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3 Absolute Turn-offs to Avoid in Your Web Content

We’ve all pretty much warmed up to the idea that, to succeed in today’s search engine-oriented marketing sphere, content is paramount. RRR (Regular, Relevant, and Reliable) rated content. And that’s tricky, because quality takes time, and time runs in short supply these days.

If you’re like many other small business owners who’ve found themselves opening a blogger account one caffeinated evening, reading a few crush-guides to SEO, and spending every spare moment since clickety-clacking on those keys, the last thing you want is to see those precious moments going to waste.

Here are three common turn-offs to look out for in your web content if you want to avoid sending your hard-earned readers squirming for the ‘Back’ button:


Bias occurs when your content is evidently trying to promote a given idea or action by providing only partial, slanted information. People don’t like to be coaxed. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have and promote your own opinion—you certainly can, especially if it’s relevant—but you must argue your way through in a balanced way so that readers may follow your reasoning and form their own conclusions. As rational beings, we enjoy appeals to our intellect; what we cannot stand is manipulation.


No one likes salespeople. Why? Because they’re always trying to sell you on something! This goes back to what we mentioned about bias: people hate feeling coaxed. Avoid salesy copy or trying to ‘herd’ readers into buying your product. Instead, provide useful information, advice, and guidance that will demonstrate your value. People are naturally drawn to value, and if you’ll stand out as a valuable resource, they will naturally want to follow.

Spelling & Grammar

Spelling & Grammar are the nuts and bolts of writing (we’ll even throw in Punctuation as the glue to hold our metaphor together). You may have the best ideas in the world—but start structuring your article without paying close attention, and your grand cathedral will turn hunching over weak joints like a literary Quasimodo.

Internet readers may be a bit more lenient with minor grammatical errors (not to say that you should bank on it)—but spelling errors stick out like sore thumbs. So make sure you give your text another pass once you feel satisfied with all the other elements (structure, flow, etc) — and strictly focus on proofreading.

Quick tip: Look out for homophones (words that sound the same but spelt differently, like ‘To’, ‘Two’, and ‘Too’) as these can be the worst culprits. A window instead of a door can make even an otherwise worthy building appear laughable, and the same goes for your article.


It’s hard enough to find the time to update your blog, and the last thing you want is to realize that time has gone wasted because your readers never seem to return. A simple exercise is to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. What would you want to read about? What kind of writing style do you find engaging? What attributes and practices do you appreciate when looking for information on other websites?

It’s easy to shift into your business mind—but we’re all customer at some point in the day. Simply reminding yourself what it feels like on the other side of the counter can often be enough to get into the right mind frame.

Happy writing!

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  2. Inbound Marketing University: a Great Resource for Small Business Owners
  3. 5 Tips to Help You Effectively Use Landing Pages to Generate More Qualified Leads
  4. Google Panda Update: The Dawn of a New World Wide Web?
  5. Google’s New Direction: Content is King

posted by Anonymous @ 10:09 AM

Embracing Your New Responsibility: Businesses with Blogs as Internet Publishers

If you run a blog, quality content should be on your mind. Not just because Google has began implementing a series of algorism changes to rank quality higher, but because, as an internet publisher, you have a responsibility before your readers.

“Hey, who do you call a ‘publisher’?”

If you’re one of many entrepreneurs who got into this awkward position somewhat reluctantly—not out of any specific passion for the written word, but simply to keep up with the requirements of today’s marketing sphere—you may not like to think of yourself as one. You might say to yourself that you’ve only opened a blog—an unassuming little corner of the web—to promote your own business and couldn’t care less about writing, ideas, or any of that ‘artsy’ stuff... but that doesn’t matter.

The moment you begun putting content out there for public consumption, you became an internet publisher. Now the only question that remains is what kind of publisher do you want to be?

The Reluctant Publisher’s Dilemma

There are many choices out there, and more than a few are less than savory. You must make a decision about where you’re going to draw the line.

Is it enough to just slap a few sentences together and click ‘upload’? Whip up a bowl of keywords, pour into a tray, and bake for 15 min? Cut-and-paste a collage of virtual cut-outs? Perhaps hire an article spinner?

The point is, should you just do only the bare minimum?

The answer is ‘Definitely not!’

“Why not?” someone’s ought to be jumping at the back. “It’s quick, easy, and gets me the results I need!”

That’s a half-valid argument, but I’ve got an answer-and-a-half for you: because it shows.

Long-term vs. Short-term (or true Enterprise vs. fly-by-night schemes)

I could go on about polluting the blogosphere and dumbing down the population; about destroying the language and corrupting young minds—but you’re a practical man, so let’s just cut to the chase and talk business.

There are two ways of looking at your industrious efforts: as a long-term enterprise, or as a short-term scheme.

A long-term view assumes that you want to build something that will last. A short-term view means that you’re just out to make a quick buck and close your doors the following morning.

I don’t take you for a fly-by-nighter, so let’s just assume we’re both here for the long haul.

There are also two ways of evaluating any given campaign: long-term success vs. short-term results.

While we all feel the occasional sting for instant gratification, most of us grow wiser because we understand that short-term results can’t always guarantee long-term success, and that long-term success often involves short-term pains (just ask any successful investor).

When it comes to writing your content, a short-term view is writing for search engine robots, and a long-term view is writing for the human beings that use those search engines.

Writing for Humans vs. Writing for Machines

When writing for machines, you’re basically trying to guess what search engine algorisms are up to in the background and optimize your content to hit all the right spots. This approach is doomed to failure, not only because it’s virtually impossible to know for certain what the algorisms are doing, but because the algorisms undergo constant improvements and evolution.

So, even if you (theoretically) optimized your content to perfection at any given time, cramming it with all the right keywords to satisfy the hungry bots—what happens to your page when the algorisms change? If you were only concerned with plugging in the right attributes rather than with providing coherent, relevant, and engaging content, your page is going down the virtual drainpipe—which is probably right where it belonged in the first place.

(That’s exactly what happened with Google’s Panda update—you don’t hear much talk about ‘keyword density’ lately...)


Because, even though Google (and other search engines) utilize machines to process and evaluate information—they know that machines aren’t their end customers. Their true customers (and your audience) are the human beings who search, find, and read information using Google's service. Since Google, too, has taken a long-term view, their goal is to constantly improve their customers’ experience. This means bringing more relevant search results—and relevant search results aren’t pages where the search phrase shows up repeatedly; they’re pages that say something meaningful about the subject of interest.

Now let’s look at the flip side, suppose you had written great content that wasn’t very well optimized for the robots. It may have dragged slowly through obscurity up the search engine pothole—but it’s there. As the algorisms continue to improve and learn to distinguish quality, your diamond-in-the-rough will start pushing its way upwards and—most importantly—when people find it, they’ll actually find it useful (unlike the SEO-laden verbiage that will go spiralling down).

The point is that, in the long-run, quality has nowhere to go but up (and the reverse goes for the reverse)

Too often companies make the mistake of thinking that the important thing is only to be found—in any way, shape, or form. But even a child soon enough learns to distinguish between positive and negative attention. Being found with your pants down (or in any other equivalence to literary embarrassment) is actually worse than not being found at all.

After all, you only get a chance to make a first impression once, and the last thing you want to do is to blow it.

Besides, when you make an investment to create or acquire content, wouldn’t it be wiser to get something that will actually hold a lasting value?

So what should I do, not optimize at all?

The sensible suggestion is to focus on your content when dealing with the on-page aspect of your blog/site, and to optimize off-page (read this article from Hubspot for some great suggestions on both). Of course, there are things you can do on-page, like use proper title-tags, alt. text, etc, that won’t take away from your content and will improve your ranking, but the important thing on-page is to write compelling content. Do that, and you can’t go wrong.


Whether you like it or not, Publishing is just another hat you’ll have to wear. But you can still decide how you’ll end up looking. If you’re going to wear it, wear it with pride. You wouldn’t do the bare minimum in any other area of your business—why start here?

Customers can tell when you really put your heart into something. So give it your 100%. Remember—it shows.

Related Articles:

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  2. Inbound Marketing University: a Great Resource for Small Business Owners
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  4. Google Panda Update: The Dawn of a New World Wide Web?
  5. Google’s New Direction: Content is King

posted by Anonymous @ 4:46 AM

Are you ‘Chatting’ with Your Customers? Consider Adding Live Chat to Your Business Contact Methods

In a recent post we mentioned that the ‘business’ of a business to offer variety—this goes for products, and this goes for contact methods. We’ll be the first to say that phone is a great method of communication (after all, we are in the phone business), but we’re also the first to say that it’s not ideal in every situation, and that it can certainly be complemented by other options. That’s right—a variety of contact methods can actually work in conjuncture with one another to increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

But you probably don’t just want to hear it from us...

A recent survey conducted by Avaya found that, out of over 5000 global customers, 40% preferred alternate contact methods like web chat, self-service, and text messaging, over phone-based customer service. Another survey, by the research company Clickfox, further refined this observation by separating “Simple, repetitive tasks...where between 40% and 80% of customers indicated using the web” and “more complex interaction types” where “they will try to reach a live service agent between 40% and 70% of the time.”

The “simple tasks” can be managed by an IVR; it’s the “more complex” types that clog down your phone lines and tie up precious resources. This brings up a question: “Isn’t there a method other than phone that can effectively connect customers to a live agent?”

The answer is Live Chat.

Live chat is like a hybrid, or a happy middle, between phone and email—bringing the best of both without the downsides of either for a fraction of the cost (see our comparison table below).

Live Chat, Email, Phone Comparison Table

Another interesting infographic released by Clickfox that surveyed over 400 customers to assess the viability of Social Media as a customer service platform offered an insightful breakdown, averaging the percentage of users using any given contact method and the cost per interaction. Here is the lowdown on our relevant three: 40.2% call Customer Service at a whooping $15/interaction, 16.9% send an email at a conservative $3/interaction, and 15.7% use instant chat at a modest $5/interaction.

But Live Chat is not not just cost effective 'out of the box', it can help you save further by taking on some of your incoming traffic and reducing call volumes. This can help you keep within the limits of your monthly virtual PBX plan. What's more, the customers who do chose to call will experience faster service and have a better experience.

Of course, nothing is for everyone, and Kim Boatman of warns that if you’re going to do it, you better do it right. That’s always a sensible suggestion, and the article goes on to outline a list of questions to help determine if chat is right for you.

The gist of it? Make sure you can afford to put in the time or to hire someone who will—and, if you're going with the latter option, make sure that ‘someone’ can actually provide quality service. You don’t want to just populate the chairs with scarecrows—they may not be very effective at scaring away crows, but they’ll surely send your customers flying the other way!

So how do you get started?

Assuming you’ve decided that chat is right for you, the next step is to get set up. Luckily, there’s a wide array of solutions, ranging from the free to some that will set you back several thousands of dollars. Conversation Support is an excellent option if you want to stay within the family. A contact center might be a good solution too, especially if you're already using one for a live-answer service. Some, like Answer Connect, include Live Chat in their standard packages and won’t charge you anything on top of your per-minute rate.


While our latest addition of SMS-enabled phone numbers already expands your arsenal of contact options, there are always proactive steps you can take on your own to make your service more accessible. Instant chat is an excellent tool and will likely become even more popular as consumers grow increasingly savvy and stop shying away from virtual solutions. If you think it’s something that can fit your business, you’ll definitely want to give it a try.

Chat away!

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posted by Maty Grosman @ 10:34 PM

Inbound Marketing University: a Great Resource for Small Business Owners

inbound-marketing university-banner

You may think that marketing is something only marketers should worry about, but that’s a pretty narrow view. After all, how will you know that the new wiz-kid you just hired out of college or the freelance consultant you brought in at no small risk to your wallet is steering you in the right direction?

Anyone can brand themselves as anything in today’s changing marketing world, but you’ll be the one ultimately paying for their service (or disservice). That’s why, tempting as it may be to just hand off control to an ‘Expert’, it’s important that you at least have a grasp of the fundamental principles involved to properly evaluate their advice.

Luckily, there’s a great resource that can quickly bring you up to speed. Most importantly, it won’t set you back a dime!

What’s Inbound Marketing University?

IMU (or Inbound Marketing University) styles itself as “a community website for marketers” and “a place where marketers can learn, share knowledge and build relationships.” It’s essentially an archive of useful workshops and educational material available to anyone with interest.

Who’s behind it?

The community and program are powered by Hubspot, a fast growing inbound marketing firm that has recently secured 32 million in VC funding. Hubspot offers a paid service consisting of customized SEO tools to help businesses manage their marketing campaigns, as well as free tools and other marketing resources.

Does this mean the program is biased?

While the community has evidently been set up as a promotional vehicle for Hubspot, this fact by itself by no means represents a conflict of interests. IMU’s website features a wealth of quality material that can be of real value to potential prospects, casual readers, and even possible competitors. If anything, it reinforces the fact that self-promotion and value should naturally go hand-in-hand rather than head-in-head—and at the very least, shows that the folks at Hubspot put their money where their mouth is.

As further points of validation, IMU’s program has been adopted by major colleges and MBA programs including Harvard Business School, Northeastern University and UMass Dartmouth. The crop of ‘professors’ consists of accomplished marketing professionals in their own right, which indicates a further effort at diversification and objectivity.

Having reviewed a good handful of their webinars, there was nothing that seemed ‘salesy’ or otherwise disingenuous; to the contrary, the workshops were very well thought out and evidently concerned with communicating relevant information.

What will I learn?

The Inbound Marketing program consists of 18 one-hour classes in the form of interactive webinars and 10 reading assignments (here’s a complete breakdown), with optional homework and a final certification exam. While the last two are evidently geared more towards marketers, the educational material can be of great asset to business owners—running the gamut of inbound marketing, basic and advanced SEO, social media, lead capturing, lead nurturing, and conversion to complete a well-rounded view.

The material is exhaustive enough to lend a good grasp of fundamentals, but not so exhaustive as to start losing the forest for the trees. The presentations are clear and engaging—combining audio with visual slideshows—and you can even get them as podcasts on iTunes (especially useful for individuals whose time is already stretched to the limit and may want to listen on the go).

Best of all, the classes and material are always there when you need them, so you can truly take things at your own pace.


Inbound marketing is the perfect solution for small businesses, where creativity and dedication count more than deep pockets—and small business owners tend to have plenty of both. With Google alone processing 1,000,000,000 search queries every day and 97% of consumers doing product research online, there’s really no question that the web has become a dominant marketing platform. Now, with free education, there’s also no reason you should stay behind the times.

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  3. Google’s New Direction: Content is King
  4. Google Panda Update: The Dawn of a New World Wide Web?
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posted by Anonymous @ 10:29 AM