6 Rules You Must Know for Using SEO and SEM to Grow Your Business

If you’re managing a business, you know how important a web and mobile presence is. Whether you’re selling tacos, tiaras, or terabytes, customers need to be able to find you.

You’ve probably dipped your toe into the complex world of organic or “free” search, also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and paid search, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). But what do you really need to know about SEO and SEM?

I spoke with SEO/SEM expert Andrew Shelton, founder of the digital marketing agency Martec360, who gave me six rules that you need to pay attention to right now if you want to increase your sales through search:

1. Mobile is king

Need evidence of the importance of mobile? Some 96% of smartphone owners use their device to get things done. About 70% of smartphone owners use their phone to research a product before purchasing it in a store. Half of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

Furthermore, Google has begun to make its search index “mobile-first.” That means that Google will primarily index mobile content and use that to decide how to rank its results.

2. Paid search pays off on mobile

On mobile, paid search (SEM) is increasingly paying off. Shelton says he used to tell his clients to focus on free search (SEO) but with users putting mobile first, the continuum has changed.

“The greatest return on investment is email,” Shelton says, “because you have those customers in house. But paid search is next.” He estimates that paid search spending went up by factors of 25% to 50% in 2016.

3. Have a solid content strategy

The old adage is the new adage: “Content is king.” You need high-quality content for your website if it’s going to compete in the free search business. You can’t go about that blindly.

Consider what customer problem you’re solving. What customer questions can you be answering?

Do you have a mechanism for customers to ask questions? There could be a wealth of ideas for blog posts, FAQs, and buyers’ guides right there.

4. Social media is worth your return on investment

Social media can be vexing for many businesses. You definitely have to perform a cost-benefit analysis on it. Spending six hours a day sending out tweets that don’t lead to conversions is going to be a losing proposition.

Treat social media as “an engagement with an ongoing conversation with your customers,” Shelton recommends. “It’s not just for selling.”

In fact, if your social media channels are too hard-sell, they’ll be counter productive. You have to create value. Tools like Hootsuite, Falcon.IO, and Curalate can help.

5. Manage your online reputation

According to Shopper Approved, an app that helps its clients collect online ratings and reviews, 88% of all consumers read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business.

All of those reviews are part of the SEO equation. They can help you, or they can hurt you. But an app like Shopper Approved can help push more positive reviews where you need them.

6. Measure and monitor your progress

The only way you’re going see your business grow exponentially through SEO, SEM, and social media is to measure what you’re doing. You have to know where you’re starting, set some benchmarks, and monitor your progress.

Install Google Analytics. There is a plethora of other e-commerce tools you can use for analysis. Data is your friend. Get used to swimming in it.

And if you need help, find a consulting firm that understands your customer and your goals.

Just remember, effective search is process. You won’t get it right the first time. But you’ll get better at it with everything you learn.

About the author:

Kim Folsom is the Founder of LIFT Development Enterprises–a not-for-profit, community development organization with a mission to help underserved, underrepresented small-business owners – and Co-Founder and CEO of Founders First Capital Partners, LLC, a small business growth accelerator and revenue based venture fund. Learn more about Kim and her company’s mission to help grow and fund 1000 underserved and underrepresented small businesses by 2026 via their Founders Business Growth Bootcamp program at www.foundersfirstcapitalpartners.com.

 

Tech

Zoho’s latest pitch: Run your entire business for $1 a day per user

Zoho wants to be the operating system for your business. That’s how the company puts it, and what it means is that you can now get just about any application you need to run a business using Zoho One, which gathers all of Zoho’s applications for $ 30 a month per user.

Zoho One, announced and available Tuesday,  includes all 38 Zoho cloud-based applications, plus about a half dozen native apps as well more than 40 mobile apps. It offers centralized administrative control through an Admin Panel, which lets companies manage applications and define administrative groups as well as security and access privileges.

In the cloud era, the price of productivity applications in particular has come down. For example, Google offers G Suite applications for $ 5 per user a month. But Zoho’s applications span the spectrum of sales and marketing, including CRM; operations, including finance, recruiting and HR software; collaboration and productivity, including an office suite, email, and project management; and IT and help desk apps. Zoho also offers Creator, to build custom applications.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: What companies need to know about interconnection to succeed at digital business

What is interconnection, and why does it matter?

Interconnection is the deployment of IT traffic exchange points that integrate direct, private connections between counterparties. Interconnection is best achieved hosted in carrier-neutral data center campuses, where distributed IT components are collocated. In an age when reams of information race around the world with the click of a finger and massive transactions routinely occur several times faster than the blink of an eye, interconnection powers digital business.

Interconnection is much more than successfully connecting Point A to Point B. Telephone wires pulled off that kind of simple connectivity ages ago. Today’s enterprise-grade interconnection has some key characteristics that can help take digital business to the next level:

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Future-proof your business with cloud ERP

Today you face a choice. Be a disruptor or be disrupted. Beat or be beaten by the opposition. And while you’re weighing the options, every new digital development is making your margin for error smaller.

What you could have dealt with 10 years ago, before the availability of real-time data and digital channels, is now enough to be fatal. Company size, market share and market cap aren’t the only metrics that matter to a company. Digital value and innovation are increasingly important and with good reason. It’s about being able to create digital value and innovate – and that’s no longer just a nice-to-have.

If you’re like me, and billions of others, you expect customization and personalization. You’re unique. Your needs are unique. Why should your car or your Nikes be just like all the others?

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

‘Pick that cloud, lose our business’: What to do

Here’s a shocker: Wal-Mart is telling some technology companies that if they want Wal-Mart’s business, they can’t use Amazon Web Services. (Wal-Mart says it simply doesn’t want customers storing Wal-Mart’s sensitive info on AWS.) That’s a tall order for technology companies that may have invested millions in their tech running on AWS.

However, if you see it from Wal-Mart’s point of view, Amazon.com’s retail business is costing it billions a year in lost sales, so why not fight back by reducing Amazon’s AWS income from not just Wal-Mart but Wal-Mart’s customers? After all, Amazon.com refuses to sell products from Apple and Google that compete with its own streaming devices and services. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Making a business case for Alexa

I have been fascinated with the idea of a personal voice assistant since the day Amazon made their Echo devices available. Once in awhile I come back to it, try to write another skill, see what is new. I published a couple of articles on the topic. I struggle to find a good use case for a business application. A lot of it has to do with technical limitations.

On February 23, 2017, Amazon published a blog post celebrating over 10,000 skills. The good news is that this is a three-fold increase since September of 2016. The bad news is that the majority of the skills are solutions in search of problems.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

SAP has designs on new government business

Steve Ballmer’s latest hobby, USAfacts.org, cast a spotlight on the effectiveness of local, state and federal governments when it launched in April. Its easy-to-read dashboards allow ordinary citizens to compare government’s performance of its core missions with spending at all levels.

In a roundabout way, that’s made the former Microsoft CEO something of an evangelist for companies like SAP, which has released a new cloud service to help public sector organizations manage their spending.

USAfacts and OpenGov, a young company offering financial reporting, budgeting and publishing tools for the public sector, are stirring interest in ERP tools for government, and that’s creating opportunities for SAP to get involved in the sales cycle, according to Darren Koch, SAP’s chief product officer for small and medium-size businesses. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud

Oracle’s next big business is selling your info

There’s a decent chance you’re part of Oracle’s next big business. Not selling products to you, but selling you as a product. That’s the idea behind the Oracle Data Cloud, a massive pool of information about consumers and companies.

The tech titan has put it together by tracking people across the web and buying data from a variety of sources. People who have their data included may not even know that they’ve opted in for that data collection.

There’s no big red button that someone has to click in order to be a part of the company’s data collection machine. Instead, its base of user data is fed by a network of third parties. The Data Cloud is primarily fed by three types of sources: publishers, like Forbes and Edmunds, retail loyalty programs, and traditional data brokers like Experian and IHS.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud

Google Cloud growth is outpacing the company’s ad business

Google is still an advertising company, but the tech titan’s cloud business is growing faster than its advertising revenue. That’s one of the key take-aways from the company’s first quarter earnings report released Thursday.

Google Cloud Platform is one of the fastest-growing lines of revenue across Alphabet, the parent company that includes Google and other businesses like self-driving car maker Waymo, company CFO Ruth Porat said on a conference call with analysts. That growth is driven in part by a change in the way companies are working with Google Cloud.

“Over the last several months, we have noticed a change in the types of conversations that Diane [Greene] and her team are having with customers,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. “Increasingly, we are being asked to partner for mission-critical projects and full migrations, moving data from on-prem data centers to the cloud. We are seeing a meaningful shift, and this momentum is resulting in a fast-growing business.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Comcast Business offers direct connection to IBM Cloud network

Comcast Business announced Thursday it now offers direct, dedicated network links to the IBM Cloud global network.

The move positions Comcast Business, a unit of Comcast, to compete against AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada and telecom service providers already offering IBM Cloud Direct Link services.

Comcast Business already claims to be the nation’s biggest cable provider to small and mid-sized businesses. The IBM partnership could be a way for Comcast Business to grow, especially among larger businesses and enterprises.

Enterprises will have “more choices for connectivity so they can store data, optimize their workloads and execute mission-critical applications in the cloud, whether it be on-premise, off-premise or a combination of the two,” said Jeff Lewis, vice president of data services at Comcast Business, in a statement. Customers can select speeds up to 10 gigabits/second.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Why CEOs believe problem solving through data is the future of business

A recent statistic caught my eye: according to a study by IDG Enterprise, 53 percent of IT decision-makers report that their company is planning to implement a data-driven project, and specifically – a project with the goal of generating greater value from existing company data within the next year. [1] Within the same survey, 78% of respondents report feeling strongly that the analysis of big data could potentially fundamentally change the way their company does business, and 71 percent feel strongly that data will create new revenue streams and lines of business within three years. [1]

Now what makes this interesting to me is that at the same time, 90 percent of these same IT decision-makers surveyed report having directly experienced challenges in the use of such data – the same data that they predict will revolutionize the way their company looks at everything from business performance and revenue streams, to supply chain and HR. The major pain points are cited as data access and analysis (38 percent)), followed by data transformation (17 percent), data creation/collection (13 percent)), and migration issues (13 percent)). [1] At the same time as advocating data project spend, they have almost across the board experienced challenges in making their projects a successful reality.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Comcast Business offers direct connection to IBM Cloud network

Comcast Business announced Thursday it now offers direct, dedicated network links to the IBM Cloud global network.

The move positions Comcast Business, a unit of Comcast, to compete against AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada and telecom service providers already offering IBM Cloud Direct Link services.

Comcast Business already claims to be the nation’s biggest cable provider to small and mid-sized businesses. The IBM partnership could be a way for Comcast Business to grow, especially among larger businesses and enterprises.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Oracle promises IaaS growth as cloud business rises

Oracle’s third quarter financial results continue to show that the company’s future is in the cloud. On Wednesday, the company reported massive growth in its software- and platform-as-a-service businesses, promising further gains as its customers do away with their data centers.

The company’s SaaS and PaaS revenue from December 2016 through February 2017 was a little over $ 1 billion, up from $ 583 million during the same period a year prior. Its infrastructure-as-a-service business brought in $ 178 million during the same period, bringing the company’s total cloud revenue for the quarter to almost $ 1.2 billion.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Amazon Chime goes after WebEx, Skype for Business and more

Companies looking for a new video- and teleconferencing system have a fresh face to turn to in the market: Amazon Web Services.

On Monday, the public cloud provider announced the launch of Amazon Chime, a new service that’s designed to compete with the likes of WebEx, Skype for Business and GoToMeeting. It’s a powerful swing at some very entrenched enterprise software players by the public cloud provider.

AWS launched the service with native applications for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Chime’s infrastructure is based in the U.S., but Gene Farrell, AWS’s vice president of enterprise applications, said that the service can be accessed worldwide.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business gets Mac client, shared folder sync

Microsoft gave users and administrators of OneDrive for Business some new features on Tuesday that they’ve requested for a while.

The company also launched a new Mac client for its business-focused cloud storage service that can be deployed outside the confines of the Mac App Store. Users will also be able to sync files from SharePoint sites and OneDrive for Business shared folders to their desktops, like they have been able to for files that they own.

IDC Research Manager Chandana Gopal said in an interview that she saw the new features are Microsoft’s attempt to play catch up with other players in the enterprise cloud storage market like Box and Dropbox, which already offer Mac clients and broad syncing of all the files stored in their services. What’s more, Box and Dropbox are working on making it possible for people to stream files from the cloud to the desktop when they need them.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Designing your business for the 21st century

“Most companies are simply not designed to survive. They become successful on the basis of one big idea or breakthrough product,” says CEO Mike Walsh of Tomorrow, a global consultancy that helps design 21st century businesses. The companies that will thrive in the near future are the ones not only embracing change but breaking the rules. Learn how to leverage disruptive innovation, solve business problems with social networks and apply “the new lean IT mindset” to sharpen your focus on how future customers will think, talk and transact.
Computerworld Cloud Computing

Oracle’s infrastructure business focuses on bare metal to go after AWS

Larry Ellison made a splash this week when he said that Oracle would give Amazon a run for its money in the cloud. Then, the company outlined the pillar of the tech titan’s infrastructure offering: beefy, bare-metal servers running in the cloud. 

That’s right: Oracle is going after a market that’s full of virtualized workloads with servers that clock in with a whopping 36 physical CPU cores, according to Vice President of Engineering Don Johnson. Rather than starting from the low end of the infrastructure market and working its way up, Oracle is starting at the top and working its way down. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

3 key factors missing from your cloud business case

You want to justify some IT spending for cloud-based platforms. Your CEO or board has asked for a business case, and you’ve been scrambling to create one. Of course, you’ll include obvious items like capex versus opex. However, most business cases miss three important concepts:

1. The value of agility

Yes, again. The problem with agility in a business case is that it’s hard to define, as well as hard to assign a dollar figure. Agility rarely gets into cloud business cases.

But agility should always be considered in a cloud business case, even if in the abstract. If you can scale a server cluster in seconds without driving hardware and software buying cycles, what is that worth to the business? In most cases, I suspect it’s worth a lot.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Microsoft appears to be building a business app marketplace

Microsoft appears to be building a business app store. The company put online a test version of a service called AppSource that’s designed to help businesses find software that augments the Microsoft products they already use, such as Power BI and Dynamics AX.

The AppSource site was available Tuesday night at appsource.microsoft.com, but is down now. A description on its homepage said that users would be able to use the site to find software-as-a-service offerings from Microsoft and selected partners that they could try for free before purchasing them.

All of this appears to have come to light after someone developing the site at Microsoft accidentally made a test version of it available on the public Internet, where it was discovered by a prolific Microsoft leaker who goes by Walking Cat on Twitter.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing