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A Social Message For My Children (And You)!

My husband often jokes that growing up he made a fool of himself too many times, but “thank goodness it wasn’t on Facebook or a reality TV show watched by millions.” While he is being humorous he is also being insightful. Today’s generation is growing up in a time when mistakes can be damaging and publicized to the world for infinity. It may have been fun for my husband dancing with a Sake bottle on his head in the late 70’s, but that was then and this is the day of social media when the photo would be sent worldwide and possibly misunderstood in corporate America.


According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 37% of employers use social media sights to research job applicants. “Because social media is a dominant form of communication today, you can certainly learn a lot about a person by viewing their public, online personas,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “However, hiring managers and human resources departments have to make a careful, determined decision as to whether information found online is relevant to the candidates’ qualifications for the job.”

If you are a teen or young adult (like my children) the choices you make today may end up posted on someone’s Facebook or web sight for eternity. As your career sky rockets one of your teen friends may become jealous and decide to pull out those old, destructive, image destroying photos and post them online. We have all seen it before with celebrities, but it is a real concern for those of us who are unknowns as well. Your friend in high school or college may become jealous with your success later in life and decide to show the world events you would prefer to remain in the preverbal closet.

While social media can destroy a career it can also enhance your chances of being hired. According to CareerBuilder, “employers are also looking for information that could potentially give a job seeker an advantage. Three in ten hiring managers (29 percent) said they have found something that has caused them to hire a candidate…”

CareerBuilder’s Haefner says the company’s research reiterates the value of controlling your online persona at all times. “Job seekers should be mindful of what potential employers can learn about them online,” she said. “If you choose to leave social media content public, tailor the message to your advantage. Filter out anything that can tarnish your professional reputation and post communications, links and photos that portray you in the best possible light.”

The solution of not being on Facebook isn’t a solution for the younger generation. According to Forbes magazine writer Kashmire Hill, “I’m seeing the suggestion more and more often that a missing Facebook account raises red flags.”

I predict that in a dozen years from now people will be proud to have invisible sightings online. Companies will develop that not only help manage an online presence, but also helps create a stealth mode of social media that is as private and hidden as it is visible today. In the 70’s and 80’s some American families paid for an unlisted phone number for privacy. In 2024 American’s may once again be paying to keep all their online information private. The world doesn’t need to know how much money you paid for your house or your salary if you’re a public school teacher. Privacy will come with a price, but it will come.

Today, however, Hill expresses a growing concern, “But it does seem that increasingly, it’s expected that everyone is on Facebook in some capacity, and that a negative assumption is starting to arise about those who reject the Big Blue Giant’s siren call. Continuing to navigate life without having this digital form of identification may be like trying to get into a bar without a driver’s license.”

According to Reppler, a firm dedicated to managing people’s internet visibility, the Top 5 reasons hiring managers hired a candidate based on social presence include:

1.The candidate gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit.

2.The profile supported their professional qualifications.

3.The profile showed that the candidate was creative.

4.The candidate demonstrated solid communication skills.

5.The profile showed that the candidate was well-rounded.

Bidhan “Bobby” Parmar, professor at the Darden School of Business, may have sage advice when he states, “Before posting information and photographs on Facebook, remember that in the virtual world, our houses are made of glass. Every piece of data is permanent and stored in a digital archive. More than half of employers cite provocative photographs as the biggest factor in the decision not to hire.”

My message for my children (and you) is to make wise choices that you are always happy and comfortable having the world view. While you aren’t on a reality TV program being seen by millions, you’re on social media being seen by a select few that may matter more to you than all the millions watching an invasive, destructive show. Be yourself, but don’t risk your reputation on a moment of insanity. And, finally, if you want to make a fortune, develop a program that people can buy that will keep their personal life private and
invisible.


Sheri Staak has served in many Vice Presidential roles at both large privately held and publicly traded global companies. She’s a corporate powerhouse and has been the recipient of numerous sales awards and recognitions. In addition to her key position in a highly aggressive, extremely competitive industry, Sheri is a regular contributor to a travel newsletter, lending her expertise by writing articles that provide tips and advice for business travelers. She also shares her wisdom and business perspectives with regular postings at her leadership-focused blog, The Staak Report.

Tweak and Repeat

Any business can apply multi-channel marketing, but cross-channel marketing is the ideal way to increase revenue and customer loyalty, especially when marketers apply the Pareto principle. Cross-channel marketing is more challenging than multi-channel marketing. Instead of focusing on disseminating a message via multiple channels, cross-channel marketing is customer focused. Companies must expend significant resources to capture adequate information about users and track their needs across all channels. Applying the Pareto principle cuts down the time needed to discover client needs while maximizing ROI.

The Pareto principle

Although originally not related to marketing, the Pareto principle stems from work by an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Surveys he conducted confirmed other countries had a similar ratio. The economist even discovered 80 percent of his garden peas came from 20 percent of his pea pods.

Pareto did not actually come up with the principle, however. A business management consultant named Joseph M. Juran discovered 80 percent of quality control issues stemmed from the top 20 percent of problems. He named the principle after Pareto. Over time, people have expanded the principle to explain other business matters, such as:

  • 80 percent of complaints stem from 20 percent of customers
  • 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of time spent
  • 80 percent of sales are by 20 percent of sales staff
  • 80 percent of sales are made from 20 percent of products

Perhaps the most relevant discovery for cross-channel marketing is knowing 20 percent of the customers are responsible for 80 percent of the profits. Knowing this, cross-channel marketers should focus their efforts on identifying and tracking those 20 percent.

The efficiency of the Pareto principle

Cross-channel marketing requires companies to track users across all channels, meaning each customer must have their own profile and sales staff must be able to match content to the customer. Taking the time to track all of a company’s customers is a waste of time and resources, according to the Pareto principle.

Only 20 percent of the customers possess exceptional brand loyalty. These one out of five customers are really the only people worth tracking because they produce most of the profits. Tracking the top 20 percent is a more realistic goal than tracking everyone as well. Once the top 20 percent is identified, sales staff can not only concentrate on marketing to them but they can also see who those people influence socially and push to expand their ideal customer base.

The Pareto principle and staffing

For the most effective cross-channel marketing, a company should identify their best salespeople and then expand. Cross-channel marketing relies on well-trained sales staff, especially in a call center. For example, a customer sees a product on TV or in a magazine he likes. He goes online to view the product on the company website, perhaps even scanning a QR code with his smartphone, before calling the company to ask questions. All of the data about what the customer wants is available. When he calls in, a salesperson has the chance to study the data and anticipate the customer’s needs, increasing the potential of a sale and the chance the customer will become part of the core 20 percent.

Companies can use sales figures to find the most effective employees, but they should also look for people who display leadership qualities, are self starters and who influence others. These people will attract more high-quality workers, ensuring the sales staff comprises only the best employees. The remaining 80 percent should be retrained, reassigned or possibly let go.

Companies can even use the Pareto principle when recruiting workers by looking for the natural leaders at other companies. Often times, recent college graduates who have not yet had the chance to prove themselves with sales numbers or a customer service history can become part of the top 20 percent. They are highly educated and motivated to prove themselves.

Bridging the gap between marketing within channels and creating integrated customers takes significant effort. Narrowing down the targeted group with the Pareto principle simply makes sense. After brainstorming the best ways to accomplish this goal, companies can even use the principle to narrow down ideas as the top 20 percent are most likely to result in 80 percent of the results.

Your Message is Inbound

As social media changes the boundaries between personal and professional, personal and commercial relationships are merging. For marketers, this changes the traditional relationship between the company or the brand and the consumer. Now, consumers are likely to follow their favorite celebs on Twitter and become fans of their preferred brands on Facebook. If you can provide useful information to consumers, they’re more likely to stick around and are more likely to send business your way.

What today’s communication landscape means for marketers

At the same time this increased connectivity is happening, consumers are also becoming more self-reliant. Sounds like a contradiction, but it’s true. Consumers are more likely to do independent research on the Internet or through word of mouth before coming into a store or even reaching your website. A ZMOT survey found consumers needed 5.3 points of information before purchasing a good or service in 2010 and 10.4 points of information in 2011. They’re more likely to find this information themselves, using either a smartphone to look up information on the go or performing independent research online. Marketers are tasked with reaching out to people who may feel they don’t need to be marketed to because they can find the information themselves.

Connecting with consumers

Companies that do a good job with marketing tend to focus on useful information or action that turns existing customers into repeat business and generates buzz that can tempt new business. Being an information maven and sharing information before the point of need spells success in this environment.

Companies with a personal touch

  • Hyatt: This worldwide hotel chain generated a win for consumers and employees with its “Random Acts of Generosity” campaign. Each Hyatt location was given a sum of money to spend on guests by offering them a free meal, free drink or spa service. As a result, guests were more likely to prefer Hyatt when surveyed and employees enjoyed surprising guests. Consumers’ personal travel needs — food, shelter and comfort — were met with the Hyatt’s offerings.
  • Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines: Both of these airlines tweet flight information including flight delays and schedule changes. These airlines recognize consumers keep track of travel information from home and on the go and try to give customers timely information. Additionally, the companies also tweet flight deals. Might this increase the loyalty factor by making these airlines seem responsive? It would seem so.
  • Comcast: Internet providers like Comcast know customers complain when service is interrupted. The company personally monitors social media outlets like Twitter and responds directly to customer tweets, enhancing that sense of connection as well as problem solving.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival tweets real-time information on ports and weather, updated information on programs and cruise features and fun photos of cruise destinations. Not only do they come across as a breath of fresh Caribbean air on Twitter, they also know how to lure in folks planning that fall vacation.

Companies like the above have a way of reaching out to their customers and making them feel their needs are being met, both in person and via social media. company whose human resources department treats their employees as well as they do their customers all but guarantees success. Happy workers are happy to provide stellar customer service, no matter their industry.

Trust that a good campaign will generate buzz that reaches beyond its scope, attracting good PR and new customers. Being responsive in person and through social media can help you monitor the success of existing campaigns and connect with your customers and staff.

Can Less Hours Equal More Productivity?

Have you ever sat down at your desk with a list of tasks for the day, only to walk away eight hours later having accomplished very little of what you set out to do?

In an office environment full of emails, conference calls and distractions, it’s easy to spend hours at our desk while making little headway.

What if you’d arrived in the morning with that same list of tasks, but only three hours to get them done?

Chances are, you’d have set right into the most important job, letting coffee breaks, non-critical emails and chatting with coworkers wait for another time.

Workaholics come in all shapes and sizes. Some entrepreneurs put in 100+ hours a week growing their own company, convinced that without their own constant personal energy, everything will crumble. Others simply feel like they need to keep up with the pace in their office. If everyone else stays until 7 pm, won’t you look bad for dipping out at 5?

In April, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg made news with a short video about her decision to leave work every day at 5:30 p.m. At first, she countered this decision by sending emails early in the morning and late at night. Eventually, however, she drew a clear distinction between ‘at work’ and ‘not at work,’ freeing herself up completely for time with her family.

Sandberg’s example should resonate with anyone who regularly misses dinners with their spouse or children due to late nights at the office. That’s reflected in Americans’ commendable productivity levels, which have risen 400 percent since 1950. In other terms, we could comparatively afford the same standard of living as 60 years ago with just a quarter of our work hours that we put in each week today. Exacerbating the problem, 86 percent of males and 67 percent of females in the U.S. are estimated to work more than 40-hours each week. In short, the notion of a 40-hour work week being the ‘average’ is definitely a thing of the past.

Most European countries mandate minimum leave for employees, generally at least 20 days per years. That’s in direct response to health studies demonstrating that people working 60 or more hours in a week are about a quarter more likely to get sick . People putting in 11 or more hours a day, in particular, are at a severely heightened risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who work just eight.

Working too hard can damage relationships, leading to strife, separation, and divorce. How much time would serious marital problems take away from your life and your work? Wouldn’t you rather spend those hours enjoying time with your spouse and family, rather than in the hospital getting stents in your heart or figuring out the details of how you’ll split up your family?

Think about your habits in a normal work day.

  • Do you read or work during meals?
  • Do you worry about your future even when things are going well?
  • Do you turn your hobbies into ways to make money?
  • Did your family give up on expecting you to show up on time long ago?

If the answer to those questions is ‘yes,’ pause to reflect for a moment on your priorities. Even if you’re a number-crunching details person who just can’t fathom how you’ll pull yourself away from the desk before 10 pm tonight, think about the ramifications that over-burdening yourself with work can have on the rest of your life.

Ultimately, keeping yourself happy and healthy will extend your lifespan and help to prevent unnecessary drama in your life. When it’s considered that way, heading home at 5:30 pm may be just the fix you need to increase your productivity in the long term.


Guest Blogger: Anita Brady leads the team at www.123Print.com. The website offers customizable print products for business and life situations, and has everything needed to market a business, where you can make your own business cards and design other promotional items that combine high quality and customization with an affordable price.

Creating More Engagement

Social media offers businesses unrivaled opportunities for direct customer connection. A new poll from the Allstate Corporation found that, while Americans are skeptic about the information found on social media, they believe that interacting via social media makes them more informed as consumers. They also feel it gives then the edge of influence compared with consumers that do not use social media. This engagement carries over in a variety of ways: The Allstate Corporation poll found that social media users are more likely to perform some type of volunteer work and are more likely to seek out opinions before making larger purchases. Sixty-four percent of consumers expressed a desire to see companies using social media for customer service purposes, and 59 percent revealed that they found a company more accessible if it had a social presence.

Each social media outlet has its own strengths. For spreading the word about sales, giveaways and sweepstakes, Facebook works very well since it supports image hosting so well. For connecting with individual users and seeming responsive to customer concerns, Twitter allows for a quick but meaningful interaction. And for leveraging business connections, LinkedIn is best. Additional benefits of growing social media use may include reaching more consumers with less money than you might spend on a traditional ad campaign, benefiting from being seen as accessible and modern by consumers, and leveraging social media presence to other parts of the workforce, such as human resources.

As customers go mobile, social media outlets place increasing importance on mobile connection. Recently LinkedIn developed an iPad app that runs via mobile web. And Facebook keeps taking about developing a mobile phone and recently bought the popular web and mobile photo sharing Instagram. They’ve even developed an app for feature phones, showing that all mobile platforms are primed for social experiences.

By mobilizing your web presence, you increase the chance of converting mobile users to social fans. There are many ways to develop a mobile website; creating a stylesheet that controls screen size and strips your web content of large images can help users navigate your website on the go and doesn’t require an expensive developer. If you want to invest time and money, you can customize an app interface. Having a mobile website also helps users who click on a link in Facebook or Twitter and get directed to your website. If it’s not mobile, chances are high that they won’t stay to read the content.

To keep mobile sites lean–and therefore faster to load–place video, image and other media on the social networks and link to them from the website. Dual promoting keeps your website quick to access, something vital to mobile users, and archives your material.

Of course, to make the most of this social presence, you’ll need to have someone monitoring your social presence on a regular basis, to connect with customers and identify problems, such as unhappy customers, before they get out of hand. As users increase the frequency and the ways of social communication, this social point person must keep up with the volume so you maintain the appearance of approachability.

Given the changing context of social media, which is increasingly going mobile due to high smartphone and tablet use, businesses need to constantly adapt to stay on top of the game. Look out for new platforms that arise, such as Pinterest, and become an early adopter to maintain social prominence with existing customers and attract new fans.

Small Business Going Mobile

You probably have a website for your business. It’s a great, low-cost way to market your products and services. You’ve probably also considered the need for a mobile application, too. Look around; it seems like everyone is getting a smartphone. Should you jump in and build an app for your small business? Do you need a mobile presence? Mobile applications can be developed for very little money and users can download them in under a minute so the answer to both questions seems to be affirmative. But what can these little software applications really do for you? Well, that depends.

Why You Should Bother

According to Pew Research, about 35 percent of American adults owned a smartphone as of July 2011. That figure is certainly growing. It represents an opportunity for small-business owners to use technology to their advantage. Gartner Research reports that mobile applications are expected to earn providers $58 billion by 2014. That’s a pretty staggering figure, right? Can you make interacting with your customers a little easier, more convenient or even playful? Consider it if:

  1. Your business offers a service that could be ordered or used by customers on the go.
  2. New customers might be enticed to buy from your business when they interact with your mobile application.
  3. Your customers currently interact with you and each other using social media technology such as wikis, blogs and forums.
  4. You’re willing to try creating a mobile application and dedicate some staff and budget to the effort.
  5. You can envision new ways to make money for your business using a mobile application. For example, if you offer a global product or service, you might be able to find new customers in Asia, where mobile application use has been rapidly adopted.

Getting Started
To get started, check out websites such as Infinite Monkeys or BudgetAppDev. You can create a basic business application with display advertisements with the Infinite Monkeys drag and drop interface for free. It’s easy (and fun) to create your application. Video help provides guidance along the way. By specifying some basic information and uploading a background graphic, you can create an application that reinforces your brand and helps you connect. You get to choose which features and functions you want added, including photo sharing, blog feeds and videos. You can download your custom QR code and put it on your brochures, signs and marketing collateral. Users will be linked your application or the HTML5 version in the event that your customer doesn’t have an Android or iPhone. You can also view usage statistics.

If You Need Inspiration
Check out the BudgetAppDev portfolio for some excellent examples to trigger your creative flair. People love to use their mobile phone to pass the time. Can you develop a dynamite quiz related to your small business that people will play while waiting in an airport or train station? Want to package up training and support tips, tools and resources for your company that your customers can access from any location? How about a restaurant guide for the area surrounding your business as a benefit to visitors?

If any of these ideas appeal to you, you’ve already taken the first step in designing and developing a mobile application to support your small business. Now, take your idea and consult with your customers to find out what they might need.

How Non-profits & Charities Use Facebook

Facebook offers a number of tools that allow non-profits and charities to use Facebook to share their organization and mission with the world.

Facebook Pages

In general Facebook Pages are a more formal way to share information about their organization with a larger public audience. More than 22,000 non-profits currently have a presence using Facebook Pages. For example, the Susan G Komen for the Cure Foundation uses their page as a more engaging mini-website within Facebook. They have over 500,000 fans sharing videos, providing feedback, taking polls, and donating to their cause through their page.

Causes

Causes is an application that enables users to organize themselves into communities of action that support specific issues, campaigns, or non-profit organizations. For example, just over a year ago, a Harvard medical student created the “Campaign for Cancer Prevention” cause, which has grown to more than 4.2 million members. In addition to raising $75,000 for a cancer study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the cause features an active discussion board where members share stories and resources.

Groups

Groups tend to best serve communities of individuals wishing to engage around a particular issue and organize themselves around actions or discussions. They can be user-generated or set up by an organization. For example, “Un Millon de Voces Contra Las Farc” (1 million voices against Farc) was organized by a user seeking to drive awareness for the Colombian government to take action against the FARC.

Social networks are ubiquitous, inexpensive (when compared to other media), and available 24/7/365. This allows a non-profit to leverage every hour of the day to share content, build their community or fund raise. Finally, Facebook offers greater value to brands and consumers through tools like Facebook Credits Pages.


Bio: Virginia Cunningham is a freelance tech writer based in Los Angeles California. She currently blogs about biometrics, identity security and ID card technology AlphaCard

The Future is Now, but For How Long?

Years ago I sat in a library computer lab at my university and thought, “Wow, the MySpace era is over, upended and replaced by Facebook, but how long will the victor stay on top? If MySpace could fall, surely Facebook will as well. What will Facebook do in the future to lose users in the same way?” Of course, Facebook has done very well for itself since and successfully defeated social media challengers or integrated them into its sweeping empire. That does not change the fact that technology is cyclical and someday Facebook will give rise to a new brand that will occupy that space.

 

This is especially important to marketers who specialize in social media and technology trends. Facebook built its empire on the sale of information and created a sharing platform irresistible to the masses. That model has changed the DNA of our interaction with the Internet and will likely continue on into the future.

Twitter is growing into a mature platform for short-form discourse and advertising. Pinterest is currently being mined for its marketing potential. Sites with a heavy social leaning are cropping up all over the place and nearly all of them present an avenue for marketing products, but marketers have to ask how long social media will continue to be a trend.

You can register your business on as many social media websites as you see fit, and you may find a way to sell products and generate traffic through one of them that is revolutionary. However, in addition to experiments in cutting edge social media, web marketers must keep in mind the foundations of the business that will always exist with the web. As marketers explore the final frontier of marketing on the web, it’s important that they maintain a foundation of solid tactics that will more than likely continue on into the future.

No matter how easily you are able to join a social media site, they remain inherently complicated as far as meeting business goals. Since they were designed as social networks that eventually incorporated a business aspect, they don’t always lend themselves to infiltration by brands.

Longevity

Social media groups are inherently driven by popularity, yet the most successful products experience the fastest rate of growth when they are still new and undiscovered by the masses. While it’s understandable to want a presence on the new, cool site the unfortunate rules of middle school still apply: by the time everyone has itit is no longer exclusive and desirable. Social media marketing isn’t going anywhere next year, or the year after that. But someday there will be something new, and when that day comes we will have to fall back on a foundation of strategy that is typified by plain old good content.

All this to say that it is very important to stay abreast of new technologies when developing new ways to create brand identity on the Internet. It is equally important to maintain best practices for the innovations that got us to this point and continue to propel us toward the marketing future. Maintaining a solid newsletter, engaging the customer, and some campaign management software will go a long way when the frills of social networks begin to fall away and its successor rises from the ashes.

So yes, get on the social networks that make sense for your brand, but also remember the basics that got us to this point, because sooner or later we may have to rely on them again.

 

Real Snail Mail

Transactions that used to be performed primarily by mail – receiving and paying bills, payroll services, bank statements and communication – are increasingly being done online. Nevertheless, many items are still sent by mail, including magazines, mail order DVD rentals and packages. Some of those items can be time-sensitive and any delays in their delivery can be a recipe for customer rage or other problems. Come Spring 2012, though, the entire mail system will slow down considerably as the U.S. Postal Service attempts to cut costs to avoid filing bankruptcy. With the volume of first-class mail dropping about 7% annually, it doesn’t make sense for the USPS to continue operating at the same levels it’s used to. At this point it seems the only choices are to lose the Postal Service or endure cuts in service.

 What Brought Us to This Point?

This past year, the Postal Service declared that it expected $43 billion in losses over the next four years due to a steady decline in use of the service. First-class mail usage peaked in at 104 billion pieces in 2001, but fell to 73.5 billion last year. By 2020 it’s estimated that the USPS will process only 39 million pieces of first-class mail per year, showing just how difficult it has become for the nation’s mail service to receive enough mail volume to fully fund all of their operating costs. Add to that the fact that the federal government requires the postal service to prefund its retirement benefits by and you have a recipe for massive budget shortfalls. The USPS has already overpaid $75 billion for pension funds, bringing it to the brink of bankruptcy. Postal workers calling for the government to remove the prefunding requirements and refund the overpaid money to keep the service solvent were largely ignored.

 What Consequences Will Be Experienced?

The troubles the USPS is experiencing have resulted in a reduction of services, namely a closing of around 250 processing facilities and the loss of up to 35,000 jobs. This will result in slower mail delivery times, extending first-class mail from 1-2 days to 2-3, increasing the relevance of streaming media rather than having it shipped on physical discs through the mail. The accelerating decline in physical mail usage coupled with the looming threat of a collapse of the federally regulated postal service means that further shifts toward digital purchasing and Internet usage will be experienced. This means that search engine optimization (SEO) will become increasingly important as more and more companies flood the web with their products and services, all vying for the coveted top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs). Many traditional forms of advertising and branding, such as mailers and magazine advertisements, will be more expensive to mail and be delivered less reliably with the increased waits, requiring businesses to look to digital branding and advertisement for recognition and customer interaction. SEO can provide that by helping businesses target their niche demographics, becoming more recognizable to their core audience through search engines.

 

How to get your SEO right and know that it works

This is how many people perceive SEO. With the tools available it is not this complicate anymore.

What do you know about SEO?

It’s not exactly a new thing, though it has a turbulent history within the realm of Internet marketing. SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization – a super effective way to get your Google ranking up, although SEO has been maligned in the past.

Today there are good ways to optimize your search results and bad ways to optimize your search results. Bad methods get you punished by Google and your site stricken from the top search engine results; you may have heard about what happened to a certain retailer. “White hat” techniques are credible ways to improve the Google and Bing rankings of your site – increasing your page views and giving you more opportunities for conversions.

In addition to raising your search rank, white hat tactics make your site more navigable and easier to index/access. At its core, SEO is a way of getting your site in the best condition to be found in search results.

Okay, Cool. But what do I do to get my SEO right?

Tons of things! Google’s quest is to deliver the best search results for user queries. Based on the words people type into that query field, Google has to be able to analyze what you’re looking for and present you with the most relevant results. SEO is the practice of making your site relevant. That can be done through launching an email marketing campaign or writing guest blog posts. However, the first step is reorganizing the architecture of your site.

When Google sends its spiders out to crawl the Internet for content, they value each site they go to by how quickly they can glean information from it. If that information is relevant, then the rankings tend to go up. But if they can’t get to the information because of problems like junky site script, then they will devalue it.

SEO consultants always talk about things like the importance of selecting the right keywords and then using the right tactics to optimize the site for these targeted keywords. The more that your content reflects this keyword relevance, the better your site will perform in search. It’s also importance for your URL to be relevant. For example, if someone searches “Furby” and your site offers Furby reviews, opinions, and short stories, if wouldn’t make sense for the URL to be WorkshopFlock.com. That has nothing to do with Furby, and even if it did, it doesn’t sound like it does.

How do I know if it’s working?

When it comes to return-on-investment, SEO gives you an effective method of tracking exactly what your efforts are doing for you. Google Analytics has been a very important tool in the past for SEOs to demonstrate the efficacy of their work to clients. As SEO has evolved, newer tools have emerged and can be found all over the Internet. SEOmoz is the industry leader in SEO tracking tools, which include On-Page Analysis, Rank Tracking and Link Analysis.

Because SEO is so rooted in metrics, traffic, and analytics there are many things for you to measure and track and graph. The benefit SEO has over many other online marketing initiatives is that it’s so measurable, whereas the results of other initiatives often disappear into the ether of the internet.

SEO represents a growing industry, but it’s also a good way to get your site in the best shape possible. Use it and you will see changes in the ranking of your site and if you take it to the next level, the next search a user makes may see your site at the top of page 1 in Google!