Member Tip: SEO TIPS FOR THOSE WHO DON’T TALK GEEK

Understanding every aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) is not unlike trying to have a conversation about the mysteries of the universe with a 3-year-old. Sometimes what is being said makes no logical sense whatsoever and then you catch these rare glimpses of unbelievable genius that you think you’re hallucinating. But with SEO and with a 3-year-old, just when you think you understand how it all works, they want to play a different game.

For that reason, we’ll skip over the details of how to rank well and boil them down to this: you must create content that is found, enjoyed, and shared by your audience. This article will focus on how to understand what your audience is looking to you for.

SEO Should Never Trump the Audience

Content strategists will tell you that you must become a thought leader in your area. As simple as this sounds, it confuses a lot of business people. Your SEO strategist will ask what your keywords are for your business and extrapolate long-tail keywords from them (most use analytic software or Google to do this). They will then tell you what people are searching for from a keyword perspective.

The next logical step is to pass off those keywords to your content creator. But often this is where the disconnect occurs. One of the most common mistakes I see businesses make is confusing the keywords of the audience they serve with keywords people would use to find their business. For instance, if you are a lawyer specializing in patents for pharmaceutical companies, you need to ask yourself what people would search on to find you. Some of these terms and questions might be:

  • Patent attorney
  • Corporate patent attorney
  • Patents for pharmaceuticals
  • Patents for drugs
  • Help to obtain a drug patent
  • How can my company get a patent?

Before selecting any of these, you’d want to check out the search numbers involved on Google or some other keyword tool. What you wouldn’t want to place for was words like:

  • Pharmaceutical company
  • Big pharma
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Or any other word that would return company results.
  • Do you see the difference? It’s subtle but a common mistake.

Businesses often try to place for what their ideal customer or client does and not what they do. It’s a very fine line.

Becoming a Thought Leader (on what?)

You want to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry you serve, not a thought leader in your ideal client’s industry. For instance, if you were a healthcare recruiter who only worked in healthcare, your content would focus on things like:

  • How you find and place the best people in healthcare
  • Why a healthcare-specific recruiter is better than a general recruiter
  • Best interview questions for a healthcare company
  • What questions to expect in an interview for a healthcare company

Since you serve two groups of people – those hiring and those wanting to get hired – you would want to create content for both. These topics are things people who would be in the market for your services probably search on. Creating content around them would set you up as an expert in the field of healthcare recruiting.

Niche marketing is very important to SEO because often the smaller the search (in terms of the number of people doing it), the cheaper the keywords. Plus narrower searches often yield better results as people are further along in the sales process or need assistance and are willing to pay for it.

What doesn’t work is creating content in your client’s niche. In this example, you are an expert in the recruiting field, not an expert in something like hospital administration. You may place people in those positions but you don’t want to place for their words. You want to place for words like healthcare recruiting and hospital jobs, not hospital administration (unless it’s hospital administration jobs).

Keywords Are Just Questions

The easiest way to think about keywords is to think about what people would type in to find you. This might be very straightforward (short-tail keywords) like “mechanic in Clearwater” or it could be more convoluted (long-tail keywords) like “what do I do when my car makes a weird sound?”

Make a list of terms people would use to search for you and what you do. Now add to that list with all the problems you solve for in the form of questions. Remember you want to appeal to your ideal audience, but you should be creating content that makes you an expert in your industry, not your client’s.

Solve Problems for Bonus SEO

While you’re creating content that sets you up as an industry thought leader, don’t forget to solve customers’ problems with your content. This is particularly successful in achieving shares. For instance, a caterer may create a how-to video on chopping veggies or meat the correct way. Don’t worry if you create content that helps your audience do some of what you do by themselves. If they see you as a good resource, they will return and at some point, need your help. When they do, they’ll seek you out.

In order to have good-ranking content, it must be found, enjoyed, and shared. Google bases a lot of its search rankings off of human interaction with your content. You can achieve good organic results by setting yourself up as a thought leader in your industry (not that of your ideal client’s), solving your client’s problems, and giving them helpful resources to meet their needs (in your area of expertise).


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. Christina is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
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MEMBER TIP: EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

THE KEY TO EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IS YOU

Would you trust the care of your most beloved loved one to someone who didn’t like you very much? If you have disengaged employees you might be doing just that.

It is impossible for a disengaged employee to provide excellent customer service. It doesn’t matter how skilled the employee is, if they think of your business as the mere source of income, you/they won’t be wowing your customers.

Worse than that, those suffering from disengagement should be quarantined by the CDC as it is a highly infectious disease. One disengaged employee can make all of your employees reevaluate their level of happiness within your business. For this reason, employee engagement is one of the most important investments you can make in your company. The good news is, a lot of that is up to you.

Employee-Engagement

Act Decisively

If you have employees who are showing signs of being disengaged, don’t let it fester hoping it will go away. It won’t. It will spread. Before you even begin working on your company culture, tackle this problem head on. Talk with the individuals involved. See if you can’t come to an understanding of how you can both work on turning it around.

The one thing you don’t want is happy employees seeing disengaged employees sitting around doing the minimum with a lousy attitude and getting paid for it. Employees are not robots. No matter how many times you tell others to ignore your Eeyore in the corner, the bad feelings are bound to disrupt the working environment.

Some disengaged employees are too far gone. While you should give them the opportunity to turn it around, know that this is not always possible. In those cases, you need to help that employee begin the journey in finding what will light their fire.

Decide Who You Are and Communicate It

This idea is much easier if you start your business with a mission and you clearly convey it to everyone you hire. Your mission doesn’t have to be something as grand as ending world hunger. A mission can be as simple as being “Smithville’s favorite family ice cream shop.” Everything you do should focus on your business mission.

The importance of sharing your mission with your employees is that it becomes the basis for all decision making. If employees know and understand your mission, they can use it as a referral point asking themselves at each decision, “Is this in line with our mission?”

Hire for Fit

Next, you need to hire in accordance with your mission and culture that you want to create. Skills can be taught easily, shaping one’s attitude to fit the culture is a lot more difficult. Keep in mind: each new hire either brings you closer to attaining the culture you want or takes you further away from your goal.  Don’t hire someone just to plug a hole in your payroll.

Give Them the Resources They Need and Get Out of the Way

Have you ever seen a poll about qualities you want in a manager? If so, maybe you’ve noticed the one thing that is never mentioned is “micromanaging.” No one wants to be spied on, told their way is wrong incessantly, or limited in their growth potential.

If you hire well and communicate expectations, goals and your mission, assuming your employees have the resources they need to succeed, they will begin to feel the company’s success is their success. To that end, use inclusive language like “we” when communicating where you want the business to go and how you’ll get there.

However, when giving specific direction or assignments forgo the “we.” No one knows who’s doing what when you talk in generic terms about specific roles like “We will check the Facebook page each morning.”

Check in Often

Giving employees the resources to perform their jobs isn’t your only role. You need to provide feedback often. You’ll find Millennials, in particular, are interested in guidance on their performance. It needn’t be a formal review process. Just a weekly or monthly check-in on how you think things are going but it should be a two-way conversation and not a monologue.

When someone exceeds your expectations, call attention to it immediately. Give examples of why this is ideal behavior. Don’t wait for an annual review to call it to everyone’s attention. It will get lost or forgotten by then.

Create a culture where peers can also give constructive feedback, especially praising one another. Receiving peer recognition helps in team building and building a cohesive team increases employee loyalty.

If you want your business to be successful, you need to have a team that can help you attain your goals. Investing in your employees and increasing their engagement level allows you to exceed your customers’ expectations and become a company that everyone wants to work for.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Image via Graphic Stock

Member Tip Monday: HOW TO FIND TIME FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Build Your Visibility

Small business owners, especially those businesses with under 10 employees, find it extremely difficult to justify the time on social media because it doesn’t lead to predictable, measurable cost savings or revenue.

Social media and content marketing is about becoming an engaging resource for your customers. What’s the yield of a relationship? If you can figure out what a relationship is worth in revenue dollars, you should be blogging about it.

The truth is, we can’t. Not exactly at least. But we know people buy from people they know, like, and trust and that’s why it’s important to invest time in building these connections and affections.

Finding that time is easier said than done. Still here are a couple of suggestions on how to carve out some time to increase your efforts on social media.

Keep Content Handy

The first thing you’ll need is a place to keep content you find. Not all content will be applicable for sharing the moment you come across it. We’ve all seen people on Twitter who post 10 tweets at a time and figure they are done for the day. It is better to deal out your posts at multiple times than all at once. Often you’ll find content that you’ll want to share later so select a system in which you can easily access your content gems in the future.

Upload content to DropBox, use Evernote or keep a notepad handy (paper or electronic). Doesn’t matter if you keep fortune cookie messages in a shoe box. Never let what you deem to be a valuable piece of content escape. Keep it somewhere handy and build a cache of it.

Find a Scheduler You Like

There are many options to help you pre-schedule posts. Scheduling is important because you can’t spend your whole day posting, nor do you want to be that person who bombards others with a firehose worth of content once a day.

Find a scheduler you’re comfortable with. Many systems allow you to control when you post and often give you the ability to do it several days out. One of the most basic is Buffer. It allows you to schedule across multiple platforms. It offers a free and paid version, but even the paid is only about $10 a month.

The most popular is Hootsuite, and while I use it occasionally because it offers greater capabilities than Buffer, I do prefer Buffer’s minimalist design. Hootsuite’s interface is busy but allows you to monitor in real time. If you’re developing relationships, this is a powerful ability to have.

Multi-task

I’m not telling you to turn off the TV when you get home, but there is no reason if you’re “vegging out” that you can’t use that time to schedule a few posts for the next day. Don’t let mindless tasks, like television watching, steal your productivity.

“Steal” Time

We all have moments where we’re waiting – before doctor’s appointments, before meetings, on the phone, while the kids finish up with practice, you get the idea. Many of us fill this time with other mindless tasks like scanning pictures of our friends’ pets on Facebook. Instead, use this time to be productive by finding content, scheduling it, or responding to people on social media.

I am a firm believer in scheduling posts but the interacting cannot be scheduled, so use this stolen time to reach out and connect with people.

Look for Content Everywhere

Content ideas are everywhere – airplane magazines, overheard conversations, commercials, popular TV shows, as well as all over social media. Use the many messages that bombard you daily to find gems you’d like to share. Retweets are only the beginning.

Take Pictures

Along that line, take pictures of everything that moves you and some ordinary things that don’t. Pictures you take can be used in blogs, memes, and image quotes without concern over cost or copyright. Links with pics are more likely to get shared and clicked. Encourage staff to do the same.

You don’t need huge chunks of time to make connections on social media. The key to success in this area is the same in most business- or relationship-building. Give people what they want/find valuable; do so without expectation. Become a resource for them and help them. Be consistent in your efforts so they know they can count on you. This takes minutes a day. Schedule good content and steal time for interacting. Then watch your relationships grow as people share your resources with others.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Congratulations Michael Kline, Chamber Ambassador of the Quarter!

Congratulations to Michael Kline, our Ambassador of the Quarter!

Michael is the 13th of 14 children born into poverty to an alcoholic father living in a michael-klinejunkyard. He lost his mother at age 7 and discovered powerful lessons about resources. His journey from junkyard to country club is proof that anyone can do anything. He became the turn-around president of a franchise company with 35 locations, then a six-time successful entrepreneur. He is a Certified Jack Canfield Success Trainer, a RIM Master, and Success Coach, working with clients here and around the world. He and his partners provide corporate training and coaching in the areas of leadership, communications and emotional intelligence. Having grown up in Orlando, Mike moved back to Florida just over a year ago with his husband Sal, after 21 years in New England.

Congratulations, Michael! We greatly appreciate the dedication that you give to The Chamber and to The Chamber Ambassadors’ program. Michael’s inviting personality and engagement through the Chamber Ambassadors with welcoming and on-boarding of new members makes him a great representative of The Chamber. Thank you, Michael, & keep up the excellent work!


For information on the Chamber Ambassadors program, please contact Megan Neal or Craig McGonigal

Affinity Partner Spotlight: Office Depot

office_depot_inc

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce partners with Office Depot and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to bring you an Affinity Program that allows members to purchase from Office Depot at a discounted price. The National Chamber Program is a network of over 1,500 Chambers of Commerce working together to create savings and opportunities for its members.

The discounts on this purchasing program include products from nearly every product category needed to run your business. This includes general office supplies, ink & toner, cleaning and break room supplies, technology products, copy & print services, furniture and even school supplies.

If you are a member of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, there is no cost to take advantage of this purchasing program.

How to Take Advantage:

If you would like to take advantage of this Affinity Program, simply call or email Office Depot Business Development Manager Paul Stumpfig. Paul.stumpfig@officedepot.com or (941) 720-5037 and he will get you enrolled.

Member Tip Monday: Joining a Council

Members of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce have the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of both their business and the greater Sarasota community by serving on various Chamber council and committees. This opportunity is available not only to you personally but to all your staff as well. Volunteer services afford Chamber members a mean to become actively involved in community affairs. Even more importantly, it provides vehicles necessary to bring together the wealth of talent, experience and expertise within our membership ranks for the benefit of our business community.

See the listing below to discover ways to get involved, share your vision and have a voice in issues that affect your business.

2016-Chamber-MemberServices&SupportLogo-Hz.pngTo provide relevant and profitable events for the membership, fulfill/provide the services and benefits relating to membership and identify revenue sources in addition to membership dues.

2016-chamber-chamberambassadorslogo-hzMember Volunteers serve as customer relations representatives for the Chamber, visiting new members, contacting existing members to expand communications and involvement.

 

2016-chamber-governmentallogo-hzMonitors and develops public policy positions that are “pro-business and pro-greater Sarasota.”  Research is involved, as well as meeting with elected officials and experts on various topics as The Chamber’s positions are developed and then communicated and advocated.

2016-chamber-cityprioritieslogo-hzThe council focuses on strategic economic development planning, as well as on partnerships, that benefit the continuing revitalization of downtown Sarasota.

2016-chamber-ypglogo-hzCreates a platform for its members ranging in age from 21-40 to build relationships, develop professionally, become politically and philanthropically active, and contribute to the economic development and high-quality living of our community. (council appointed – membership & committees open)


By Invite-Only:

2016-chamber-leadershiplogo-hzThe Council is comprised of Leadership Sarasota County alumni who oversee the Adult and Youth programs, Alumni activities, Engage Sarasota and the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. The mission is “Engaging, Developing, and Inspiring Community Leaders.” (participation by application/selection)

2016-chamber-financelogo-hzThis committee is invite-only. The committee monitors The Chamber’s finances.


For more information on joining one or more of the councils and committees below, contact Dillon Buckland, dbuckland@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4039.

 

Congressional Update and Roundtable Discussion with Vern Buchanan

A feature by Kevin Cooper, Vice President of Public Policy for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

On a recent afternoon in September, over 40 key Chamber members and community leaders participated in a luncheon and roundtable discussion with United States Congressman Vern Buchanan. Not only does Buchanan represent the area’s interests in Washington, D.C., but he is a Longboat Key resident and former Chairman of the Board for The Chamber. Not long after seeing the President sign his Veterans Identification Card Act into law, Buchanan was in the area to share his thoughts and focus for the near future.

IMG_5702Earlier in the day, Buchanan met with a number of tax professions who represent corporations of all sizes. The Congressman shared with The Chamber group how he would like to see the tax code significantly simplified. Specifically, the length and complexity of conformity, he contended, is both challenging and costly for taxpayers. Buchanan also linked tax code concerns to budget deficits. Continue reading “Congressional Update and Roundtable Discussion with Vern Buchanan”