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  • Marketing Your Website - The Importance Of Using Analytical Tools

    website traffic

    You create a beautiful website for your business, optimize it for search engines, market it through social media, and start receiving visitors. But wait! Do you even know where your visitors are coming from? Are they interested in what you have to offer, or are they just passing their time? How many of them are actually going to purchase your product or service?

    Answering such questions might seem difficult, but it won’t be once you set up a tracking tool within your website. A tracking tool will enable you to track your visitors, their sources, the number of clicks, the number of conversions, etc. Analytics are crucial because they will help you understand why something in your digital marketing strategy works or why something doesn’t.

    For example, you can determine how engaging your latest Twitter or Facebook post was, which landing page is working the best, etc. Since you have invested time and money on your website, it’s important to define goals and use them when measuring web analytics. You can use this valuable information to improve your website and make the necessary changes to correct the particular problem.

    What Will You Determine?

    Website analytics will help you determine five essential pieces of information:

    • The type of people visiting your website - do they belong to your target audience?
    • Their physical location. 
    • The pages they visit and the kind of action they take on pages.
    • The time when your visitors are using your website.
    • The channel through which they reached your website.

    Why Is Analytics Important?

    Website analytics are important because they will provide you with the following capabilities:

    • Set Specific Goals: The goal of having a website is not to just receive visitors, but to have those visitors take specific actions. With analytics, you can set up particular goals and determine how close you are to achieving them. For example, you might want your visitors to go to a booking form, online store, inquiry page or a particular landing page.
    • Improve Your Website and Marketing Campaign: With analytics, you will understand both your website’s and your marketing campaign’s shortcomings. With this information, you can improve upon them. You will get to know how your visitors interact with your website and how they navigate through it. Then you can adjust your website to better guide your visitors. For example, you can place calls-to-action on pages with the most traffic to guide users to a specific page.
    • Enhance Your Visitor’s Experience: Through analytics, you can see what devices visitors are using to access your site. Are they browsing your website using a tablet or smartphone? If so, you may need to optimize your website for mobile devices and make other adjustments to improve your visitors’ experience.
    • Improve Your Marketing Strategy: Since marketing is a critical component of a business, analytics will aid you in determining the weaknesses and strong points of your marketing strategy. For example, you can modify the keywords that visitors use to reach your website, improving your SEO or paid advertising. Or, you can develop tailored content depending upon the visitors’ geographical location.

    Analytics Tools

    There are a number of free tools available to track your website traffic. Two of the most popular are:

    Google Analytics- sign up at https://www.google.com/analytics/

    Statcounter- sign up at http://statcounter.com/

    In most cases, you will simply add a code to your website to enable traffic. Full instructions are provided after you set up a website analytics account.

    Sources
    http://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/why-are-web-analytics-so-important-to-marketers-and-businesses-alike-
    http://lazcreative.com/blog/business/web-analytics-the-importance-of-measurement/
    https://www.yola.com/blog/how-to-use-analytics-and-why-theyre-important/
    https://www.smartdatacollective.com/4-top-advanced-web-analytics-tools-to-get-more-out-of-your-website/

     

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  • Marketing Your Website - Through Social Media

    social media marketing

    Once you develop your website, you need to point traffic to the new website. In order to receive visitors and potential leads, you will have to market or advertise your website. One of the best ways to do that is through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Linkedin.

    If you’re just starting to look at using social media to market your website, here are the benefits of doing so:

    Your Website Will Receive Exposure

    Social media is highly effective in generating mass exposure for a website and the associated business’s products or services. This is because billions of people use social media on a daily basis. For example, you can create a business page on Facebook and promote it through paid advertising.

    You Can Acquire International Visitors

    If your website is intended for an international audience, social media will definitely help. Since people across the globe use social media platforms, your website will become visible to them as well.

    It’s Cost-Effective

    Using social media marketing is much cheaper as compared to traditional forms of marketing like radio, print ads, and television. It can be a better fit for a new business' marketing budget. At its most basic, social media marketing can even be done at no cost by simply using the free tools available that allow you to post and engage with customers on your business’s behalf. All you need to do is create an account for your business, and you can begin using these features on most social media platforms for free!

    Boost Your Revenue

    Even if your website is acquiring visitors from other sources, using social media marketing will raise the number of visitors. Therefore, you will be able to obtain more leads and more customers.

    While social media is one of the most effective tools in marketing and promoting your website, there are things you need to do to use social media in an effective manner.

    Determine The Correct Platform

    There are many social media platforms out there such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. In order to establish a brand, think strategically and decide which platform would be appropriate for your business. This depends on your target audience and the type of product or service your website is offering. Different social media platforms have different user demographics, so it's important to know your target audience.

    You may also want to consider developing different types of content for the various social media platforms that suit your business. After all, each social media site has its own unique purpose, layout, and functionality. What works well on Facebook may flop on YouTube, TikTok, or Linkedin.

    Build Better Content

    Social media platforms rely heavily on content like articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, etc. You need to create content that is highly engaging and attention-capturing. One great way to do this is by providing free information to your visitors in the form of how-to and DIY articles. This will also build trust and reputation for your website.

    Listen To The Needs Of Your Audience

    When building social media marketing, you have to be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight. What you need to do is listen to the needs and problems of your intended audience and offer them solutions through your products or services. Once that is achieved, your social media campaign will start producing exponential results.

    Optimizing Your Website For Social Media

    Before you start sending social media traffic to your website, make sure that your site is set up and optimized to allow users to easily share your content.

    In order to get the most from Facebook, be sure to implement Open Graph tags on your website. If you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla, there are a number of plugins that you can use to easily add these Facebook tags. For Twitter, you'll want to make sure that your website can use Twitter Cards effectively. See the developer documentation at https://dev.twitter.com/cards/overview, and look for an appropriate plugin if using a CMS.

    These are just two examples, but other social media platforms may have their own ways to link with your website and optimize it for the traffic generated on their site. Make sure to check for these tools with each platform you decide to use. 

    If your website does not use a CMS, you might need your website developer to help with setting it up to allow social sharing. Let us know if you need any help.

    Sources

    https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-create-a-social-media-marketing-plan/

    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-steps-for-a-successful-social-media-strategy/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/11/the-top-10-benefits-of-social-media-marketing/

    http://www.business2community.com/social-media/benefits-social-media-marketing-01140985

     

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  • Marketing Your Website – Different Options For Analytics

    sample google analytics

    Business analytics technology has opened a host of opportunities and benefits for small and medium-sized businesses to level the playing field with their larger well-established rivals. Through the use of analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, businesses can have up-to-date information about customer preferences and use it to fine-tune their marketing strategies to ensure high sales revenue and growth.

    Google Analytics has been the first choice of many businesses for taking advantage of analytics because it is free and very comprehensive. However, there is a much more comprehensive premium version called Google Analytics 360 that is out of reach for most small business entities, with an annual cost of $150,000.00. That may make it worthwhile to look for cheaper but still more comprehensive paid alternatives.

    This can be crucial for cross-checking data from various points of information to utilize a more robust and comprehensive decision-making process. In this post, we will explore various other analytics alternatives that you may use for your business.

    Clicky

    This is a web analytics tool that provides excellent analytics features for your business. The tool lays out all essential details of customer visits and other analytics-related information in a clear and user-friendly report format, allowing you to have access to all crucial information under one format, unlike in the case of its Google rival.

    Furthermore, Clicky provides updates about customer information in real-time that allows you to be up-to-date with the latest developments and improve your decision-making. Another plus side to this feature is that you can easily use it from the comfort of your phones or tablets and monitor analytics insights on the go.

    Open Web Analytics

    As an open-source analytics tool, Open Web Analytics gives you the advantage of obtaining key insights for multiple websites. The tool provides you both detailed and individual snippets pertaining to each customer visiting your website in terms of referral source, pages viewed, browser type, and location.

    Kissmetrics

    Kissmetrics offers unlimited report samples for analytics information, which means that you can view insights across a wider range of data. Unlike other analytical tools, Kissmetrics is unparalleled in segmenting customers based on the information obtained. This can be helpful for building different marketing communications to appeal to specific customer groups to achieve higher profitability and market penetration.

    FoxMetrics

    FoxMetrics provides you with the benefit of helping you monitor metrics that are unique to your business. Through its API settings, you can configure analytics to respond to specific details that can provide considerable insights about what your customers are doing and gauge how they respond to your marketing campaigns and messages.

    Sources

    https://www.searchenginejournal.com/7-alternatives-to-google-analytics/38764/

    https://www.woorank.com/en/blog/analytical-tools-other-than-google-analytics

     

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  • Marketing Your Website – Review Sites Like Yelp

    How Yelp Can Improve Your Restaurant’s BusinessYelp Zomato

     

    The success of a business depends upon its clients and customers; as long as they are satisfied, the business will boom. But if they are not, the business will likely fail. This is true especially for small and medium-sized businesses like restaurants. Since a restaurant provides an important service, it is at the forefront of consumers, and they can expect many reviews on review sites, including map listings.

    Reviews can essentially make or break a restaurant’s business; they can either be negative or positive, and that depends on the level and quality of service you are able to provide as a restaurateur. Online review sites have changed the way businesses are conducted. One of the most popular review sites is Yelp.

    Yelp was founded in October 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons. It is an online review website that publishes crowd-sourced reviews about different types of local businesses. 

    A study carried out by two economists at the University of California showed that there was a link between how people made buying decisions at restaurants and the online ratings of the particular restaurant. For example, Yelp uses a 5-star rating system for businesses, including restaurants; those whose ratings were improved by half a star were the ones that were booked fully during dining hours.

    They concluded that restaurants with good reviews had more customers, while those with poorer reviews didn’t do well. Whether it is Yelp or another site, reviews play a vital role in driving customer growth and sales for a restaurant. Here’s how positive reviews on sites like Yelp can help restaurants attract more consumers.

    • According to a survey conducted in 2012, nearly 72 percent of customers trust and hold online reviews in high regard as much as they do personal referrals and recommendations. Hence, restaurants can acquire more customers by asking their existing ones to write honest reviews about their food.
    • Social media is the best tool for promoting your restaurant and its food. When positive reviews are generated on Yelp, they eventually find their way on social media and, thus, are shared by people belonging to different demographics. Food lovers will definitely flock to your restaurant after they read amazing reviews about a specific dish offered at your restaurant.
    • Before people head out to eat, they usually check out the menu of the restaurant online and decide whether it’s worth it or not. Having reviews placed on the menu is an excellent way to increase your reputation and credibility. A restaurant with high credibility will automatically see an increase in customers.

    Your business will automatically be added to most online directories and review sites over time, but you can also manually add your business listing. If your listing is already present, you should claim it so that you have better control over the accuracy of information. You will also receive notifications when users post a review if you are the listing owner.

    Here are the URLs used to create or claim your listing at some popular directories:

    Yelp- https://biz.yelp.com/

    Google My Business- https://www.google.com/business/ 

    Bing Places- https://www.bingplaces.com/

    When you add your business listing, be sure that the name, address, and phone number (NAP) match exactly on all sites. This is important to improving your position in local search results.

    Sources

    http://performancing.com/3-benefits-of-testimonials-on-your-restaurant-site/

    http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2011/03/25/20-user-review-websites-critical-to-small-business.aspx

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/02/ratings-boost-restaurants

    http://www.reviewtrackers.com/ultimate-guide-restaurant-reviews-ratings-sites-business/

     

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  • Marketing Your Website- Advertising A Website In Traditional Media

    website on billboard

    Despite the fact that the internet has revolutionized everything, including the advertising and marketing industry, the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of advertising is traditional media. Traditional media is a tool that is still an important means of communication to users.   

    Traditional Media

    Traditional media has been the key element of marketing plans and strategies for decades because of its wide accessibility. Traditional media is essentially media that existed before the rise of the internet and social media. Newspaper, magazines, television, radio, and billboards are all considered traditional media sources for advertising.

    Digital Media

    Digital media ad spending in 2020 topped $150 billion and accounted for over 58% of media buying. Just a couple of years ago, traditional media still held the majority share of spending, but as consumer habits have changed, marketers have shifted their budgets to reach customers where they are spending most of their time. Social media advertising, streaming service ads, and online advertising are examples of digital marketing.

    Traditional Media Or Digital Media: Which Is Better For Advertising?

    Digital media does hold some big advantages for advertisers. With research on services and products largely centered around search engines, you can target ads to prospective customers that fit your demographic profiles and increasingly those that also fit your psychographic profile.

    Both traditional and digital media have their pros and cons. People still take time out of their daily routines to use traditional media; most of us watch television for one purpose or the other, and many people listen to the radio while driving. We still see billboards as we drive and come across ads in printed media.

    This leads us to the conclusion that both traditional and digital media play an important role in our lives, and a company that can budget for both will enjoy the full benefits of marketing. But the reality is that many small companies that can benefit from increased marketing efforts cannot afford to do both, and digital is likely the best alternative.

    Is Traditional Media A Wise Choice For Website Advertising?

    This may sound weird to some, but traditional media can serve as a platform to promote your website. However, you need to think outside of the box and come up with interesting and integrated advertising campaigns. For example, a radio ad mentioning a promo code for online shopping will increase traffic to your website.

    In order to make sure that people remember your website address, use simple or catchy words. Also, developing a user-friendly website is important to make people stay on it for longer and tempt them to visit it regularly.

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  • Marketing Your Website- Hiring An SEO Company

    SEO Company

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a comprehensive and complex task. It can be difficult for those that do not work in the field to follow and keep track of all the requirements and algorithms of Search Engines to improve their website's rating. 

    For one, this process requires knowledge about both the technical and creative aspects of website ranking. Secondly, it can take a lot of time. And thirdly, it is an ongoing process. This means that you constantly need to update your website to ensure that it maintains its position in search results. If you do not do this, your website may lose its position, no matter how high it ranks.

    Due to these reasons and many others, Search Engine Optimization is not a job that everyone can perform well. Just like we leave web development, graphic design and other such tasks to specialists, it is better to leave Search Engine Optimization to the professionals. 

    There are many people and companies who can do effective Search Engine Optimization for your website. In addition to knowing all the techniques and tips of the process, they are also aware of the most recent changes any Search Engine has made to its algorithm, and make sure your website always ranks high in search results pages.

    What To Look For When Hiring An SEO Company

    So, you have decided to get help from an SEO company to boost your business. Keep reading in order to avoid wasting money and getting no return on investment:

    • Discuss The Methods That The Company Will Use

    Whenever you consult an SEO company, ask about the methods and strategies they will use to improve your website's ranking. A company that does not discuss its process and methods in detail or does not give you a timeframe for getting the work done should be avoided. A professional and reliable SEO company not only identifies the problems and glitches in your website but also discusses them with you in detail, along with the measures needed to be taken to get rid of them.

    • Stay Away From Companies Promising Fast Results

    Achieving a high ranking on search result pages is a long and continuous process. If a company is making huge claims of bringing your website among the top ranks within a short span of time, consider it as a warning sign and stay away from their false promises. SEO companies that make too-good-to-be-true promises usually make use of ‘Black Hat’ techniques, such as buying links, cloaking, hidden links and text, and keyword stuffing. While this may provide quick results, you are most likely to end up facing a penalty by Google. Search Engines have strict rules and policies against those who do not follow their guidelines and are involved in illegal processes to improve their website ranking.

    • Inquire About Their Strategy For Link Building

    Many SEO companies buy links to improve your Search Engine ranking. However, this is not the right way to go about it. Search Engines have become smart. Spam links no longer provide results. A reliable and professional SEO company is one that takes measures for earning links rather than buying them, such as developing relationships with authoritative websites. 

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  • Marketing Your Website- Map Listings For Your Business

    google maps sample search for website design richmond va

    Adding your business to popular maps like Google Maps is not difficult and can yield great results for your company. Having map listings for your business enables you to reach a wider audience and allows them to quickly locate you whenever they are in need of your products or services. For local searches, Google displays map listings above the organic search results, as we wrote about in this post.

    If you have a retail location like a restaurant or store, Google Maps listings are very important for mobile search. They'll appear when a user searches terms like "restaurant near me" on their phone, and the user can easily call or get directions to your business.

    What happens if your business is not listed on directory maps? Not only will your customers have a hard time locating you, but there will also be a loss in potential customers and sales.

    If you are wondering how to add your business to Google Maps, here’s how.

    Adding A Listing To Google Maps

    Google provides the functionality to add your business location to its maps. It is done through an online tool known as Google My Business, which is a platform for managing your presence on Google Maps.

    • Access the tool by navigating to Google My Business.
    • Click on the tab ‘Manage Now.’
    • Follow the instructions to create your business listing.
    • In some cases, your business might already be listed, and you will just need to claim it. However, if it is not, you can add it to the map by clicking on ‘Add Your Business.’
    • Supply basic information like your business’s name, address, phone number, and website. Remember to choose the correct category for the type of business you own. You'll want to answer as many questions as possible, like your hours. If you have images, upload those too. The goal is to make your listing as complete as possible.
    • As the final step, you will have to verify your business through a PIN code. If your business address is not already verified, Google will mail a postcard with the PIN, and you'll receive that in 1 to 2 weeks. If your address is already verified, you should be able to get the PIN by phone.

    Benefits Of Adding Your Listing

    There are many advantages of adding your business to Google Maps. Some of them are:

    • It enhances your online presence and could increase your main business website’s ranking in Google’s search results. A higher ranking in search results means more traffic for your website.
    • Your customers and potential customers will be able to find you easily and reach your premises, as well as getting important information like your business hours.
    • It improves customer satisfaction by providing all the important information about your business on a single platform.
    • Your product or services can be reviewed by customers, and potential customers can read them as well. Whenever someone leaves a new review, you'll get an email notification.
    • Google Maps is used heavily on Android and iOS devices, so mobile users will be able to search for your business and its products or services 24/7.

    Sources

     http://www.business2community.com/social-business/add-business-google-maps-01094521

    https://www.google.com/business/benefits/

    https://support.google.com/partners/answer/143059?hl=en

     

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  • Marketing Your Website- Paid Online Advertising: A Beginner’s Guide

    online advertising

    Advertising your products or services is the key to business growth and development. Until people know what you are offering and how that can help them, your business will not grow. This is the purpose an advertisement serves.

    Previously, businesses relied on traditional media sources to market their products. But the advent of the internet has changed the face of advertising. The internet is not just a source of information; people widely use it for shopping too. Shopping is not only consumer-driven but also business-to-business (B2B) as well. This has resulted in the evolution and spread of online advertising.

    Companies invest huge amounts of money in advertising their products and/or services online as part of an effort to get more traffic to their websites that will ultimately result in the growth of their businesses. Online advertising has become a multi-billion dollar industry that accounts for over half of the total media spending.

    Different Kinds Of Paid Online Advertisements

    You can increase your online visibility and get more visitors to your website in many different ways. One of the most effective methods is paid online advertising. But if it is not done properly, you may end up wasting a huge amount of money. Selecting the right way to advertise your business online is important. Having a clear idea of what your goals are, and who your target audience is, will help assure that you make good decisions.

    Here, we are highlighting some major methods of paid online advertising to help you select the right kind of advertising according to your needs:

    Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

    Pay Per Click advertisements (PPC) are those in which you pay money to the publisher only when a person clicks on your ads. These ads can be triggered by doing a search at Google or other search engines.

    Paying for performance is contrary to traditional advertising methods in which you pay for exposure with no guarantee that anyone will take action based on seeing your ads. This creates a big advantage because you can target specific users that take specific actions. For example, you can target users in a specific area searching for products or services similar to those you offer. This makes your advertising more effective and allows you to get the best return on investment.

    Display Advertising

    Banner advertisements are one of the oldest and most common forms of paid online advertisements. They are image-based and appear in different sections (top, bottom, sides) of a website. These kinds of advertisements take users directly to the advertiser’s website whenever a user clicks on them. 

    Banner ads can be purchased as pay-per-click, or like traditional advertising, can be purchased based on expected or actual impressions. An impression is the number of times that a user sees your banner ad.

    One important type of display advertising is called retargeting. These ads are triggered to users that have visited your website and keep your brand in front of visitors for several weeks after their visit. 

    Influencer Marketing

    Social media has created new opportunities to get your product in front of many people. An influencer is a prominent social media user that has many fans that follow their updates. Like a celebrity, having a social media influencer use or endorse your products can cause other people to buy from you.

    As you can see, there are many ways to get the word out about your services. You should consider getting some help from an experienced digital marketer before you get started with online advertising in order to assure the best results.

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  • Marketing Your Website- SEO - What Is It?

    SEO

    SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization.’ It is the process of using different techniques to get more traffic to your website by making it rank high in search results. Search Engine Optimization is an essential component of business marketing that consists of both creative and technical elements and is needed for improving your website’s ranking and getting more visitors.

    The world today is connected through complex information technology, and people have been using the internet in every discipline in order to perform all their tasks. This has also increased the reach of businesses as they can now connect with millions of people to sell their products or services. But, they need to take certain measures to ensure people can easily find them, visit their websites and buy their products or services. 

    Since most people use search engines to find goods and services, search engines control the majority of web traffic. Therefore, businesses need to make sure that their websites appear high in search results on all major search engines. This process of attracting a large number of people to your website is called ‘Search Engine Optimization.’

    Search Engine Optimization has become one of the major priorities of businesses today as it aids in growth by directing the right people to your website.

    How To Rank Your Page High In Search Engine Results

    Two major factors that contribute to improving your website’s search engine ranking are:

    • Updated, Quality Content

    Search Engines show only those pages that they consider relevant and authoritative in search results. This means that your website should contain useful, updated and quality content that contains words and phrases people generally use to search for the products and services you offer. These are also known as ‘keywords.’

    • Links From Other Web Pages

    Another important factor that contributes to better SEO ranking is the number of links a website has from other pages. However, the quality of those links also matter a lot. So, focusing only on getting more and more links is not the key to rank high in search results; rather, the quality of those links is what matters. Building high-quality links can be achieved by making your website user-friendly and updating it regularly to include information that users find relevant and useful. 

    Types Of SEO

    There are two major types of Search Engine Optimization:

    • White Hat SEO

    White Hat SEO is the one that makes use of methods and techniques in accordance with Search Engine guidelines such as developing high-quality and useful content, quality links and HTML optimization of websites. Businesses that use this type of SEO are the ones who achieve long-term and sustainable digital marketing goals.

    • Black Hat SEO

    Black Hat SEO is exactly the opposite of White Hat SEO. This type of search engine optimization finds weaknesses in algorithms of search engines and then exploits those weaknesses to get a high ranking for websites. This type of SEO does not follow, and even conflicts with, the guidelines of search engines. Black Hat SEO includes keyword stuffing, spam links, hidden links and text cloaking. This type of SEO might have produced short-term gains at one point, but in the modern world, Search Engine algorithms are too smart to be fooled like this.

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  • Multiple Locations Does Not Mean Multiple Websites

    Whether you run a huge corporation with locations all over the world, or you started a small business that has expanded into neighboring towns, centralizing all your operations into one website simply makes sense. Not only will you reduce costs in design and web hosting fees, but customers of one location might be interested in other locations.

    Creating a separate website for each location is a bit old school, and designers did use that model once upon a time. But, with modern location tools and the ability to segment websites, it is less troublesome to serve up unique pages for each location while keeping everything on one website. Google is also shifting the way that it looks at keywords, domains and websites so that it is not as necessary as it once was to ensure you use a keyword specific to that location.

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  • Seven Tech Leaders Who Changed the Industry (for the Better)

    Tech changes at a lightning pace, bringing us new capabilities with each year. You could argue man has invented items to make his life more comfortable since the beginning of time. In 2400 BC, someone invented the abacus, and in 1657, the Christiaan Huygens created the pendulum clock. But, the explosion of technological advances in the last 100 years is mind-boggling.

    Today, technology geniuses continue to change the world as we know it, improving our everyday lives and taking our tech capabilities farther than we ever thought possible. Here are seven leaders in the industry you may or may not have heard of.

    man adjusting tehnology wiring

    1. Bill Gates

    No list of tech giants would be complete without Bill Gates. He is best known for co-founding Microsoft and changing the interface of computer operating systems, so they were easy for anyone to use. The world likely wouldn't be the same today without the prevalence of user-friendly computers. Microsoft also introduced the world to the Xbox, creating a generation of gamers and changing the way we look at the world of computer software.

    Gates offers inspiration to future tech leaders because of his inventor's spirit. When something is new, the task of inventing a new method or ability from nothing seems daunting. However, if Gates hadn't left school and put everything on the line to see his vision come to life, the world would have missed out on modern software and many other inventions from this brilliant man.

    2. Ginni Rometty

    Ginni Rometty is the chair, CEO and president of IBM. One of her most significant contributions to technology is the way she's integrated artificial intelligence (AI) into other industries. In addition to focusing on new technologies are deployed for AI, she also is at the forefront of emerging technologies such as blockchain and quantum.

    On the personal side, Rometty has a passion for creating a better workplace for women. Under her leadership, the company implemented extended parental leave and a "returnship" program that allows women to return to the workforce with hands-on training. Rometty shows that women in tech can be tough, smart and caring all at the same time.

    young man using laptop

    3. Wai-Loong Lim

    Wai-Loong Lim, the founder of Y Studios, is known for coming up with unique interface and product design solutions, especially in consumer electronics and telecommunication. He has lived and worked in both Singapore and Canada, so he can communicate between the two cultures and accomplish tasks that someone without that background can't.

    Y Studios is also one of the few design companies with a focus on human/robot interaction and user experience with virtual reality (VR), AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). Lim points to cultural context as the basis of his designs matched with innovation in each industry.

    He'd like to be the one to start a movement where people value experiences over things. His goal is designing quality products that last so people don't have to replace them regularly but can spend that money traveling, helping others or seeing the world. Lim proves you can design high-tech products and still live a life of adventure.

    4. Reed Hastings

    In the 1990s, the way people viewed videos began to change. First, VHS tapes became obsolete. As DVDs took their place on video rental store shelves, Reed Hastings had a vision for a service that mailed your movies to you, so he co-founded Netflix. His bigger vision was a service where consumers could stream movies with no wait time whatsoever.

    Hastings still serves as the chairman and CEO of Netflix — he changed the way we view and rent movies. Gone are the big video rental stores of yesterday, replaced with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Hastings' vision changed the way we experience movies and TV shows.

    laptop being used for technology monitoring

    5. Peter Thiel

    Peter Thiel is the co-founder and chairman of Palantir, a company creating software with the aim of connecting data and human environment. He is the co-founder of PayPal and runs a venture-capital firm called Founders Fund, where he's invested in famous technology companies such as Facebook, Airbnb and Spotify.

    Most people barely remember a time when you couldn't transfer money instantly online. Thiel is one of the first pioneers in digital currency. Imagine a world where you couldn't Venmo cash to your friends for pizza — it wasn't too long ago, actually. Young designers and entrepreneurs should take note that Thiel found success because he saw a need and filled it for consumers.

    6. Mark Zuckerberg

    Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard dropout, but it's unlikely he regrets that decision as one of the richest men in the world and co-founder of social media giant Facebook. Even though social media wasn't new when Zuckerberg arrived on the scene, he revolutionized the industry by providing a user-friendly platform meant to create opportunities for interaction.

    He also monetized social media in a way that drives business and website traffic in the current online marketing environment. Love or hate the platform, it is still the biggest social media site with more than 2.32 billion monthly active users. Zuckerberg proves you can make a path in an already established industry if you bring fresh ideas and ih3nnovation to the equation.

    7. Elon Musk

    Elon Musk, who founded companies such as Tesla and SpaceX, creates a buzz in the tech industry for his visionary ideas. Tesla produces energy-efficient vehicles, and SpaceX has successfully tested reusable rockets. His goal is to make space travel commercial in the near future. Musk has an impressive background with citizenship in South Africa, Canada and the United States.

    Musk has a passion for revolutionizing transportation in any way possible and has accomplished successful testing others said was impossible. He is an excellent example of going after your passions no matter what anyone else says.

    Find Inspiration From Everyday People

    Although the seven tech names above have accomplished great strides toward technology and made an impact on our society, don't overlook the little guy who knows a lot about technology. You can learn new methods and fresh ideas from anyone with an interest in tech. The seven influencers above are certainly influential, but dozens upon dozens of tech moguls are out there with something to teach.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby.

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  • The Best Offline Marketing Strategies for Your Next Campaign

    speaking at event

    Online marketing is a good choice for businesses, since the results are easily measurable and the digital format is less expensive than traditional marketing. Nonetheless, offline marketing is more effective when reaching targeted demographics and delivering specific messages. As a result, businesses are prudent to acknowledge both online and offline advertising as part of their campaigns.

    Seven effective offline marketing strategies that are relevant to most business niches are:

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  • Why Your Employees Are Your Best Form of PR

    Figuring out how to get the word out about your business isn't easy or inexpensive. Advertising, even online, is notoriously difficult to track. You may never fully realize how successful a campaign was.

    In today's highly competitive marketplace, just keeping up with your nearest competition may be expensive. Across all industries, small businesses spend about 1.08 percent of their revenue on advertising. If you're just getting started or fighting against a competitor nipping at your heels, then your marketing costs may be higher. Your employees are a great source of word-of-mouth PR both to help bring in new customers and new hires. Here are six reasons why that is.

    1. Consumers Trust Their Recommendation

    One resource you may not have tapped into is your employees' ability to share what they love about your brand. Studies show that consumers are 92 percent more likely to trust a recommendation from someone they know rather than from the brand itself. Get your employees involved in talking about your brand. Encourage them to refer family and friends by implementing a reward program.

    Direct sales companies figured out referral structures to perfection. Young Living is just one example of a direct sales company that rewards its distributors for bringing other customers on board by giving them free products and a percentage of sales.

    2. Employees Best Understand Your Product

    Your employees understand your product better than a third-party advertising firm. They work intimately with it day in and day out. It's also a smart move to provide samples to your employees. If you sell clothing, give each employee the latest shirt or a budget to order a certain amount of pieces for their personal use. Encourage them to tell others about what they're wearing. If you offer a service, have your employees test it.

    One thing top restaurants do that all businesses can learn from is let people test out their dishes so they know how they taste, how they're made and what is unique about each of them. Then, when a customer has a question, the employee is ready to answer from a personal standpoint.

    3. Develop a Culture

    Do you want your employees to feel highly satisfied in their work, so they strive to do their best, feel like part of something bigger and are more likely to stay long-term? Developing a company culture all leads to employees who are happier.

    You can create a strong company culture in several ways. Make sure everyone feels valued and free to add their input, spend time together doing fun things outside of work and show appreciation when someone does something exemplary.

    macallister machinery company puts safety first to build a strong company culture

    MacAllister Machinery Company offers an excellent model to study if you want to learn how to build a strong company culture. Anyone thinking about working there will notice they put the safety of their employees first, something that isn't always a priority in the industry. They also point to other elements, such as using a balanced scorecard to run their business and looking at innovative ways to solve common problems.

    4. Offer Profit Sharing

    If you want to encourage employees to help you advertise your products, offer a profit sharing program. The incentive is simply to get the product in the hands of more people and increase company profits. Employees then receive a percentage of those profits, giving them a strong incentive to promote your brand. No matter how much an employee loves their job, when the work day is over, it's not likely they will continue to promote your brand unless they have the incentive to do so.

    Profit sharing helps everyone feel that are part of the big picture and their effort is valued. When you offer incentives, you will begin to see employees go above and beyond to get results.

    5. Attract Top Candidates

    Attracting some of the top candidates in your field isn't easy. You're competing against giant companies that might have more funds to offer. However, you can stand out from them with an amazing company culture and lots of incentives. Not everyone wants to work for a Fortune 500 company or get lost in the shuffle of a big corporation. Focus on your strengths, then figure out how to encourage your employees to share those strengths with people they know who would be a good fit for your company.

    pure insurance offers a referral program and culture that translates to a referral rate between 40 and 60 percent

    Start an employee referral program so those who bring in new hires receive rewards for helping you find the best people possible to fill open positions. Pure Insurance offers a referral program and culture that translates to a referral rate between 40 and 60 percent. The majority of their employees come via referral from another employee, which is unusual. The way they achieve this is simply asking if their workers know anyone else who would be a good fit for the company.

    6. Empower Employees to Be Vocal

    Invest time and resources into training your employees to be a mouthpiece for your company. Training should include everyone from the manager of a department to the evening cleaning crew. Train employees about your company philosophy, how best to represent your brand and how to tell others about where they work.

    Training should include a full array of elements, including how to present yourself on social media. The last thing you want is someone giving your brand a bad name. However, with a little training, most people are capable of sharing info about your brand positively.

    Encourage Employees to Help With PR

    Most of your employees are probably quite happy to help spread the word about your brand, as it creates job security for them if you do well. They just need the encouragement and training to do so and know they won't get in trouble for mentioning the company. Use these six tips to start encouraging them to recommend your company to everyone they know.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby.

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  • Why Your Small Business Must Be Active on Social Media

    Participating on social media platforms for your business is no longer a question of “if” but “when.” Whether you have a large marketing budget or a small one — there’s not much that has the reach of social media.

    When you jump into social media marketing, it’s important to know how much time to invest in it. Too little, and nothing will come of your efforts. Too much, and its counter-productive. You must also know which platform is right for your brand and marketing strategy. If you’re doubting its power, consider that according to Social Media Examiner, 90% of marketers say social media is important for their business.

    With so many questions, it’s easy to dismiss social media marketing. It seems complicated, and, when you do get involved, you must choose a platform, then learn how to use it for business.

    Most social media networks are free, but most offer some paid perks for businesses. With some time, a bit of money and dedicated resources, you can turn your social media campaign into a win.

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