Tag Archives: seo

Markethive’s Automated Marketing System Is Free!!

Markethives's Automated Marketing System Is Free!!

MarketHive is a social marketing platform called a Market Network for entrepreneurs that has the combined power of Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress, and Google Blogger.

It's a great place to blog and post about all things we discuss on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media outlets but you'll be able to blast your posts/blogs out to all of your social media platforms simultaneously.

In essence, MarketHive is all about empowering entrepreneurs through social engagement and marketing.

Your probably asking yourself how can something really be bad to the bone if it's Free

Well we built Markethive for you the entreprenuer. We built it for those that have the guts to step out of the inline thinking of getting a job and working every week for a paycheck. Like you Markethive is built on the premise that it is better to create jobs rather than go out and find one. Don't misunderstand me! I'm not saying that having a job is a bad thing, I'm saying, if you desire more like a many of us do. Then Markethive can help you with a road map and like minded people to help you along the way.

Markethive is built to inspire, give hope and a clear path to success. When you join Markethive for Free you have a whole social network of business people, which we call the Hive. These business minded individuals are just like you and they too have a drive deep down in their belly to achieve goals that are greater than that of the average internet marketer. But Markethive is not just a social network like Facebook, or LinkedIn. We offer you a great number of tools that bring all of your social network accounts under one roof. You can not get these tools on other sites. How do we know this? Because we've scoured the Internet looking for them.  What we have at Markethive has a Bad To The Bone email auto responder system, Blogging platform that connects into WordPress, back office analytics tracking, capture page creation, one click wigit, groups section so that you can collaborate with other entrepreneurs and Blog Subscribe.

The Blog Subscribe allows other to share your post's to their social networks on auto pilot.

So let take a moment and compare Markethive to the other leading and most well known systems available for purchase. 

Markethive offers more features and they are 10 times better for "Free"

Click here to get a free Markethive Account

Chris Corey CMO Markethive Inc

 

 

 

Markethive’s Automated Marketing Platform Is Bad To The Bone And It’s Free!!!

Markethive's Automated Marketing Platform Is Bad To The Bone And It's Free

Your probably asking yourself how can something really be bad to the bone if it's Free

Well we built Markethive for you the entreprenuer. We built it for those that have the guts to step out of the inline thinking of getting a job and working every week for a paycheck. Like you Markethive is built on the premise that it is better to create jobs rather than go out and find one. Don't misunderstand me! I'm not saying that having a job is a bad thing, I'm saying, if you desire more like a many of us do. Then Markethive can help you with a road map and like minded people to help you along the way.

Markethive is built to inspire, give hope and a clear path to success. When you join Markethive for Free you have a whole social network of business people, which we call the Hive. These business minded individuals are just like you and they too have a drive deep down in their belly to achieve goals that are greater than that of the average internet marketer. But Markethive is not just a social network like Facebook, or LinkedIn. We offer you a great number of tools that bring all of your social network accounts under one roof. You can not get these tools on other sites. How do we know this? Because we've scoured the Internet looking for them.  What we have at Markethive has a Bad To The Bone email auto responder system, Blogging platform that connects into WordPress, back office analytics tracking, capture page creation, one click wigit, groups section so that you can collaborate with other entrepreneurs and Blog Subscribe.

The Blog Subscribe allows other to share your post's to their social networks on auto pilot.

So let take a moment and compare Markethive to the other leading and most well known systems available for purchase. 

 

Markethive offers more features and they are 10 times better for "Free"

Click here to get a free Markethive Account

Chris Corey CMO Markethive Inc

http://markethive.com/chriscorey

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress.com – Interesting Use

WordPress.com – An Interesting Use

I try not to generate useless information. I know people are busy and the internet is full of babble already. It often seems like people think that the road to greatness depends primarily on their ability to just make more noise than their competition. But… when I find something that I think is unusual but perhaps overlooked I like to share it. 

Such an article was this one which I read tonight. It concerns WordPress.com., a site which I knew about but never really liked much nor felt totally comfortable with. I'll summarize what I thought were some of the salient points and leave you to read the article if you want.

What got my attention was that the writer (of the article) said that he wanted to do an experiment into using an Exact Match Domain (EMD). And he wanted to do it within the subdomain of WordPress.com. WordPress.com, in case you don't know, has good authority on Google and the presumption was that an EMD there would yield high PageRank links.

Also interesting to read in the article was the way he structured his articles (i.e. length, number of keywords, etc.).

His conclusion seems to be that EMDs do still work even though some sources say or imply that they don't. Me…. I don't see how they could not still have a positive effect regardless of where they are. Especially if they are contextual to otherwise good content. And furthermore…if you can get them into the domain name (even as a subdomain/extension as happens on WordPress.com) surely that must be a positive too.

Thus..the value of WordPress.com where you can, in many cases, get blog URL which have a particular EMD in them (like I just did).

The article is a bit long and does get into some detail that might bore some people. But….I thought it was worth passing on if for nothing but the reminder about the easy availability of WordPres.com blogs. For those of us in Markethive, we supposedly can configure our SNAP plugin to syndicate to WordPress.com, can't we?

I get the impression that most MLM business builders don't use content marketing very much. But I know at least one person, Rob Fore (a big dog with SendOutCards) over on MLSP who does a lot of blogging and I believe it has been pretty effective for him (even though it does take a while to build up your content network).

A shorter way to success in MLM is just to buy leads. I very frequently read that successful internet marketers buy leads when they want maximum results in a short period of time. And I know for a fact that many success in hard-core MLM is to buy leads (although that doesn't mean they don't use other means to build their business).

Point: If you've got an MLM business you're trying to turbocharge, I've found a very good source of high-quality leads. These leads are apparently generated by one of the biggest and most prestigious lead developers for home-based business opportunities in the industry. 

This lead option is just one of many highly effective MLM-specific, business-building tools, all of which you can test drive for 7 days for just a Buck. Anybody who's not willing to spend a Dollar to check a resource isn't really serious about building their business. I can personally testify that the MLM training on this is top-notch too.

CHECK OUT THE LEAD SOURCE. You can purchase leads or use their tools and training to generate your own.

P.S. Here's the article link again…in case you missed it.

The Case Of The Citation Screwup

The Case of The Citation Screwup

My name is Art Williams. I'm a Citations Detective. It was a quiet Sunday night. I was sitting at home contemplating next week when I'm supposed to have a root canal. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? It's times like this when I need some cyber-screwups to distract me and lighten my mind up a little bit.

And then the phone rang. It was 'Bob'. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent). Bob sounded very frustrated. He explained to me that he has owned a hardware store in the city for several years but that he had recently moved and since that move his business had slowed down considerably.

Bob wanted to know if I could help. He said his business is very competitive and he was worried that somebody was trying to sabotage his business.

I said, "Well Bob…let's start with the facts. Nothing but the facts."

Bob said, "OK, but my wife doesn't have to know about this, does she?"

I said, "No Bob, it'll just be between us men. How's that?"

Bob said, "Oh that's wonderful. Let's roll!"

In my preliminary interview with Bob, I asked him if he got much business from the net. He told me, "Yeah, I do Facebook, a little Instagram, an occasional YouTube video, and I think I'm on a few directories like Google+, Yelp, Bing Places, Mapquest, Citisearch…..I don't know. It's hard to keep up with that kind of stuff, you know?"

That was my clue!

Bob didn't know it but maybe he already had the answer to his problem.

So I asked…. I said, "Bob, I wanna ask you something…and tell me the truth, OK, because this could be very important."

Bob said, "Sure Art, I wanna cooperate. I'll tell you whatever you wanna know but I don't think I know anything. That's why I called you, right?"

I said, "Ok Bob..OK, Ok….I know how you feel. Just relax. You work hard, you try to do what's right. But sometimes things just don't work out and now you're in trouble and you need an expert, right?"

Bob said, "Well, yeah…I guess you sorta hit the nail on the head."

I said, "Yeah Bob…that's why I've got this badge. I know we're on the phone but, trust me, I've got one. It says, 'Citations Detective'. It's very impressive but I try not to flaunt it."

So Bob said, "You've got a badge??!! Oh…Saints Be Praised!. Sure…sure…so, what's the question?! I'll tell you whatever you wanna know!! Just help me, please!"

Yeah, I could tell Bob was in a very emotional state of mind. After all… work all those years to build a business and then see it slip away like this for no apparent reason (that he knew of). Yeah, sometimes I have to walk a very thin emotional line in this business.

I said, "OK Bob. Here's the question. Listen very carefully: Did you or did you not change you name, address, and phone number on each and every one of those citation sites you told me you were listed on?"

The phone went silent.

I was just about to suspect something really serious was wrong but finally I heard Bob's quiet voice say, "Weeellll, no. I didn't. Why?"

Then I said, "Bob, I think I've solved your problem already. I think you've got a case of Citation Inconsistency. Do you realize how serious that could be?"

Bob said, "No….how serious is it?"

I went on to explain to Bob that Citation Inconsistency is potentially very serious if left untreated.

I explained to Bob that when there was inconsistent information on citation sites, review sites, social media sites, etc., that it confused not only old and potential new customers but it also even confused Google itself.

Bob said, "What do you mean. I'm innocent! I told you…I didn't do anything wrong!!"

I told Bob, "OK Bob. Just calm down buddy. I'm not saying you did anything intentionally wrong.. but let me explain something to you that every online business owner should know."

I went on to explain to Bob that if Google sees inconsistent information, pertaining to any business, on citation sites it is less likely to highly rank that business. The reason for that is because they (Google) doesn't want to publish information that could be wrong or incomplete. Information is, after all, their product, right?. 

Bob listened in silence. In fact…he was so silent I had to ask him, "Bob. Does that make sense to you? You know what I'm saying, right?"

Bob said, "Yeah Art. It's all so clear now. Man….if I could do it again, I'd make sure that all those citation sites… of course there weren't really a huge number, but…wow…that little omission sure made a big difference didn't it. It cost me a lot of money! Even my wife noticed I'd been preoccupied lately."

I said, "Well Bob….at least you're willing to change. Everybody makes mistakes. But you are willing to do something about it, aren't you?"

Bob said, "Oh yeah…absolutely! I'll do anything I can to make it right again. What should I do?"

I then proceeded to tell Bob that part of my crusade as a Citations Detective was to not only find bad citations for business owners but also to help them correct the problem. I told him I had a highly trained staff who could find all of his incorrect citations and update them with the correct information that would put him back in the good graces of Google.

And I also mentioned that additionally, I could find out not only the exact number of citations his closest competitors had but also what citation sites they were using, thus enabling him to get those exact same sites his business. And I explained that if he just added about 10% more citations, he would outrank his competitors (at least as far as citations go). 

So… I asked Bob if he was ready to take action and put a stop to how his SEO was hemorrhaging money. He said he was ready so I told him my secretary would send him some forms to fill out first thing on Monday morning so that me and my team could get to working on his problem.

Bob asked how long it would take before he started seeing any improvement in his business and I informed him that it took citation sites anywhere from a week to several weeks to update their databases and that he probably could start to see results in a couple of weeks. But I reminded him that the situation would continue to improve over the next 2 to 4 month as more of his newly updated citations went ´live'. 

He sound excited about that.

And just to make sure I 'managed expectations' properly, I asked him, "How does that sound to you?"

He said, "Oh that sounds great, Art. I'm soooo glad I called you! How can I ever repay you?"

I reminded him that my secretary would send an invoice too but that the money we charged him would be a pittance in comparison to the advantage his website would enjoy with the proper citation strategy which we would be putting into place for him.

So Bob and I said, 'Goodnight', I sent my secretary an email and voice-mail to tell her what to do about setting Bob up as a new client first thing Monday when she came into the office. Me…I'm not a morning person so I don't usually get into the office til after lunch. And besides, I'll be up late thinking about that root canal. I think I'm gonna get drunk. God…I hate root canals.

 

Art Williams
Case Study Writer, Google My Business Consultant, Markethive Developer

Citation Basics

Citation Basics

If you have a business listed on Google you may have heard the term ‘citations’. Citations are, in the sense that they give your site credibility and higher ranking with Google, similar to backlinks.

What is a citation and does it differ from a backlink?

Some business owners are familiar with or have heard the term ‘backlinks’ but backlinks more simple than citations. A backlink could be just one word whereas a citation has more info, i.e. business name, business address, business phone number, and sometimes even more information about the business.

Both have similar purposes but citations are somewhat more complex and they often have more impact on a business’s Google ranking because most businesses don’t understand how powerful they are (or can be).

Most business owners have no idea how powerful a strong citation program can be for their business. And in fact, many so-called SEO professionals don’t even fully appreciate the power of citations or know how use them competitively.

A citation is any mention of your business out on the web, with or without a link. This mention can come in various forms:
 

  1. Company Name, by itself.

  2. Company name & phone number.

  3. Company name, phone number, & address.

  4. Company name, phone number, address, & link.

Even just the phone number by itself can be a citation. Collectively, #3 is considered the most and basic and essential citation requirement and is referred to as “NAP” (name, address, and phone number).

Considering the many possible permutations of these factors, it’s easy to see why submitting them accurately and uniformly to citation directories is so important. Business which do not do this part of the job correctly not only lose a lot of the power of citations but there is actually a negative result because of the confuse it creates in the databases of Google and the other citation platforms (e.g. Yelp, Manta, Citisquares, et.al.)

On the other hand, if done correctly, having enough good quality citations can give a business a big ranking advantage over their competitors (assuming other factors are equal). Some SEO professionals are even beginning to say that, for certain types of businesses, the importance of citations outranks backlinks.

What is the right number of citations to have?

Answer: More than your competition (and it is possible to find out not only the number of citations they have but also exactly where they are. Thus enabling you, albeit perhaps with professional help, to build that same citation profile (you know it works, right?) plus a few more.

A complete citation should include the company name, address, and phone number (some people consider a citation incomplete without a website URL too) but one which does not have these items is sometimes referred to as a ‘partial citation’.

There are two primary differences between backlinks and citations:

A traditional backline is actually a hyperlink. The hyperlink, if correctly coded, is what Google's indexing robot ‘crawls’ to ascertain what backlinks a site has. On the other hand, a citation is usually not hyperlinked (although, if it includes the company’s URL as mentioned above, that URL could be hyperlinked).

Another way to describe the difference is to note that a hyperlink is usually just a work or two…or perhaps a URL, whereas a citation actually has a finite set of information which is useful to a customer, (e.g. business name, address, phone number… commonly referred to as NAP), thereby influencing customer behavior in way a simple backlink usually does not and cannot.

Also note that citation sites which include customer reviews, e.g. www.yelp.com, www.manta.com, Google+, and most others could have negative information about a business

Generally speaking, the more serious a business takes its SEO and Google ranking, the more advisable it would be to outsource their linking building and citation building to professionals.

Why outsource your backlink and citation building?

The reason is because this is a project that takes a lot of time. Depending on your situation, you might have more money than time. Of course, if that situation is reversed then you’ll just have to settle for a longer project.

Another point to remember about the issue of who does this kind of work for you is that not only can doing it correctly be very advantageous (relative to your competition) but doing it incorrectly can confuse Google so much that your Google ranking is negatively affected.

Another way of saying this is: “These are trained professionals. Don’t try this at home! You could hurt yourself.”

Another point to note is that your business should always set up a new, fresh, email address for use specifically with your citations. The reason for this is that you’re going to get a ton of SPAM email to that address.

It’s best to do this after you open your citation site account. If you’re having a professional do this task for you, you’ll need to give them access, initially and briefly, to your email account.

Which citation sites have the most influence?

That depends. There are actually hundreds of citation sites. Some are better for certain types of business than others. Some are general and/or global in nature while others are more niche focused. This is one of the ways in which a professional, who knows where these citations sites are, can save you time and ensure that you get the strongest citations possible.

How soon do you see results from citations?

Generally within a few weeks but it is also possible that some citation sites might take much longer to …perhaps even months. The reason for that is because each site has schedules within which they refresh their databases. Google’s schedule is every 6 to 10 weeks (so… with them, it depends on when you submit your data).

What is the ‘claiming’ and ‘verification’ procedure?

This process applies primarily to Google My Business but also to some of the other citation sites. In the claiming process, the citation site has, through its extensive database, already ‘noticed’ your business.

But they don’t ‘know’ you yet. And they usually do not, at this point, have all your business’s customer oriented information. For this reason, what they do have could be incorrect and (most likely) incomplete and it illustrates an excellent reason why you should claim (and update) as many of your listings as possible.

Claiming your listing is usually something very easy to do online.

The ‘verification’ is a subsequent procedure, usually by mail but sometimes also by a phone call. You tell them where to mail the postcard (Google’s preferred method) or where to call you, they mail a postcard with a verification code or give you the call (it might be automated) and give you a verification code.

Once you go online and input that code into your claimed (but not verified) listing, the listing becomes officially yours….i.e. claimed and verified.

Note: Verification should be done by the business owner. If someone is handling this project for you, they should give you a list of which verification notices to expect.

How quickly should you ‘do’ your citations?

As quickly as possible. The reason for this is because you never know how quickly the citation cite (Google, Yelp, or any of them) will merge your new data into their online database. Most professionals agree that there is no evidence that Google considers citation velocity one way or the other.

Can anybody guarantee when, or even if, your citation will go ‘live’?

The answer to that is ‘no’. Nobody other than the companies that maintain the citation sites have any control over what happens after a listing is submitted. But….the more reputable sites can be reasonably expected to go live sooner than later That’s why you should consider hiring somebody who knows that kind of stuff.

Some of the smaller, geo-specific or niche specific sites are managed by a single person who reviews and approves submissions. That can take a while to get your listing live.

A general rule of thumb is that about 30% of submissions you do will go live fairly quickly and about 70% will be active within 4 weeks of submission. A professional who does this kind of work should keep you advises how the process is going.

A professional who does this sort of work also offers you another important advantage. They have trained personnel who are very accurate at doing these submissions accurately. You want it all done right…right?

Once the work is done, there is very little further work required other than the occasional update which you can do yourself.

Professionals who provide this kind of service offer the following advantages:

  • Manual, by hand submissions.

  • Availability of hundreds of quality citation opportunities in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Holland, and Singapore.

  • Citation opportunities specific to your industry and city and get you listed on these sites for local ranking boosts.

  • Detailed reports with usernames/passwords for all sites in case you want to make edits to the listings.

  • Flexible pricing to accommodate ‘just a few’ or ‘a bunch’.  

So that’s the basics of citations. With the confluence of review sites, more consumers with mobile devices, and Google’s increased consideration of social metrics and authority,  no smart business owner can afford to not know about and use citations to promote their business.

Art Williams
Google My Business consultant, Case Study Writer, Markethive Developer

 

Expected Google Algorithmic Trends for 2016

Expected Google Algorithmic Trends for 2016

 

 

SERP rankings are important for your business to enjoy the success that it deserves. Unfortunately, we can often become too caught up in standard marketing approaches and fail to realize that many of these could be outdated due to a Google algorithmic update.

Although even the experts are not certain as to what we can expect for 2016, there are a few likely trends which could very well take shape in the months ahead. Let's take a look at a handful of the most dramatic.

 

Duration-Based Video Rankings

This trend is actually quite interesting, for it signals that Google is placing more importance on the overall user experience than ever before. We are all aware that videos now play a massive role in rankings and client conversions, but this is predicted to substantially change in 2016 (1). Google will now view how long a visitor spends watching a video under the assumption that longer viewing times indicate content of a higher quality. So, this could also affect your SERP rankings. Keep your videos short, to the point and most importantly, entertaining!

 

Email Interaction

This next prediction has actually caught some users by surprise. In the past, companies would have been only mildly concerned with how their emails were categorized based upon their content. It was volume more than anything else. Some believe that Google may begin to incorporate which folder an email is sent to alongside standard rankings.

 

For example, messages which are defined as spam could have an impact upon your overall rankings. This very same concept could apply if a user automatically marks an email as spam or places it into her or her junk folder. So, quality will need to be emphasized over sheer quantity.

Rich Search Results

You may have noticed that certain searches provide more in-depth results (such as Wikipedia, Google maps or links to videos) than others. This is another “wave” within the SERP Ocean that is expected to take shape. This is actually considered to be more of an ongoing trend than a future prediction (2).

Sites that rank higher and which are able to offer high-quality content are likely to enjoy a better visual presence within the SERP in general. This professional appearance will obviously lead to higher inbound hits and increased conversion rates. Meta tags, adding PageMap data and rich snippets can all help you to develop such a presence.

Mobile-Friendly Advertisements

This should once again come as no great surprise considering the emphasis that is now placed upon mobile-responsive websites. For some time, Google has been adapting their search engine to accommodate the needs of modern mobile phones. However, we should note here that they recently filed for a patent to transform the bulk of their texts to meet the needs of the smartphone-wired consumer (3). Why is this important for your site? Assuming that your page is not able to meet the needs of the mobile user, its rankings will suffer even more than in the past. So, it is now more important than ever before to include such features as long-scrolling pages, easily downloadable graphics and an overall uncluttered page to appeal to the mobile user.

As we have mentioned previously, there is still a number of questions in relation to what we may or may not see emerge from the bowels of Google in the coming months. We have only highlighted some of the most important areas to take into account. Adapting to these trends now can save you a great deal of time and frustration in the not-so-distant future.

Richard Tipsword
MarketHive Developer

Sources:

  1. http://seopressor.com/blog/2016-google-algorithm-changes-14-predictions-from-google-patent/

  2. https://support.google.com/customsearch/answer/1626952?hl=en

  3. http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/google-velocity-targeted-advertigins-patent/

 

How Digital is Working For Main Stream Retailers

It’s no longer bricks-and-mortar versus e-commerce —“Omnichannel” is the path to success

Consumers have a myriad of ways to shop, and retailers are scrambling to keep up with them. “New technology and tools are transforming the way consumers want to shop,” says Anne Zybowski, vice president of retail insights at Kantar Retail. In response, retailers are re-thinking their operations, from infrastructure and inventory systems to delivery and marketing.

As measured by “STORES annual Top 100 Retailers report”, compiled by Kantar, the evolution of the retail industry displays the fitness and survival skills of some long-time inhabitants. For the most part, chart-topping stalwarts — Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, The Home Depot, Target, Walgreen and CVS — have maintained dominance through an ability to meet consumers’ changing desires, including their appetites for online shopping and digital interaction.

Chart-topping stalwarts like Walgreen have maintained dominance through an ability to meet consumers’ changing desires.

Amazon’s dramatic ascent continues, and while e-commerce has not proven to be the tidal wave that knocks bricks-and-mortar off its pedestal, the old “location, location, location” mantra doesn’t carry the same weight it once did.

Instead, the two channels are continuing to converge: Physical store operators are experiencing considerable digital success, while online merchants — including Amazon — are expanding with showrooms, pop-up shops and other ways of meeting shoppers face-to-face.

“The notion of “omnichannel” remains inspirational. Today’s demanding omni-shoppers know what they want,” Zybowski says. “They want retailers to offer whatever, wherever, whenever they want. And when it comes to value, they want to have their cake and eat it too — they don’t expect to pay more for convenience.”

The challenge for retailers is meeting consumers’ reset expectations.

“Retailers must figure out how to fundamentally transform their business models, ones that have been built for maximum efficiency and scale, and transform them into more nimble, effective ones,” Zybowski says.

This transformation primarily focuses on two key retail functions: selling and marketing. Retailers must sell across all channels, what Zybowski calls being “channel-agnostic or channel-agile,” while the marketing transformation involves personalization and shopper engagement.

QVC comes in at No. 70 on this year’s list, up from No. 73 in 2014.

The Evolving Processes

Many successful omnichannel retailers are broadline general merchandise sellers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and Wal-Mart, though Zybowski says that specialists such as The Home Depot have made great omnichannel strides.

Tom Cole, a partner at Kurt Salmon Associates, observes that mobile is a major driver of omnichannel’s push toward seamless consumer experiences, though the volume of transactions conducted via mobile is still low. He says the challenge for retailers is building toward omnichannel via legacy systems already in place.

“Omnichannel is the new reality for all retailers whether they engage or not. If you’re available where and when consumers look for you, great. If not, you lose to someone who is,” says Marge Laney, president of Alert Technologies. “Online-only retailers lack the high-engagement fidelity that only the in-store experience can deliver. Offline-only retailers don’t deliver the comfortable and information-browsing experience that consumers utilize to make their shopping itineraries.”

The omnichannel successes of Nordstrom and Macy’s come as no surprise to Scott Galloway, professor of brand strategy and digital marketing at New York University and founder and chairman of digital benchmarking and education firm L2. “Frequently dismissed as dinosaurs and outmaneuvered by digital players, department stores can not only survive the dramatic fall-off in foot traffic seen over the past few years, but will ultimately fare better than pure play e-commerce,” he says.

Macy’s is so committed to pushing beyond bricks-and-mortar — where it has been downsizing of late — that it opened an Idea Lab in San Francisco and is building another fulfillment center in Tulsa, Okla. The retailer also recently introduced an image-search extension to its mobile application, and Macy’s 300,000 followers can shop directly via Instagram.

Robert Harrison, Macy’s chief omnichannel officer, says consumers are at different stages of adoption; more than half the time, they will research before buying something, frequently using different channels along the way.

The key, Harrison says, is “the convergence of digital and store, particularly for information acquisition.”

The whole process is “an evolution,” he says. “We hope that with one single view of the inventory, we have one single view of the truth. “Omnichannel” will enable the collective merchant teams and marketers to make better decisions because there will not be artificial demarcations” among channels.

YUM! Brands (21), which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, is second only to McDonald’s (12) when it comes to restaurantbrands on this year’s list.

Connecting channels

“Digital is the connective tissue between online and in-store,” says Claude de Jocas, intelligence group director for L2. “Stores have been cast as a liability in an Amazon era, but they’ve been making a comeback as something that’s critical to a retail strategy.”

Nordstrom is advanced in all facets of its omnichannel approach. The retailer has nearly 1 million followers who can shop via Instagram and, like Macy’s, its network of fulfillment centers is growing, the latest opening this summer in eastern Pennsylvania. Nordstrom has also launched a “scan-and-shop” feature within its catalog app that links readers of the print catalog to e- and m-commerce sites.

“We work hard to see our business through the eyes of the customer, and we hope scan and shop creates a more seamless shopping experience for our customers who enjoy browsing our catalogs but also enjoy the many benefits technology affords the experience to make it more personal,” says spokesman Dan Evans Jr.

Nordstrom is connecting with teen shoppers through digital mall Wanelo, and this spring unveiled a test of a “click-and-collect” service that includes curbside pick-up. This complements a more traditional buy online, pick up in-store program that Nordstrom has had in place since 2008.

A third service, TextStyle, was launched in late May and involves all 116 full-line stores; it allows customers to make purchases from their personal stylist or sales associate using text messages.

Dallas-based Army and Air Force Exchange Service (52) was featured in NRF’s Retail Across America: Texas video series.

Both Macy’s and Nordstrom have invested significantly to upgrade and digitize point-of-sale systems so that customer orders — whether made online, in-store or via mobile — can be easily tracked.

The Home Depot, whose quarterly online sales were estimated by Internet Retailer as topping $1 billion for the first time during the first three months of the current fiscal year, is growing into omnichannel. “We not only offered more spring season product online, but also leveraged digital media channels to highlight local in-store assortments,” CEO Craig Menear told investors and analysts on a conference call, referring to the mobile app’s in-store product location capabilities.

Neiman Marcus uses its strong print catalog experience to drive omnichannel efforts. “Catalogs such as The Book for Neiman Marcus and BG Magazine for Bergdorf Goodman have a very important role of bringing the brand to life in a very tactile way,” says John Koryl, president of stores and online at Neiman Marcus. “There is a niche in the market that the catalog services can maintain, but it’s not like the customer is aging out. It’s really across the whole demographic spectrum that catalogs play a role.”

Koryl maintains that catalogs have played a significant role in the retailer’s e-commerce, and thus omnichannel. “With catalogs, you have a data or insight mindset. In 1999, when Neiman Marcus started its web business — which is now 24 percent of our total business — the only way we were able to get such a jump start on everyone is that we already had a different relationship with all our vendor partners. We had this entire fulfillment infrastructure,” he says.

Signet Jewelers, which owns Zale and Kay Jewelers, jumped more than 20 places to No. 77 this year.

Easing into digital

Other retailers are spending on technology in different areas. Wal-Mart and Best Buy began testing buy online, pick up in-store about five years ago; today supermarkets and grocery-oriented supercenter operators use the model to ease into digital and avoid the delivery problems inherent in selling perishables. Meijer began testing a curbside pick-up program in its home market of Grand Rapids, Mich., this spring.

Kohl’s began testing buy online, pick up in-store last year; the program was rolled out across the chain this spring. “We see it as an advantage. Convenience is part of our core DNA, so having someone be able to place an order and then just drive in and pick it up — we’ve seen very positive reactions from our customers,” says Krista Berry, executive vice president and chief digital officer for Kohl’s.

Another benefit is a sales boost in stores where that merchandise is picked up. “Although it’s early, we’re extremely pleased with initial volumes and attachment sales,” Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell said on a conference call to discuss first-quarter performance.

The buy online, pick up in-store program was initially limited to desktop and laptop computer users; the service is expected to go mobile this fall, reaching the more than 7 million shoppers who have already downloaded the Kohl’s app.

Mansell said that Kohl’s can use the app’s wallet function to deliver personalized messages and offers that can be scanned and redeemed in stores. The Wisconsin-based retailer also launched voice-based search on Android and image-based search on both Android and iOS. “The pace of development will actually accelerate in the second and third quarters across the mobile platform,” he said.

The buy online, pick up in-store method is not without complications.

“Omnichannel retailers run the risk of overburdening their bricks-and-mortar locations in a few key ways,” says Dick Seesel, principal at Retailing in Focus. At the top of the list, he says, is a concern that staffing must be “adequate to take care of customers who have actually driven to the store to buy something, on top of processing e-commerce goods.”

The size of the retail operation is an important factor, says Paul McFarren of PD McFarren Consulting. “While some big-box retailers may be able to make this work, the idea that a majority of retailers could efficiently make use of in-store fulfillment of online orders is pretty far-fetched,” he says. “Training a distributed workforce, paying for additional on-site storage and the ongoing management of the exceptions make this model very difficult to support.”

Buy online, pick up in-store, says Zybowski, “is designed for the retailer’s model, not the shoppers.”

Tractor Supply Co. ranks No. 73 on this year’s list, up four spots from 2014.

Consumer focus

The difference between multichannel and omnichannel retailing is one of focus. In the early days, multichannel meant operating in two worlds, often with discrete management, inventories and pricing. Omnichannel brings it all together.

The consumer focus is so integral to the essence of omnichannel that one industry observer traces the origins back more than a decade, to a time when Best Buy was under heavy pressure from rivals such as Walmart.

“I think a lot of people forget or lose sight of the fact that omnichannel didn’t begin as omnichannel or even cross-channel,” says Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research. “It began as customer centricity, and the retailer who should get credit for putting customer centricity on the map is Best Buy.”

Baird says that by focusing on the customer experience at a time when e-commerce was just beginning to find itself — in 2003, the iPhone was four years in the future and Amazon’s retail sales in North America were about $879 million —Best Buy emphasized the essential components of what has become omnichannel.

“That’s where customer centricity was born — in a cradle of cross-channel commerce,” she says. “At the heart of omnichannel is customer centricity. You can’t have one without the other.”

Consider the Following Recommendations When Designing a Mobile-Friendly Website

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

Before we get into what defines a mobile-friendly website, let’s first discuss why this is even relevant.  About a year ago, Google released its algorithm known as Mobileggedon.  In essence, this algorithm penalizes websites that are not “mobile-friendly” by decreasing that website’s ranking in mobile search results.

So what may have been the catalyst to releasing Mobileggedon?   Since 2014, mobile devices have been the primary devices utilized to access the internet.   Desktop is still important, but it is no longer considered first-line.  Therefore, Google’s Mobileggedon algorithm is like a “tough love” approach in encouraging businesses to always design their websites with mobile devices in mind.

When developing a mobile-friendly website/webpage, consider the following recommendations:

1) Do NOT design a separate mobile website from your desktop version because it is redundant!

Think about it.Why would you create two different websites (mobile & desktop versions) that contain the same content?Google already penalizes websites for duplicate content.So why would you allow your website to be penalized for duplicate websites?

2) Use Responsive Web Design (RWD)

According to Wikipedia, RWD is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

From a technical standpoint, RWD employs use of flexible layouts, flexible images, and cascading style sheet media queries. This allows a web page to be able to detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation; and change the layout accordingly (think auto-adjusting to fit your mobile device’s screen).

3) Always include a viewport meta tag

The viewport is a virtual area used by the browser-rendering engine to determine how content is scaled and sized.   The viewport meta tag tells your browser that the web page needs to fit the screen.

Typically, when loading full-sized web pages, mobile browsers display the entire page at reduced magnification.When a website does not make use of a viewport meta tag, users may have to double-tap or pinch the screen to adjust the web display.The below illustration shows a typical web page layout displayed on a mobile screen:

In the above example, users typically must rotate their mobile screens, pinch to magnify, etc so that the content can be seen.

Applying a viewport is critical in creating web pages that are mobile-friendly.

The following shows a sample screen layout without a viewport. The initially loaded page is zoomed out much too far to be legible, while zooming in makes content extending off the right edge of the screen difficult to access:

This reflects the browser's default assumption that content should extend 980 pixels wide. Mobile browsers must make that assumption in order to render pages that are not optimized for display on mobile screens.

Finally, here’s the above screen layout after applying the viewport:

There are many different configurations that you can specify your viewport to control.  To explain the technical details any further would be beyond the scope of this article.The idea here is to understand the concept (and importance) of applying viewport meta tags to your webpage.

4) Font sizes and button size matter

Ideal font size is 14px.When creating labels or forms, consider reducing the font to at least 12px.  Same concept applies for buttons.   For optimal viewing, consider creating button size dimensions of at least 44px by 44px.

5)Use high-resolution images

According to Wikipedia, image resolution is the detail an image holds and can be applied to describe digital images, film images, and other types of images. Essentially, a higher resolution means more image detail.

Having extremely high-resolution images will prevent pixilated or even blurry images when viewed on a retina-quality screen.

6) Remove the default zoom

Using auto-zoom may interfere with a web page’s layout elements, especially for images and navigation content. They may appear small or too large in your layout.

The solution here is to make use of viewport meta tags.Again, to describe the technical details of this process in any more detail would be beyond the scope of this article.

7) Use YouTube videos on your site

Because YouTube already utilizes responsive web design (RWD) coding, any risk of difficulties in viewing videos on a mobile device are theoretically eliminated.

8) Don’t constrain your user’s mobile experience

Always include a “go to full website” or “view desktop version” option at the bottom of your site. This will give your website visitors the ability to choose how they want to view your website’s content.

9) Never stop testing

Even after your responsive website is complete, the testing never ends.Be sure to test your webpage on various mobile devices: Apple, Android, Windows, etc.Leave no stone unturned including buttons, layout, font, displays, etc.

Even more important is to allow someone who fits your target [demographic] user.Consider including someone who does not have an extensive technical background especially if this person comprises your primary demographic of potential users/visitors of your website.

Did I miss anything?  Your comments are always welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is An Entrepreneur your goal?

 

You can be an entrepreneur

In the not to distant future, everyone will be an entrepreneur!

Being an entrepreneur is significantly different from being a businessman. By doing one thing another person has already been doing only makes you a consistent businessman, not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is certainly one who introduces something that is a brand new way of doing things or new process that changes the present conditions. You must dare to dream and have confidence in your own idea. The idea ought not to be about making money. Money ought to not be your inspiring force. It is your passion and faith of the idea that keeps you driven.

Can someone learn how to be an entrepreneur?

Well, nobody can cause you to be an entrepreneur unless you come to a conscious decision to become one. Case studies of effective organizations or failed efforts provides insights. These will help to boost the chance of success in your latest ventures of being entrepreneurial. The nature of entrepreneurship can't be taught but knowledge in certain specific areas of Economics, Finance, Taxation, Accounting etc would be helpful. You merely need to find the time to train in one or several of these subjects.

Frequently, an entrepreneur presents something new and disruptive which makes the idea difficult to accept in the beginning because no one else is doing it. Exactly why is it troublesome? The way in which things are done rocks the existing conditions and way of doing it. Nobody can disregard the basic concept and idea when it works. But before then, its your responsibility to convince the market of your brand new concept.

It may take years before the market is convinced.

Sometimes it is not the idea that does not work, it is the market that does not accept it…. yet. Being an entrepreneur is having the tenacity to see it through.

Entrepreneurs wont wait for perfect conditions to head out. Lamenting about sub-standard conditions can only be called excuses. There will never be conditions which are perfect. You make do with what you're provided. When there is a world that is new for entrepreneurs to discover, we’ll set sail even in the face of a thunderstorm if needed!

The road of an entrepreneur is not glamorous.

It will never to be fashionable. You have to realize that the street ahead of an entrepreneur is difficult, tough and gritty. It is in fact, a road to perdition. Being an entrepreneur is not a present. An entrepreneur is somebody who is not normal. An entrepreneur will look at something and say, “I wonder what would happen if I did it this way”? All you need is an basic idea, dedication and huge doses of perseverance. These are the ingredients grab a hold, mix them up and you’ll get results.

Everyone can be an entrepreneur. Really.

Dennis Roeder
Contributor

SEO Tips for Bloggers

SEO Tips for Bloggers

All serious bloggers are interested in building a large community of enthusiastic readers, and this is why SEO is so critical to your success. Without good search visibility, people who are interested in your content, but don’t know you, may never find you.

SEO best practices are primarily driven by Google, and change frequently. This post, which lays out 50 important SEO tips for bloggers, features a lot of links to Google instructional pages. These Google links will enable you to bypass outdated or incorrect SEO advice that unfortunately permeates the web.

Besides being ever changing, SEO is complicated and technical. These 50 tips, while important, just scratch the surface. What tips can you add to the list? 

SEO Strategy

The following five points offer some big picture guidance for your SEO activities. Perhaps a sixth point would be, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Great SEO requires balance: pay equal attention to onsite and offsite optimization opportunities.

  1. Content quality is your primary onsite SEO consideration.
  2. For keywords, user intent is a major consideration, since the most valuable traffic to your site comes from users who are interested in doing business.
  3. Think visibility rather than rankings, because rankings vary from user to user, and users look for search results based on content type (images, news, etc.).
  4. A steady increase in organic search traffic growth is usually the best indicator of strong SEO.
  5. For link building, quality is more important than quantity.

Blog Post Setup

Your blog posts not only have to interest human readers – they also need to be constructed so that Google can find them, read them and appropriately display them in search results. Even brilliant content must be optimized in order to find its largest potential audience.

  1. The post URL should default to display the post title.
  2. The post title (H1 tag) should default to be the post Meta title tag.
  3. The post title should include keywords, preferably at the beginning of the title.
  4. Post titles should always be unique and relevant to the content.
  5. WordPress users should use the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin or the  All in One SEO Pack.
  6. Always write a unique and catchy Meta description tag, with a call to action if applicable, for your post, as it will attract more click-throughs.
  7. Read this page from Google with extreme care for a foundational working knowledge of key SEO content considerations.
  8. Include prominent social media share buttons in the post template, as social shares are correlated to rankings.

Site Structure

Many blog themes from WordPress and other CMS platforms are SEO-friendly right out of the boxbut how you set them up, modify them and maintain them makes a big difference in Google’s ability to find and rank your blog’s content.

  1. Avoid long blogrolls on the sidebar, because site-wide outbound links can reduce rankings.
  2. Do not participate in link exchange programs.
  3. Internally link relevant posts on your blog, but do it selectively.
  4. Avoid keyword-optimized anchor text for outbound links unless they are extremely relevant and flow naturally within the narrative.
  5. Use Google Webmaster Tools to identify and fix broken links and other SEO-unfriendly site issues.
  6. Have your own domain.
  7. Have all versions of your blog resolve to the www.domain version.
  8. Use Custom robots.txt to prevent Google from crawling pages you don’t want indexed, such as off-theme content.
  9. Improve page loading speed by upgrading hosting, clearing your cache, compressing images and other techniques.

Content Composition

Going back five years or so, SEO copywriting involved a lot of precise rules about how and where to display keywords in a blog post. Today, Google is smart enough to interpret a post’s theme and relevance without strict adherence to these rules – which is great news for bloggers who want to focus on human readers!

  1. Original content generally outranks duplicate content by a wide margin.
  2. Don’t overuse keywords in post text.
  3. Keywords in subheads, italics, bold or within ordered and unordered lists have slightly more power than keywords in plain text.
  4. Word counts aren’t as important as they used to be, but all other things being equal, longer posts rank better than shorter posts.
  5. Your first SEO priority is to write useful, relevant and authoritative content for human readers, because that is what Google is looking for.
  6. To develop new post topics and SEO opportunities, review analytics regularly to identify popular new keywords and strategic long tail keywords.

Onsite Images And Video

Image and video search are segmented search options on Google that can attract a tremendous amount of traffic. If you are in a visual business, such as graphic design, or any type of business where customers may want to view images or video of what you do, then image and video optimization are essential.

  1. Use relevant keywords in your image’s file name.
  2. Write descriptive alt text for images in plain sentence format.
  3. Write useful and interesting image captions, because they keep visitors on your page longer.
  4. Follow Google Webmaster image publishing guidelines.
  5. Follow Google Webmaster video best practices.

Google Authorship

Traditionally, Google primarily associates content with the site on which it is published. Google Authorship is a fairly new program that associates content with its author. In time, we will probably see high authority authors outrank low authority authors, making it important for bloggers to start participating in Google Authorship program now.

  1. Actively participate on Google+ and in the Google Authorship program.
  2. Since original content is immediately indexed and ranked on Google, write original, useful and keywordrich content on your Google+ posts.
  3. Link your Google+ profile to all blogs and sites you write for following these instructions.
  4. Whenever possible, link your guest authors’ Google+ profiles to your blog.
  5. Use an appealing Google+ headshot, as it will be displayed in Google search results.

Offsite Activities

When your blog is linked to from high quality, relevant sites, it tells Google your blog’s content is authoritative, meaningful, useful and interesting. Establishing and maintaining a solid link profile is probably the single most important SEO activity you can engage in.

  1. Guest blog on relevant and authoritative blogs to build inbound links.
  2. Invite relevant and authoritative bloggers to guest post on your blog, to build social shares and traffic.
  3. Be ultra-selective in pursuing directory listings, as they are generally not an effective way to build inbound links.
  4. Avoid building links by publishing content on article banks.
  5. Avoid building links by publishing non-newsworthy press releases.
  6. Review your link profile, removing bad links, fixing broken links and updating good links to conform to best practices.
  7. Optimize your YouTube channel and videos by following these instructions.

SEO Agency Red Flags

Many bloggers partner with SEO agencies or freelancers in order to cover all of the bases noted above. There are a lot of tremendously talented people to choose from – but there are also some that bloggers would be wise to avoid.

  1. Avoid agencies that promise #1 rankings or tons of free links.
  2. Avoid agencies that don’t have a documented, transparent description of their methodology.
  3. Avoid agencies that don’t provide detailed reports of activity and/or results.
  4. Avoid agencies that won’t provide client referrals.
  5. Avoid agencies that speak in an overly technical way or have other communication shortcomings.

That was a lot to digest, but when it comes to SEO, it’s still just an appetizer. What SEO tips can you share?

Guest author: Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. He is an experienced content strategist, respected blogger, and SEO copywriter. Connect with him on Twitter @bradshorr.