Google My Business: The Online Profile Your Business Cannot Live Without

Google My Business

Looking to improve your local business’s ability to be found by potential customers as well as current customers? There are lots of things you can do, but the #1 online item on your to-do list should be optimizing your ‘Google My Business’ profile.

A Google My Business profile is a critical component of local search engine optimization (SEO). It will enable your business to appear in local search results for queries made specifically for your products or services and the best part is that it is free! Google My Business uses Search, Maps, and Google Plus to make your business visible.

Without a Google My Business profile, your business won’t appear on any local map listings on the search results page that Google displays for the vast majority of local queries.

Here is an example; we did a search for a seafood restaurant in Orange County:

As you can see, Google returned a map with location results for three local seafood restaurants, plus reviews, restaurant details, and an image from each restaurant.

So, let’s discuss the major benefits of Google My Business:
http://www.searchinfluence.com/2016/04/does-my-business-really-need-a-google-my-business-page/

The Maps Pack

The Maps Pack (shown in above screenshot) shows search results presented as a map with pins representing each business. It also pulls information (website, phone number, address) from Google My Business and renders it below the map. The visual presentation of businesses on the map allows the searcher to view the geography of businesses they potentially want to visit.

Knowledge Graph

Having a Google My Business profile is also important because of the effect it can have on Google Publisher. If you have Google Publisher on your website, when a person does a branded search for your business, your Google My Business information will show up in the “Knowledge Graph.”

Here is an example of a Knowledge Graph:

Google Online Profile

An optimized and active Google My Business page allows the correct business information to show in this knowledge graph. Having a Knowledge Graph show up in search results is a great way to gain users’ trust and make them more likely to click over to your business’s website.

Reviews

Having good Google reviews for your business is essential for getting into the local 3 pak as shown in the first screenshot above. A study by Digital Marketing Works shows a strong correlation between having good Google My Business reviews and the chance of showing up in the Maps Pack in the local search results.

So, the more good reviews you get, the better chance your business has to show up in the Maps Pack search results. And, showing up in the Maps Pack means more traffic to your website.

To recap, if you’re interested in showing up better than your competitors and getting more visitors to your website, make sure you do these 3 things:

  1. Make sure your Google My Business Profile is optimized.
  2. Have lots of good reviews on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Yahoo, Facebook, and other reputable review websites.
  3. Have a useful and relevant website.

Want to ensure your Google My Business profile is fully optimized? Contact SunUp Group, Inc. through our website or call 877.609.3840. We are here to help!

2015 Marketing Trend : Post Demographic Consumerism

Marketing Trends: Post Demographic Consumerism
Traditional demographic marketing segmentation by age, race, gender, location, family status or income is not as important as it used to be 10 years ago, as a direct result of the more fluid, open and diverse society we have today. Our society has been reshaping conventional social, cultural, and sexual norms to become a stereotype-free “consumer base” that requires different marketing approaches.

For example, did you know that people aged 45-54 adopt digital technology at the same pace as 16-20 year olds? And Twitter’s fastest growing user group in 2012-2013 was not teenagers, but people 55-63 years old. Lastly, in the UK, the majority of video game players are women over age 44, not teenagers under the age of 18!

The term ‘post-demographic consumerism’ has been developed as a new approach to target consumers of all ages in all markets by addressing their very specific needs, instead of segmenting them by conventional demographic models of consumer behavior.

Diving a bit deeper, let’s look at the four main reasons why we see post-demographic consumerism becoming a trend now.

  1. Access. Consumers of all ages and demographics in all markets are increasingly buying and using products and services from the same mega-brands like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, to name a few. The familiarity people have with these mega-brands plus the global reach of consumer information enabled by the internet has created a new level of post-demographic shared experience for consumers, from 16 to 60 and from Boston to Beijing.
  2. Permission. Society, in general, has become much more socially liberal as many traditional conventions – from family structures to gender roles – have collapsed. Individuals are encouraged to embrace “the new normality” irrespective of culture, language, age or gender.
  3. Ability. Individuals are able to personalize and express themselves through the product consumption to a greater degree than ever before. Social networks allow people to easily identify with brands, products and services; even those that they don’t or can’t afford to purchase.
  4. Desire. Consumerism and status have always been linked. Historically, status symbols have been material goods, which required money to obtain. However, new status symbols are evolving, which include experiences, authenticity, connection, health, and ethical and sustainable lifestyles. These ‘new’ status symbols essentially change the balance of power between the generations, and are open to all, regardless of age, income and location.

So, what do you as an entrepreneur or business owner do with this information? Here are four key ways to turn this trend into opportunities:

  1. Embrace the new normal. Follow in the footsteps of Coca Cola and Honey Maid. Coca Cola recently launched a multi-racial/lingual, cultural campaign called “America the Beautiful”.  The one-minute ad called “It’s beautiful” was a patriotic rendition of the song ‘America the Beautiful’ sung in seven different languages and was created to showcase our country’s incredible diversity.

    Honey Maid launched a campaign featuring the hashtag #notbroken, celebrating post-divorce families.

  2. Commit ‘heritage heresy’. Rising numbers of consumers are embracing brands that play with, subvert, and even explode their own heritage. For example, Rolls-Royce partnered with Microsoft, making its first foray into the world of gaming with an appearance in Forza Motorsports 5 for Xbox One. As one of the most popular racing video games on the market, Forza will help to bring Rolls-Royce to a younger and highly engaged audience.

    Another example is Sotheby’s partnering with eBay to provide shoppable livestreams from New York auctions.

  3. Adopt cross-demographic fertilization. Shared taste and aspiration among generations provides the opportunity to transfer innovations from a core demographic to another. The opportunities with this one have never been greater. For example, CNA Language School’s model of education allows Brazilian students to connect with retired Americans via webcam for language lessons.

    Another interesting example is P’tit Vélib, the world’s first bike-sharing program for kids, located in Paris.

  4. Develop a micro-niche. Target and cater to a smaller (and ever more accurate) interest-based segments instead of the usual, broad traditional demographics. Consider the example of Lean Machine Ale, a beer that touts itself as a low-calorie beverage that aids in post-workout recovery. Or Vogmask, the first ever stylish, reusable , filtering face mask.

Understanding consumers’ wants and needs remains absolutely critical. However, those that take a broad view and learn from innovations that are delighting customers in seemingly ‘opposing’ or non-traditional demographics will rise above and succeed.

Top 10 Business Schools in California

San Diego State Library - San Diego, CA

College rankings today are full of expensive and exclusive schools. Less than 10% of applicants are admitted to the top schools on many lists, and tuition rates are extremely difficult for most students and parents to stomach.
This list of best business schools takes academic quality, affordability, and accessibility into account, as well as each school’s average GMAT score for incoming, full-time students and job placement rate of exiting full-time students, three months after graduation. For this reason, you will find different schools on this list than the typical rankings list.

We recommend this list for students who want to find a school that has a reputation for high-quality education, marketable degrees, tuition they can quickly pay off, and reasonable acceptance qualifications.

We know you want to get right to it, so here is the list. Continue reading afterwards for the criteria factors and how this list was developed.

  1. San Diego State University
    San Diego

    San Diego State University (SDSU), locally referred to as San Diego State, is one of the oldest and largest universities in San Diego, California. The institution was founded over one hundred and seventeen years ago as San Diego Normal School. San Diego State offers more doctoral degree programs than any other campus in the California State University system.

    National Rank: #19

  2. Pepperdine University:  Graziadio School of Business and Management
    Malibu

    Pepperdine University is a medium-sized, private, university located in Los Angeles, California that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Although completely independent, the university is affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

    National Rank: #55

    In-state tuition: $43,930

    Out-of-state tuition: $43,930

  3. University of California – San Diego: Rady School of Management
    San Diego

    Located in the suburban district of La Jolla in San Diego, California, the University of California San Diego (commonly referred to as UCSD or UC San Diego) is a public, 4-year research university that offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It’s the 7th oldest of the ten campuses that make up the University of California system.

    National Rank: #73

    In-state tuition: $38,337

    Out-of-state tuition: $43,227

  4. University of California – Davis
    Davis

    The University of California, Davis, commonly referred to as UC Davis, is a public, four-year research university located in Davis, California. The university was originally founded in 1905 as the agricultural extension of University of California, Berkeley, at which time it was called the “University Farm”. It was later converted into an independent university and its name was changed to University of California, Davis. UC Davis has the largest campus of all universities in the University of California system and has the third largest enrollment.

    National Rank: #82

    In-state tuition: $36,449

    Out-of-state tuition: $48,694

  5. University of California – Berkeley: Haas School of Business
    Berkeley

    The University of California, Berkeley, more commonly referred to as UC Berkeley, or just Berkeley, is one of California’s top public research universities. The school is located on an expansive 1,232 acre campus on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. In addition to being one of the most prestigious and renowned universities in California, the University of California Berkeley is well-known worldwide for its excellence in higher education, academic achievement and for its exceptional research capabilities.

    National Rank: #84

    In-state tuition: $51,412

    Out-of-state tuition: $53,959

  6. University of Southern California: Marshall School of Business
    Los Angeles

    As its name denotes, the University of Southern California (USC) is located in Southern California in the city of Los Angeles. It is a non-profit, private, research university that was established in 1880, making it the oldest private, research university in California.

    National Rank: #85

    In-state tuition: $50,495

    Out-of-state tuition: $50,495

  7. University of California – Los Angeles: Anderson School of Management
    Los Angeles

    University of California, Los Angeles, more commonly referred to as UCLA, is a public university situated in the Westwood neighborhood within the city of Los Angeles, California. The school offers an extensive selection of over 300 undergraduate and graduate level programs in various subject areas. UCLA is also the largest university in California.

    National Rank: #88

    In-state tuition: $48,722

    Out-of-state tuition: $55,009

  8. Stanford University
    Stanford

    Stanford University, or Stanford, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford is internationally-recognized for its prestigious undergraduate and graduate academic programs and is often one of the first college choices of talented students. Stanford offers students some of the nation’s best law, medicine, English, and engineering programs.

    National Rank: #89

    In-state tuition: $59,550

    Out-of-state tuition: $59,550

  9. University of California – Irvine: Merage School of Business
    Irvine

    The University of California, Irvine, also known as UCI, UC Irivine, or locally as just Irvine, is located in the city of Irvine California. The university has the fifth-largest campus of the ten campuses that make up the University of California system.

    National Rank: #93

    In-state tuition: $38,450

    Out-of-state tuition: $47,089

  10. Claremont Graduate University: Drucker School of Management
    Claremont

    A private graduate university that’s located about 30 miles east of Los Angeles in the city of Claremont, California. Founded in 1925, CGU is the oldest all-graduate university in the nation. Many notable alumni, business professionals and political figures have graduated from CGU. CGU is composed of nine individual academic school.

    National Rank: #99

    In-state tuition: $50,700

    Out-of-state tuition: $50,700

The factors in this list criteria are: Academic Quality (a great education), Affordability (low tuition costs), and Accessibility (high acceptance rates).

Academic Quality

One of the heaviest factors considered in this list’s calculation is the quality of education offered at each university or school. To assess academic standing, the calculation considers an institution’s categorization and rank published in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, generally considered the gold standard for college rankings emphasizing academic quality and reputation.

Affordability

This list provides a realistic look at what a typical student will pay for their education at each individual institution, for both in-state and out of state tuition.

Accessibility

Acceptance rate is a major variable in this ranking list. As a general rule, most schools on this list accept a high percent of students who apply, with some schools approaching 90-100 percent acceptance.

(Source: http://www.collegeatlas.org/)

Branding News: November 2015

We’re back with another issue of Branding News! If you’re curious about what major, well-known companies are doing in the marketing arena, wondering about the latest trends in branding, or looking for inspiration and stories of creative, unique branding moves, then this post is for you!

These are the top interesting branding stories to come out recently that have caught our eye:

REI #OptOutside

REI Opt Outside Branding News

REI shocked the retail world recently by announcing all stores would be closed on Black Friday. They will have no Black Friday promotions and won’t process any online orders until Saturday. Only a few of its approximately 12,000 employees will be on call, while the rest get a paid day off.

Instead, REI is hoping to convince consumers to start a new Black Friday tradition with its #OptOutside campaign, one that doesn’t involve spending money or buying anything. It has built a dedicated #OptOutside website with resources on local hiking trails and is encouraging everyone to get outside and be active on Black Friday instead of shopping.

REI’s move signals a monumental shift in the way companies are doing business and marketing themselves. The new reality is that as customers become better at managing their many brand relationships through the use of technology, such as social media, they will weed out or ignore companies that don’t understand their needs and deliver value against them. This is the new era of consumerism — empowered, entrepreneurial and enabled.

Target’s Halloween Ad

Target Halloween Ad 2015 - Branding NewsTarget is in the news once again, with many people praising their continued efforts and dedication to diversity. You may remember back in August, they announced they were removing “boys” and “girls” signs from toys in an effort to remove any gender stereotyping.

Last week Target again made headlines with their Halloween ad, which featured a young girl with braces and arm crutches modeling a Princess Elsa costume from Disney’s movie Frozen.

The ad itself went viral after the mother of a child with a disability posted it on Facebook.

“Dear Target, I love you,” she wrote. “Thank you for including a child with braces and arm crutches into your advertising campaign!”

Many others took to Twitter to praise Target for its ongoing dedication to diversity.

Twitter’s New Heart Icon

Twitter Icon - Branding NewsOn Nov 3rd, Twitter announced that the familiar star icon on tweets used to express approval has morphed into a heart icon and is now known as a “like”.

Despite its cultural relevancy, is having a hard time getting a mainstream audience to love it. As such, Twitter is seeking ways to make itself simpler to use and, therefore, more attractive to both users and advertisers.

Akarshan Kumar, a Twitter product manager, noted that the star could be confusing, especially for newcomers. “The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones,” Kumar said. “The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people.”

Last month, Twitter added a new feature called ‘Moments’, a feature of curated tweets, videos and images of major trending events, including breaking news, major sporting events and concerts.

Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen Logo - Branding NewsWhere to start with this one? American culture has long held a soft spot for Volkswagen. From Herbie the Love Bug to reintroducing the redesigned Bug, to ‘The Force’ ads with a young child dressed as Darth Vader, Volkswagen has become of the most loved and respected brands of all time: a brand that stood for quality, honesty, and a commitment to its customers. A brand—not a company or a product—worth billions of dollars.

Volkswagen now sits in a quagmire of legal, regulatory, and financial problems. The biggest issue, however, could be their image problem. The revelations that it cheated on emissions tests and that its diesel engines aren’t as clean as advertised are obviously not sitting well with its customers, and the trust in Volkswagen is gone.

Joan Schmit, a professor of risk management at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, sums it up perfectly: “That is one of the ironies of reputation — both development and maintenance — that, of course, we have to be who we say we are,” she says. “And if it turns out that we are less than who we say we are, that’s going to be damaging.”

Moving forward, the company will try to redeem itself, but whether customers respond is TBD. Repairing their brand image will be a long road. Volkswagen will have to start with being honest. After that, they need to execute; they must successfully recall the cars, fix the problems and offer incentives to loyal customers, if there are any left.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of Branding News! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to catch all of our blog posts!

Branding News – August 2015

We’re back with an issue of Branding News! If you’re curious about what major, well-known companies are doing in the marketing arena, wondering about the latest trends in branding, or looking for inspiration and stories of creative, unique branding moves, then this post is for you!

These are the top interesting branding stories to come out recently that have caught our eye:

Neutrogena’s interactive advertising

Neutrogena Interactive Advertising from Brazil

Neutrogena launched a creative new campaign in Brazil recently. A Brazilian weekly, “Caras”, has a special cover that features actress Giovanna Ewbank. Here’s the thing: the cover is interactive; readers can use the included sample of Deep Clean wipes to rub the makeup off her face! It’s a brilliant way to put a product sample to good use.

Studies have shown that when you actually touch and handle a product, you feel a connection to it and are even willing to pay more for it.

“This is a practical product that eliminates skin impurities as well as make-up products, including those that are waterproof. These are features that are evident from this stunt, as the consumer is actively involved by trying it, by feeling it in action and witnessing the result. Our goal was to help and incentivize women about routine skincare”, according to Juliana Sztrajtman, Beauty, Baby and Suncare brand manager from Johnson & Johnson Brasil, which owns Neutrogena.

Stubhub’s new logo

StubHub's New Logo

StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, has unveiled a new logo for the first time in 10 years. The new logo, which launched at the end of July, removes the two tickets from the exclamation point.

“This logo update reflects StubHub’s evolution away from a purely transactional ticketing company,” said StubHub Head of Brand and Creative Bridget Burton. “We’re not just about selling tickets anymore.”

The company is expanding its content and would like its website to be a destination where consumers can find information like where to eat or stay, recommendations on transportation, and weather forecasts. Essentially, StubHub wants to help people with everything relating to the event in question.

StubHub’s new look is a more mature, updated version of the existing logo; elements have been subtly refreshed with a custom typeface and an official exclamation mark, which is a departure from the anachronistic ticket stub, indicating the company’s broader business, beyond just tickets.

Whole Foods Asparagus Water

Whole Foods Asparagus Water in California

We couldn’t do this issue without mentioning Whole Foods Asparagus Water(gate). Apparently, a shopper in a California Whole Foods found them selling a bottle of water with three stalks of raw asparagus inside and calling it “Asparagus Water” – with a $5.99 price tag.

L.A. resident Mariel Wakim found the water and posted a photo to Twitter. The photo quickly went viral and the internet went crazy. Whole Foods addressed the outlandish item shortly after, saying “We actually don’t sell asparagus water in our stores. We looked into this right away and found that this item was being carried in just one of our stores in California. It was meant to be water with the essence of vegetables and/or mushrooms to be used as broth (similar to a bone broth), which are typically made over a long period of time soaking in water. The product was made incorrectly and has since been removed from the one store where it was carried.”

So the whole thing was apparently a snafu on Whole Foods’ part, but it was another misstep in the ongoing troubles they have had recently. Whole Foods has been under scrutiny for over-pricing and mislabeling ever since New York City’s consumer chief released details on an investigation in June that showed the chain’s supermarkets have been routinely overcharging customers by overstating the weight of prepackaged meat, dairy and baked goods.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of Branding News! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to catch all of our blog posts!

The Gap: A Case Study of Lost Brand Identity

You may have heard the news recently that The Gap has announced they are planning to close 175 (or roughly 25%) of its stores in North America. They also plan to cut 250 corporate jobs in San Francisco and New York. Many are left wondering what happened.
GAP Sorry we're closed signBack in the 90s, Gap was one of America’s top brands, loved by everyone, including celebrities. “Gap provided customers with a uniform, which worked so well for Generation X,” says Bernadette Kissane, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International. Their American casual style became their trademark look.

Towards the end of the decade though, things took a grim turn for the brand. What exactly happened? Well, it seems to be a combination of things. First, Millard Mickey Drexler — the CEO during that ubiquitous era who was often credited as the mastermind behind Gap’s explosive growth – came under fire in 2002. Criticized for abandoning the basics and becoming too fashionable, the Gap, Inc. experienced largest sales decline in the company’s history.

Drexler was fired, and the brand had CEOs come and go over the next several years. During that timeframe, the face of retail changed. Online shopping had burgeoned, and fast-casual competitors like H&M and Forever 21 burst onto the scene, becoming increasingly popular and capturing the hearts of Millennials everywhere.

The GAP Closure - Various GAP storesWhile these emerging brands were crystal clear about their unique selling points, Gap’s identity became muddied. “The key problem is that they have not innovated with product,” says Bernadette Kissane, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International. “It also feels as though neither they nor their consumer know exactly who they are targeting.”

As others have pointed out, Gap’s problem is that it has become the very thing Millennials detest: “basic” – the internet generation’s favorite insult right now, meaning boring, clichéd, blah.

To add insult to injury, Gap has become a mega-brand whose bureaucratic processes seem to be slow and complex, too slow to respond to trends during the digital age when Millennials want everything ‘now’

Analysts agree that for Gap to win over consumers again, it needs to dig deep into what once made the brand successful—keeping in mind that times and retail tactics have changed.

“They need to get their mojo back by resurrecting their innovator spirit,” says Ruth Bernstein, founder and chief strategic officer at YARD, a strategic image-making agency.  “They were never about doing things ‘normally,’ but always about the American spirit of individuality, which made the brand so simply, brilliantly, strong.”

We think this case study is a great example of the importance of creating, developing, and nurturing a strong brand identity. A brand is a promise; it is a vital component of your organization, and its strength and clarity directly impact your success in fulfilling your company’s mission. When you stray from that brand, people notice, and it can take your company from growing, to struggling to survive.

Local Orange County Restaurant, Chronic Tacos, Expanding to 100 Locations by 2018

Chronic Tacos in Southern California - SunUp Group

Chronic Tacos, an Aliso Viejo-based business founded in 2002, is a hometown favorite for locals in the Orange County and Los Angeles regions. The Mexican Grill offers authentic third generation recipes made with locally grown, fresh ingredients bursting with flavors and the atmosphere is so inviting, you may not want to leave. In fact, owner Michael Mohammed encourages his customers to “watch sports on our TVs and have a beer” because he wants to create a comfortable and inviting experience.  What, then, is the next step for this delicious Mexican Grill? To expand of course!

Chronic Taco Facts:Chronic Tacos logo - SunUp Group

  • Offers vegetarian options
  • Offers gluten free menu items
  • Does not use peanut oil for any type of cooking
  • Won OC Weekly’s 2013 readers choice award for Best Taco and Best Burrito in Orange County

With twenty-four locations in California, one in Las Vegas and three in British Columbia, Canada, popularity for the native southern California restaurant continues to grow. Over the next three years, Chronic Tacos will expand its operations to three more states, expecting to hit 100 restaurants and in 2015 alone, the Company’s goal is to open one new restaurant per month.

Currently, there are already six California locations in development in Bakersfield, Costa Mesa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Redlands and Valencia, and three planned locations in North Carolina. Additionally, the Company recently signed a multiunit franchise deal for twelve locations in Colorado, three to twelve locations in Washington and up to fourteen restaurants in Arizona.

Tacos from Chronic Tacos - SunUp Group

The cost to own a single-unit franchise is $40,000 with discounts for multiunit agreements and veterans. The actual cost to develop a Chronic Tacos location is between $250,000 and $500,000 with average unit volumes are about $620,000. Annual royalties include 6% of gross sales and 2% of ad fund royalties.

For more information on owning a Chronic Tacos franchise, visit their websites here.

How Blogging Benefits Your Company

Frequent blogging is rapidly becoming an easy and inexpensive way to enhance your company’s marketing efforts, attract potential customers and drive traffic to your website.  According to Hubspot’s 2012 Inbound Marketing Report, 57% of companies that have a blog reported acquiring a customer from their blog and a survey of marketers revealed that 81% of businesses say their blog is critically important to the success of their business.

There are a myriad of benefits to maintaining a blog and it seems these benefits continue to increase as technologies advance. Keeping current with the changes is imperative as to offer the most relevant and engaging content available to both potential and existing customers.

Here are some of the most important benefits of keeping an active and relevant blog for your business:

How Blogging Benefits Your Company - Sun Up Group

 

  • Propel Search Engine Optimization
  • Develop Relationships with Potential and Existing Customers
  • Establish Your Business as a Leader in Your Industry
  • Connect Consumers with Your Brand
  • Create Opportunities for Sharing Information

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of getting traffic to your website through free, or organic, search results. When you write a blog, you add fresh content to your site. Search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, love these additions because it allows them to index this content and create opportunities to plug in important keywords to increase your website’s visibility.

Blogging is a wonderful tool to help develop relationships with potential and existing customers. This can be accomplished by engaging your audience and by encouraging them to participate in the blog conversation. When the reader feels compelled to respond to a blog, he or she is opening the door for this relationship. It is the blogger’s job to respond to these comments in a way that will build trust and rapport with his audience. From these conversations, businesses can gain valuable insight into the audience’s desires.

When you provide your audience with valuable information, this helps to build strong relationship and over time, your audience will look to you for more informative content. To your audience, you become an expert in your field and from your knowledge; your business gains credibility.

Using blog posts to help your company grow - Sun Up GroupOne of the top benefits of keeping a business blog is that it allows you to connect people to your brand. Blogs are generally more personal than the copy placed on your company website. Through blogs, your audience can see you personal perspective of your business and brand, and they can begin to understand your company’s standards, values and vision.

Blogs create an exceptional platform for sharing. If you provide your audience with valuable information, they will want to share it with their friends through their social media sites, verbally or through email. When they do this, your receive free word-of-mouth marketing and it further validates you as an expert in your industry.

If you like to learn more about how blogging can enhance your business, visit us online or call us at (877) 609-3840.

Choosing The Best Keywords For Your Business

google logoThe online visibility of a business can often be a large factor in whether it flourishes or flounders. After all, users should be able to find you online and interact with your site, especially if you’re an ecommerce business. Online visibility means a source of new traffic and new customers, thereby elevating it from a pure “word-of-mouth” business.

One of the most important steps in attaining online visibility is selecting the right keywords to target. A proper list of keywords will consist of the following:

  • Geared towards your target customer demographic
  • Medium to high search volume associated with it
  • Reasonably competitive to rank for

Now, let’s go through those bullet points one by one.

Focus On Your Target Customers

The surest way to reach no one is by trying to reach everyone.  Remember that you’re not only trying to get visitors to your site. More importantly, you’re trying to get the right kind of visitors to your site.

If you have a site that sells lipstick and nail polish, you wouldn’t be served well by trying to rank for “beauty products” or “make-up”. After all, those searchers could be looking for virtually any beauty product on the market, including those that you don’t even sell.

The amount of time you put into ranking for those keywords won’t be proportionate to the conversions that you make off of them. By being more specific with the keywords that you use, like incorporating the brand of the make-up and color, you’re more likely to attract visitors that’ll actually be interested in what you have to offer. Additionally, those users will tend to stay on the site longer and browse through more pages, which could indirectly help improve your site’s standing in Google’s eyes.

Medium to High Volume Keywords

This one is pretty much a no-brainer, but you need to be sure people are actually searching for the keywords you’re targeting. There are plenty of tools to use to see the volume of your intended keywords. Two tools that you should check out are the Keyword Tool of Google AdWords and Wordtracker.

When using these tools, don’t be fooled by keywords that have thousands of searches per day. Those keywords are likely to be incredibly broad and not at all focused. Instead, take the list you’ve created and run it against the tools to make sure none of them return thousands of searches per day or none at all. In the case of the former they’re likely too broad, and probably too narrow in the latter.

Can You Reasonably Rank For Them?

Lastly, when selecting an optimal keyword list, make sure that you can actually achieve your desired rankings. If you select keywords that are ultra-competitive, you’ll be spending more time and resources on getting that keyword to the desired rank than the benefit you’re getting out of it.

Also, don’t think that you’re set once you achieve a desired ranking. Search engine optimization is a continual battle. Just because you stop your efforts to rank for a term doesn’t mean your competition will. Eventually you’ll be overtaken and drop right off the first page.

Try to focus on keywords that are highly relevant to your site with minimal to moderate competition. Again, the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is great for looking at relative competitiveness, but another one that can help is the Keyword Difficulty tool provided by Moz.

Remember, choosing the right kind of keywords is crucial to the online viability of a business. You’re looking for traffic, but even more than that you’re aiming for conversions. Good luck!

Your Business and Social Media

Social Media for BusinessSocial media is a critical component of your business marketing strategy.

While there is still a market for paid advertisements that garner large scale exposure from a wide range of consumers, social media has become a platform that enables both widespread viral sharing and business to consumer interaction.

Proper utilization of all social media outlets allow businesses to create brand imaging that effectively conveys values while acting as a tangible medium for consumers to interact with.

Why You Should Care

To opt out of social media as a business or business professional would be foolish. All major social media outlets offer at least a base level service that is entirely free to join (most of which offer all services for no charge). The only cost being that of your time and effort.

Some may feel the social media landscape is intimidating or that they may not have time to bother keeping it updated. While it’s true that building a following online, and keeping these users engaged takes effort, social media can be learned with some practice. Plus, the personal interaction with users can be very rewarding.

Fully Exploring Social Media’s Potential

The range of potential interaction on social media sites is nearly infinite and establishing yourself or business as being passionate and knowledgeable about your line of work will lead to connections with peers that can potentially lead to business to business interaction or referrals.

By establishing itself as a knowledgeable authority online, a business can then gain publicity through its following and use this exposure to drive traffic to its site or establishment, leading to an increase in sales. If your business is looking to gain news recognition and can offer newsworthy content, Twitter is a powerful medium for connecting to the right people.

Twitter is known as a hub for news buzz. With its layout based upon trending topics and tags that are pathways to specific bits of information and news, Twitter has garnered the attention of many journalists and reporters.

You’d be hard pressed to find a writer for a major publication online who does not also have a strong Twitter presence. What’s even better is that they are eager to pounce on unique information they find on Twitter and have the ability to give you instant, and free, publicity.

Maintain A Consistent Brand Identity

Having a social media presence that is congruent across all platforms will make your business appear more credible to the public and will offer consumers the chance to provide feedback and share what they find positive or offer advice for improvements.

Maintaining a consistent social media image is also increasingly important as a part of your business’ SEO strategy.

The Search Engine Journal notes that “when businesses join Google+ they are given prime placement on the right hand side of search results, complete with photos and user reviews… You can’t even buy this kind of placement, instead Google gives it away for free to entice businesses to join their network.”

Considering Google averages 500 million searches PER DAY, this is a strong incentive to join Google+.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, there is no reason to be wary of social media. There will be those who devalue its importance in driving direct sales, but a strategic approach to social media will allow businesses to create an identifiable brand that is public facing and interactive, while increasing business exposure.