Search Engine Optimization

Social Media Tools For Your New Year's Resolutions

I can hardly believe that the year has already passed us by.  It’s amazing how time goes by so quickly.  When you think about this past year in review, were you able to accomplish all of your personal goals?  Did you lose those last 10lbs from your weight-loss goals, did you save up that extra $1,000 for your spring trip to Punta Cana next year, and did you take all of the time you had promised yourself, to spend with your precious families? How about your business goals?  Were you able to grow your business all four quarters?  If you encountered down time, were you able to polish your skills and make use of that idle time or did you just sit back and enjoy the break?  A better question yet, how prepared are you now for the year to come?  How will you change up your business strategies and financial goals, or do you even need to change your strategies in 2014 to stand out with your targeted market?

Let’s talk about goals for the New Year and how social media may help to accomplish your resolutions!

If you haven’t jumped aboard the social media train, it’s never too late and I highly recommend that you start sooner than later.   Consider the following tools to enhance your New-Year-Resolutions1client base and presence within your specialty.

  • Google Plus – Build relationships on Google Plus.  This may not seem important to your business until you realize that every relationship you build can extend your reach and help you become visible.  Let’s say that you establish a relationship with another company in Florida.  You have a mutual product which you both sell.  When you build your relationship with this company in Florida, the company in Florida can then vocalize where to buy that product in Wisconsin, and add clientele that you would have never expected otherwise.  Offer great content on Google Plus and increase your search engine optimization (SEO).   Google Plus is growing everyday!  According to GlobalWebIndex, 25% of worldwide internet users are now active on Google Plus.  My point?  Get on board!
  • LinkedIn – This is a professional networking website that opens many doors and connections, but you must understand why it works.  If you use it correctly as a professional platform versus a social platform, you will obtain the best results.  Profiles on LinkedIn are hybrids of resumes, websites, blogs, and Facebook pages.  Use LinkedIn to prospect, research, and engage the quality clients or professionals which you would want to meet and would want to meet you.  Interact with future prospects and support activity within their groups.  Join new groups to learn even more about your business.  I’m amazed constantly at how much free information is out there that you can acquire about your business.
  • Facebook – What better way to advertise at a low cost, than with Facebook?   You already know how addicted people are to this tool.  Create a business page and display helpful hints, post specials that you are running on products, and best yet, be sure to add customer testimonials.  This is a way, with minimal cost, to reach out to a large audience.  The business page of Facebook also comes equipped with automated statistics.  At the end of each month, you can see how many viewers responded to your posts, how frequent the activity occurred, and your total number of viewers, just to mention a few of the stats offered.

These are just a few of the social media tools offered that can help increase your visibility and help lead to a very successful first quarter.  Of course the internet can’t perform all of the work for you, as you must be able to post your own research and information, but it can sure help!  If you are in a bind for time, there are even more simple and time saving tools such as Hootsuite or Nimble, which allow you to manage the content that is posted, for multiple websites.  If you are an ambitious person, you have endless avenues to bring attention to your business.  As with everything, it all takes hard work and continued dedication.

As the New Year quickly approaches us, I encourage you to set your goals high.  Push yourself and see where your creativity leads.  Make it your best year yet and continue to think BIG!  The sky is the limit.

Happy New Year and best of luck with your resolutions!

What You Need To Know About Google+

Google+'s growth exceeds expectations! Google+ is expected to hit 400 million users by the end of 2012 based on an expected 625,000 new users per day.

By the end of 2011, Google+ had grown from 10 million users on July 13th, 2011 to 62 million users by December 27, 2011. In 2011, social media experts were predicting it would have more users than Twitter & LinkedIn in a year, and may even reduce the number of active Facebook users.

That is not to say all news is good news. Just because Google+ is amassing sign-ups, doesn't mean everyone is participating. Even some of the individuals with the largest network (aka Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder) have not posted or interacted through the site. It has been reported that roughly 1/3 of Google+ users have abandoned their Google+ accounts before ever posting.

So what is Google+?

Are you looking to create a personal account? JOIN Google+

Want to create a business page? Create a Google+ page

In some aspects Google+ is very similar to Facebook or LinkedIn in that you can create a profile, add connections, see what your connections are up to, instant message/video chat, receive other website feed information (similar to RSS feeds), and mark items you like with a "+1" (Google's equivalent of the Facebook "like").

What makes Google+ different is that you can organize your connections into circles. And with those circles, tailor how individuals see specific messages, posts, comments, etc. Not just turn on or off certain features to a group (like Facebook or LinkedIn) but actually post items JUST to one group and maybe post something else to a different group. The ability to TAILOR your messaging is what sets Google+ apart from the rest.

At the end of 2011, Google+ introduced pages, similar to Facebook pages, that are specifically targeted to businesses.

The +1

Think of this as the Google equivalent of Facebook's "like" button. View the introduction video.

Many applications and websites are already integrating this new type of marker, including the popular website builder WordPress.

If you are a logged in member of Google+, you can see the +1 in action by searching on Google for anything. If you like a site, click the +1 to the right of that site, and you just gave that site your public stamp of approval. You can even add a comment about why. You can easily see your own +1's under your Google+ account information in its own tab. They can be public or private, or only available to your "circle".

All of those +1s really add up. You can even add a button and tally to your website to show off your aggregate +1 recommendations.

+1 search allows you to take it one step further by customizing the search results you see depending on the recommendations posted by yourself, your friends, and your Google+ circle. Just like with Google Place Search allowing nearby businesses and websites to show up first in your search list, Google+ allows recommended (+1'd) content to show up first, as well.

What does this mean for your business?

Want to get recognized and be at the top of search lists? If your customers are recommending you through +1s, you have the advantage over other sites in your area, and will show up closer to the top of your consumers search lists.

In conclusion...

Everyone seems to agree that Google+ is here to stay and is looking to be the newest social media powerhouse. After all it IS Google!

So get on, create an account and your business page, play around and keep an eye out for upcoming articles on Google+.

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

By Natalie Schloesser, IMPACT's Website Manager You’ve probably looked at a WordPress site today. In fact, IMPACT is built on WordPress! For those who don’t know, WordPress is an Open Source CMS Platform that drives nearly 20% of all websites today*.

In English please? Let’s work backwards. All websites are built on a ‘platform’ – basically software that helps the site work. CMS stands for “Content Management System”. If you can login to your website and change the content on a page, you have a CMS. Open Source** is a term that is used across the Internet; it’s a community of developers that work together to constantly build and improve upon software that is available to the general public at no cost.

Being a website developer and designer, I’ve worked with numerous different platforms, numerous different CMS’s, and numerous different Open Source products. Embarrassingly enough, I must admit: for a long time I did not jump on the WordPress bandwagon. I hesitated when building my first site in WordPress. Now I am happy to say that my first experience was so extremely pleasant that since then I have built every single new client site in WordPress and converted many of my current clients to the WordPress platform.

One great thing about WordPress are the plugins. Plugins are additions – “bells and whistles”, if you may – that offer you extra functionality to make your site do what you want. Side note: Widgets are the things you see in the sidebar columns or footer columns. Who knew the internet would bring us a whole new glossary of terms?

My Favorite WordPress Plugins Though this list could be much longer than it is, I thought I’d keep it to five. Here are my favorite WordPress Plugins, many of them on every site I build:

  1. nextGEN Photo Gallery A very powerful photo gallery that helps to organize your photos into albums. Automatically creates thumbnails, allows a title and caption for each photo, completely customizable page layout, and more.
  2. Social Profiles Widget This plugin is a widget that goes in your sidebar or footer columns. It has each social media icon ready for your social profile to save you the hassle of manually adding in each individual social website.
  3. Google Calendar Events If you use Google Calendar and need your calendar on your website, this is the way to go. The design is customizable, it can display events as a list or in a calendar grid, it comes complete with a widget for your sidebar or footer, and multiple Google Calendar feeds can be shown in one list/grid.
  4. Custom Contact Forms Most WordPress designs come with a basic contact form built in; name, email, text box, and submit button. This plugin comes in handy when you need a more robust contact form with many questions to ask. Though a bit clunky and not incredibly intuitive to set up, this plugin is extremely powerful and customizable, sure to meet your needs.
  5. All in One SEO Take control of your Search Engine Optimization with this powerful plugin. Designed for beginners through advanced users, it can either work out of the box or be fine-tuned and formatted as you wish.

If you have a WordPress site and would like one of these plugins, we’d be happy to help! Thinking of switching to WordPress? Contact us with questions! No matter what, you can’t deny that WordPress is one of the fastest growing platforms on the Internet. With developers worldwide contributing to the widgets, plugins, and the platform itself it will continue to grow and constantly improve.

*Infographic, http://cdn.yoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wordpress-stats-infographic-yoast-full.jpg
**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source