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    How To: Optimize Your Press Releases for SEO

    Last updated 1 year ago

    The role of press releases has evolved over the years as the media itself has been shifting from offline to online. Today, press releases remain a powerful tool for communicating news about your company to media contacts and generating media coverage for your business, but now you can also publish your own business press releases directly online. This makes press releases an important SEO tool since you can optimize the content for your own website and for syndication services that publish it on other sites. So, with that in mind, here are a few tips for writing and optimizing your press releases for SEO.

    Identify & Share News About Your Business
    If your business has never published a press release, you might be wondering exactly what you would write one about. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Announcing a new product, service, promotion, or event
    • Sharing a customer testimonial or success story
    • Announcing a new hire
    • Promoting an owner or employee achievement such as a certification, promotion, or honor
    • Sharing how your business or employees are giving back to the community

    Use Keywords
    In order to optimize your press releases for SEO, it’s important to first identify the right target keywords. By doing keyword research with a tool such as the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool, you can find out what keywords (or keyword phrases) have the right balance of search volume and keyword competition. Start with a short list of keywords and phrases that are relevant to your content and then research them to make sure that people are searching for those keywords but that they won’t be too competitive. Select 1-2 keywords to target in your press release. Often, using keyword phrases or long-tail keywords that include 2-3 terms may provide a better return than trying to optimize for one highly-competitive word.

    Optimize the Content
    In order to help your press releases show up in search results, you have to optimize your content for SEO, just like you would the content on your website or blog posts. Here are a few components  to keep in mind:

    • Headline: Include your primary keyword in the headline of your press release, near the beginning of the headline if possible.
    • Keywords: Include your primary keyword and closely-related synonyms for it a few times throughout the copy of your press release.
    • Strategic Links: Include a few (three to four) links to relevant, related information on your business website. When possible, hyperlink these to related terms in the copy of your press release. For example, if you link to a page on your website about widgets, hyperlink that to the word “widgets” in the copy of the press release. Also, make sure to include the “http://” portion of all links to make sure they are hyperlinked on sites that syndicate your press releases.
    • Company Description: Include a company description, or boiler plate, at the end of your press release, containing relevant information about your business as well as a link to your website. You may also want to include links to product or service pages or important social media profiles.

    Publish Your Press Releases
    You should include your press releases on a dedicated section of your own website, like a press or news room page. This is also a good place for you to link to positive news stories and mentions of your brand across the Web. In addition, you should send your press releases to local news sites and publications. Consider also syndicating your press releases through online syndication sites, which can help better spread your news to media sources, generate more exposure of your messages, and help provide more valuable inbound links to your website. You can choose from a range of options, from free to paid distribution sites.

    Socialize Your Press Releases
    Social signals are growing more important when it comes to SEO, so make sure you are sharing your press releases on social media sites. Posting links to your press releases – and to the published news stories that may result from them – is an important way to let fans and followers know about what’s new in your company, and it can build credibility for your brand when consumers see it mentioned in the news. Plus, when your employees, fans, followers, and customers share links to your press releases and media coverage, it can signal to search engines that this information is popular and important, potentially boosting the SEO impact of your press releases. 

     Does your small business use press releases to share news about your company or as an SEO strategy? Share your experience in a comment!

    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as a blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

    7 Online Reputation Management Mistakes That Can Blow Up In Your Face

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Your business’ online reputation is extremely important to your entire Web presence. Because reviews, comments, and mentions of your business online are so immediate and widespread, it’s vital to take all the necessary steps to make sure the reputation you have online is a glowing one. But, it takes more than just having some positive feedback on a few review sites. You also need to monitor and manage your presence across the Web for other factors that can have a negative impact on your business. To keep your online business reputation in check, be careful to avoid these common online reputation mistakes – or they could blow up in your face. 

    1.     Failing to Monitor All Your Accounts
    Consumers don’t leave reviews and comments about your business all on one site. In fact, people talk about your business all across the Web, from review sites and local listings to blogs and social media pages. So, it’s imperative to monitor all the pages where you have an official online presence for reviews, mentions, or comments about your business. Check your feeds on Facebook and Google+ as well as your @replies on Twitter at least once a day to make sure you’re not missing any critical feedback. In addition, monitor your reviews on listings and review sites like Google+ Local, Yelp, and other industry-specific sites. In addition, set up Google Alerts for your business name to ensure you’re not missing any conversations about your business across the Web on sites you may not be aware of.

    2.     Ignoring Comments & Reviews
    Once you know where to look and have a routine down for monitoring your online reputation, you need to acknowledge and respond to conversations that impact your business in a timely manner. Failing to engage commentators online can have a negative impact on customer approval and trust. Did you know that 60% of consumers expect brands to respond to reviews and comments on social media? Even apologizing for something beyond your control, like a long wait for a table at your restaurant, can help you build trust and credibility to keep them coming back. But, don’t just respond to the negative reviews or complaints you see. You should also take time to thank consumers who give you positive feedback online or publicly share their comments with your fans and followers. For example, if a customer mentions your great customer service via a Tweet, retweet it and add a quick “thanks.” This can help you spread the word of your customer advocates and build your brand. 

    3. Responding to Negative Reviews with Anger
    It’s true that not all negative reviews are valid – but sometimes your customers have legitimate complaints. Even if you suspect a negative review is the work of a troll or competitor, never take a defensive or competitive approach in how you respond. Instead, calmly introduce yourself, acknowledge the review or complaint, and apologize for the customer’s experience. Then, re-initiate trust with the customer by stating what steps you will take to correct the problem. And, if you feel it’s necessary, you can even offer a freebie or discount for the customer to encourage them to give your business another chance. 

    4. Sharing Personal Views On Your Business Pages
    No matter what your beliefs on religious, political, or other controversial subjects, it’s best to keep your personal views out of your business’ online accounts. Your employees and customers may share the same values as you do, but that’s not always the case. So, be careful not to post something that may alienate people who are considering buying from you or otherwise loyal to your business, even if you feel strongly about a particular cause. Before you post something that may be considered controversial on your business accounts, determine whether or not it’s relevant to your business and what possible impact it could have on your audience and your online reputation. For instance, if you are a vet clinic, it’s unlikely that your audience would be upset about a post relating to supporting a particular animal shelter or rescue, but they may not want to see an endorsement for a political candidate. 

    5. Not Having a Social Media Policy for Employees
    Even if your employees are not posting on behalf of your company, their actions online can still affect how customers or prospects view your business. For example, last year, Gamestop fired employees for posting photos of themselves “planking” in the store. Having a social media policy in place that defines acceptable employee behavior on social media can help you set expectations with your staff about what is and isn’t acceptable, helping you avoid potential issues. Social media policies can help protect not only your brand’s online reputation but also your legal responsibility for employee behavior online. So, put a policy in place to provide ground rules for employees on how to behave and explain what steps you will take should a violation occur. Here are a few tips for creating a social media policy for your business.

    6. Paying for Customer Reviews
    Paying for online reviews is a definite no-no. The FTC Endorsement Guidelines forbid paid endorsements for products or services without disclosure. In fact, if a reviewer has a formal connection with your business or if your business has compensated them in any way for the review, the reviewer must disclose that in their post, because this information can affect how readers perceive the authenticity of the review. Compensation includes anything from cash or a free product to a discount or coupon. To help you generate more authentic reviews, try asking happy or loyal customers who already rave about your business to leave you a review that are likely based solely on the excellent product or service you provide.

    7. Posting Fake Reviews of Competitors
    Another huge online reputation gaffe to avoid is posting fake reviews of your competitors on their pages to make them seem less credible. This underhanded tactic is not only ethically wrong, but these reviews can also be removed by the site if they are flagged as inappropriate. For instance, reviews posted to Google+ Local can be removed if the business flags them as inappropriate, spam, off-topic, or as presenting a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest can include paying for reviews as well as misrepresenting your identity or affiliation with a particular business. Don’t stoop to the level of posting fake reviews of competitors online. Instead, focus on building your own positive reputation. If you suspect that negative reviews on your pages have been posted on your pages, you can flag reviews that you feel are false or inappropriate.

    What online reputation management mistakes have you encountered? What steps are you taking to promote a positive reputation for your business online? Let us know in the comments!

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and con

    tent marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

    The Big Picture: How To Add a Twitter Header Image

    Last updated 1 year ago

    You may have heard that Twitter recently updated its profile pages, allowing you to upload a header image to the top of your profile page. This page is what people will see if they click on your Twitter account from an organic search result or from a “Follow us on Twitter” message that you may already have on your website to encourage consumers to engage with you Twitter.

    Although adding a header image is not mandatory, this new update gives you an additional way to promote your small business brand through images. So, how do you upload a new Twitter header image? Follow these simple steps:

    Step 1

    After logging in to your Twitter account, go to your profile settings by selecting the “Edit your profile” button or the settings icon in the upper right-hand corner. 

    Step 2

    Select “Design” from the menu on the left. 

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you'll find the "Header" option. The recommended dimensions for your new header image are 1200x600, with a maximum file size of 5MB. 

    Step 3

    Select the "Change header" button and choose the image you want to upload from your computer. You'll be able to enlarge and move your uploaded image in an example display area so that it looks exactly how you want it to on your profile. After the image is adjusted correctly in this preview, hit the "Save" button. 

     

    To update your image, select the “Change header” button from Step 2 and upload a new image.

    Now, when you visit your Twitter profile page, you will see your new Twitter header image. 

    You'll notice that the format of your description also changes once you upload a Twitter header image. For example, your thumbnail image will now display inside of a white frame in the center of your header image. Also, this new update will center your description and display it all in a white font, instead of left justifying it with multiple colors as it does without the header image. And, be aware that Twitter will automatically shadow the bottom part of your image so that your description does not blend into your header image.

    Are you going to upload a new Twitter header image? If so, Tweet us your profile page or add it in a comment below! Make sure to check out @ReachLocal on Twitter, too. 

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    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through social media and online marketing for the ReachCast blog

     

     

    Facebook Place Topics: How To Add Your Place Subcategory

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Facebook recently launched a new feature option for Facebook business pages called “Place Topics.” Place Topics are essentially subcategories for your business and will tell people who visit your page more about the types of products and services you offer. This option is not yet available for everyone, but if you do see it when you log on to your page, you can take advantage of this feature to include even more details about your business in a prominent place on your page. Plus, it can help your  business to show under the places page for your city on Facebook for your selected categories. 

    Here’s how to update your business Place Topics:

    1. Log on to Facebook and navigate to your page. Then click on the highlighted “Add Your Place Topics” link above your business info on your business profile page. 

    2. Start typing in the sub-category that you feel best represents your business. If that business type exists in Facebook, it will auto-fill in the box. For instance, when setting up Place Topics for this page, we started typing “Bridal,” and Facebook auto-selected “Bridal Shop” as the best fit sub-category related to that term. You must select a pre-set subcategory that Facebook has defined in order to save it. You can specify up to three place sub-categories for your business. 

    3. Now, your business subcategory or subcategories will appear above your business info on in a prominent place on your Facebook page.

    When a visitor clicks one of these linked terms, Facebook will open a city page and list all the other businesses in the local area that are tagged with the same sub-category. Note that Facebook Places will only show the city listed in your address, even if your business serves other areas. Here is an example of a city page with local businesses listed, which features a map tagged with Facebook pages. 

    4. You’ll be able to update your page’s subcategories after you select them. To edit them, go to “Edit Page” and click “Update Info.” This is also where you edit information like your business address, URL, and page category. You’ll now see a field for Place Sub-categories listed there. 

    Will you be adding your Facebook Place Topic or subcategory? What do you think about this new feature? Let us know in a comment.

    Social Media Updates You Need to Know

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn frequently make updates and changes in order to improve the experiences for both consumers and brands. And if your small business has a presence on these social media sites, it’s in your best interest to stay up-to-date with the changes in order to get the most out of your social media profiles and provide the most relevant types of content to your fans and followers on those sites.

    Here are a few recent updates and news from LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook that you should know about: 

    LinkedIn Launches New Company Page Layouts

    Is your small business using LinkedIn to connect with consumers or other professionals in your industry? If so, you will soon notice that your LinkedIn Company Page has a new look and feel. One main difference is that you will now be able to upload a large image to the top of your page. Other features include a prominent “Follow” button, a more relevant news stream that displays updates to the right followers on LinkedIn, and a cleaner layout to help viewers quickly find information about your business such as products and services and career opportunities.

    These updates will not only help you promote your brand on LinkedIn but also separate you from other businesses within your industry and help you reach the right audience. LinkedIn has updated just a handful of company pages to demonstrate the new look and feel, but all pages will see the change by the end of the year. Until then, now is a good time to set up and optimize your LinkedIn Company Page if you have one or create one if it is right for your business.

    Twitter Enables Embedded Timelines

    You may have noticed that some businesses have a Twitter stream of their mentions on their website or company blog. This embedded tweet feature has been available for a while, but Twitter recently announced an enhanced version that allows you to embed an interactive timeline of tweets. This Twitter timeline feature enables consumers to both see your activity and interact with you directly from your website.

    It's important to note that if you decide that the Twitter embedded timeline fits into your social media marketing strategy, you must be active and responsive. Your tweets and tweets that mention your name will now be at the forefront of your Web presence, especially if you embed the Twitter timeline on a page on your website that sees a lot of traffic. So, you’ll need to consistently post fresh content from your account and keep a close eye on your @ mentions to make sure your site visitors are seeing recent and positive content about your business.

    Facebook Releases Facebook Advertising Study

    Facebook can be a very useful place to advertise your business, products, or services because of its vast audience. In a recent infographic, Facebook illustrates the results of advertising on its site. According to this Facebook infographic, in a study of 60 Facebook advertising campaigns, 70% of businesses saw a 3x return on their investment, and 49% saw a 5x or greater return based on their advertising spend and offline sales.

    The total spend on social media advertising  spend on social media advertising is set reach $4.8 billion in 2012, up 23.6% from last year. So, if you have considered using Facebook advertising, or any other forms of social media advertising, make sure you understand the audience you want to target in order increase your chances of reaching the right consumers.

    Which of these social media updates will have the biggest impact on your business? Do you plan to take advantage of the Twitter embedded timeline or Facebook ads for your small business? Let us know in a comment!

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    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through social media and online marketing for the ReachCast blog.

     

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