Archives for February 2013

How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

LinkedIn is a social network that sometimes gets overlooked even by the heaviest internet users. This is a big mistake! So many Make your LinkedIn Profile Stand Outprofessionals are now turning to LinkedIn as a primary source of information for job candidates. Some are even forgoing the traditional resume in favor of a LinkedIn profile. It may sound silly, but we really are living in a “digital age” and it’s critical that job candidates have a well-rounded online presence to accompany a solid resume.

Here are some tips on building and maintaining a great LinkedIn profile:

  1. Make sure that you fill in all of the fields. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people have incomplete profiles. You are doing yourself and potential employers a disservice by not showcasing all of your talents. This includes adding a professional photo of yourself.
  2. Re-vamp your Summary. So maybe you already have a LinkedIn profile that is all filled out. But when is the last time you have updated it? The summary is the first thing that people see when they go to your page. Keep it interesting and more importantly, current. Check out the Summary for your colleagues and friends to get ideas on how to be more creative with yours. Also consider listing some of your biggest accomplishments from the prior year.
  3. List your other accomplishments. LinkedIn doesn’t just have to be about your professional accomplishments. The site even provides a spot to list volunteer work and charitable contributions. You can also list professional groups that you belong to. Even hobbies could make the cut, if they are related to your current industry or a job that you are interested in getting. Employers are often more likely to hire people they perceive to be well-rounded.
  4. Connect with others. There are several ways to connect with other professionals on LinkedIn. You can follow companies or individuals. You can interact with people who are already in your network by offering endorsements. Hopefully they will return the favor and endorse some of your skills, as well. Another way is through belonging to a LinkedIn Group.  There are some unwritten rules to LinkedIn Groups but if you use them correctly, LinkedIn Groups are a great way to make connections and positions yourself as an industry leader.  If employers see that you are actively engaging with others in your field, this could reflect well on you as an applicant.
  5. Double check your spelling and grammar. Again, this may seem like something that goes without saying…but you would be surprised at the errors that are easy to find in many profiles. Take advantage of spell check. Have a friend or co-worker who is good with grammar read over your profile. You need an outside pair of eyes to make sure that everything that you have included makes sense.

LinkedIn can be a powerful personal marketing tool, if you treat it as such. It’s a good idea to check in at least a few times per week, more if you are actively seeking employment. This way, you can see any important updates, new endorsements, or articles that are relevant to your field. By keeping up a strong online presence, you make yourself an even better job candidate.

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

7 Ways to Groom your Kids for Online Stardom

As Social Media and Online statistics continue to grow you need to think about preparing your children for tomorrow’s world.  As brick and mortar businesses continue to flounder and more companies hit the net, the skills necessary to succeed online will become more vital than ever.

 

Reading

It all starts with reading.  Train their brains to read from all types of sources.  Books, Kindle, E-books, and online articles.  Limit their television viewing.  Provide your kids with a variety of content.  Let them discover their interests.  The words, “Oh, you have plenty of time to figure Reading - Online Successout what you want to be” are poison to the ears.  Just think of the advantage you would have had if you found your passion/love at fifteen or younger.  Be consistent and make it enjoyable for your kids.

 

Writing

Your daughter or son just finished a book.  Have them write down their thoughts about the book.  Go out and purchase a journal for them to keep a diary.  Even if it’s only a sentence or two a day, it becomes habit.  Most kids lack a filter.  Take advantage of that and encourage creativity to be expressed on paper.  If they are going to be solid online, they are going to have to write.

Blog Posts, articles, and E-Books are the core of many online superstars.  The obstacles to becoming an author of a book have been reduced.  While the costs of creating a self-published hard cover book are steep, you can create an E-book inexpensively.

Have your kids take a typing class as soon as possible.  It’s one of the most valuable classes they’ll take in school.

 

Public Speaking

The more comfortable your kids are speaking in a front of a group they know, the better they will be in front of strangers down the road.  Have them practice in front of the family and videotape the speech.  Start simple until they find their rhythm.  From there you can have them start to memorize a short speech.  View the videotape with them and suggest improvements.

It’s the end of your kids birthday party and you say thank you to everyone.  Instead of you speaking, give your child the floor.  Have them say a few words in front of the party.  Let them order their own food at restaurants.  When these opportunities arise let your children do the talking when you appropriate.  Let them speak.

Their public speaking talents will pay dividends when they’re asked to talk at conferences in the future.

 

Photography

Unless you’ve spent most of your time out of the solar system you realize how visual we are as human beings.  Sites such as Instagram, Flickr, and Google Plus are widely popular and cater to photography.

You see images in just about every blog post.  If you don’t, you should.  Don’t fight it if you don’t get it, photos and images are very important to online success.

Allow your kids to take photos from any device that includes a camera.  Again, familiarity and consistency will lead to improvement.

Trey Ratcliff is arguably the most popular and social media savvy photographer on the planet.  He’s taken his love and talent for photography and built it into a 7 figure a year business.  Start taking pictures kids.

 

Building Relationships

This is arguably the most important part of this article.  Learning how to build relationships is paramount to a successful online career.  Are Build Relationshipsthere exceptions where individuals succeed with little or no help from others?  Well of course, but if you want to put the odds in your favor, you need to build relationships.

Have your kids become friendly with not just kids their age, but 2-3 grades above theirs.  First, they can learn from older kids that have experienced what your kids are living currently.  Secondly, the transition to High School from Junior High can be challenging and full of anxiety.  If your kids have built relationship with older kids throughout their education, then entering High School will be seamless and welcoming.

If building relationships is instilled and practiced, your kids will create so many opportunities for themselves as they get older.

 

Sharing and Giving Back

Whether it is for someone less fortunate or just a friend that needs a favor your kids should be giving and caring.  The mindset should be to help others.  We don’t want our kids to ever be taken advantage of, but sharing and giving back should be the norm.  Have them visit nursing homes and/or Hospitals to visit sick children.  It can be humbling and fulfilling to kids.  Helping others should be a staple.

There is a lot sharing and philanthropy online today.  Have your kids find a cause to help and own it.  It could be illness that a relative or friend has battled, which would be relatable to your child.

 

Take advantage of Technology

We’ve come a long way since the Commodore 64.  Those were the days.  Many kids have direct or indirect access to Smart phones, Tablets, and/or laptops.  Your kids should embrace the technology offered today even if you, as a parent, have lukewarm feelings.  Technology has Technology - Social Mediabecome engrained in both our personal and business lives.  You don’t have to shove down their throats, but don’t deprive them if they show interest.  There are not many careers out there that aren’t touched by technology.

It’s never too early for a Twitter account.  Your 3 year old isn’t going to be active right now, but at 5-8 they are going to start to be in tune, and maybe at 11-12 they’re ready.  When they reach an age where they gain some interests (4-6) think about registering a Domain name.  You’ll pay about $10 a year with GoDaddy (a) or Netfirms (a) a year, but 5-10 years down the line that domain will have good age and that is attractive for search in Google’s eyes today.  You’re probably putting money away for college, why not spend $10 a year to put them in a better position with a future site/blog.

 

Obviously you figured out that excelling in the above will help your children in many different career paths.   These are foundations to being successful online and offline.  If your kids are polished in all these areas, they are well on their way to online stardom if they choose.

 

Please share the article if you enjoyed it and found it of value.  I look forward to your comments, have a great week.

7 Ways to Optimize a National Site for Local Search


You got yourself a site that has a national presence and is doing quite well in SERPs, but one fine day you realize that you Local Searchwant to optimize it for local search. You want your site to be found by a local target audience, one that belongs to particular city/town/neighborhood. What are you going to do about it? Will you make wholesale changes to the site, making it part national part local? Or do you start taking sure footed SEO steps to not just optimize your site for local search but ensure that it figures right at the top of the search rankings.

Out of the all the roads that you could take to reach your destination, the last sounds the best; let’s take a look at seven pointers that are part and parcel of any local SEO driven strategy.

 

1.       Start with the Basics – Keyword Research

Onsite optimization is a prerequisite for ranking in local search, but you must first know the keywords that you want to use. The idea here is to target industry specific terms and geo specific terms.

So, if you are a software services provider that wants to target New York, your keywords research must include both, your domain centric keywords and New York.

By getting an idea of the number times keywords are searched in a month, you will get the handle on the keywords that you must target. In local search, it’s a good idea to focus on long tail keywords; these are more niche and locations specific and they also give you a better opportunity to rank.

 

2.       Onsite Optimization

Once you have your keywords locked in, get started on website optimization focused on local search; after all, you need to tell the search engine which location you are targeting.

Optimize your SEO title tags with the local keywords that you researched, it needs to be a mix of your primary keywords and location based keywords as well; and mind you all this within the 65 character limit.

Your optimized Meta description has scope for some more information as compared to your locally optimized Title Tags. So, make those 155 characters count; add primary and local keywords, location specific business information and your phone number.

 

3.       Using local online directories

This is a critical element of offsite optimization. Getting listed on local directories helps you build citations, which play a big role in ranking algorithms for local search. A citation is a mention. It is your brand name, business address, contact details and any other information that gives the listing the most value. What’s more, it’s important that this information is the same across all directories, word for word and format for format.

Listing your domain on local directories helps you build high quality links and citations, which in turn helps improve your visibility. But using just any local online directory won’t do, your focus must be on authoritative directories, the kind that don’t just accept any listing, but only accept listings that follow best practices. Some well-respected figures in this niche include Google Places, Yelp, Bing Local, Merchant Circle, and Yellow Pages.

 

4.       Landing Page for each location that you want to target

If you want your national presence to be more localized, you shouldn’t go about creating a new website. Why not create a landing page or a subdomain for every location that you want to target. So, it could be something like newyork.xyz.com. Of course, this is only useful if you want to rank for multiple cities.

A local landing page for say New York, another one for Boston, and yet another for say Houston will help you improve organic rankings and there is a good chance that Google Maps will pick it up as well. Follow the best practices of optimizing your different landing pages like optimizing title tags, giving full business address; local phone numbers etc. will give a fillip to your SEO ranking efforts.

 

5.      Adding a location wise directory structure

One of the better ways of ranking in local search is designing the right kind of URL architecture; especially if you are targeting a variety of locations/cities across the United States. The idea is to create a directory structure that can penetrate local search best, for the cities that you want to target.

What you need here is a deeply nested site that has a structure by state/location/city/different-pages. A hierarchal structure is a necessity here, and you need to identify the term that will give a signal to local search results. It’s only with a location specific directory structure that you can establish immediate relevancy at the city level, which in turn allows your site to build the authority it needs.

 

6.     Google Places

I have made a mention Google Places while talking about local directory listings, but this guy warrants a pointer of his own. After all, isn’t your ultimate goal, to show up right at top of the organic search results in Google, right where everybody can see you?

So, get started on claiming your business on Google Places, by creating your profile. Fill up everything that it asks you to and be sure to fill in only the most complete information. So, if you don’t have videos to link, create videos about your business, have them up on YouTube and then provide the link.

Once you submit, you will need to verify your business with either phone (this happens immediately), or through a postcard sent to your business address (takes 2-3 weeks). Once you go live, encourage reviews from customers who have used your services. Every positive review will have a bearing on your local search rank.

 

7.     Encouraging Local Reviews

You need to up the positive rating of your business on local search, and this is only possible through positive reviews. A customer needs to be encouraged to review your services and this can be done by adopting plenty of nifty little tactics. Of course, the first step of getting a positive review is offering the best services, otherwise nobody is going to leave any reviews for you, and if at all you will get a review, it will be a bad one.

But let’s be optimistic and consider that you haven’t put a step wrong in offering your services, so how do you go about encouraging good reviews:

  • Reviews via Emails: Encourage your customers to send in a review via email; do this by emailing them after you have provided your services to them, and ask them to rate their experience of working with you, by giving them a link to your business listing.
  • Ask: Sometimes it just makes better sense to ask your customer upfront to give you a positive review on a business listing. Most customers, if they are a happy lot, are going to oblige.
  • Buttons/Badges: Add links to your business listing on your website, and let your customers know they can rate your business on these sites.

Something else that you need to do, is monitor all the reviews that are coming in, so if there is a bad review that has come your way, you can quickly respond to it; at times this response will satisfy unsatisfied customers, helping you earn some brownie points.

 

In Conclusion

Local SEO is all about focusing attention on the specifics of your niche and location. You will need to keep reading and keep learning on the various ways of winning the top place in local search. You can take a look at 9 steps to win your online space, a post that gives you more information about local SEO and how to tackle it.

There is some tough competition on local search, but there are plenty of ways to go one up over them. You live and learn. All the best!

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and will share with your network.  We look forward to your comments.

Pratik Dholakiya is a Lead SEO Strategist at E2M Solutions, a full service internet marketing company specializing in ethical and advanced SEO services. Pratik has analyzed all the recent Google search algorithm updates very closely and seen success in defining and implementing SEO strategy that works in the current era to see sustainable results that stay last longer and produce high ROI.