Question of the Week - Duct Tape Marketing

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6 What Is the Best Way to Manage Multiple WordPress Sites?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.
manageWP

The update everything feature is killer!

Now that more and more businesses are using WordPress, more and more people find the need to manage multiple WordPress sites. Obviously if you’re in the business of managing or working on sites for clients you have this need, but increasingly many businesses choose to create and maintain multiple sites for things beyond their main business presence such as community portals, products launch sites, group blogging projects, books and more.

I have five WordPress sites myself and it can be a real challenge to manage all of the core and plugin updates, backups and analytics, before you even get into creating content and driving traffic.

The answer to today’s question is a pretty easy one. Not long ago I found a tool called ManageWP (Yes this is an affiliate link – cuz I like it that much!)

ManageWP allows you to manage any WordPress site you have an admin log in for from one dashboard. Once you connect all of your sites, it tells you which site needs what update and even allows you to update all with one click or pick and choose.

You can schedule routine full backups for all your sites (Dropbox is one storage option) You can monitor uptime, security and traffic spikes. You can use the SEO features to optimize your site. You can use it to migrate to another host or clone a site’s set up so you can create a new one without the set up hassle. You can even publish new content to each of your sites from the dashboard.

There is a cost, I pay about $20 a month to manage up to 10 sites, but this time saving tool is, for me, the best way to manage multiple WordPress sites.

9 What's the Best Way to Get More Traffic and Links?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.
This post originally ran on American Express OPENForum.
traffic

photo credit: MatHelium via photopin cc

Pretty much everyone has come around to the notion that they need to produce lots of high-quality content if they want to rank highly in search engines. Of course, creating the content is only half the battle. In order for that content to rank and generate the kind of traffic it deserves, it has to be found, shared, linked to and liked by lots of people.

Once you hit publish, you’ve got to spend a measured amount of time driving links and traffic to the content. You’ve also got at least 20 or 30 other things on your to-do list that need to get done, too.

Stop spinning your wheels. The strategy I recommend is simple: Put a great deal of effort into producing and then promoting one or two prime pieces of content each month and give them lots of exposure, a little budget and a serious amount of time rather than trying to sustain that kind of effort with every piece of content.

SEO folks lovingly call this kind of content “link bait,” and while many have completely ruined this form of content marketing with overly aggressive SEO practices, the notion of putting a lot of effort into a post or two a month that has a good chance of attracting interest, readers and links is a solid one.

Below are a series of steps you can employ to systematically drive links and traffic to your core monthly content play.

1. Make it sharable. Add social marketing buttons to your content to make it easy to share. Use plugins like Digg Digg or Sociable in WordPress and add the Click to Tweet links at key tweetable moments in the content.

2. Use the usual suspects. Take the time to promote your post in Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with a nice visual image to help draw attention. I find it’s helpful to take the space to talk about why someone might want to read your content—make a little effort to sell it.

3. Email and snail mail. Don’t forget to let your email and snail mail lists know about your latest and greatest post. Send a monthly solo email blast to point out the post and invite offline readers to come online and read and share. Make sure you make your email sharable and ask your readers to send it to a friend.

4. Use targeted ads. Facebook advertising is a great way to target friends of your friends on Facebook or even target friends of your competitors or some other highly targeted demographic as a way to get your content in front of the right people. Use promoted posts so your post appears in the news stream.

5. Pay for “Stumbles.” StumbleUpon is a powerful link and traffic tool if you work to build a very strong presence there. You can, however, pay to have your content shared, and this can drive a significant amount of initial traffic and get the stumbles rolling.

6. Strategic sharing. If you’ve built a network of strategic partners, and please tell me you have, make sure you reach out to them and offer the content for them to share in their social networks and email newsletters. You can also build a social sharing network in places like Triberr.

7. Network, network, network. Reaching out to other bloggers or people in your industry by way of sharing and commenting on their content is a good way to build up some reciprocal link and sharing karma. Make it a habit to read, curate and share 10 to 20 pieces of high-quality relevant content and you’ll earn the right to reach out and ask for the same. Make certain that you’re sharing content because it’s good content and not so you can get links and it will work out for you.

8. Paid syndication. Services like Outbrain and nRelate can push your content out to publications that are looking for specific types of content and stories. This can create a great amount of traffic from new visitors to your site.

9. Social bookmark sites. Every day people visit sites like Reddit, Digg, Delicious and Diigo to save and organize bookmarks online. Of course, all these people also spend a great deal of time viewing and clicking on related content that others find as well, so spending time to go deep in a couple social bookmark sites, building a network, sharing other people’s content and promoting your own content can be another way to generate links and traffic.

10. Video amplification. Video is, at the moment, in a class of search all by itself. Consider adding a video to your content or creating a series of videos that dive into bits and pieces of the content and then post and optimize these videos pointing to your post on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Dailymotion and Metacafe, and of course don’t forget Facebook and Google+—or use a tool like OneLoad to automate sharing to all these sites. Viewbix is a nice tool for adding apps and calls to action to your video so you can help drive people back to your site and original post.

Spending a concentrated amount of time on promoting and amplifying at least one piece of content each month will pay huge, long-term dividends in terms of traffic and links to your site.

4 What Is the Best Way to Research a Market for a Start Up Business?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

data visualization

photo credit: prisonerjohn via photopin cc

Ah, market research, now there’s a juicy topic.

There is an entire industry dedicated to helping businesses try to figure the opportunities that exist for new products and just how to position those products and services in the mind of very specific consumers and buyers.

It’s important stuff to be sure, but few things beat participating in the market and learning first hand in the lab.

There are, however, some new tools that can help businesses and start ups determine the size of the opportunity in a chosen market as well as testing out their messages and models with chosen target segments and finally turning some of that data into visualizations that help make it more digestible for partners, backers and employees.

Getting the lay of the land

Sometimes you just need to know how many potential customers for your ideal target group exist in a certain zip code or how your business idea stacks up against the potential competition in a market. These tools can help you compile basic stats as you formulate your plans and run your financial models.

Asking the potential customer

Researchers have long relied on “panels” of consumers that make up target demographic groups to test all manner of business ideas – remember those Nielsen set top boxes? Today a new breed of DIY tools have come onto the scene that allow marketers to define an ideal client and survey ready made panels of consumers.

Visualizing the data

Once you do your business intelligence and compile some facts, figures and data it’s time to make it look good so it can help you tell your story to investors and potential customers or employees. These tools make data visualization a snap.

There you go, that should keep you busy for a while. Did I miss any tools?

6 What Are the Best Tools for Note Taking at Meetings and Conferences?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

note taking tools

photo credit: Hades2k via photopin cc

I attend a decent amount of meetings and conferences and both present opportunities for recording ideas, action items and random to dos.

These days, as I look out into the audiences I speak to, I see a wide array of tools, techniques and devices being employed by those who take notes, hopefully for later application.

For most of my business life I used a tool that followed me from school to the meeting room – the scientific notebook. I’ve got shelves of filled ones in my office.

More recently I switched to going digital for this task.

I started this transition when Evernote first burst on the scene and I was an early evangelist of sorts for the tool. Today I’ve settled in to the much more streamlined outliner called Workflowy as it seems to better fit the linear way I think. I do still keep a pocket sized Moleskin with me for those times when I can’t fire up an electronic device.

I started asking others what tools they employ when taking notes on iPads, mobile devices and laptops and the following list makes up the current thinking on some of the best tools.

[listly id=”9qc” layout=”full”]

19 How Can I Get My Local Business to Rank Higher in Search?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

For today’s answer I wish I could say there was some magic pixie dust, but the fact is getting your local business to show up high in the search results takes some work.

For the local business the goal must be to move into what is referred to as the Google Local Pack – those 6-8 listing that show up for a local search. This is particularly important on mobile devices that are often pinpointing local only.

The Google Local Pack

There are many factors and of course a great deal has to do with the competitive nature of your particular industry.

However, there are several tried and true steps that you should take in order to give your business the best chance possible

Clean up your NAP

NAP is the directory acronym for Name, Address and Phone. This data clearly tells that a business is local and guess what – if you’ve been around for a while there’s a good chance some data source has this wrong.

Here’s how to assure you have an accurate NAP listing in as many places as possible.

Go the USPS site and get the correct address format for your business

Check with these major data providers to ensure your listing is complete and accurate.

Get listed

Now that your listing is accurate with the data folks, make sure that you listing in some of the more popular online business directories. Claim enhance these profiles.

One of the best tools for doing this is getlisted.org – this free tool will find your listing or lack of in some of the major directories and lead you to the place where you can edit and add.

Brightlocal is another very powerful paid tool for improving your local presence.

Get reviewed

Reviews carry a lot of weight, both with search engines and would be customers. You must get serious about this aspect of local search. Note the image above – the site that ranks #1 in Google has the best review profile.

The three most important place to focus your review work are

  • Google+Local – Google want your business on Google+ so they’ve moved the local pages there. Start building your local page and focus on getting more reviews.
  • Yelp – On top of being the biggest review site Yelp provides Bing Local results.
  • Foursquare – this location based check in site is working hard on becoming a local directory and should not be ignored.

Bing local listings

Localize your pages

One of the most overlooking opportunities is the local nature of the content on your site. Make sure you:

  • Add your NAP in Schema.org format to every page
  • Add local terms such as suburbs, neighborhoods, places and events in your titles and subtitles.
  • Create localized happenings and news pages
  • Create site sections or landing pages dedicated to local phrases.

For WordPress users one of the best things you can invest in is the Local SEO for WordPress plugin from Yoast. This plug in will handle a great deal of the techie stuff for you and let you do some nice things with maps and directions.

5 Should You Pay for Referrals?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

referral gift

photo credit: Chris JL via photopin cc

This week I received what amounts to a two-part question about ways to motivate, incentivize and reward someone for sending your a referral.

Here’s the question: Should I reward my referrals sources with some sort of monetary incentive and if so should it only be for referrals that turn into customers?

So, here’s my two-part answer: I believe that the best referrals are made for social reasons and not financial reasons. Certainly if you’re selling a $19 item someone might tell their friends in order to get $5 referral fee, but beyond that, money changes the dynamic in a way that isn’t the healthiest.

I’ve always contended that the best reward for a referral is enormous appreciation. The way you pull that off is two-fold. First shower the person referred to you with a special experience. Then make your referral sources feel special by creating opportunities for them – build a referral club, give them surprises, give them access, give them community.

Now, for the second part of the question – a referral that doesn’t turn into a customer right away is still valuable. I’ve always advised people to come up with some way to show appreciation or reward for the referrals that don’t pan out. Send them a gift card, flowers, movie tickets or chocolate. As long as you keep that referral source motivated the next one and the next one will turn into your next great customer.

14 Is There Any Value in Using Meta Description?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

This week a workshop participant wanted to know if there we any value in actually adding the description attribute to his web content.

Meta data, or tags as they are often called, are bits of information about a web page that search engines use to start to understand what the page is all about. These attributes are mostly under the hood but send important signals to search engines.

Due to that fact there’s always lots of misinformation from people trying to game the system from every angle possible. Search engines, most notably Google, don’t use the Description information to rank a page, but it’s still a vitally important element and should be included on every blog post and page.

Here’s why the META Description field is so important.

While search engines may not pay attention to the content for the purpose of showing a page based on search inquiries they all show some sort of description in the search results. The question is what description do that use?

Since they are going to show something as a matter of fact, why not help inform what they show. If you leave the description attribute blank they will pick up something based on the search term used. If, however, you get in the habit of crafting well-written descriptions, there’s a very good chance they will use your description.

meta description
In this case Google used the hand-written summary description I added word for word

Think of the description as an ad for the click

If your page shows up in a search result a well-written description will increase your chances of someone clicking through to read the rest.  Think about it, you read those descriptions when you search, and so do your prospects.

Some tips on writing useful descriptions

  • Write for readers not search engines. Use important keyword phrases but don’t stuff them. When someone searches and uses a keyword in your description the term will be bold, so get some in there, but don’t be silly about it.
  • You only have 150 characters and if you go over the rest will cut off abruptly.
  • The best way to handle adding and optimizing descriptions for WordPress blogs is to use the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast. You’ll have title, keyword and description fields added to your post page and a counter to tell you when you’ve gone on too long.