Author Archives: Team Eminent SEO

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

Vol. 93: Ignoring Your Haters Gives Them More Power

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newsletter header Vol. 93

There’s a great line in an award-winning ad campaign (old school) for Head & Shoulders shampoo: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

While that helped sell a lot of shampoo through television, imagine magnifying the impressions to a much wider net. Yeah, that’s exactly what social media does. In fact, Head & Shoulders shampoo provides the perfect symbolism for reputation management. Here’s how.

Negative Reviews and Nasty Followers Are Dandruff to Your Brand

A bad social reputation is like dandruff. It won’t go away by itself. Unless you treat it properly. It will ruin the way your current followers, existing customers and business prospects perceive you.

To be head and shoulders above your competitors, you have to face your online reputation and do what it takes to clean it up and make it shine.

How to Get Control of the Out-of-Control

Social media outlets, including review sites, are a hot mess – and that’s on a good day. That’s why many businesses would rather turn a blind eye to the verbose trashy commentary they receive, than deal with it.

In fact, chances are you’ve tried to nicely and professionally respond to these kinds of posts, only to be met with more sarcasm, defiance, and distrust in what you and your brand stand for.

Here’s a hint: You can’t please everyone, so stop trying.

Instead, learn how to identify which posts deserve a response and those that should be ignored. Remember. some people rant and rave on social just to be heard.

reviews on mobile

Crucial Steps to Own Your Social Reputation Again

It’s never too late to get a handle on your online presence. To begin, add these practices to your social marketing:

  • Do a full audit of your digital representation (social channels, google my biz, review hubs, press sites, your website blog)
  • Assess if your brand positioning, mission, and culture are accurate and align consistently
  • Ask for feedback about the customer experience; if it’s good, ask for a review
  • Dedicate a person or team to go through social channels often to engage post responsiveness

Read more about successful Reputation Management


Industry News

Bad Google Reviews Are Worse Than Yelp or Facebook

In a recent study, 97 percent of business owners said that their online reputation management is important, yet many don’t commit to the necessary steps to stay on top of it, let alone turn their social presence into a consistent and positive one. What can a poor Google rating cost you? 33% less in annual revenue. Here’s how to improve your rating.


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From the Eminent Team

How to Deal with Bad Reviews

How to Deal with Bad Reviews and Other Online Reputation Management Tips

Getting caught up in reactionary emotions from social posts and customer reviews gone bad? We’ve got you covered with industry tips and details that make online presence easier and a must have.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 92: Non-ADA Compliance Shuts Websites Down

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Vol. 92

Why ADA Website Compliance Is Being Enforced

Although many more people are cognizant of the challenges faced by those who live with disabilities, not all businesses comply with the necessary guidelines set forth in 1990 by the American Disabilities Act (ADA). But most don’t even know it.

Companies have put focus on ensuring that their physical business aligns with the law, specifically in the changes needed to make accessibility to their premises accommodating to people with disabilities. These include wheelchair ramps, widened hallways, accessible restrooms, and more.

Then where’s the problem? The virtual space. 

ADA Contains Ambiguity that Attorneys Can Capitalize On

Sometimes the law doesn’t catch up with business trends and the escalation of technology. ADA is no different, though the way much of the law is languaged allows for interpretation, and the updates needed to apply to today’s standards. Consider,

  1. How you search online for a business.
  2. How you navigate through a website.
  3. The way you make a purchase online.

These steps in our everyday lives are not always readily available to those with disabilities, especially the blind or visually-impaired. Many web-based business owners never even thought about it.

Now, websites are getting flagged for non-ADA compliance. But do you know what to do to put your site into a better ADA light?

Steps to Making Website ADA Compliance

Here are some of the ways to support the ADA on your website.

  • Ensure keyboard navigation
  • Add text and media enlargement features
  • Provide alt tags for media files
  • Add content transcripts
  • Optimize header code

To learn more ways to optimize your website for ADA, refer to this ADA blog post here or contact us.

Need Help Making Your Website ADA Compliant?

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If Your Business Has a Web Presence Without ADA Compliance, You Are at Risk

In years 2017 and 2018, a record number of federal-level lawsuits were filed against companies, whose websites did not comply with ADA laws, making it near impossible for those with vision-impairment disabilities to access online businesses. This continues to impact businesses to date. As a business owner, is your digital presence risk-free? Would you even know what to look for?

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From the Eminent Team

What Does It Take to Have an ADA Compliant Website?

ADA Compliance – Is Your Website Up To Snuff?

The visually impaired and other consumers with disabilities seemingly have been forgotten when it comes to website design and accessibility. Where does your site stand?

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 91: Business Citations are Not Just for Local

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business citations

Build Locally, Win Globally

For the local business owner, growing a customer base on a global scale may not seem like a smart approach. And for the business who resides on the web only, localizing your market to your business headquarters may seem pointless.

Logic, Google, and search engine rankings will often defy logic. So to stay in the game of this thing we call “the web”, you need to understand the rules in order to play, and win.

What Are Local Citations and Why Are They Important?

Put your internet-user hat on for a minute. Let’s say you’re looking for a specific product, ice-cream that can be created and flavored to your liking. Ice cream customization to the endth degree. As you enter your search for this online, Google will populate listings that have the most relevance related to your criteria. Let’s also consider that this discussion is based on organic search and not paid ads.

If this company has multiple brick-and-mortar locations in the Southeastern United States and you, as the consumer, reside in Hoboken, New Jersey, this establishment may not be a fit.

Local Citations

HOWEVER, this ice cream can be drop shipped via dry freezer. So physical location is not as much of an obstacle.

Here’s where local citations come in. Each time your business has a presence on the worldwide web, it scores ranking points with Google. A local citation of your business includes your business name but can include your physical address, phone number, website, and map to where you can be found.

There are structured and unstructured citations. Structured citations are common and readily found through business listing directories such as Yelp, Mapquest, Facebook and more. Business mentions in online media outlets, wikis, and blogs are unstructured.

The More Local Citations, The Merrier

Search engine algorithms factor in local citations for ranking. It isn’t just about the quantity of local citations that you have but also the quality of them.

Quality local citation assessment includes:

  • Core Search Engines
  • Primary Data Sources
  • Tier 1 – more prominent websites

Local Citations Are a Powerful Tool for Non-Local Sites

Even though many online businesses may not have a physical storefront, the benefits from local citations will still serve them well by increasing their rankings.

Here’s How to Build Local Citations in 5 Easy Steps

Need ideas on where to get started and how to find viable citation sources in your geographic area? Try these.

  1. Do an online search for a competitor but use the results that do NOT include that company’s website.
  2. Search for two local businesses by including their names together in a single search. What will likely pop up are other content sources that list these business names.
  3. Do a location-based search for the city, town, or region that is of interest to you. Those search listings may reveal businesses that would be interested in adding your business as a local citation to their content.
  4. Use geo-targeting tools: Moz has a great one called Link Intersect
  5. Try Google Alerts to find which media outlets are giving these same businesses online exposure. Those may prove to be some great sources to connect with.

Need Help with Building Citations?


Industry News

89% of Marketers Increase Sales by Using Location Data

A 2019 Lawless Research and Factual survey measured the outcomes of marketer participants who used location data in their campaigns. The findings indicate that the primary use of location data was to target specific audiences, gain engagement, hone strategy, and enhance the customer experience. If these aren’t reasons enough to include location data in your marketing efforts, some may call you a dinosaur.


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From the Eminent Team

What Is a Local Citation

What Is a Local Citation?

The more other people talk about your business online, the greater you can rank for local searches. Think of it like web gossip with a purpose.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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ADA Compliance – Is Your Website Up To Snuff?

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What Does It Take to Have an ADA Compliant Website?

Nearly one in four adults in the United States has a disability that impacts activities of daily life. While most business owners know that federal law mandates physical accessibility and covers structures such as wheelchair ramps and counter heights, many overlook the fact that the internet should be accessible to all as well. Which laws cover compliance? How can you make your website more accessible to the disabled?

Which Law Covers Compliance?

Accessibility for individuals affected by a disability has a historically been the center of discussion and a point of contention in the United States. Many businesses and government entities chose to provide accessible entrances and other features on their properties to enable those with disabilities to access their facilities. Yet, others remained unaware of the physical barriers provided by features of their buildings or ignored the difficulties experienced by people unable to utilize facilities and services due to their disabilities.

ADA LogoThe Americans With Disabilities Act, instituted in 1990, addressed these difficulties. In the same spirit as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Act – otherwise known as the ADA – recognized the rights of disabled people to gain access to businesses, government entities, and public spaces. The Act requires most organizations to provide reasonable accommodations for employees and public individuals to access their facilities.

As a result of the ADA, organizations began to install the wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and other physical accommodations we have grown accustomed to. The changes provided access to many businesses, services, and products formerly unavailable to disabled people. However, one thing nobody anticipated in 1990 was the eventual rise of the internet.

The Internet Added a New Dimension to ADA Compliance

Since 1990, the internet has become a central part of the lives of many Americans. People use the internet for entertainment, research, business, and much more. While the necessity of getting online and using a website to accomplish a task was not something that was crucial to survival in the 90’s, times have certainly changed. Now – perhaps particularly for disabled individuals who experience difficulty leaving home to accomplish business – online accessibility is a legitimate concern.

In its original language, the ADA required every organization to provide equal access to its facilities and resources for disabled persons. Now that millions of people nationwide utilize the internet to shop and accomplish business and personal tasks, among many other things, it stands to reason that organizations’ online services should remain accessible as well. As the ADA has evolved, undergoing changes as recently as 2018, some changes apply to internet accessibility.

ADA Compliance – Disability Stats

ADA Is Not Specific

Title III of the ADA states that although the original ADA does not mention websites, its stipulations regarding equal accessibility should apply to web access for sites that provide public services. As such, the writers of the ADA have provided Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, to provide recommendations for organizations to make their websites more accessible.

Other than these guidelines, however, the ADA provides no specific law requiring all business websites to maintain ADA compliance. In short, there are not laws in place requiring you to format your commercial business site in any way. However, in recent years, a series of lawsuits and their associated rulings have begun to shape how businesses should go about providing accessibility.

Tips For an ADA Compliant Website

Although your business may not be required by law to format your website to adhere to certain standards, ADA compliance can help you avoid litigation in the future. In addition, it is simply good business practice Follow these suggestions for maintaining ADA compliance:

  • Ensure your site can be navigated by keyboard. Multiple disabilities make accessing your site via mouse or touchscreen impossible. In addition, some third-party accessibility accommodations utilize keyboard navigation to work effectively. Thus, your website should be fully functional with keyboard-only commands.
  • Provide enlargement features. Users of your site must be able to easily enlarge text and media features for use on a standard screen or third-party accessible screen. Primarily, you must ensure your content can be enlarged up to 200% without requiring your users to scroll horizontally or breaking up content.
  • Add alt tags for media files. An alt tag allows a user unable to understand a media feature on your page – whether photo, video, or audio file – to access a description of the content behind the tag. When your users click on or mouse over an alt tag, it will provide a description of the contents of the media file as well as its purpose on the page. The description could be audio for those unable to view a photo, or text based for those unable to hear an audio file.
  • Add transcripts for media content. In addition to alt tags, provide full text transcripts for video and audio files. Deaf and hard of hearing people are unable to access the content of these formats, but can read transcripts.
  • Optimize header code. Your site’s header code should provide vital information about the language used on the page. Disabled users utilizing text readers depend on header code to identify the language used so that the text reader is prepared to read in the proper language.
  • Ensure website availability across all devices. Whether a disabled user is utilizing a computer, smartphone, tablet, or other accessibility device to navigate your site, all portions of your site should be available on all devices. It is crucial to ensure your website loads and all features and subpages are fully navigable.
  • Provide accessibility instructions. In the event that users experience access issues – primarily input issues – when attempting to navigate your site, provide on-screen suggestions for other approaches. Such instructions should be automatic, clear, and easy to follow.
  • Ensure your website is easy to navigate. In general, taking care to organize your site in a way that makes access intuitive is important for any user’s experience. Arrange clickable links, buttons, and features like menus so that any user is able to determine which features to select, and clearly distinguish separate site features from one another. Finally, ensure your color and text style selections are easy to read for users of all ranges of vision.
  • Provide accessible documents. Any documents or files users download from your site should be provided in multiple formats, including HTML, .pdf, and .rtf for access by third party accessibility programs and devices.

While commercial business operators may not yet have a stringent set of requirements for access, providing accessibility accommodations is just good practice. As the legal boundaries of ADA compliance change, it is essential that you provide access to your site to all your users, in order to ensure you stay ahead of the compliance game.

Talk to Us About Making Your Website ADA Compliant

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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What Is a Local Citation?

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What Is a Local Citation

If you are a business owner in your community, you have probably heard about something called a local citation. You may have wondered what this term means. In simple terms, a local citation is any mention of your business on the internet. They can range from a partial citation such as a mention of your company name all the way to a complete citation that includes the company name, address, and phone number.

Does a Citation Need to Include a Link?

While a link back to your website within a citation can be helpful in giving your website an extra data point for search engines, it is not necessary in a local citation. Even without the link back to your website, the Google algorithm will still identify that your company was mentioned through the local citation information and give you credit for the mention. The more often your company is mentioned other websites, the greater your local ranking will be on search engines.

Structured Citation

These citations are located in a business listing directory such as:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Mapquest
  • Yellowpages
  • Superpages
  • Any other online directory such as your local chamber of commerce website

These citations will include the most information about your business such as the company name, address, phone number, website, and even directions or a map to your location.

Yelp and Facebook also include an option for customer of your business to leave reviews or comments regarding your products or service. These reviews are often used by potential customers or clients when deciding whether or not to visit your establishment.

Unstructured Citations

An unstructured citation is simply a mention of your business information on any website that is not a business directory. There are many places to find unstructured citations such as:

  • Blogs
  • Magazine sites
  • Newspaper sites
  • Wikis

Unstructured citations may include a blog about your products or services or even a mention of special deals your company is currently offering.

They may include a phone number or website link in addition to your company name but, this information is not required as long as your company name is mentioned.

Why Are Local Citations Important?

Local MapThere are two main reasons that local citations are extremely important for your business. The first is to verify that your business exists to search engines such as Google. If the only mention of your business comes from your own website, many search engines will struggle to verify that you have a legitimate business. By having your company name mentioned on other reputable websites, the search engines can easily verify that your business exists.

Local citations will also help you to establish prominence for your business in search engine algorithms. Have you ever wondered how search engines rank the pages that are displayed at the top of the results list? The algorithms for these search engines factor in citations when ranking local search results. The more citations your company has on the web, the higher your company’s listing will rank in search results. The key to ranking higher in the search results is to get your company name and information mentioned as often as possible throughout a variety of websites.

Are Some Citations More Important Than Others?

While having your company name mentioned anywhere will help you, having it mentioned on certain websites will help more. For example, having your company mentioned on the white house website will be more beneficial than having it mentioned on a small-scale blog. Citation value is separated into different classifications of importance.

Core Search Engines

Search engines are not distributors of business data. They receive the data and categorize it when determining how to display the information in search results. These include Google, Bing, and Apple Maps.

Primary Data Sources

These are the data collectors that verify information from a variety of sources and distribute the information to other sites. They include InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.

Tier 1

Tier 1 sites are the prominent sites on Google and are often used by people who are searching for businesses. There are two types of sites listed in tier 1, generic and Hyper-Local and Niche sites.

Generic Sites

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Yellowpages
  • BBB

Hyper-Local and Niche

  • Lawyers.com
  • Avvo
  • Denver.com
  • Physics.org

Tier 2

Tier 2 sites are still prominent on Google search results but may be lesser known such as:

  • Yellowbook
  • Merchant Circle
  • HotFrog

Tier 3

These sites are not frequently listed in Google searches and are not very well known by the general public.

  • Yellowise
  • Local Database
  • My Local Services

Tier 4

These sites have a very low authority and are rarely heard of.

  • IGotBiz.com
  • UnitedStatesSeek.com

When looking at citation options to get your business more attention from search engines, it is important to consider the quality of the citation.

Consistency Is Important

local citation mobileWhen it comes to local citations, it is important that each citation for your company lists accurate information. To do this, you will want to look at each site that features a citation for your business and make sure that there is only one listing and that the listing contains accurate information about your business. You will want to focus most of your attention on the Core Search Engines, Primary Data Sources, and Tier 1 sites. You should then verify your tier 2 citations as well to ensure accuracy within those sites. Tier 3 and 4 are the lowest priority when verifying citation accuracy as they will not make or break your SEO.

How to Build Local Citations

There are five important steps to follow when creating citations for your business. It is important to follow all five steps to ensure the best possible results.

Step 1 - Email Address

To create listings for your business you will first need an email address. It is always recommended when doing anything related to your company to use a company email address rather than your personal email address. This means an email address that is associated with your company’s domain not a Gmail or Yahoo address. Having a company domain email address will cause your listings to be more trusted and more likely to go live after creation.

Step 2 - NAP Consistancy

Be sure that your name, address, and phone number are the same on every site that your listing appears. The formatting may be different on individual sites and that is fine as long as the information contained in the listing is correct. Check to make sure no numbers have been inverted or swapped in the address and phone number fields and that there are no spelling errors in the company and street name. These errors may cause your listing to be less trustworthy and delay it going live.

Step 3 - Categorization

Read through all category choices and choose the ones that best describe the type of business you own. Then be sure to select the same categories on each site you are posting the listing to. This consistency will make it easier for search engines to verify your business and see that it is a legitimate company.

Step 4 - Details

Add as much detail as you can without going overboard. You can add photos, your logo, a description of your company, hours of operation, contact information for social media accounts and much more.

Step 5 - Verification

Claim your listing. Once you have created the listing on a site, most will ask you to verify the listing before allowing it to go live. This verification process will be done via email or phone. For phone verification, the company will call your business and request that you enter a pin number you had previously received or give you a pin number to enter online. Verified listings have more authority and a higher level of trust.

 

Finding Citation Sources

There are a few ways you can go about finding citation sources for your company listing. Which option you choose will depend on how much time and money you have to devote to the project.

Hire a Company

If you have the money to invest in the project but lack the time to do it yourself, hiring a company to do the legwork for you is a great option. These companies will find the most reliable citation sources for businesses in your local area and compile a list of the top citation sources for your local area.

Search for Citation Sources

You may also choose to search for citation sources on your own. This process can be lengthy but the rewards for your company will be great. Begin by finding the top national citation sources. These may include:

  • Google My Business
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • MapQuest
  • Citysearch
  • MerchantCircle

Once you have compiled this list of national listing sites, you can then look for citations based on your business category and location. Begin a search that contains your company type, city, and state.

Review that results of other citations for similar businesses. You can do this a general search or search out specific competitors and review their citations. This will help you to determine which direction to go while creating your own citations. You can accomplish this by searching for the following:

  • (city) Business directory
  • (city) Directory
  • (city) Business Listings
  • (keyword) Directory
  • (keyword) Business Directory
  • (keyword) Business Listings

map mobileWhen determining how to best optimize your local SEO, citations are considered one of the basic foundations for any company. Citations should be created before you focus on engagement, content, and link building. One of the greatest parts of local citations is that you never have to worry about them again unless any part of your business information changes. These changes may include moving to a new location, new phone number, make changes to the company name, etc. If any of these things occur, it is important to update your citation listings to maintain the most accurate information.

Get Help with Local Marketing

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 90: Why Negativity could be the Downfall of your Brand

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Vol. 90

One Bad Apple in Your Business Can Sour Your Brand in Seconds

Excuse us for taking a few minutes to shift business dealings to address an issue that is extremely personal, though within the last few years, has become a much more public affair.

As advocates for ethical media practices and representing many behavioral health businesses in their marketing efforts, we believe it would be irresponsible if we didn’t bring the following to your attention. This may not be for the faint of heart.

Perhaps you heard about the young woman in Malaysia, just 16-years old, who basically put her life’s worth out on social media.

No, this is not about her financial asets or her family’s sum total of net value. Davia Emilia deeply questioned her own value on this Earth and whether being here really mattered. Searching for an answer (though this act indicates ongoing emotional trauma, disconnect or both) Davia put the question out to her Instagram followers. Here’s what happened.

Should I stay or should I go? Should I live or should I die?

She received resounding responses and, of them, 69 percent were in favor of her own self-demise. So she did the unthinkable (to many of us) – she obliged her audience, and committed suicide.

This is devastating on so many levels. And as every business will encounter at some point or another, negative life circumstances can touch your business brand.

The following scenario is not meant to minimize the severity of Davia’s plight and unjust end, but to illustrate how anything, at any moment, can turn your business upside down.

What would you do if this young woman delivered her life or death Instagram post while wearing a polo shirt with your company’s brand name and logo on it? What if she presented her question to thousands of followers while sipping on your beverage product brand, which then got shared to millions?

How do you reverse, let alone predict, that kind of social marketing damage?

You can’t. And the negativity associated with your brand just hit the global stage.

This is the trouble with social media. You don’t have control.

While the story of this mentally distraught teenager may have little to do with marketing in the traditional sense, it does bring to the surface the issue of negativity in our social platforms.

If Fear Drives Our Messaging

Before we take for granted our content creation and brand positioning, let’s revisit how we prepare for the launch of any digital campaign.

Before You Go Live, Tread Lightly And Carry A Big Stick

Damage control is the aftermath of reputation management gone awry. For every action there is a reaction. If you choose to lead your brand marketing with negative output, be ready for the backlash.

If it’s attention you’re after, negativity can be effective but it’s not for the faint of heart and isn’t representative of the classy way to build your business. Though depending on your product, service, geo- and demographic targets, bitter, angry or depressive messaging can be effective.

How a Few Wrongs Can Make It Right

An integral part of building your brand, be it business or personal, is through a strategic development of company culture. Once established, it oozes out like oil off a pipeline rig rich with opportunity for all who touch it. Company culture is just one way that can pose negativity but provide a positive light.

Negative Spins that Turn into Marketing Benefits

  1. Boujee company culture
  2. Slapping the competition in your campaigns
  3. Guerilla marketing
  4. Social smut

While we advocate for long-term organic marketing, strategic outreach, and positivity whenever possible, there are instances where negativity used in discretion can be quite powerful.

A Final Note On This: If you know or suspect anyone who is having suicidal thoughts, please help them get help. Call 1-800-273-8255

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From the Eminent Team

Workplace Rudeness iMac Computers Open Desks - ESEO

Since When Did ‘Rude’ Become Acceptable in the Workplace?

Have you ever heard that no matter how beautiful one is on the outside, if they’re ugly inside it eventually shows? This affects business too.

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Wrong Social Media Strategy Can Cost You Thousands - Eminent SEO

Social Media Takeover: How the Wrong Social Media Strategy Can
Drain Your Marketing Budget

Nothing will test your marketing agility more than the social space. Do you have what you need to survive?

See Full Article

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 89: Remove your Disconnect in Client Expectations

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Client Expectations

Setting Business Expectations Early Saves the Relationship

When you think about it, most of us spend more time with our business associates and coworkers than our families and personal partners. It’s like a marriage of sorts but we don’t always have the opportunity to formulate a plan for the future and revisit those goals as often as we do with our loved ones at home. But maybe we should.

Not everyone delivers communication in the same way. Moreover, not everyone receives communication in the same way. This painful truth, left unchecked, will continue to set the marketing agency and client relationship at odds. Why?

We forget that behind the business titles and job responsibilities, we are all just people. How we perceive words, imagery, body language, voice inflection, and other clues that reveal how we think and the way we might act are often left in the digital dust. And no, emojis just won’t cut it here.

This is our greatest challenge: Knowing that we communicated expectations effectively and verifying that they were received with the same understanding.

But in this virtual age of how business gets done, not every marketing agency can take it old school and meet with clients face-to-face often. Though that would help.

If well-meaning and congruent intentions were enough to keep clients happy, we’d all be with the same advertising and SEO company for the lifetime of the business (or at least a 5-year span). But who does that? Nobody. Would it be easier if we did? Yes.

While we can’t promise that you’ll maintain the marketing alliance or client for an extended period of time, the following will help you get on the same page right from the get-go: from initial contract signings, scope creep, and unexpected business shifts.

3 Rules to Healthy Marketing Agency/Client Relationships

  1. Say what you mean.
  2. Mean what you say.
  3. Document it.

These must-dos will keep emotions on an even keel and help guide your initiatives as a collective transformation, taking ideation into realization with positive results. But your attorneys won’t be invited to this party, because expectations are best set when they are understood, revisited, and attainable. Here’s how.

Read More About Agency and Client Marketing Expectations

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From the Eminent Team

The Marketing Agency of 2020 A New Paradigm Is Around the Corner

The Marketing Agency of 2020: A New Paradigm Is Around the Corner

Creative and strategic agility are the foundations of marketing in today’s climate. Is your business ready for the next shift?

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What You Should Know About Inbound Marketing Before You Hire an Agency

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How to Gain Public Support for Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

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How to Gain Public Support for Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

Business owners and the employees that work in the medical marijuana community may not think about whether they have public support for their marijuana dispensary. And why should they when the primary focus is on serving the people who already find value in their products and services. But there’s a larger picture here that affects the long term livelihood of any cannabis-based company and it’s centered around neighborhood sentiment about the industry as a whole. If this speaks to you, without the support of local municipalities, businesses, and the people who live nearby, your marijuana business won’t have a leg to stand on.

Know the Legal Challenges of Marketing Marijuana

Enthusiasm is great when you want to open your doors with the intention of serving the public well. But intention doesn’t pay the bills; your customers help you do that. The playing field for the cannabis industry is tightly woven with regulations and laws that may have loopholes for constructing workarounds, if you can find them.

Although marijuana laws differ from state to state and invariably with the federal level as well, following specific laws pertinent to your state of business is paramount to setting yourself up for success. And while some states may seem to have more forgiving or gracious pathways to starting a cannabis business, government strategies have long been set up in a manner that won’t be in your favor.

This is why you need to hire legal experts in marijuana, real estate, and intellectual property.

Online Aspects

There are intricacies involved in the medical marijuana industry that don’t enter into any other business. And if your cannabis business is going to have a website, which it should, intellectual property may be involved. In addition, since the marketing of marijuana has other laws that must be abided by (especially when marketing products for sale online), you’ll need to know what you can say and visually display, and what you can’t. An attorney with expertise in cannabis will know how to properly draft the terms and conditions of your website, as well as what’s needed in the physical location of your operation.

Real Estate Aspects

Searching for and securing the right space for your marijuana business can be a lofty battle, likened to a chess game that you’re stepping into – with a deficit.

It isn’t about knowing what you need today to run effectively and efficiently, but foreseeing your needs one, three, and five years down the road. Even if you’re looking to rent space from a property owner, (if they are good with your business model) adjustments will most likely be required to accommodate your needs. Tenant improvements can easily be worked into the lease agreement. But unless you’re taking up an entire strip center or planning on being housed in a standalone facility, you will have to share your intentions with nearby tenants, property owners and homeowners.

This is where the challenges can come at you from all sides. We witnessed this in Phoenix, Arizona.

Embrace the Negative Nancys

A desired location for a medical marijuana dispensary is more than just logistics. The property has to come with the right zoning. If it doesn’t, a zoning variance is required. This is where it gets sticky. To prepare for the zoning hearing, other public meetings will take place designed to help the cannabis business acquire positive sentiment behind their proposed zoning variance request.

Here’s what can happen, and does.

By proposing your cannabis enterprise to the local residents (business and homes) you will be opening yourself, your personal and business brand, to a litany of ridicule and judgment. Not everyone is an advocate of what you do. In fact, there remains a lot of fear about it in the minds of many naysayers.

Marijuana Dispensary Marketing Tips

To have a viable shot at easing their fears, perhaps even removing them, give them a forum to speak. Make sure you listen to them. What the naysayers will tell you often provides the clues to what you’ll need to do to quell their negativity. If you can do that, they are less likely to show up at the zoning variance hearing and derail your plans for occupancy.

If a nearby homeowner is concerned about his family’s welfare and the risks that a cannabis store might bring, explain the characteristics of your security protocols. If privacy is an issue (should neighboring property back or side to the proposed cannabis shop location) discuss how to remedy it by adding height on an existing perimeter wall. Share your operating hours with them and come up with a plan that everyone can live with.

Marijuana Industry Advocacy Is a Full Time Job

Just like in any industry, not everyone is going to love you. But staying cognizant of potential setbacks fueled by misinformation or unflattering public sentiments will help you avert the same.

Top Tips for Public Support in Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

Public relations will have an impact on marijuana dispensary marketing, be it good or bad. To arm yourself and create a strategy ahead of time, you’ll need to map out potential challenges. Once you’ve identified them, generate a list of solutions for each challenge. This will save you time, energy, and money because you’re eliminating prospective setbacks to your business launch that would come with being positioned on the defensive, instead of the offensive stance.

Tips to Stay On Top of the Public Outcry

  • Stay current on state marijuana laws
  • Stay current on local legislation
  • Know key players in local government who are marijuana advocates
  • Forge positive relationships with other business owners who will speak well of you
  • Attend community and charity events
  • Host neighborhood meetings to show local support
  • Retain solid legal representation who knows the marijuana industry
  • Partner with a marijuana dispensary marketing agency
  • Keep facility security and employee professionalism as a priority

The Sweet Spot between Outreach and Off the Grid

It’s been said that people can’t criticize you if they don’t know you exist. True. But with easy access to people, places, and all the what-ifs and what-fors that fall within them, a point, click or swipe on social media makes staying silent a virtual impossibility, pun intended.

While it may be an initial preference to keep your cannabis business on the down low, it’s not a strategy that will give you any traction and credibility. If you want to be a leader within your community, take on what’s necessary to get you ahead, use the existing laws and regulations to your advantage, and leave the rest behind.

See How Public Support and Strategic Marijuana Dispensary Marketing Go Hand in Hand

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Vol. 88: Try These 5 Actionable Tips to Increase Conversion Rates

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Vol. 88

Careful How Your Webpages Lead, They May Not Follow

User behavior in any given target audience is often difficult to define, because consumers are always redefining what they’re interested in and how they act on it. As marketers, it can make us pull the hair out of our heads (that is, if we have any left).

To get a better grasp on digital marketing strategies and how to make websites and landing pages more effective, we decided to dive deep behind the façade of the screen and examine the methods behind the messaging.

What seems to be the crux of many a problem in conversion rates is that the information provided to the user doesn’t convey what’s “in it for them”.

Today’s user experience isn’t just about meeting them where they are in their personal or business sales journey, it’s about convincing them that whatever you have they need, NOW, the tangible and intangible. Unfortunately, this can’t be accomplished by relying on digital intuitiveness alone. This is when creative content creation, design display, and time-sensitive offers come in to play. Do it all right, and you are winner-winner-chicken-dinner!

You might still be convinced that you’re following best practices to increase rates of conversions. But something’s amiss. Remember, what is trending today is gone tomorrow. This is why we recommend basing your web presence on the best of what you have to offer and presenting it in a manner that resonates with trends and tried and true tradition.

When you execute digital strategies in this manner, should the trends change (and that’s what they do) your messaging won’t be completely off target.

Here Are 5 Less Known Strategies That Convert:

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully. Consumers today are natural born skeptics. Just because marketers tell them to do something doesn’t mean they’ll comply. Give them a compelling reason to act. And if you throw in a word or phrase that reminds them that what you have to offer is exciting, fresh, or the next greatest thing to sliced-gluten-free-bread, you’re golden. And the word free doesn’t hurt either.
  2. Use CTAs with FOMO. Call-to-actions are best voiced when it answers the when and why of a campaign. For example, most people won’t come in for a free Dairy Queen ice cream cone just because it’s offered. But, if you are providing this free offer to celebrate the first day of Spring, you give people a reason to blow their weight loss diet plan. And yes, there’s that free thing again.
  3. Start Social Prospecting. As long as you’re putting your best face on social media, do more than wait for followers to come to you. Now you can troll for them. Inbound marketers know this well: by hunting down potential prospects where they live on social channels, you’ll learn how to bring them to your site.
  4. Test Usability. Sometimes it’s what you say that sends a user elsewhere. Sometimes it’s how you said it – the tone, the color, the layout, or even the size and placement of a CTA button. Not sure what’s wrong? Face reality (as painful as it may be) by adding A/B testing to your pages. It’ll help distinguish what small changes are needed to get conversions on track.
  5. Location, Location, Location. Make your landing pages move to where the user is. With dynamic landing pages, your product or service is seen by a web user and includes location-specific information, making the consumer-product connection instantaneously easier, increasing the rate of conversion.

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A Guide to Getting Started with Instagram Sponsored Posts

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If you are a business owner or marketer, you know that social media is one of the top ways to interact with potential customers and get your brand out into the public eye. You have probably used Facebook to interact with existing and potential customers, and likely have heard of Instagram as an advertising and interaction platform.

Did you know that there are 1 billion active users monthly on Instagram? Of those 1 billion, at least half are engaging with not only friends, but with brands, too. Instagram users actually engage with brands 10 times more than they do on Facebook.

Using Instagram properly can make a huge difference in the engagement levels your business sees each month. One way to increase your brand awareness is through Instagram sponsored posts.

What Are Instagram Sponsored Posts?

Instagram sponsored posts are organic posts made by you on the Instagram platform that you can then use as an advertisement for your brand, so long as you put money behind it. Unlike traditional advertisements, you will use an existing organic post and all of its engagement to reach more Instagram users.

These will look like any regular Instagram post, but will say “Sponsored” next to your company’s name. Like this:

If you want to be able to target a specific audience, you should make use of true promoted posts. These posts will only appear on the Instagram platform. But, you can target them to a specific audience based on age, location and interests. You can add your website URL and even an action button to help drive potential customers to your website.

If you want to run engagement-oriented sponsored posts, you can choose a past Instagram post from your profile and use the targeting options that are available for typical Facebook and Instagram ads. The benefit of this type of sponsored post is that all engagement on and off platform will be transferred to the original post while the sponsored post is running. This increases your user-generated content (USG) and helps to spread the word of your brand.

How Are Sponsored Posts Different than Other Types of Instagram Ads?

Promoted and sponsored posts both focus on promoting existing posts as they currently are. This includes all user-generated content. Other types of Instagram ads focus on brand awareness, lead generation, conversions and traffic.

These ads will create new posts even if you are using the same image and caption as an existing post; they will not carry over comments left by users in the past on similar/identical posts. By creating a blank slate, you can’t capitalize on the engagement that exists on the original post.

When you initially create your sponsored post, you will be asked what the objective is for that post. You can choose from the following options:

  • Traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • App installs
  • Messages
  • Video views
  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Store visits

The option you choose will determine who sees your ad. Both Instagram and Facebook will only show your ad to people their algorithms identify as most likely to take your desired actions. This means you may have a hard time getting more engagement while also getting new leads by creating just one sponsored post.

Creating Instagram Sponsored Posts in Ads Manager on Facebook

Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can create sponsored posts that can populate both platforms. The Ads Manager is extremely easy to use when creating a sponsored post.

Narrow or Broad Target Audience?

First, you will go to Facebook’s Create Ad page and choose “engagement” as your objective. Once you have chosen your objective, you will then begin choosing your targeting:

  • You may choose to create a narrow target audience if your brand will appeal to only a certain type of person.
  • Or you may choose to keep your targeted audience as broad and general as you can.

This choice depends on your brand and to whom the sponsored post would be most relevant.

While having a broad and general audience may allow you to reach a higher number of individuals with your sponsored post, having a more narrowed target audience may just get you more engagement on the post coming from individuals who are truly interested in your brand and what you have to offer them.

What to Post, Where to Post

Once you have chosen your target audience, you will need to choose your placement and determine how much you want to invest in this sponsored post. Choosing the correct platforms will affect whether people will be able to view likes, comments and shares. This can affect the overall engagement the sponsored post generates.

Once you have handled all the logistics of the post, it is time for the fun part: choosing your creative. This is the step where you review all of your previous Instagram posts and determine which organic post you would like to use as a sponsored post. In many cases, you will have a similar post on both Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you select the Instagram version of the post.

The final step is to review your ad and submit it. During this process, you will want to check that you have chosen the correct post, the correct target audience and the correct objective for this sponsored post.

When Should You Create Sponsored Posts on Instagram?

Instagram sponsored posts are not ideal for every situation; whether you should use sponsored posts or the traditional ad system will depend on your ultimate objective for this campaign. Are you looking to simply get more attention to your brand, convert engagement into profit, or increase local store traffic? Then a traditional ad may be a better option.

However, there are four cases when a sponsored post can reap benefits for your brand and business:

  • Shoppable Posts: Instagram allows business owners to tag a product in their images and create a link for users to purchase a product they like immediately. These posts only work on mobile and the Instagram platform, so you will want to use sponsored posts with Instagram-only placements.
  • More Brand Awareness and Visibility: Even brick-and-mortar companies can benefit from sponsored posts on Instagram. These posts can raise the awareness of your brand while allowing you to engage with current and potential customers. This engagement level can lead new customers to your store.
  • Accumulating More User-Generated Content: Again, using an organic post with plenty of user-generated content will gain you more UGC on a sponsored post. When people see posts that already have a ton of UGC, they are more likely to take notice of the content of your post.
  • Leverage Your Existing UGC: Chances are you have at least one post that is doing really well in the engagement department. If this is the case, you should consider using this post in a sponsored campaign, as it will likely do well with a larger audience. As a bonus, the user-generated content it has already earned will carry over into the sponsored post.

Sponsored Posts and Traditional Ads Can Go Hand in Hand

Instagram sponsored posts in conjunction with traditional Instagram Ads can help you reach a diverse set of goals for your business. Traditional ads serve to drive specific actions, while sponsored posts are available to boost the momentum of your existing organic posts. When getting started, you should test out both and see which works best for your individual business needs. You will likely see differences in the way your audience responds to each type.

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