All Posts by Mark Bossert

Secrets of Rapid, Massive Content Creation

More and More Content

Quality written content is one of the keys to getting more of your website crawled and indexed by search engines and then being seen as an authority in your market. Quality content is important; as is enough of it to be effective. 300-500 words is ideal (We’ve tested and usefully longer -is- better. It ranks higher and gets more traffic)

Also very important is more relevant topics creating more pages. Websites need content and lots of it!

Most small business websites are 6 pages with very little written content. Sites like these, especially if they are up against bigger, more developed competitors (and this is increasingly the case), are impossible to get high rankings for a wide variety of keyword searches. There just isn’t enough material!

Our small to medium sized business clients are busy people. So how can we simplify the process and make it as easy as possible to get more effective content produced that will help their business? Below is a process that we use internally that helps our clients take care of this. My thanks to Alex Mandossian who has been talking about this for a long while!

There are a lot of advantages to using a system like this. It requires a low time commitment for you (or our client), you talk quicker than you write, it can produce a lot of content when you get on a roll, and it’s quality content that is keyword rich – resulting in more traffic!

Step 1 – It always starts with keyword research

In Google: start typing questions. (For now Bing doesn’t work as well for this.) You have a local garage or you’re a dentist… Go to Google and begin searching for (ford) air conditioning problems or “what is cosmetic dentistry” etc. Don’t Hit Enter! Check out the suggestions that are generated. Note these (use a screen capture tool) and now you’ve got some starting topics.

What makes this tactic effective is that right away you know you are writing about what people are actually searching for. There is no point in writing on topics where there is no interest, right?

Other free keyword tools to use to get ideas from:
Wordtracker Keyword Questions
Type in a topic and this will return the most asked questions… the challenge is that it returns a fair amount of junk, so it does take time to edit this to a useable list.

Suggester
Type in a term and it suggests other related search terms. Use these as idea starters.
Google Search tools
The search engines have other tools (look on the left side): for instance the Google Wonder Wheel will give you related searches in a graphical format; or the Timeline will show you which time frame searches are being conducted for -i.e. There are many searches for “ford air conditioning problems” centred around 1975.

Step 2 – Easy Content Production

The two main ways to produce this content are: a. Hire a copywriter to produce an article; b. Get a subject matter expert to produce it.

In most cases, the expert version is far more effective and valuable. The hangup is that they (you) don’t have the time (or habit skills) to produce written content.

Here’s the secret of getting the content produced:

Option 1: If you are a good speaker, record answers to the questions. We send our clients the questions and they record answers and send the audio back. Very easy to do with a smartphone!

Option 2: If prompting works better (…and ensures it gets done!) use a Google Voice or Skype account; the key is to be able to record calls. Get someone to call and ask you the questions. In our case, at an arranged time, the client calls the Google Voice number and are asked questions from the research in step 1. Recorded calls are downloaded.

For extra points of usefulness, create a format ahead of time. Have a defined process and stick to it.

Step 3 – Transcription and Repurposing

Email the recordings to a third party to transcribe. Using a quality transcription service will save a lot of editing time.

However, here is where preparation makes a difference and having a set format pays off.

If the call produces a good sounding interview, you can repurpose this in a number of ways; as audio, as a podcast and/or as the sound track for slide show videos. That content in all forms can go on your website or blog as well as be distributed online, getting high value links and traffic from podcast directories (list of many podcast directories), video distribution sites, content sites (like www.scribd.com; www.docstoc.com; issu.com; slideshare.net; authorstream.com; etc.), and with some massage (like creating an excerpt and shortlink) on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

One of these a week will create thousands of high value links a year to your website! Produce enough content to get 3 posts a week or more and you get hundreds of thousands of links each year. This is how to be dominant in your niche.

To save time, get the transcription formatted as a post for a blog with headlines and bullets – make it easy to read and people will read it. This probably will require a 2 step process; someone to transcribe (cheaper), and someone to format.

There is plenty of information on formatting for readability, here’s one of my favorites…
How to format a blog post by Problogdesign

The advantage of this system is that you have most of the work done in minimum time on your (or our clients) part.

Readying for Your Hangout on Air

Getting Yourself “Hangout on Air Ready”:

Hangouts on Air is a service from Google+ that lets viewers watch your video braodcast live – like a personal TV station – within Google+ or live on YouTube. The video can also be embedded into any website, so your viewers can literally watch it anywhere. After your broadcast, the final video version of the Hangout is uploaded automatically to YouTube. People who missed the original broadcast can watch it after the fact. Better yet, you (and we) can promote it and continue to use it to gather more customers.

The Gear You’ll Need

You can run a Hangout on Air with almost any laptop/tablet/phone, but with many of those devices you’ll be seriously disappointed in the result. There are many factors reducing the quality of the video; it’s best to start with the best possible quality!

Video Camera

      – The quality of your webcam matters. A lot. You’ll want a webcam with HD resolution, low light sensitivity and good optics.

Logitech C920

      I use a 1080p webcam from Logitech – C920… about $99 at amazon –

Logitech C920

      Whatever you do, don’t settle for the embedded webcam on a laptop.

Microphone

      – Just as important as the camera, or more important… the quality of the microphone matters. The microphones on laptops suck. However, I use and recommend the mic on the Logitech camera and it works great! The sound quality is good.

Computer

      – Run your Hangout on the fastest computer you can. A low-end netbook isn’t going to cut it. Use a laptop or a desktop computer with some horsepower. That will ensure the video is as smooth as possible.

Wired Internet Connection

               – It’s not always possible but this is the biggest factor in quality of video. If you can, plug directly into your router. Faster internet will gives better video.

cowboystudioKit
Use Good Lighting

– Fuzzy and pixelated or crisp and clear? Up to you. I recommend investing in a lighting kit like this – Cowboy Lighting Kit ~$78 on amazon
Cowboy Lighting Kit

To Get Setup Go To:

https://plus.google.com/

Login or Connect

Use your business gmail address to login (and create a profile if you don’t already have one)

Install the Hangout Plugin:

Hangout Plugin

Circle Mark Bossert

+Mark Bossert

Send Mark a direct message

via your Google+ profile page (there’s a navigator on the right) This confirms part one of setup!

Start a video Hangout

(without adding anyone) This confirms that the hangout plugin is installed!

Email mark@toplocalrankings.com a short bio which includes:

a. Name, company, position at your company. b. A one sentence bio. c. Your subject and the 3 questions you want me to ask — I need these ahead of time to setup the Hangout so it ranks! 

**Schedule our next Hangout on Air on the below calendar:

Other Items:

Verify your YouTube Account

If you want to do these yourself, make sure you have verified your YouTube account. You want to make sure your account can handle videos longer than 15 minutes, otherwise, your Hangout won’t get saved. This is one of the most common mistakes people make. Unfortunately, if you fail to do this, your Hangout is probably gone forever!

Setting Up Your Studio

You’re probably going to be broadcasting from your home or office. There are some simple things to do to provide the highest quality backdrop. Avoid Backlighting – The worst thing you can do is position yourself with a bright light or window behind you. The camera will try to set the brightness based on the bright background, and your face will be in shadow. Always get the bright window facing you, with your back to a darker area of the house or office. Illuminate Your Face – In addition to removing any backlighting, you’ll probably still want some kind of fill lighting for your face. A small desk lamp pointed at your face will probably do the trick, to highlight you. Have an Interesting Background – A plain white wall is really boring, but a nice living room can look great. Other people like to put a bookshelf behind them. If you work with some kind of technology or hardware, try to get it into the scene, to give viewers context. Position the Camera Above Your Eyes – When you use a laptop camera, it’s looking up at you, right up your nose. Instead, you want the camera positioned above you, so you’re looking up into the camera a little bit. Trust me, it’s more flattering. Put your laptop on some books, or put the camera on a tripod if you can. Reduce the External Sounds – You’ll want to chase down every source of external sound and remove it. Turn off the ringer on your cell phone and beg the kids to be quiet!

Local, Mobile and Where is it all going…

Google Buys Motorola; HP kills webOS; Acer loses Money

The above happened in the last … week!

If you know me at all, you know I tend to bleat on endlessly about how things are changing so incredibly fast in the mobile space and that the transition from desktops to mobile devices is the biggest, fastest business change in history.

The above is more evidence of this. A huge player in mobile, namely Google, spends 12.5 Billion dollars to purchase a money losing mobile device maker. Once the deal closes that adds 60% more people to the Google team. Wow. Good or bad time will tell but this is a massive change!

Hewlett Packard (HP) is the worlds largest computer seller. Last week they reported earnings and added in the second paragraph that they were killing their mobile division webOS (which they got from purchasing Palm last year.) Pre phones and (2 month old) Tablets – discontinued. They went on sale at bargain prices and pretty much sold out over the weekend. For those interested, this is a fast way to burn $100 million.

HP also stated their intention to explore selling off their consumer computer division! Yo, the largest computer manufacturer just said they cannot compete in mobile or in computers and the business sucks and they want out. Wow.

Acer is the second largest computer manufacturer in the world. They released their quarterly numbers early this week and for the first time in 10 years lost money. They said they will not make a profit this year. Their chairman Wang, stated that tablets were fading in popularity and Acer would be blah blah big blah blah sell more than anyone blah blah, wait until next year blah blah.

The second biggest computer seller is in trouble. Wow.

This data supports how big the transition is. Mobile devices are exploding in popularity and there will be more of them than computers very soon – before the end of this year, 2011.

For small business it means that your business is best served by looking to the future as to where your customers are going to be looking for, and hopefully finding you.

Is it on a mobile device? Do you know if you are ready? Do you know what it will take to get ready?

You already know that YellowPages, TV, newspapers, direct mail don’t work as well as they used to – if at all.

So what’s your plan? Wait and watch to see if it really happens… or get started?

Since we’re so deep in data from all the customers we serve, we see it every day… search volumes are growing in every sector. Local business niches that were simple to get top ranks for because the competition was sparse 2 years ago, are tougher and tougher now!

The gun has gone off and the race has started! The scale – At worst your competition is taking your online business and are disappearing over the horizon. At best you’ve got started marketing online and you’re putting competition in the rearview.

Where are you on that scale with your online marketing plan?

Small Business Online Marketing Playbook

Online marketing is the old “new kid in town” that bewilderingly, is getting a ton of noise and at the same time being profoundly ignored by many companies – 50% of your small business competitors do not even have a website!

It’s not a stretch or a flight of fancy anymore to state that Yellowpages and other traditional advertising marketing mediums for small business are in trouble… Yellow Media stock here in Canada is now under $.20 (< 20 cents) a share. So where can you cost effectively promote your business and get a positive return on investment? I humbly submit that the best place is online marketing. So let's Define the problem: To market online: you need to work in 5 areas 1. Have a good WordPress website - Design (look + Feel), Site navigation, Conversion structure - Ongoing optimization of pages/content for conversion 2. Content - lots of it and ongoing - Forms of content - written, video + podcast, images, user generated; for: social media (in lengths for Facebook, Twitter, Google+); email lists; text marketing; article distribution; reviews and testimonials 3. Setup of and ongoing optimization of Social Media platforms (as services added, changed) - Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others as fit - ie. Tumblr, Pinterest for Fashion - Content - Calendaring content creation- Have a regular posting schedule and stick to it! 4. Good setup of and ongoing On-page SEO, site structure, internal linking - Ongoing link building - PR, content distribution - video sites, email list, text list 5. PPC setup - Ad writing and testing of ads - Landing page creation/optimization So how is a small business going to be able to do even a portion of this? I think part of the answer is budgeting the time and dollars needed; the other part of the answer is having a trusted source to guide your strategy and share some of the work. What are your advantages over your competition? What can you do that they cannot, or are un-willing to do? The place that we have seen the biggest advantage and growth happen for customers is when they are actively involved in content creation, on a week by week basis. Competition and ongoing huge changes online are increasing - everyday. There are not just more of your competitors online, there are more of my SEO competitors online as the world economy adjusts to different things. So there are more quality competitors online as well as more overall. The Bad News This is only starting to ramp up. What will happen over the next years will be change at a pace that's hard to fathom. The message that online is the place to be is not much in the main media but it is reaching small business owners. Memo to those who do not have a website and an online marketing strategy: Best of luck and bye bye! Where in our business we knew exactly how much it took to get top rankings for a local business 12 months ago, today we have to do three times (3x) as much work to get the same result for a customer. The truth of the matter is that without a full-on commitment to creating an online marketing plan, a partnership with someone who knows what to do, how to do it and how to spread it online -- your online marketing will not be effective. What's your advantage? You know your business better than anyone else. You are a subject matter expert. The battle to stand out from the crowd online as the competition heats up is best thought of as a race. In a race you don't stop or you lose.

Buyers Use Online Search!

Does Online Search Marketing Work?

I hear this question occasionally… being so deep in data and the results of good campaigns vs. “others” I am well past ever questioning it.

Yes – It Works and is getting better and harder at the same time. Competition does that! The increase in mobile device use is also a major factor that many businesses are increasing ill prepared for.

GroupM just published some research on search detail and value.

Buyers are more likely to click on your search result!

>

To quote: “The Web is influencing more than $1 trillion of in-store sales, and search is the number one online channel for driving that revenue,” said Chris Copeland, CEO, GroupM Search. “This new understanding of the retail shopper represents a behavioral shift. The intent shown in search provides brands an opportunity to maximize their online revenues and encourage and cultivate greater in-store sales.”

Eighty-Six Percent of In-Store, Retail Buyers Search on Generic versus Branded Keywords… these findings are consistent with the results of research we have conducted in multiple industries around the important role search plays in a consumer – path-to-purchase.

My favorite: 10 percent of shoppers report using tablets during the retail shopping process. 10% already from tablets. This is a brand spanking new baby still!

For more at Business Wire