Author: Bonnie Harris

Beth and I are always talking about the need to provide variety on your website to really engage your readers.  Much as I hate to say it, cereal companies tend to do a good job of engaging kids through games, sound, video and other media that really grabs their attention. One industry we can all learn from is the financial services industry. Perhaps it's because they're often viewed as the most "boring" industry - they need interactive websites that will not only engage, but also inform the visitor.  I don't know exactly what a surety bond is, but when I was sent the SuretyBonds.com site by an online marketer I realized this was a perfect example for us to review here. Weigh in...tell me what you do and don't like about the site. Here are my two cents:

Whenever I meet with new clients they want to know how we're going to use PR to reach their clients. Imagine their expression when I tell them we're not going to message your clients. I tell these shocked folk in most cases, public relations does not translate to direct sales.  If they want to sell directly to their clients, go buy ads. If they haven't kicked me out at this point, a client will usually ask (in a sarcastic tone that increases in direct proportion  to the size of his or her company/wallet) "So why should we pay you all this money?" First of all let's deal with the fact that most of us only see the really big public relations bonanzas. For someone who hasn't worked with PR a lot, or who has had a bad experience with PR, that's your point of familiarity. The first thing that needs to happen is that expectations need to be reset. Sure, there is the occasional huge hit that turns a lesser-known product into an overnight seller. Oprah's book club was a great example. But those are very few and far between. If you get them, and then the more important caveat if they work, you win the public relations lottery. We always try but it very rarely happens. So what's the answer to my clients' question?

[caption id="attachment_3297" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Sire, methinks you need more links. "][/caption] Google Panda has made it even more essential that you use high-quality links in your blog posts - and all of your web content for that matter. But you have to know what constitutes a ‘high quality link’. Some may have more rigid ideas about what this means, but I think there is some room for interpretation. Too many low quality links can hurt you in the long run. Here are three good suggestions for finding links that add value to your blog or site: 1) Leading sources – government sources, top industry blogs etc are the ones that Google considers the most reputable. These sites do offer a way to put some quantitative research into an article that you’re writing, so they’re good for more than simply ranking benefits.

Simply sending out regular, interesting tweets that your target market might find useful or informative is a good first step, but in order to get the best out of Twitter it's worth actively searching for relevant users and content rather than sitting back and waiting for it to come to you. Increasingly, sites like Twitter and Facebook are used for finding services. Sure, you could trust Google to find a mechanic nearby, but most of us would prefer a recommendation from a real person. Either we ask friends, family members, and colleagues if they know a good one or we turn to social media. Tweeting 'Anyone know a good cheap mechanic in San Diego?' is the work of a moment or two. Monitoring Twitter traffic for queries relevant to your field and location is very easy. Tools like Monitter.com and TweetBeep can be set up to watch for them. A smart San Diego mechanic would get an email alerting them to an opportunity and if they're quick, they could pick up a valuable new customer with a simple, helpful reply. Industry-specific monitoring is also a great way to find sources of useful information and news that's relevant to your company. Other Twitter monitoring tools can help a small business figure out the effectiveness of their engagement. 

It happened. My digital footprint just kicked me in the badunkadunk. First of all, let's clear this up - I was never a WAITRESS at Hooters but I did write for the magazine for a few years. It was a fun gig - I had rodeo clowns flying over my head at the national PBR championships, I interviewed the WWF tag team champions and I even got to see the finals of the UFC. But a client just turned me down for an engagement because I didn't have an "appropriate" list of clients for them. For most people  my fun freelancing days with Hooters Magazine are an interesting anecdote. For these guys apparently not. So this is where we ask the question...how much should we try to control our digital footprint?

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve explored the cons (and pros) of Google Panda as well as some tips to make sure your blog meets the new criteria. This week, I want to look a little bit more generally at the things that you need to do if your website has already been hurt by Google Panda.

Today we tap into the brilliant (if somewhat twisted) brain of Ayushman Jain, 20-something IBM engineer and writer from Bangalore. In the age of cosmetics, botox and anti-aging creams are we paying enough attention to our online "appearances?"  Is your website design just putting off traffic on a daily basis because it too is out of date? Simply put, do you come across like an old fuddy duddy on the Internet? These are just a few hard facts that need a reality check every now and then as one spends more time creating content. Internet standards have changed a lot in the past few years. So has the  of audience and the kind of content  they're looking for. The most important thing for a dope site has become the content quality and variety of your online presence. Your website will lag in rankings and traffic if it doles out advice that makes you sound like a crabby old aunt. Here are a few tips for keeping up that youthful attitude in your content:

It's really hard to sell yourself and reaching out to bloggers to offer a guest post can seem really intimidating. I was going to write more about it today but instead thought I'd take the initiative (translate: feeling lazy) to find a few of the better posts on guest posting out there. These are some folks (some known, some not so known) that seem to write well on blogging topics - each has written about the topic from a different angle, so I hope it's helpful for you. Here you go: