SEO Marketing for Businesses: Optimizing Your Blog Articles

SEO Marketing for Businesses: Optimizing Your Blog Articles

Interested in how to make SEO marketing more intentional in your blog posts? If so, you’re probably already sold on the fact that words by themselves aren’t enough (although they’re certainly important).

You have a valuable service or product that’ll help oodles of people. Now, what you need to make sure of is that they’ll actually find you. One of the best ways to get noticed is through organic search results. It’s not salesy yet screams credibility to potential clients and customers.

If you want your website to show up better in the search results, here are some key ways to do that by tweaking your blog posts.

Focus on Great Writing for Search Engine Marketing

SEO marketing has to start with high-quality writing. The “wild west” days of the internet are long gone—the days you could simply slap some primitive keywords into a semi-legible article and rise to the top.

Google continues to grow more sophisticated and has gotten way better at telling great content from junk. Grammar, semantics and articles without excessive use of keywords all matter.

What this means is that, like all good things, you’ll need to invest consistent time and resources into your strategy to see results. Shoddy sentences and poor grammar just won’t cut it anymore.

Use Ingoing and Outgoing Links

An often-overlooked way to boost your credibility in the eyes of Google is to provide hyperlinks in your articles. There are two hyperlink types: internal and external ones.

Internal links connect to valuable resources on your website such as your “contact” or “about” pages. They also link to relevant blog posts or other content.

When it comes to outgoing links, some business owners worry that adding them will make people go elsewhere and not come back. In reality, it’s riskier not to have them.

Google wants to see that you’re directing visitors to both useful content on your website and the internet at large. This provides credibility and higher rankings.

Consider Going Long Form in Your Posts

What’s long-form content? Posts that typically run in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 words. To give you an idea of the word volume, that comes out to between four and 12 pages in a print book.

Why is long-form content such a powerful SEO tool? Because most articles aren’t that length for starters. Provided these articles are well written, they look more authoritative to Google which means they tend to rank higher.

Primary keyword density should generally run one to three percent of the entire article text. Much more than that and Google could penalize you for being too spammy with your keyword usage.

The beauty of long-form articles is they allow your keywords to appear more frequently, since there’s more text, without them looking questionable to Google. The added keywords long form provides can give you a “bump up”. People tend to prefer longform content these days as well.

Use Longtail Keywords to Improve SEO Marketing

Longtail keywords are keyword phrases as opposed to single-word keywords. For instance, if you want to market sandals to your customers, using the word “sandals” as a keyword won’t help you much since it’s too broad of a topic.

You’ll need something more specific that’s being searched for but that your analytics tell you isn’t too difficult to rank for. That may mean something like “springtime sandals for teens” or any number of other possibilities.

You’ll also want to pay special attention to question longtail keywords phrases. In other words, these are the exact questions people have been searching for online and can be a useful aspect of ranking well.

Like any good thing in life, achieving organic search results that bring in clients and customers takes a lot of time and effort. Thankfully, the end results are well worth it—plenty of credibility and business.

More than ever, web content that works needs to be of high quality with attention to SEO details mentioned here and many more.

Are you sold on the fact that you need consistent quality blog posts for your business? Good!

What is a Virtual Assistant and Can They Help with My Blog Posts?

In short, a virtual assistant can help you with a variety of office tasks regardless of where your business is located. And, yes, we can help with content writing services such as blog posts!

At Smart to Finish, we understand just how busy businesses can be. The tasks that need done can be dizzying and, if not completed, crippling. We specialize in taking that heavy weight off of you and your staff so you can focus on the big picture with minimal stress.

If you’d like help, you can find out more about our blog writing services, marketing management and other virtual assistance options by scheduling a free consultation.

Time Management

Time Management

People have always valued the essence of time. However, only a few people have mastered the skill of properly allocating their time for their work. We see a lot of books in book shops claiming they have the secret to proper time management. But do we really have to pay just to understand the secret of proper time management?

You really don’t have to buy these books to understand the secret of Proper Time Management. All you need is common sense and discipline. However, there are more reliable ways to achieve your goal. Here are a few tips to help you manage your time.

Before you go and start making a list of things you need to do, you have to realize that the list will never work if you won’t back it up with discipline. When talking about discipline here, it means you have to know your own priorities as well to guide you in abiding with the rules that you have set for yourself.

1. List a Set of things to do For the Day

This is the traditional way to proper time management. Make a list of things you have to do for the day to keep you informed on what to do for the day. The list will help you to avoid distractions if any should arise during the day.

It is recommended to create a flexible “to do list”; having a flexible list allows you to fit unexpected events and occasions (only important ones) without destroying the whole list.

2. Change Bad Time Management Habits

It usually helps for starters to change their Bad Time Management Habits. If you reflect on your everyday activities, you’d probably realize that you spend a lot of time watching too much TV or other forms of leisure. It is okay to spend time on leisure, but never when it exceeds the alloted time for it. Changing these habits would increase your time to do more meaningful activities.

3. Set some things to do for the day as top priority

The idea of setting hierarchies among your list of priorities is that those on top of the list are what you need to attend to first. It also helps you to finish on time when you use it in conjunction with your “to-do” list and daily timetable.

4. Learn how to say “NO”

When offered to do something, most people have trouble refusing. Hence, they are confronted with more tasks than they can manage. This is more important when it comes to tasks that are less important, such as watching a movie or going to a football game. You have to remember that once you have completed your pending tasks, you will have time to enjoy yourself.

If you’re planning to go out, you have to plan this a few days ahead. Therefore, you can finish your task ahead as well to save enough time for these long breaks.

5. Dividing your workload

This is specially helpful when working with other people as a team. You don’t have to do everything yourself. When you divide your workload, people tend to finish faster because they can focus on doing a specific task.

6. Keeping your workplace clean and organized

When your workplace is a mess, it is usually hard to look for things underneath the pile. Sometimes it takes hours for you to look for a lost paper on a cluttered pile. Therefore keeping things organized improves your over-all efficiency.

7. Setting Goals for yourself

Having practical and achievable goals for yourself is an important step in proper time management. Setting goals keeps you motivated to do your job well. Remember that you need efficiency to get things done the right way.

These 7 tips are a great start to more effective time management. However, you may still find that there is simply not enough time in the day to handle all the tasks on your list. It should be added that another tip for proficient time management is knowing when to delegate!

When you delegate a portion of your workload to our Virtual Assistants (VA) at Smart to Finish, you gain extra time to work on your most valuable skillsets. We’re here to help, contact us to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

Work-life Balance

Work-life Balance

“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” – Heather Schuck

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a crucial element to both business success and personal happiness. For entrepreneurs, this is often easier said than done. Work time tends to spill over into personal time, and the line of separation between the two becomes blurred. Surprisingly, the key to managing both can often be boiled down into two simple words of advice

Schedule it

As a successful business owner, you likely already plan out much of your work day in advance. Whether you maintain your own schedule or delegate projects to a virtual assistant (VA), the simple act of carving out time for necessary tasks sets you up for effective time management.

Although this seems so basic to essential business functioning, it is often lost when it comes to planning our personal lives. Grocery store trips, exercise, relaxation, or time away is not treated with the same level of priority (or may feel silly to schedule on a calendar).

We make the mistake of assuming we will find the time to handle these functions as they arise. For an already stretched-thin business owner, that time can be few and far between!

 “You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”

Charles Buxton

Creating time

For personal health, family, fun and relaxation is essential for a healthy work/life balance. Regardless of its appeal, this notion can feel intimidating (or impossible) to an entrepreneur who is already bogged down with more than they feel they have time to manage. They may wonder “how can I commit to scheduling personal time, when I am short on work time the way it is? What about the spontaneous challenges that are bound to arise?”

If you find there are simply not enough hours in the day, perhaps it’s time to consider hiring an assistant.  

“You can do anything, but not everything” – David Allen

As a business owner, giving up (some) control of the reigns can be the most difficult – and most profitable – decision you make. By allowing yourself to focus on your strengths, you can increase growth and profitability while delegating everything else to your VA. A quality virtual assistant or team of virtual assistants can handle anything from marketing and growing your business, social media, SEO, administrative tasks, customer service, accounting, website design, and more. While you maintain control over all executive decisions, your VA acts as your right hand: keeping everything running smoothly.

By freeing up space on your calendar and scheduling times to focus on personal health, relaxation and family commitments, you are able to keep a properly balanced life – offering your best self to your clients, business, colleagues.

Setting up A Solid Sales Funnel (Part 1)

Setting up A Solid Sales Funnel (Part 1)

A solid sales funnel is arguably the most important part of any internet marketing effort.

You can do everything else right in your internet marketing efforts and if you don’t create a really great sales funnel that actually works, your entire endeavor could collapse.

In this post, we will be covering the entire buying cycle, so that you see what happens to the customer as they go through your funnel, and we will also discuss some of the most common sales funnels out there and how to use them on your own website.

What is a Sales Funnel?

So, you might be wondering just what exactly a sales funnel is. Sales funnels aren’t complicated, but they can be a little confusing to anyone who is new to the internet marketing business.

Basically, a sales funnel is simply the process that someone goes through to buy a product or service from you. The reason that it is called a “funnel” is that everything within the process is geared towards them making a purchase at the end.

The Sales Process

In order to understand the sales funnel, the first thing that you need to understand is the sales process, which is essentially the framework of the funnel. We will go over each step of the process below and explain it in detail.

Awareness

The first step in the process is the awareness phase. Remember, every sale that you make is not only a value proposition – it is also a solution to a problem. The customer is looking for a solution and you need to be there to provide it. So, the first step in the process is them becoming aware of the solution. You don’t have to worry about the problem; they are already bringing that part with them.

So, suppose someone gets online and opens up their favorite search engine, then types in “sleeping bag for 20 below weather.” They are looking for a sleeping bag that is going to keep them warm.

If you know that they are looking for that sleeping bag, then you can get them to come and check out your site. All you need to do is get their eyeballs to land on your listing in Google and have an HTML title that speaks to them.

In this case it might be something like: Sleeping Bags for Extremely Cold Weather.

Interest

So, now you move onto the next stage in the process. Now, you have their interest. They want to know what you have to say, and find out whether or not you really have the best solution to their problem. But you only have their interest temporarily.

They are not yet invested in your sleeping bag website. They are just a casual visitor. It’s your job to groom that interest and make it grow.

So, for example, if they get to your landing page, and you have a number of sleeping bags with the temperate rating listed on each one, they’re probably going to take a closer look.

But they might also take a closer look if you had an eBook titled: “How to Choose the Perfect Cold Weather Sleeping Bag,” or an article titled: “10 Tricks to Make Cold-Weather Sleeping Bags out of Average Ones.”

Evaluation

Next, they’ll move onto the evaluation phase of the proposition. The evaluation stage is where they compare your product against what they were looking for in the first place, as well as other products.

For example, suppose that you had the aforementioned cold weather sleeping bags listed on your site. A visitor might see them and buy, but they could just as easily think: “What if I can get a lower price somewhere else?”

Now, imagine that you had some way of convincing them that they won’t be able to get a lower price anywhere else. Do you see how drastically that turns the odds to your favor?

Of course, the trick is to actually convince them. Just putting the phrase: “You won’t find a lower price anywhere!” is probably not going to do it. People are savvy when it comes to advertising, so you’ll have to get creative.

Decision

So, the next thing that will happen is your buyer will make a decision. They will decide one simple thing: whether to buy your product or not. If you have done a good job and convinced them that your product will solve their problem, then they are likely going to buy. If not, they will go elsewhere.

Making that decision depends upon what you have presented them with in the evaluation stage. If you have made a good pitch then they will make the buying decision.

But when it comes to a sales funnel, them saying “no” doesn’t have to be final. For example, you could have a pop-up when they close the browser window that offers them a discount.

Purchase

The next step in the buying process is the purchase stage. You need to make it easy for them to buy at this point. They are committed but that doesn’t mean that they can’t back out. For example, think about purchases that you have backed out on.

Just one example: if you purchase something that seems like a really good deal and then find out that the buyer is charging four times what the shipping should be, you’re probably going to back out.

In addition to making it as easy as possible for the buyer to complete the transaction, this would be an excellent time for you to get their email address and permission to send them valuable emails on future products and services.

They are already excited about buying from you, so it’s the best time to ask.

If you are looking for a virtual assistant to help set up a sales funnel, we support several clients in this using many applications, including Infusionsoft, Simplero, Ontraport and more! Schedule a call with us here.

Exciting Announcement: We’re Simplero Certified!

Exciting Announcement: We’re Simplero Certified!

We have been utilizing Simplero for some time now, and can attest to its ability to bring ease
and profitability to our clients. By packaging multiple systems into one source, Simplero
provides a software program that delivers all the Sales and Marketing functions an information-
based business needs. At Smart To Finish, we’ve assisted several of our clients to integrate this
service into their business – and we are delighted to announce that we are now officially
Simplero Certified!

What exactly is Simplero?
We think Simplero sums themselves up best when they say “Simplero gives you everything you
need and nothing you don’t”.

Some key features include:

  • Comprehensive email marketing
  • Tools for creating and selling infoproducts (PDF e-books, webinars, audio, video)
  • Built-in member sites
  • Fully customizable website (includes shop, blog, etc.)
  • Create landing pages, invoicing, affiliate programs, and more

Trying to decide if Simplero is right for you? Let’s talk! As certified Simplero consultants, we can
help you determine the best options for your business!

5 Tips for Choosing Effective Marketing Content For Your Blog Or Newsletter

5 Tips for Choosing Effective Marketing Content For Your Blog Or Newsletter

Content marketing is the best way to get information to your clients or customers. This is also the perfect way to gain the trust of your customers and increase your sales.

The problem is choosing the most effective type of content and presenting it in an attention getting manner.

Here are some tips on choosing the most effective content for your content marketing.

  1. Point out the competition’s mistakes. People, in general, want to avoid painful experiences as much as possible. Pointing out all the ways your competitors fail to make life easier for your potential customers works to your advantage. Top ten lists on this kind of thing such as “10 most common mistakes” or “10 things you don’t want to do” are especially effective in driving people to you, rather than your competitor. I’m not saying you should specify or point fingers at specific competitors here!!  That’s not professional (or nice). Instead, use general statements and point out what makes your company better than others.
  2. Give out industry “secrets.” They are not really secrets but if you let people think they are then their trust in you grows. Create content with bulleted lists showing how to do things faster and easier or how to make something work better. People love lists about things because lists are easy to filter through and pick out those points that pertain to them specifically. They also help people retain the information.
  3. Organize it for them. One of the biggest hurdles for some people is the organization of certain things. Do the work for them by giving them plans and ways to organize things to make their life simpler. If you can make something straightforward and easy for someone, they will appreciate it and repay you with their business.
  4. Answer common questions. When you’re discussing a common problem or situation, people tend to have the same questions. By providing the answers before someone even asks the questions, you make them feel more comfortable. It gives them the impression your company truly cares about them and their needs because you’ve taken the time to learn what they want or need.
  5. Latest trends reports. This is a way to help your clients and customers keep up to date with the latest information from your company. This type of content lists the newest information or technologies and explains them in an easy to understand fashion.

Effective content marketing is all about continually giving the client or customer whatever information they deem useful. It demonstrates to prospects your company is paying attention to the needs of their clients and responding in an resourceful and expeditious manner. If the frequency and/or quality of information begins to slow down, your client base will begin to find another source of information, taking their sales dollars with them.

Making use of a virtual assistant writing service is a good way to fulfill the needs of consistent and effective content writing. By using writers to help create your content, you can easily continue to provide fresh, new content. Once you have the articles, reports and other documents, offer them to your customers freely through email or a blog. Not only will your customers thank you in replies and comments but, more importantly, with their continued loyalty. The Smart to Finish team can help you create content and update your blogs and newsletters. Let’s talk 🙂

10 Things You May Not Know About Andrea, our Administrative Assistant

What is a unique fact about you?

I’m a twin! I have a twin sister who lives in Washington D.C.

 What is your favorite food/drink?

Coffee with a side of coffee.

Where was your favorite vacation?

Colorado. Always 🙂

Do you have pets?

Yes! Two dogs. A boxer and a pitbull. Both 5 years old!

Favorite movie or TV show?

Good Will Hunting.

The BEST gift you ever received?

My daughter, Nora.

What is your favorite number?

4, my birthday is 4/4!

What are some of your hobbies?

I love reading.

Where is your favorite shop or place to shop at?

Target!

What is your favorite music?

Country and blues!

A Website Audit Checklist for Your Technical Virtual Assistant to Follow

A Website Audit Checklist for Your Technical Virtual Assistant to Follow

If your website isn’t performing as well as you’d like, it may be time to do a website audit. When you audit your website you’re essentially looking for elements that are working, as well as elements that aren’t working and need to be updated. We’ve put together a website audit checklist of 10 items for your technical virtual assistant to follow

1. Check your branding.

Branding is your use of color, typography, visuals, and even favicons. In addition, you should review your “about us page” to see if it’s telling the story clearly of who you are and what you can do for your clients. Have you included testimonials, and success stories to keep your visitor interested?

2. Check your design.

The look and feel of your website has a lot to do with the layout, whether content is organized well, the white space you have on your website, and your CTAs (calls to action). Do they stand out? Do you have too much old-school design on your website? How can you modernize it?

3. Check your coding.

Do you have an updated sitemap file? Are you still using frames and old-school coding that doesn’t work today? Do your URLs accurately describe what is on each page? Are you using headers and subheaders properly?

4. Make sure it’s usable.

It’s always a good idea to follow best practices when it comes to layout. If you’re not sure, you can ask your technical virtual assistant to read Google’s advice to webmasters as well as the W3C consortium to see what they recommend. Right now, the menu should go at the top, with certain things expected in the footer and sidebars.

5. Do a content audit.

If you have any old content that is not high quality, engaging, and relevant, you will want to work on updating it. Then focus on continuing to be consistent with adding fresh content.

6. Make sure your keywords are focused.

In the old days you might have put a lot of keywords on a page to attract your audience. Today, keywords are important but they need to be used in titles, headers, and subheaders. They should only be used sparingly in the content, which should be written first for your audience. But ensure that when you do use keywords you’re using the right ones for your audience.

7. Check your on-page SEO.

This is all about how your page titles are written. They should represent exactly what’s in the content. Clickbait is not appreciated even though a lot of even mainstream press uses that trick to get you to click. Focus on writing good page titles, URLs for each page, and meta descriptions, which are still very important, as are meta titles.

8. Make sure you’re using social media correctly.

Make it easy for your audience to share your content on social media networks. Connect your website to Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and more depending on what your audience likes to use. Plus, ensure that you’re engaging with social media too.

9. Check if your website is mobile.

There are no more excuses for not having a mobile website. Your main website should have a responsive design that works on mobile first and then on desktop. This will require you to have a clean design, which is great for everyone.

10. See what’s out of date.

If there is anything on your site that is out of date or no longer necessary, get rid of it. This includes things such as keyword-stuffed articles, duplicate content, a ton of ads, and more.

By having your technical virtual assistant go through this website audit checklist, you will ensure that your site is modern, usable and working for your business. Why not contact Smart to Finish today to get started?

Why You Need a Virtual Social Media Assistant for Your Online Business

Why You Need a Virtual Social Media Assistant for Your Online Business

Perhaps you have considered hiring a social media assistant before. But, you keep plugging away at writing content, scheduling content, finding content to post, growing and building your audience, and engaging with your audience.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds very time consuming. I’m sure that you’d rather spend your time growing your business and doing what you love. That’s why you should delegate your social media tasks to a virtual assistant. Here are just a few ways a social media assistant (not a social media strategist) can help you reclaim your time.

Content Management

If you struggle to write new and engaging posts, we suggest finding a virtual assistant who is a good writer. When you get stuck and can’t think of anything to write, ask them to come up with ideas for articles. Or, have them write a few.

You can also task your virtual assistant with content curation, or locating external content to mix in with your original content. While it might seem counter-intuitive, sharing external content is necessary. Why? No one likes too much self-promotion.

Once you have some content to post, your social media assistant can then schedule your content in tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, Tailwind, or even other more robust programs like Sprout Social or Sendible. These allow you to repurpose content and always have something ready and waiting to be published.

Audience Management

Have a large following of engaged fans on Twitter? Always answering questions or having to moderate discussions on your Facebook page? Then delegate this task to your social media assistant. Find someone who’s comfortable with speaking for you and handling the daily administrative tasks.

If you need to grow your audience, you can also delegate tasks such as finding people to follow, unfollowing people, doing competitor research, etc.

Advertising Management

If you aren’t doing any advertising on social media, you are missing out on a very effective and and affordable means to boost your business. A social media assistant versed in social media advertising can help you navigate the ever-changing social media ad landscape.

If you wonder which platform is right for you, we suggest starting out with Facebook Ads as they are still the most widely used (even with all of the recent controversy). We don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon.

So now that you can see how a social media assistant can help your business grow, why not contact us at Smart to Finish? We have a team of experts who can help you take social media tasks off of your plate and give you more freedom to do what you love.