3 Super-Easy Ways to Update Your Blog (no excuses!)

We’re all very busy, and unfortunately one of the first things we let slide is updating our own content, and managing our own marketing programs. At Grapevine Marketing, we’ve been guilty of this as well, and that is why we are always looking for simple ways to update and promote our programs without adding on hours of additional work to our already-insane schedules.

So if you’re like us, and most of the businesses we speak to, you know how important it is to write content for your blog and develop new marketing campaigns. You just don’t have enough time in the day to reach these goals while also keeping up with daily tasks and client work.

Not to worry, we can make it easy for you. The 3 tactics below can be used at any time to create and publish content for your blog, and help you easily manage your distribution and promotional efforts, since you’ll have access to plenty of new content that you can promote via email newsletters and social media. And you can do it all without adding a ton of extra work to your schedule.

Here’s how.

1. Get Others To Do the Work For You (and I promise, they’ll be happy for the opportunity!

Want to add new content to your blog, keep things interesting, double your exposure and traffic, and give your clients and business partners a unique opportunity to achieve all of these goals for themselves? Then ask them to write a Guest Post for your blog. They’ll get exposure to a whole new audience, an opportunity to promote their message, show their expertise, and drive new links and traffic to their own website. You’ll achieve all of the above goals, PLUS you’ll have provided a valuable bonus to your clients and partners, and you’ll have helped to build your relationship with them.

Once the Guest Post has been published to your blog, ask your Guest to share the post with their own email list by including a link to it in their own newsletter, and ask them to share the post via their social media channels.

Promote the post to your own audience via email and social media, and be sure to give full credit to your Guest.

2. Answer a Question

We bet your clients and customers have many unanswered questions. Perhaps you hear the same questions over and over at initial meetings, or concerns are brought up at the point of purchase. Whatever your business, you’re likely spending a fair amount of time responding to questions and concerns; and this means that there are MANY other prospective clients and customers who are wondering about the same topics.

When thinking about your blog posts, try to answer at least one or two questions a month. By including the actual question in the title of your post, you will also be able to capitalize on search engine traffic from the people who are looking for answers online. It’s a Win-Win for your blog and search engine optimization!

3. Share your 2-Cents

Saw a story in the news, in an industry publication, or on a social media page recently that you have a strong opinion for or against? Can you offer insight into a topic that people are actively discussing, such as pending tax increases, changes to laws in your field, or new trends in your, or your clients, industries?

Use your blog to share your opinion on these topics, offer insight into aspects that people may not be aware of, or offer your unique expertise. If you can show that you are a credible source of information and expertise, not only will they turn to you when they have needs or more specific questions, you will also be more easily found within search engine results when people are looking for information. As with #2 above, this will help you to position your business as the answer to questions posed in online searches. And that will help you generate more traffic, better leads, and a higher quality of prospective clients and customers.



The Secret SEO Consultants Don't Want You To Know

Disclaimer: Grapevine Marketing does SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) for a living. We also do a lot of other things, like design and develop websites, and manage online marketing campaigns.

SEO SecretsBut today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret about our business, and the business of other Search Engine Optimization and Marketing firms you may meet.

Are you ready for it?

The secret is: there is no secret trick to SEO.

Sure, there is a strategy, and there are tactics. There is absolutely a formula for best results. And there is plenty of time and effort that must be put into a program, over the long-term, to develop those results. There is tracking and monitoring, management and tweaking, and an adjustment of the strategy and tactics when needed.

But there is no trick. There is no way to fool the search engines into thinking your website is something it’s not. Or into thinking your company is something it’s not. And there is definitely no quick-fix, magic bullet, short-term, or guaranteed solution to drive a website to the top of organic search listings for searches that are actually going to result in sales or leads.

So how do we, and other SEO consultants, help you achieve results? We play by the rules that the search engines have created (see below), we monitor changes to search engine algorithms, and we help you improve the online representation of your business or organization. It’s not a quick-fix, but rather a long-term strategy that will generate results far greater than you could ever imagine. It’s an investment of time and effort that will serve you far better in the long run than nearly any other short-term solution.

Here are the Rules:

  1. Develop Great Content and Add to it Regularly (like, every day or weekly at a minimum)
  2. Make your Content easy to Find and Easy to Share
  3. Help People Get to Your Content. Real people.
  4. Make your Content so Amazing that Those People WANT to Share it with Others.
  5. Make sure your Website, Blog, and Social Media profiles are Well-Designed, Branded, and Attractive.
  6. Make sure each of those includes your most Important Tactics and Calls to Action. (what do you want people to know immediately when they arrive, and what do you want them to do?)
  7. Use PR (press releases, guest blogging, article distribution, etc.) to get your Content out to the Masses.
  8. Use Social Media to get your Content out to the Masses.
  9. Blog. Frequently.
  10. Comment and contribute to Online Conversations outside of your Site and Social Media channels (ie: on complementary business’ sites and channels)
  11. Request a FREE SEO Review of your current website and online marketing efforts. Because there is a lot more to this list than we have space to include here.



Get Rich Quick with SEO! (Just Kidding)

Learn how to Spot Shady Search Engine Optimization practices, and keep them from destroying your online marketing efforts.

SEO Marketing ConsultantHave you received an email recently, probably from an obscure email address, possibly based in a foreign country, offering you a GUARANTEED, 1ST-PAGE, OR TOP-3 POSITION, search engine marketing program for your website? Was it really cheap, and required little to no effort on your part aside from providing your billing information?

Have you received many of these emails over the past few years, and wondered ‘is it really too good to be true”?

Well as you’ve likely already assumed, yes, this is too good to be true. In fact, these services are the online marketing equivalent of ‘lose half your body weight while still eating donuts and sitting on the couch’ diet schemes.

But what’s more threatening, and confusing, to many business owners and marketing managers, are the less obvious, but nearly as harmful, shady SEO and SEM practices. So to help clear things up, we’ve compiled a list of the issues we run across most often, and the ones that seem to confuse business owners most often.

If you have a concern or question that was not answered here, please ask in the comments below and we’ll be happy to answer it for you.

  1. Issue: You have a list of keyword phrases that you integrate into nearly every page of your website, and all blog posts, regardless of whether that page or post is specifically related to those keywords.
    1. Concern: You may be over-using keywords (a big SEO no-no) and/or cannibalizing other pages of your own website. Or your keyword strategy may not match up to your actual on-page content, which can hurt you in the eyes of search engines.
    2. Resolution: First, request a review of your site from a well-respected and successful SEO Consultant or Online Marketing Firm. If all is well with your overall content throughout the website, then don’t continue using those exact same keywords in your blog posts and new pages. As long as the words you use fit your overall strategy and the topics/conversations that exist throughout the rest of your site, then the search engines are advanced enough to index your posts along those topic and keyword lines. At this point in your content development, it’s about maintaining and supporting the strategy you’ve already executed throughout your website.
  2. Issue: An SEO Consultant or Web Developer optimized the meta data throughout your site (ie: page titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords), but your on-page copy was not edited throughout the site to incorporate your keyword strategy.
    1. Concern: This is old-school SEO at it’s finest, and will do little, if anything, to enhance your indexing or overall credibility. Search engines are concerned about the content on your website matching the search terms their users are seeking. SEO Consultants trying to game the system without putting in the effort of optimizing the actual content within site pages are not helping your online marketing strategy.
    2. Resolution: Check the content on your site. If it’s been a while since it was updated, or if your site’s copy doesn’t flow well with the keywords you’ve identified as important, it’s probably time to rewrite those pages.
  3. Issue: You don’t have a regular, ongoing, strategy to add new content pages to your website.
    1. Concern: Search Engines (and your visitors) want to see new, fresh content regularly added to your site. If it’s not updated regularly, your site will start to lose ground (ie: search engine positioning and exposure to new visitors), and there’s little that can be done to organically promote a website with no new content.
    2. Resolution: Blogging (within your site’s primary domain, ie: site.com/blog or blog.yoursite.com) is one of the best and easiest ways to regularly add new content. If you already have a blog, try setting up an editorial calendar to be sure it is updated regularly with fresh new content.
  4. Issue: You don’t have an inbound link-building strategy.
    1. Explanation: An inbound link-building strategy generally consists of a combination of: email marketing with links to pertinent pages of your site, profiles on directories and social media channels, online PR distribution, publishing articles and blog posts on external sites that link back to you, online conversations/comments with bloggers and online publishers linking back to you, securing links from organizations you belong to, publishing and sharing content on social media channels, getting your visitors to share content for you on social media channels and bookmarking services, etc. etc.
    2. Concern: Without inbound link development, you are seriously limiting the opportunities for new visitors to stumble on your website from other/referral sources, and search engines place a high priority on the quality and quantity of your website’s inbound links when determining your search engine positioning against your competitors.
    3. Resolution: Start building up your inbound link-building efforts by working through the list of opportunities published in this post.
  5. Issue: Your inbound link-building strategy consists of an SEO Consultant “pushing hundreds or thousands of links to your site”
    1. Concern: This is a trap we’ve seen many business owners, especially those who don’t have a strong grasp on SEM or don’t have time to manage their online marketing efforts, fall into. While there is a certain amount of ‘directory distribution’ that should be included in your online marketing efforts (see details of inbound link-building above), there are many shady firms out there who do nothing but post spammy comments to blogs with your links embedded in them, or worse, setup ‘link farms’ with thousands of links pointing to different websites. These two issues are some of the most harmful to your site, and could potentially cost you credibility, positioning, or even cause your website to be blacklisted.
    2. Resolution: Be sure you have a detailed understanding of what your SEO firm is actually doing to market your site, and that all ‘distribution’ is being handled manually, rather than via automated (ie: spam) methods. If the response you receive is questionable, request screenshots of some of the actual posts or profiles.
  6. Issue: This post is completely new to you, and you don’t know where to start.
    1. Concern: Your website marketing strategy may be lacking vital positioning and lead-generation strategies.
    2. Resolution: Request your FREE SEO Review from Grapevine Marketing. We’ll pinpoint the areas of highest priority and provide insight into efforts you can make to start developing your strategy.

If your issue wasn’t addressed above, or you still have questions, we’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment below or contact us to learn more.

SEO Strategies: Learning From Competitors & Vendors

researching competitorsOne of the first steps we take as marketers when beginning a new search engine optimization campaign is to research a client’s competitors, industry, and their target markets. While this one research element can consist of a multi-layered project, there are some key elements that you can do yourself in order to stay on top of the competition and enhance your website’s search engine performance.

Researching Your Competitors

On a very basic level, you can see where the priorities are for your competitors based on the topics and outline of the pages on their website. For instance, if their products or services are similar to what you offer, but they incorporate many more pages dedicated to specific uses of those products, or have services listed by the type of customer that would use them, then they are likely capturing more specific, focused, and relevant search traffic than you may be.

You can also do a quick review of their page names and titles (the descriptive URL of those topic-based pages and the title that appears in the top of your browser window on each page) to determine which keyword phrases they consider to be the most important and relevant.

By having a better feel for what your competitors are structuring their websites around, you can make better decisions on the topics and tactics of highest priority for your own.

Surveying Your Customers

Want to know what your customers and prospects are looking for when they search online? The easiest way to find out is simply to ask them.

Tools such as email marketing surveys and Facebook application surveys allow you to easily send out a quick request to your target audience in order to get a better feel for what they are looking for.  Beyond helping you start to build a topic-focused strategy for your website, you may also be surprised to learn about new uses for your products, or services that your clients are hoping you’ll add to the mix.

Researching Your Vendors & Suppliers

There is so much you can learn from how your vendors, suppliers, and business partners position similar products and services for their own sales strategies. Do they have a unique way of pitching, or a great tagline that tells your story well? Can you package together products or services in a unique way that you haven’t thought of before?

Staying On Top of Industry Trends

Lastly, one of the top priorities for any website content marketer is to make sure that your site is always up to date with the products, services, and features that your potential customers may be looking for. Be sure to stay on top of industry news, deliver your opinions and reactions to current industry trends by writing topic-specific blog posts, and be sure to comment regularly on those 3rd party news websites.

By keeping your eyes open and always being aware of how others are talking about your products, services, customers, and industry, you will be sure to stay on top and capture a bigger share of the search market.


3 Blog Topic Ideas to Cure Writer's Block

So you have your blog up and running, you’ve identified your keyword and content strategy, and you’re ready to start writing. But where do you start?

Here are some ideas to combat even the worst case of writer’s block, and help you on your way to a developing the content that you can build your online marketing strategy around.

3 Ways to Cure Writer’s Block:

1) Keywords as topics

If you’ve already done your ‘keyword’ homework, then you likely have a long list of phrases and questions that people use to search for your products or services. This list is often the best, and most-overlooked place, to find ideas for great blog topics that answer your clients’ questions.

By focusing on the actual search phrases and questions that your potential customers are searching for, you will multiply the likelihood of those prospects reaching your page in answer to their search. By using the actual question or keyword phrase as the title, and page URL, of the post, you will greatly increase those chances and improve the overall search engine effectiveness of the post.

2) Real-life examples

Oftentimes, the best way to explain your service or product’s value is to share your clients’ stories (with their permission of course). Some of the best blog posts come from telling the stories of clients, and sharing real-world examples. Have you encountered an industry trend? Resolved a common consumer issue? Learned of a situation that other’s may not be aware of? These would all lead to excellent blog posts.

3) Answering questions posted by clients.

The 3rd tip for curing writer’s block in your blogging efforts is to enlist the help of others. Have an active social media community? Simply request that your fans post their questions and concerns about the industry or a particular topic. Allow them to submit their stories, questions, or comments; or post a quick survey on your company’s Facebook page that they can quickly respond to. You may be surprised at how many topics you’ll discover that will not only be great resources for all prospective clients, they will also help you to show your network of friends and followers that you are actively listening, and responding to, their concerns.

Good luck and happy writing!