Tags: online marketing

Utilizing PR & Marketing for Consumer-Friendly Strategy

Utilizing PR & Marketing for Consumer-Friendly Strategy

Beyond • November 18, 2011

Let’s say you’re looking for a new toaster. You want a toaster that fits your situation perfectly. You start with the internet and soon you’ve discovered every brand out there. A trip to the magazine kiosk yields several resources that fill in any missing information. You’ve now researched as many manufacturer claims as you can find. That’s marketing. You’ve been operating in a carefully crafted environment that was created (hopefully) to entice you to a decision. Marketing creates environments that pave the way for a sale to occur. It’s like a basketball game. When a team gets the ball, they set up a play (environment) that creates an opportunity for a shot (sale). When a player shoots the ball, the sales process begins. Getting back to our toaster, we see how powerful marketing can be. However, it may not have led us to a decision yet. We know those messages and photos and videos were paid for, so there remains a bit of skepticism. But what if a friend has one of the toasters on your short list and talks in detail about its virtues? And what if you’re watching TV and see a feature on toasters? You’d likely perk right up and watch with interest. And when they point out that a famous chef whom you know uses that same model in his/her own home, well, shall we just say - decision made. That’s PR – messages that are perceived as being unsolicited. True experiences that include the polish and the dirt, so you really know what to expect. Actually, a PR strategy is remarkably similar to a social media strategy, but we’ll save that for a future post. In most companies, and as many experts will agree, PR and marketing often overlap. This requires collaboration between different departments, and in smaller businesses requires one department to incorporate both. So how do we manage a PR/Marketing blend? Understanding the Trade Off There’s a trade off and overlap. You control the marketing environment and keep it on-brand. You can start a PR campaign with great stories, but you have little control over reader responses. If people start a negative snowball rolling, it can bury you like an avalanche. Truth is usually the best defense here. If it’s not true, do not say it or imply it in your PR stories. Building a Solid Foundation You need a sound marketing base to support the stories being told (PR) about your offerings. A marketing strategy that outlines goals, strategies and tactics along with budget guidelines is best, but you may only need a branding strategy or even a good creative brief. The point is to create a pre-designed environment that sets you apart in the mind of your prospects. Creating Stories that Get Noticed You need compelling stories if a PR campaign is to succeed. Listen to your friends’ and family’s stories about their favorite stuff. Hire the greatest writer you can find. Great PR is not just about media placements, it’s about the story being told. Great stories will be picked up by the media! Keep Your Eyes Peeled The compelling stories being told about your offering must fall within the marketing environment you’ve created. Look for what’s being said about your offerings like a man on fire looks for a pond! Those stories can take on a life of their own and you need to be aware of them. Budget Control Generally speaking, skew your budget towards PR once you have a solid marketing strategy in place (collateral, ads, website, etc.). But note, most everyone else is doing this as well, so your PR success will likely boil down to how compelling and interesting your stories are.


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The Difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

The Difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Beyond • November 16, 2011

I keep coming across the terms “inbound/outbound marketing.” Apparently, I\'m not the only one. Out of curiosity I shot out a Facebook question to my business community asking how many people knew what that meant. Apparently not a whole lot and it’s understandable why. We’re constantly being bombarded in all direction by what’s ‘in’ for business. It’s hard to keep up with the developments let alone the right terminology. I think this warrants a quick inbound/outbound marketing 101. Outbound Marketing Outbound marketing is known as the ‘old way’ of doing things, including using billboards, TV ads, telemarketing, sales people, direct mail, radio slots, paid print publishing advertisements. It’s not a completely irrelevant marketing strategy; it depends on what type of business you’re in. Even bigger business get seduced by the lure of television – but they forget that with Tivo most commercials are fast forwarded through. New ‘digital media friendly’ ads are popping up. You’ll know what I mean when I remind you of all those annoying pop up ads that get in the way of you reading or watching what you want online. If you’re ignoring them by clicking out, so are others. However, many small businesses can’t afford billboard ads and TV slots. But they can afford a one-off magazine ad in a local publication or a direct mail piece. The latter are highly ineffective and go mostly unread and tossed in the trash, since about 44% of all direct mail and junk publications get thrown away – especially around the holidays. As a result these smaller more affordable outbound marketing strategies end up costing you more in the short run – and with nothing to show for it. Be advised that this type of marketing requires repeat plugs, repeat appearances that are really expensive. And if you’re successful, someone remembers your name but they know nothing about you. There’s no customer relationship fostered and nothing offered that warrants someone to use your service over another. And here’s where inbound marketing really comes in… Inbound Marketing Inbound marketing encompasses email marketing, blogging, social media, link building, gratis magazine articles that cater reader interests, podcasts and videos…it’s digital content catered to the community and leading the conversation. Inbound marketing strategies are the way to lead to viral marketing campaigns that get you noticed! And you get noticed “naturally,” as opposed to outbound’s “in your face” approach that in our community-driven era tends to turn off a lot of consumers by being too consumer oriented. Inbound marketing’s best if you’re a smaller business or on a budget crunch, and especially if you want to set yourself as a field authority. It’s also a great tool for larger companies with a more flexible budget. They can use inbound marketing to test out a new product or service as a way of experimenting before deciding to pursue it further. They may even decide that select aspects of their business will exclusively be marketing through inbound methods. This type of marketing also requires you to really understand your target audience. Understanding people has a lot to do with why inbound marketing has really grained traction, especially in the advent of increased digital media platforms. People want to be courted, they want to be understood and appealed to. Inbound marketing is a slow train but gets you more passengers in the long run that will return for the ride. It takes time and commitment, so if you’re not a patient business owner and need results fast then consider employing some outbound strategies as well.


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Beyond Benchmark: October Email Marketing Tips

Beyond Benchmark: October Email Marketing Tips

Beyond • November 14, 2011

How can you leverage treasure hunts for more sales? What\'s the best way to market your online goods to young adults? How do you take those boring purchase confirmation emails and turn them into up-selling goodness? We\'re a little late giving you our Beyond Benchmark update for October, but that\'s because we\'ve been overwhelmed by the awesome knowledge our team delivered in guest posts last month. Here\'s a quick list of October articles that you can definitely use for your business. Denise Keller on Business Insider Confirmation emails are like paper towels. Do you need them? Yes. Do you get excited about them? We\'re guessing no. The average confirmation email is a bare-bones, plain text email telling you that you bought something and your order went through. But did you know you can spruce up those emails with effective marketing copy that can bring in more bucks from the receiver? Dig into COO Denise Keller\'s Business Insider article covering this important topic and Turn Boring Confirmation Emails into Marketing Tools. Denise Keller on Youngentrepreneur Let\'s face it: if you don\'t like treasure hunts, you have no soul. Okay, that\'s going a bit far, but finding a cool item that exists in very limited amounts can definitely give a person a warm feeling inside. Denise Keller tackles the phenomenon of treasure hunts and how you, as an online marketer or ecommerce seller, can use treasure hunts to excite customers and drum up business. Adding email to the treasure hunt mix is also covered, so visit Young Entrepreneur to learn how Email Marketers Can Leverage Online Treasure Hunts. Hal Licino on Practical Ecommerce When it comes to online savvy, young adults have it all. Cool smart phones. Social media prowess. A fantastic grasp of Twitter and texting. Overall, this means that email marketing to a college student or someone just out of high school is wildly different than promoting your stuff to Baby Boomers. Are you ready to write snappy, abbreviated copy, integrate your newsletters with social media campaigns and more? If you\'re looking to tackle the young adult market with email newsletters, our resident guru Hal Licino gives you A Primer on Email Marketing to Young Adults.


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New Email Editor Video, Same Classic Weekly Wrap

New Email Editor Video, Same Classic Weekly Wrap

Beyond • November 11, 2011

Had an awesome lunch today with some co-workers. The topic of first concerts was discussed. Mine was the Who doing Quadrophenia (before John Entwistle passed away). Another was Culture Club opening up for the Smiths, and possibly my favorite was Nirvana opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. What was yours? Let me know in the comments, when you’re done checking out this edition of The Weekly Wrap. 5 Ways to Add Qualified Techies to Your Business #6: Wait outside of Comicon and lure them with candy, comics and video games. Discover the other 5 Ways to Add Qualified Techies to Your Business. Benchmark Email Video: How to Use the New Email Editor If you’re like me, you hate to read the instruction manual. No reading necessary with this video walkthrough of the new Benchmark Email editor. See it in action in this new Benchmark Email Video: How to Use the New Email Editor. Customize an Email Template for Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day! If you’ve ever wondered what that smell coming out of your fridge was, or found an ecosystem growing in there, I’ve got just the holiday email campaign for you. Before it gets out of control, Customize an Email Template for Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day! Workplace Motivation: Disney’s Electronic Whip Not to Be Emulated I wear a Mickey Mouse watch every single day. I feel naked without it. It did, however, make me a little sad to look at it after reading this post on Workplace Motivation: Disney’s Electronic Whip Not to Be Emulated. Siri Outages & iPhone 4S Battery Woes Sour Apple Fans I discovered this week that I was eligible for an iPhone upgrade. Being the giant child that I am, I wanted a new toy immediately. However, I was given pause due to the Siri Outages & iPhone 4S Battery Woes Souring Apple Fans. State of the Media: Social Media in Your Brand Marketing More interesting to me than the State of the Union, but less fun, since you can’t play a drinking game based on the amount of standing ovations (don’t act like I’m the only one who does this). Francis delivers the State of the Media: Social Media in Your Brand Marketing. Bing Bleeds and Siri Leads: The Future of the Search Engine Wars I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a George Lucas film to me. Read the book (blog post) first. In a world (said in the movie trailer voice), where Bing Bleeds and Siri Leads: The Future of the Search Engine Wars. Online Marketing Tips: How Global Consumers Shop Online Email goes around the world and so should the reach of your business. Do it with some help from these Online Marketing Tips: How Global Consumers Shop Online. Quora: A Dynamic Informational Database for Your Business I didn’t think I’d like Quora. I’m impatient. I enjoy the instant answers that Google offers. However, if you want an answer from an expert to the exact question you posed, ask Quora: A Dynamic Informational Database for Your Business. Social Media: What Comes First: The Impressions or the Profits? Did I miss something? Did we already figure out what came first, the chicken or the egg? Or have we already ‘crossed that road?’ Get it? Thank you! I’ll be here all week. Try the veal! And answer the question, Social Media: What Comes First: The Impressions or the Profits?


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What Your Marketing Department Can Learn from Infographic Resumes

What Your Marketing Department Can Learn from Infographic Resumes

Beyond • November 11, 2011

We’re in an information overload age, but the fact of the matter is that information still needs to get relayed. So to compete with everyone else out there, the creative-minded are coming up with new ways to say the same thing or showcase information. I stumbled across a graphic designer’s resume a few months back. I clicked on it and instead of another boring data sheet that offended my eyes, I was captured by the two tone ‘infographic’ that showcased her talent in a fun and memorable way. So what’s an infographic? Think chart or graphic with an art-department twist. They’re being used more and more for resumes, but they can be used for just about any purpose, including telling a marketing story, sharing a vision board, as a press release and more. How to Use Infographics for Marketing Tell a Story – If you have a story to tell, nothing says it better and more effectively than a simple infographic. When done right, just a scan of the eye will help you achieve your message, and make it more fun for your recipient. Make it a link and you’re guaranteed to get it plugged in social media. How could anyone resist a creative narrative? Press Kit – Many novices are using infographics for resumes, so I ask why not use the same tool to sell your company via press kits. Every company needs a press kit and whether you’re printing them or keeping it digital, you’ll gain attention and save on bulky printing costs with a clean one sheet that tells people what they need to know. Message Mode - Infographics are best if they’re not one-off works of creative genius. You should incorporate infographics routinely into your marketing efforts. Maybe one blog a week can be an infographic or the way you showcase your executives or company history can also be an infographic? How about an infographic press release to ensure your story gets to the consumers via social media rather than wading in a pool of thousands waiting for reporters to pick up on it? What Makes for a Great Marketing Infographic Keeping It Simple – Just like we don’t like (or have time) to be overloaded with text, we also don’t want a chart to understand a visual. If you’re using a visual, keep it simple and spaced out. Less color is more, which is why you should stick with between 2-4 complementing shades. If you’re going to use colors, this is how to do it. Use Gradient – If you’re going to go with more color, then make sure your design is simple. Here you can also incorporate gradient (subtle color depth shifts) to add more dimension to your piece. Charts 2.0 – Let’s face it, charts are hard to ignore. Most of us are still forced to create or read them. Either way, we feel like we’re being punished with Atari-like graphics and text. Give it a twist by pushing charts in the 21st century by making them adopt the community-inspired effect that makes marketing so successful. Personalize charts with creative text and characters that break the mold, and incorporate multiple types of charts into one, which ensures that something will capture reader attention. Infuse Character – The example above, “Breakdown of the Blogosphere” also showcases a festive “night time theme with subtle stars and gradient blues.\" If your company culture allows, you can do the same with your infographic. Have fun, play with colors, characters and themes and your customers will notice.


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Do Memes Belong in Your Online Marketing?

Do Memes Belong in Your Online Marketing?

Beyond • November 10, 2011

Trends have influenced the world for ages, but it is their method of distribution that is always changing. Now with the internet so prevalent in everyday life, trends are able to spread faster than ever. Memes are a part of a new (relatively) online phenomenon that is enabling trends to spread like wildfire across the internet and beyond. USA Network, which televises popular programs such as Burn Notice, Law & Order and WWE Monday Night Raw, teamed up with digital marketing agency 360i in an effort to engage its viewing audience by leveraging the meme concept. To help promote the premiere of Psych, the comedic drama that just kicked off its sixth season, the cable television network encouraged fans who were invited to the screening of the premiere episode to use the hashtag “#pineappling” when sharing photos on Twitter. This particular meme ties into the actual pineapple itself, a common Psych theme that sees the delicious fruit making an appearance on almost every episode of the hit show. The pineappling meme produced solid results for USA Network as 360i reported that hundreds of fans have used the hashtag since the premiere, while the original post that introduced it on the Psych Tumblr generated more than 400 likes and reblogs. Having access to millions of Psych fans in the social media space helped the team of USA Network and 360i make an interactive and exciting affair out of the show’s season six premiere. What’s up with Memes? A meme is essentially a social concept or cultural symbol that makes a viral impact of sorts. Similar to a virus, it spreads from one person to the next, with propagation being its main source of life. In decades past, memes were carried by word of mouth. These days, they travel via email, social media and other channels associated with the internet, with some sites completely dedicated to the recognition, classification and generation of memes. A perfect example can be seen in the memorable TV ad Wendy\'s originally aired back in 1984. When presented with a wimpy looking burger in the commercial, the consumer, portrayed by actress Clara Peller, wanted to know one thing: “Where’s the beef?” In this case, the meme of course is “Where’s the beef?” The popular catchphrase has gone on to be used in television programs, magazines and various other media outlets to this day. Memes can also encourage interaction, as is the case with pineappling, and a controversial pastime known as planking. KnowYourMeme.com says that planking started in 2006 with the “Lying Down Game,” but its origins can be traced as far back as the 1993 motion picture The Program. Whereas the vast majority of memes are harmless fun, planking in particular can be dangerous. Advocates of the pastime have been strongly promoting safety since a man from Australia plummeted to his death this past May trying to plank on a balcony. Memes in Your Marketing So what’s the verdict? Should you use memes in your marketing or not? That is totally up to you, but with the right execution, there is certainly a lot to gain. Okay, you may not have millions of Facebook fans or thousands of Twitter followers like a hit cable TV show, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them work to your advantage. Whether it’s a captivating advertisement or catchy slogan, the ideal meme is something people can easily latch on to and want to share with others. From where we stand, they are perfect for the company wishing to make a viral splash. Bear this in mind, however, that if you attempt to use previously established memes in your advertising, it may end up dating them worse than if you’d never tried at all. Memes are spontaneous, and some of the most enduring have arisen by accident, or even contrary to the original item they intended to promote.


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LinkedIn’s Meteoric Rise to Fantasyland Valuations

LinkedIn’s Meteoric Rise to Fantasyland Valuations

Beyond • November 10, 2011

If a Wall Street analyst had slept as long as Rip Van Winkle and awakened today, twenty years later, they might think that they had been transported not to the future but to another planet. In 1991, the market capitalization (cap) of a company was established by calculations of its physical assets, profit and liabilities. All of that tangible valuation has effectively vanished today, and LinkedIn is a primary example of a company whose market cap has no bearing in any form of financial reality other than “the magic aura of the internet” (the same one that caused the dotcom bubble 15 years ago). With a price to earnings ratio of over 500 (compared to Microsoft’s 9) and a market cap of close to $10 billion, it seems no one is asking why LinkedIn turned a profit of $3.4 million last year. Where No (Rational) Man Has Gone Before After the huge initial public offering (IPO), LinkedIn actually started losing money, dropping $1.6 million in the last quarter. So we have a company that is worth much more than Chrysler (or Delta Airlines, etc.) and in the last couple of years it’s turned as much profit as a decent suburban auto dealer. At 2011 earnings, Captain Kirk will be commanding the USS Enterprise in 2265 and LinkedIn will still not have broken even with its market cap today. Yes, the internet is indeed magic, as it makes billions appear out of electrons, illuminated pixels and not much else. Grosses as Much Money as a Good Donut Shop Now that you’re comfortably in the internet financial reality-free zone, you won’t be surprised to learn that LinkedIn just announced that they are going to sell another $100 million in stock for working capital, which leads one to wonder where the money raised at the IPO six months ago went. LinkedIn does state that Hiring Solutions, its largest division, has 7,400 customers, which if they’re each paying maximum fees account for $6.6 million a year in gross income. When you consider that there are donut shops that put that much money through the cash register on a good year you… er… never mind… this is the internet mass hallucination after all, so step right up, pay your ticket and suspend your disbelief. Coca-Cola Execs Showing up in Pepsi Ads In a scramble for justification of its knee-slapper valuation, LinkedIn recently launched social advertising so that when you “follow companies, or take other actions” your connections may see your name and photo in “related ads.” The prospect of an executive for Coca-Cola showing up in a Pepsi ad or a Ford manager seen to be associated with a Toyota promo sparked an avalanche of complaints and turn-offs. At about the same time, LinkedIn stealthily changed its default settings to allow it to mine personal data for third party advertisers, a move that triggered another barrage of privacy violation complaints. Where’s the Alibaba-Type Marketplace? Even with the chimeric valuations and management stumbles, at its core LinkedIn is a valid online social network. It allows millions of executives and managers to connect with each other in the 21st century equivalent of the networking breakfast business card exchange club at the Holiday Inn. There are indisputably many LinkedIn members who have made connections that led to increased business, but the precise estimate always falls into the morass of how to accurately measure Return On Investment on a platform as ethereal as social media. The question of why LinkedIn has not gone into the Alibaba direction and actually created an exchange for products and services so all these execs can do something that actually makes money on the site rather than socializing in a “Facebook with less time-wasting stigma” remains one of the great unanswered questions of our age. LinkedIn is not the only superlative portfolio investment in the internet investor-fantasyland. Groupon reported that it made a whopping $239,000 last quarter on a market cap of about $30 billion, so its break even point becomes the year 32091. If you expect to live that long, it would be a great idea to buy some GRPN stock today!


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Google Zeitgeist Only Small Part of Google Gestalt

Google Zeitgeist Only Small Part of Google Gestalt

Beyond • November 10, 2011

You’ll be hard pressed to find many corporations working harder towards world domination than Google. From Android operating systems to Chromebook laptops, the Mountain View-based company most of us associate with internet search certainly has a lot on its plate these days. Some of its latest initiatives got us to wondering if just maybe the G-men are moving too fast. Google Analytics Gets Real-Time Data When it comes to tracking website performance, efficient reporting tools can get a little pricey, to say the least. There are quite a few analytics solutions on the market, but many of them will set you back a pretty penny. The good thing is that many free programs also exist, with Google Analytics being one of the best available. This software has always been effective in the tracking and reporting department, but the one aspect it has lacked is the ability to measure performance up to the moment activity occurs on a website. That is, until now. On September 29, Google rolled out a major update for its analytics tool with the launch of Google Analytics Real-Time. This new feature is essentially a collection of comprehensive reports that shows the user what is happening on their site as it happens, which makes it great for measuring immediate impact. For now, real-time data is only available in the new version of the program, and can be accessed by clicking the “New Version” link at the top right of the interface. According to Google, the reports will be made available to all users over the coming weeks. A Greener Google As one of the biggest players in the internet world, environmentalists could easily point the finger directly at Google for polluting the environment. After all, the company does control a multitude of data centers, servers and energy hungry resources, which are believed to be contributing to global warming and other environmental issues. However, the internet powerhouse has been on an eco-friendly kick for some time now, and recently decided to ramp up its efforts by helping others go green. On September 27, it was announced on the official Google blog that Google had invested $75 million in a partnership with Clean Power Finance, a company that provides software and financing solutions to firms in the solar energy industry. The partnership is designed to bring solar energy to as many as 3,000 homes. This effort marks Google’s second investment in solar energy initiatives for residential environments. The first was a $280 million investment in national leading solar power company SolarCity. To date, it has poured more than $850 million into creating and deploying renewable energy. Page Talks Google’s Full Plate at Zeitgeist Google ended the month of September by holding Zeitgeist, the annual conference it hosts for advertising partners and other clients. Zeitgeist is known for providing an open platform for the tech community to discuss topics ranging from search to social media, and for the most part, the 2011 edition held true to form. However, this year’s event was a bit different as it featured a rare appearance from Google CEO Larry Page. Page took the stage to discuss some of the many projects Google currently has in the pipeline. Specifically, the chief executive talked about the company’s deeper foray into the search game, its fast growing social network Google+ and the pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility and how the deal will help with patent protection. In the process of discussing these individual initiatives, Page gave us all a reminder of just how much the company has on its plate. And for dessert, Google has developed and is currently testing a car that can drive itself. Well, then. That about says it all, doesn’t it?


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SEO: A Marketing Tool You Should Consider

Beyond • November 9, 2011

Just when you think that quality products and services, excellent customer support and competitive prices are enough to make your business boom, here comes a looming question: How should you let potential customers know that you have exactly what they need? It is indisputable that traditional forms of advertising (like TV commercials and print ads) do the trick in some ways. After all, those things wouldn’t still be here if they had not proven themselves effective for so long. However, the advent of the Internet drastically changed the playing field for businesses big and small. Whenever the modern internet user with dollars to spend needs a certain product or service, he or she won’t just sit in front of the TV all day to wait for a commercial that can address his needs. She’d rather go online, pull up her favorite search engine and enter a few words that relate to what she’s looking for. This is exactly why you should give a slice of your attention to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is all about online visibility. It takes advantage of the fact that people rely heavily on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing for information. Of course, your business is not the only one that aims to get a spot in cyberspace. Your aim is to rank high on these search engines because prospective customers don’t have the time to browse all of the search results. Landing on the fifth page or below is almost the same as not landing on a spot at all. When you want to optimize your business in leading search engines, here are some of the things that you should consider before launching a business website. Monitor Keywords When people look for a product or a service using a search engine, they enter a string of words that directly relate to what they’re looking for. These “keywords” are pretty important things to consider when creating web content. It is easier for search engines to detect that your website can address the needs of a person looking for information if you use the right keywords. Keywords help search engines measure the relevance of your page to a user’s search. It used to be that the more keywords you had on your page, the better. However, this led to keyword stuffing by people who wanted to get to the top of search results. This was an abusive practice and didn’t help anyone. So the search engines got smarter, and the way you should use keywords is much more nuanced today than just saying the same keywords over and over again... Search Engines Hate Duplicate Content Make sure that the content of your website is as unique as it can be. When you copy a page from a different website, search engines like Google get confused in deciding which page should get a better ranking. Therefore, a page that doesn’t have any copied content will get prioritized. Get Some External Help You should realize that SEO is a long-term investment and something that you’ll need to spend significant time learning about. Any outside help you can find will make this process quicker. There are other ways to improve the online visibility of your business. If you sell services, another great way to rank high on Google is signing up on a website that serves as an online marketplace. Thumbtack, for example, optimizes your service listing for free. All you have to do is make a profile that tells everyone what you offer and then Thumbtack does all the work for you. Your visibility and accessibility on the Internet can make or break your business. It is universally accepted that a search engine is a convenient way for people to look for someone who can cater to their needs. Why not optimize your business and take advantage of this trend?


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