this post to know why it’s important and how it can benefit your business.

3. Add Google+ sharing buttons to your Website

If your business has a blog, make sure you have all the social share buttons there as well. The more you share, the further it reaches.

Google Plus is specifically important, because whatever is shared on Google Plus is instantly indexed by Google, unlike on Twitter and Facebook, that restrict Google’s crawling activities.

4. Join Communities!

Communities help you interact with your customers and those in the same field. If you want to build credibility and a name for yourself in that specific area, joining and participating in ‘Communities’ will surely help.

All you need to do is select ‘Home‘ and click on ‘Communities‘. Browse through the diverse list and join one that suits your business. Alternatively, you can even search for it in the search box above the page. Given below is a glimpse of what you can expect.

Communities_

5. Create Google Places Account or a Google plus local page for your business

If local listing are important to you, a Google plus local page is what you require. If you want to connect with local customers, a Google Places Account should suffice. Nonetheless, read this post to see what kind of profile your business needs.

6. Engage, engage, engage

Post interesting things on your Google+ profile page. Interact with customers. If it’s a B2B company, share links of your blogs and ask your customers for their views. If it’s a B2C company, offer discounts on all the social websites you are linked with. Hold competitions and encourage customers to participate.

Ask for feedback and respond accordingly, whether good or bad. That would show that you care about your customers and value their opinions.

You can even create your own communities, and invite relevant people to join, contribute and discuss.

7. Set Up a Custom Google Plus Profile URL

A custom Google plus profile URL will make it easier for your customers to locate and connect with you. With a custom Google plus profile URL, you will be eligible for Google+ Direct Connect

Get a custom Google plus profile URL for your business, just like Hard Rock Cafe!

11 Google Plus Best Practices for Businesses

This post will guide you through the steps of setting up a custom Google plus profile URL.

8. Encourage Customers to Write Reviews

Reviews for local businesses are a great way to attract new customers, and show up easily in organic search results. Getting customers to write reviews for you is one of the top Google Plus best practices for businesses. Experiences of fellow customers greatly affect the choices of new customers. They show up on local listings and search results.

Let’s take restaurants as an example. If I want to take my friends to a good Chinese restaurant, I’d definitely read reviews of different Chinese restaurants before going there. For the purpose of this post, I have taken ‘Mainland China’ as an example.

So I read the reviews…

11 Google Plus Best Practices for Businesses

“Hmm…. a bit on the expensive side, but sounds good otherwise”

… And I go for it. Read this post to know more about reviews.

9. Use hastags appropriately

Hashtags are becoming more important every day. Twitter started it, and since then Facebook and Google+ has followed suit. Hashtags help customers find exactly what they are looking for or something relevant to that, since they have hashtags. Don’t overdo it of course. Use where necessary. Hashtags on Google Plus are specifically important because Google indexes G+ hashtags for search results.

10. Customize your posts

[Tweet “Unlike Facebook and Twitter, you can format how your post would look like on G+.”] Make use of the options available. Here are a few pointers:

_I am italic Text_ = I am italic Text

*I am bold Text* = I am bold Text

*_I am italic and bold Text_* = I am italic and bold Text

-I am strike through Text-

Not just this, you can actually create a complete blog post on Google Plus with its own url. Make use of this freedom.

11. Make use of circles

You can create custom circles, like Customers, Colleagues, Family, Friends etc. and share posts relevant to a specific set of people. This would help you avoid sharing irrelevant content with people.

Those were my 11 Google Plus Best Practices for Businesses. Feel free to add yours.

Google Plus Best Practices
Title

The webinar on ‘How to Generate Leads with Content Marketing’ threw light on interesting areas of content marketing and how you can streamline your content to generate better leads. Those of you who missed it, here’s an opportunity for you to go over some of the questions asked by the attendees during the webinar. Alternatively, you could also watch the webinar on ‘How to Generate Leads with Content Marketing’ here.

Webinar FAQs

Question 1:

Could you give some insights on Email Newsletters and also newsletter designing, frequency of emails to be sent and content decisions?

Newsletter is a communication mechanism where you are sharing information which is of interest to the subscriber and by virtue of doing so you are engaging them with your business. An email newsletter is a regularly distributed publication where the content is of interest to the customers. Take a look at this post for newsletter marketing tips.

You should keep the following factors in mind while designing your newsletter:

  • Be consistent with fonts, colour themes and layout
  • The design should ensure the email is readable (fewer italics)
  • Try to cover fewer topics (two to three)
  • Use attractive images/visuals; put Alt Text on images
  • Include social share links
  • CAN Spam compliance
  • Personalise the message body
  • Follow subject line best practices

The frequency depends on several factors like the unsubscribe rate, the nature of the business, how your audience takes it and so on. The two  factors that hold good for all types of businesses are –

1. Ability to put together the content – If you think it takes too much effort to do it every week then don’t send newsletters every week. Send it every fifteen days or once a month.

2. Interest of your subscribers in receiving your content – If you’re subscribers find it painful to read newsletters every week then avoid it. You will be able to find out this information through your weekly subscriber frequency. If the unsubscribes go up, then you would know that it isn’t working. In some case, your good customers will call you and tell you if your newsletters are too frequent.

In most cases, more frequent newsletters get more unsubscribes. So I’d advise you to come up with an acceptable unsubscribe level, say 0.1 or even lower like 0.001 or 0.002, whatever is relevant depending on the list quality and then decide on the frequency.

In our case, we had a weekly newsletter and people didn’t like it so we stopped that. Now we have a monthly newsletter. For certain geographies, we send out newsletters every 15 days.

Question 2:

I have an ecommerce site. On the home page, should I display content or products?

Since it’s an ecommerce site, I think it depends on the audience. Let’s say the product is a cell phone. In that case, there are basic things visitors would look for in terms of evaluating and comparing phones. You must have relevant content on the site. Reviews are great for ecommerce sites so you should provide that option to your customers, so they post reviews. That would be a great way to build loyalty and trust, which customers would look for.

Question 3:

We are basically a product company. What kind of content should we include in our mails?

The kind of content you should generate depends on the type of business you are into. Take a look at the image below to see what content you could include in your emails.

Relevant-content-edited

Let’s take the example of a software product company. In this case, you could talk about how your customers could benefit from your product. Assuming that you sell Project Management Professional (PMP) certification training, you could write about how one can get a better salary by doing PMP certification or any other course that you offer. You could also write content about the experiences of other students who have done their PMP certification from you and the kind of benefits they have received by doing so.  Hence, you could talk about the benefit of the product you are selling, which will be accrued by the buyer.

Question 4:

How does content marketing work in email marketing?

Email marketing has a very important role in terms of being a channel to publicize content.

Here is an example – you write a blog or you come up with a nice quiz which is relevant for your audience and you want to publicize that. If you already have subscribers (email subscribers), meaning those people who have already submitted contact information in the past, you can take that piece of content and nurture your leads.

Let’s say you have an education firm or a training firm and you have subscribers. In this case, your subscribers would love to find out how you could help them get a job or receive tips about better job opportunities. If it’s a quiz which could help them get access to a certain piece of information, they would be happy to take a look at it.

So I think email marketing plays an important role in that sense. It does not play a role in cases where mass emails are sent without any consideration or any relevant content for the customer.

Question 5:

My industry changes rapidly. Do you think it is my responsibility to keep old content up to date or is it better to keep it as a “snapshot” of my thoughts at the time?

I’ll explain this with an example. The LeadSquared blog has several posts on Facebook advertising. This includes guides, steps and other posts having snapshots of the process. When Facebook updates these features, content based on that also needs to be changed because otherwise it becomes stale. So in case of the LeadSquared blog, we would look into the pockets where the content has become stale and modify those areas to make it relevant. You need to change and modify your content accordingly because ultimately, if it’s old content, it won’t be searched at all.

So I’d say it’s better to fix it. The other thing you could look at is webmasters and analytics (as shown in the image below), and find out which content is ranking well.

How to Generate Leads with Content Marketing

If that content (which is ranking well) is not up to date, then that content needs to be fixed since that is actually attracting traffic. Thus, it is important to have fresh or current stuff there.

You need not change everything since it may still be relevant, but if you are getting good traffic for a particular post, keep it up to date.

Question 6:

What is the ideal content size for a blog?

There are guidelines available online. Obviously it shouldn’t be a few lines and it shouldn’t be a book. It should be enough to give justice to the topic that you have picked for the blog post. Typically, most writers are able to cover the topic in 400-600 words. It shouldn’t be too lengthy because then people won’t read it. If it’s too small, you may miss out on key points. But if you are able to cover all the areas and yet, have a small word count, go ahead. People like Seth Godin write small posts but are able to convey the meaning in totality. Hence, there is no hard and fast rule about content size. As long as it makes sense, it’s good to go.

Question 7:

How can I fix negative reviews?

The way to fix negative reviews is to find out the reason for the negative review and fix that. The other option is to get a good customer to write a positive review about the company against that negative review. You could also take a look at this post, published on Smallbiztechnology.com for more inputs.

Question 8:

What is difference between an Article, a Blog and a Press Release?

Blog is an article, available on the internet that usually expresses the writer’s opinions on a certain topic. An article is similar in nature but may or may not be available online. A press release is an announcement, that is important to the business, made by the company or organization, for the public (customers).

 Question 9:

If we want NRIs to look us up for Healthcare tourism in India, what kind of content would be most appealing – factually appealing content or emotionally appealing content?

Before I answer the question, I’d like to add that content marketing is not just about writing stuff. The visual aspect is a very important element in content marketing and one should invest in that too. If you have good images in your blog, it will give you better retention of the traffic on the site. This holds good for any website associated with any kind of business. Presentation is important. Have a nice looking blog that is pleasing to the eye.

Coming back to the question, I’d say facts always help. Emotional appeal is subjective. However, images can play a very important role in that aspect. Your content should be factual. Let’s say you are writing about ‘how healthcare tourism in India is helping people cut costs’. You could highlight the  benefits of medical facilities in India such as low waiting periods for transplants and then carry on with your article.

 Question 10:

Ours is a 15 -year old real estate agency with a good HNI client base. How frequently should we send emails to our customers and what kind of content should we include?

If you are catering to HNI’s, I think the kind of content they would like to see is how their investments are doing currently. For example, if they have invested in a particular geo and they want information regarding their investments, they would probably want information related to that.

Information on what are the upcoming areas where property prices are going up or going down, what are the risk areas, and so on would be beneficial to them. You could do a comparative study of the same and present that to your customers. You don’t have to prepare the reports yourself. You could pick reports from companies who do that like Jones Lang LaSalle. Obviously, you have to vet it because they are your customers and they would believe what you say.

Share information about how the property market is doing in general. If you have differentiation in types of properties like commercial, residential, office spaces, etc., you could highlight what are the returns on that. You could also talk about percentage benefit in terms of commercial premises versus residential premises and what is the return on investment one can make, and so on.

In terms of frequency, I think monthly mails should work but that’s your call.     

The webinar on ‘How to Generate Leads with Content Marketing’ would benefit and guide any marketer who is just getting started with content marketing to generate leads. A number of interesting questions were asked by the attendees. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here.

How to Generate Leads with Content Marketing

View the Recording

You could also take a look at the Webinar FAQ here.

The webinar on “5 Minute Online Marketing: Daily Tasks to Improve your Digital Footprint”, presented by Nilesh Patel, CEO, LeadSquared and Rob Peck, Director of Client Services at O3M Directional Marketing  was a success, thanks to the active participation and cooperation of the attendees. For the benefit of those who missed it, this post has covered some of the questions asked during the webinar. Alternatively, you can also watch the webinar here.

Webinar FAQs

Question 1

How effective is Google Adword’s new feature, the ‘Remarketing List’?

It is in general very useful. For instance, if I’m running a campaign – I’m generally going after fairly expensive managed placements in google display network. For those, I have to bid aggressively to get clicks. Once someone clicks through and visits my site, I tag them with my remarketing list. So now, since they are on my remarketing list, I could essentially target them on any site within my Google display network at a comparatively lower cost.

Question 2

If I have unhealthy links on my site, how would I go about dissolving them?

The primary precaution that you can take is to not register in ‘link building’ sites. Now, if you already have unhealthy links to the site, you can get rid of them through the ‘Disavow tool’ on Google Webmasters.

Go to Webmasters and take a look at the disavow tool. You will find all the unhealthy sites listed there. Get rid of them.

Question 3

How we can track competitors, CPC? Is there any tool for that?

There are a few tools that give you fairly decent estimates. Keywordspy, Keyword Ninja are among them. But they are just estimates.

What I like to do – Once I have a fairly stable Adwords campaign, I can keep an eye on my Adwords position. You can bid up a little and see where your average position goes, bid down a little and see where your average position goes. You can also look at quality score, ad rate considerations, and that should give you some idea of where they fall.

Once you have a stable Adwords account, if you have low click through rates or low quality score – you will have to bid much higher to get those prime positions. But if you see a quality score of 6/10, then you can try experimenting with your bids and see what position that gets you too.

The other tools you could look at are SEMrush, SpyFu. They give you high level information on the budget, etc of your competitors but then those are restricted for certain markets so I’m not sure if they cover the Indian geo. You could try these if you are bidding outside the Indian market like UK, US and other places.

Question 4

What is Google Merchant Center? Is it necessary to list the data feeds into Google Merchant Center?

Google Merchant is “the place to upload your product data to Google and make it available to Google Shopping or other Google services”. It is associated with Product Listing Ads.

Product Listing Ads, for the Indian market is a slightly newer ad type – let’s say 5-6 months old. If you do a product level search, the results of that are Product Listing Ads.

For instance, if I’m looking for a 2l pressure cooker – on the right side I see the actual product, title, price, etc. Those are product listing ads. If you have a functional e-commerce site, that’s a great ad type to run.

To create it, we go into Google Merchant Center and create a feed of Products from our e-commerce site into Google Merchant Center.

Generally, for most ecommerce sites, like SMEs, where you have 5-50 products, you manually create a feed on excel or spreadsheet software, upload that to Google Merchant center, then from Google Merchant Center, you link it to your Adwords account, to run the PLAs.

Plus point – PLAs are a fantastic ad type, – we certainly run them for many of our clients,

Negative point – The way you target things are very limited. For search campaigns, you have ‘n’ number of keywords to choose from, for display campaign, we have different sites on the Google Display Network to target.

However, for PLAs, the things to concentrate on are the Product Attribute Field, Product Description Field and then the brand.

So I should create my feed for e-commerce site into Google Merchant Center, link that with Adwords, and run PLAs.

Question 5

How do I run the MOZ report on my site? Is there a tool that I can use?

Go to moz.com, then go to the ‘Tools’ page and find it there. Alternatively, you could go to Open Site Explorer, enter your website URL and view reports.

One would be the page report, where you will find the health analysis of your home page. The second is the domain report which has the health across the whole domain. Third would be the sub-domain report which you don’t really need, except in certain cases.

I would certainly focus on the domain and page reports. It will give you the metrics, MOZ score, how many links are pointing at your site, etc.

Question 6

For optimizing clicks, what option should I choose, automatic or manual bidding option?

There are a few bidding options available. There’s manual where you can decide how much to pay for a click and there’s automatic where you tell Google – give me the most clicks for my daily budget. The third option is conversion optimizer where if you have history of leads, and where you’re telling Google to run the campaign if they seek fit – give the most leads in their eyes.

The important metric to keep in mind is the quality score. Quality score helps to find add rate where you are listed on the search results page.

What we like to do is, generally we start off with fairly high manual bidding, get a campaign history with a high click through rate (which will help our quality rise because it will help our CTR rise), and then hope to see a higher add rate.

So generally I like manual bidding, as the campaign starts, making sure I have quality ads. Once I have a healthy campaign, I have the Google guys happy with a high CTR – relevant ads, relevant keywords, relevant landing pages, then I need to decide what the goals of my business are  and how much attention I can dedicate to my campaigns.

But otherwise if you want to set it up and forget about it, automatic bidding is a completely viable option. Manual bidding if you have time, automatic bidding if you don’t have time.

Question 7

How many keywords should I have in an ad group?

It depends. Generally it needs to be a number that you can control on some rational basis. This is where planning ahead of time really comes into play. If I had to toss out, just a number, I would say maybe 20-30. It is a general benchmark. But it depends.

The webinar on ‘5 Minute Online Marketing: Daily Tasks to Improve your Digital Footprint’ is ideal for any business looking to improve their digital footprint with simple online daily tasks. A number of interesting questions were asked by the attendees. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here.

5 Minute Online Marketing: Daily Tasks to Improve your Digital Footprint

View the Recording

You could also take a look at the Webinar FAQ here.