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The 5 Questions to Ask Potential Inbound Marketing Agencies

  
  
  
  
  
The 5 Questions to Ask Potential Inbound Marketing Agencies

As online marketing becomes a necessity for businesses, there are a number of agencies with self-proclaimed "social media experts" on staff to outsource this aspect of your marketing efforts to. An experienced and reputable inbound marketing agency can help to ensure that online marketing for your business is implemented efficiently and strategically to drive more qualified traffic to your website. 

Of course, you shouldn't hire just anyone for the job, which is why we wanted to share some helpful tips to consider when hiring an inbound marketing agency courtesy of HubSpot:

  1. Does the agency practice what they preach? For example, if an inbound marketing agency prides itself on creating and maintaining an active social media presence and optimized website for its customers, you would expect that the agency regularly shares content with its followers via social media and is one of the top results on a search engine results page, right? Do your research simply by typing in the agency's name in a search engine. Do you like what you see?
  2. Does your prospective agency have an understanding of your goals? Do they take the time to listen to what you want and customize in an inbound marketing strategy or do they just provide you with a standard package? Make sure that you clarify your expectations of the agency upfront before cutting any checks.
  3. Which services does the agency provide in-house, and do they outsource any of their services? You will want the agency to be upfront with you about this in order to build a trustworthy relationship.
  4. Is the agency up-to-date on your industry's latest trends? To truly be a valuable partner, your inbound marketing agency should keep you up to date on news and trends instead of the other way around. Ask which publications they read and what type of experience they have with working with customers in your industry. 
  5. Would the agency bring value to your business or just take your money? An agency that is concerned about maintaining its reputation will be upfront with you and should let you know if they are not going to be able to deliver the quality of service that you need. Even if an agency admits to not having a certainly capability, it can actually be a good sign as they want to be completely honest with you versus give you a sales pitch that you will ultimately be disappointed with.

Hopefully, these questions will provide you with valuable factors to consider when interviewing inbound marketing agencies.

Have we left any of your questions on the table? If so, what do you think is important to ask a prospective inbound marketing partner?

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The Must-Know 4 New SEO Trends

  
  
  
  
  
The Must Know 4 New SEO Trends

The SEO world is constantly changing to accommodate our increasingly digital world. While traditional inbound marketing tactics such as indexing, link building, and on-page content is incredibly effective today at driving qualified traffic, it's important to stay ahead of the next wave of SEO trends.

Search Engine Watch recently highlighted some areas where brands should focus on expanding their SEO efforts to be successful in the future. Some may refer to these areas of opportunity as "new school SEO," and we've shared a few of these areas for growth with you below:

  • Local Search: Did you know that over 70 percent of web searches are for local businesses? Additionally, 59 percent of consumers admit to using major search engines such as Google at least once a month to find local businesses. According to Search Engine Watch, ad spending on local search is anticipated to grow from $1.2 billion in 2012 to $9 billion by 2017. Investing in local search is low hanging fruit for your business, and a thorough evaluation of your local, GPS, and business listing presence should be completed to ensure that you are making the most of your SEO strategy.
  • Mobile Optimization: Perhaps you have heard of the popular buzzword SoLoMo? Essentially, this concept is gaining momentum with the increase of smartphone owners. According to comScore, nearly 130 million people in the U.S. owned a smartphone as of January 2013, and this figure is only going to increase. Going hand-in-hand with local search, your business can't afford to not have optimized mobile landing pages.
  • Content Strategy: Do you know the keywords that your target audience is most commonly typing into a search engine to arrive at your webpage or your competitors? Also, what type of content does your consumer find to be the most engaging? Strategically planning out the content that you create based around these parameters is necessary for great SEO. Be sure to check out our recent post about social media tracking tools that you can't live without to assist in content creation that will make an impact.
  • Apps Integration: We live in a multi-device type of world, which means that your consumer is likely using a smartphone or tablet with apps. While offering an app for your business may not lead to a drastic jump in revenue, it can help to add value to your business by making it easier for your target audience to find you online and make purchases using a handheld device.

Other ways that "new school SEO" is impacting content creation includes the integration of storytelling into content production. Consumers of today and the future want to be able to connect with brands online, and telling a story to communicate a point is an excellent way to actively engage with this audience. The quality of content has come a long way, which is why many businesses are choosing to outsource their content marketing efforts to an agency that is experienced in crafting optimized content.

All in all, the advancements in "new school SEO" are happening in an effort to build stronger relationships with prospective and existing customers. Taking a moment to give your business a "new school SEO" audit can help to set your business up for success in the future.

Are you currently taking advantage of some of the "new school SEO" practices to help your business stay ahead?

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10 Tips to Quick Inbound Marketing Results Part 2 of 2

  
  
  
  
  
quick inbound marketing results

For most companies, implementing a marketing strategy is an exciting, promising time albeit a long road. However, with Inbound Marketing, we've provided 10 tips to marketing strategies that provide quick results. For the first five, refer to our blog 10 Tips to Quick Inbound Marketing Results

Does Your SMB Need a Marketing Boost Without Breaking the Bank?

  
  
  
  
  
Inbound Marketing for Your Small Medium Sized Business 1

Umbrella marketing is no longer effective.

Newsjacking Part 2: How to

  
  
  
  
  
newsjacking

Now that we're all well versed in Newsjacking, we've got great news: it is surprisingly easy. Luckily there's an easy to follow 6-step method to newsjack like a pro:

Easy Step #1: Create Alerts
The majority of the effort of being a newsjacker comes from having to regularly comb through news sources to find the gem you need. Our advice? Don't. Let Google and other networks do it or you. Utilize Google news alerts by creating alerts for specific keywords in your industry and other industries. If you're old school and like a challenge, then setup an RSS feed with the major news stations—since the big ones have the resources to get news first. If you want to be truly professional and stealthy, then use social media monitoring tools to come up with trending topics.

Easy Step #2: Keep an Eye on Keyword Search Volume
After you've jacked your story, you need to create content around it; content that gets noticed. In order to do that you need keywords that are just as popular as the story is...trending keywords that will trigger your content to be displayed to readers searching for the day's popular story. Not only will it warrant you traffic from people searching for trending news items, it will also give you a boost with your SEO since you'll be one of the first to report on a popular news item. Targeting keywords with high search volume will also help set you apart from the crowd, since there will be hundreds if not thousands of other people reporting on the same story.

Easy Step #3: Be Well-Read
You want to get your news item out as soon as possible, in order to be relevant, but—don't sacrifice quality for timing. Be well-read on your topic because reporting it incorrectly is a big no-no. Even more importantly you need to compare the original breaking story with what others have already written—and be different. This will ensure that you are both original AND credible.

Easy Step #4: Be Quick—But Accurate 
Time is of the essence, but equally, so is accuracy. We mentioned it again in case you missed the importance of accuracy in step 3. In order to be both accurate AND quick, you need to cut out some of the frills that you might usually employ. This includes things like peer editing, triple-revisions, taking time to pick out the perfect photo, gathering the highest-quality outbound links, playing around with formatting, etc. If your perfectionist nature is cringing at the thought of cutting corners, don't worry—you can always update the story later—the importance is just getting it out quickly initially. 

Easy Step #5: Differentiate Yourself
If you read only one step of how to newsjack like a pro, it should be this one. Differentiating yourself from the crowd is key. Because you aren't the only newsjacker and your story could well be competing against hundreds or thousands of others. Think of a unique angle before writing your story to ensure that you've got a fresh take—then double check that other people haven't already written about that angle in spades. If you're angle is already used but you feel it is just too clever to pass up, then you need to write it better (using jokes and/or cleve analysis often helps).

Easy Step #6: Spread the Word
Now that you've got your original, newsjacked content, you need to quickly market it. Use every form of marketing you've got in your arsenal. If you know someone on a (relatively) major news site in that vertical, ask them to run the story. Spread it on all your social networks. Ensure that you put it on Digg and other trending news sites to help it go viral.

Now, go and newsjack to your hearts content, your readers and future readers will thank you. As will your sales team when your leads start pouring in. 

Click here to download your free e-book on the "5 Things Your Site Must Have to Start Generating Leads"


















The Death of SEO: an Inherent Fallacy

  
  
  
  
  
death of seo

 Trying to follow the “death of SEO” debate is like trying to coherently understand an episode of Lost: at first you don't get it, then you think you get it but in the end you end up more confused then when you started. Damn you J. J. Abrams. And damn you Google for turning your updates into a melodramatic telenovela.

Have You Been Panda Smacked, AGAIN? Google's Panda Algorithm Gets Another Data Refresh

  
  
  
  
  
Have You Been Panda Smacked, AGAIN

If you follow the Google grapevine, aka their Twitter feed (@google), then you've likely heard that ladst week they've released yet another data refresh to their Panda algorithm, an algorithm first released back in February 2011. The Google tweet announced that a “new data refresh of Panda starts rolling out tonight. ~1% of search results change enough to notice.”



6 Website Must Haves To Start Generating Leads

  
  
  
  
  
Website must haves

How to convert your website into a sales and marketing machine

What is SEO anyway?

  
  
  
  
  
What is SEO anyways

Search engines have become a core resource for individuals looking for businesses. Because search engines are a larger source of business referrals than the Yellow Pages, businesses no longer need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising in directories and magazines. Every business with a website has the potential to get found by more customers online. The way to do this is through search engine optimization (SEO).

10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Blog

  
  
  
  
  
10 reasons that your business should blog

We recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Chris Brogan at the Inbound Marketing Summit (IMS11) in Boston.  We often hear the following statements from our prospects and clients when we recommend that they should be blogging;  “why should my business blog anyway?” “blogging doesn’t make sense in my industry”, “I don’t have the time to blog or what the heck is a blog?”.

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