Offer a reward for customers who buy something from you and show that they checked in at your business on Foursquare using their mobile device. When they do this, they’re telling everyone in their network that they’ve done business with you. Each month, reward the person who gave you the greatest exposure by offering a discount, and asking for their email address.
Ever since I first time heard that you can get free traffic from a thing called Google, I wanted that. But, I had no idea where to start. And what was even worse, every “great” tip I’d receive from an “experts” was a complete BS that only sounds nice, but could never be used by real businesses. Most of those things are considered black-hat now. That’s how “great” those tips were.
For example, we regularly create content on the topic of "SEO," but it's still very difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic on this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword -- and potentially the same search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you're reading right now), and other subtopics within SEO.
Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.

This was all free information I found online in less than an hour, that gives me some great ideas for content, partnerships and potential tools to build into my site to be relevant and useful to my target audience. Of course this is just some quick loose data, so I'll emphasize again: be careful where your data comes from (try to validate when possible), and think about how to use your data wisely.
Very in-depth information, Brian. I love the part about updating old content, I still find old articles in search results, sometimes 3+ years ago that are clearly out of date when it comes to marketing topics. I usually skip those results, and wonder how that content is still ranking, but it would be great if everyone updated that content. This entire post is full of useful tips, as usual. I am bookmarking now, and sharing-
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!

What if you could entrust your Twitter account to a machine? This isn’t dystopian science fiction but a reality thanks to Happy Cyborg, a fun tool that’s still in beta. Happy Cyborg assumes control of your Twitter handle and behaves as you would based on common responses to Twitter interactions. Probably not recommended for corporate accounts, but it could be ideal for busy entrepreneurs who find themselves tweeting the same stuff frequently.
Figuring out when your visitor is ready to convert depends on your website viewers’ behavior, so you’ll want to conduct A/B testing to determine where you need to place your CTA. Does it work best towards the bottom of a blog page, when it slides out to the right, or does it get higher conversions at the beginning of the page, sliding out from the left?
Ever since I first time heard that you can get free traffic from a thing called Google, I wanted that. But, I had no idea where to start. And what was even worse, every “great” tip I’d receive from an “experts” was a complete BS that only sounds nice, but could never be used by real businesses. Most of those things are considered black-hat now. That’s how “great” those tips were. 

Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.
If you’ve ever looked at your site analytics and yelled “what do you want from me?” you’re not alone. That’s why Inspectlet lets you analyze user activity via eye-tracking heat maps, screen capture, and user interaction analytics. You’ll be able to watch how users interact with your site and figure out where they may get confused. And then get to work fixing those areas.

Spider-driven search engines such as Google®, Yahoo!® and MSN® use "robots" or "crawlers" to score websites across the Internet. Robots "spider/crawl" each site and "score" pages based on how relevant they are. A website's score or placement within a spider driven search engine is derived from hundreds of variables such as link popularity, density and frequency of keywords in page content, HTML code, site themes and more. You will want to focus many criteria in your SEO strategy to position yourself well among the major search engines. Here are two of the most influential factors:

We now have a dedicated SEO strategist who, among other things, develops 90 day plans for our websites. 90 days isn't longterm planning, but at least we have a strategic objective for the quarter. He also works closely with our UX team to identify the target audience - the crew that does the persona research and focus groups prior to the wireframe stage.
Why not? When you skimp on tools, you hinder your marketing from getting better. So, regardless of whether you choose these specific tools or not, make it your goal to find tools that you use regularly. Better tools are equivalent to better marketing. Whatever the tool you choose, make sure that you understand it well and that it makes a measurable improvement on your marketing efforts.

Each organic search engine ranking places emphasis on variable factors such as the design and layout, keyword density and the number of relevant sites linking to it. Search engines constantly update and refine their ranking algorithms in order to index the most relevant sites. Other variables that have an impact on search engine placement include the following:
Similar to Google Suggest – but with a lot more data – Soovle lets you see autocomplete suggestions instantly from not just Google, but several other sites including Wikipedia, Amazon, and YouTube. Very handy, but it’s worth noting that Google plans to cut off access to the autocomplete API in the near future, meaning Soovle will only be able to provide results for other search engines when this happens.
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