Are your website, social and professional media platforms producing the kinds of traffic and conversion results that you have anticipated? You’ve spent countless hours adjusting your online presence to comply with previous search engine algorithm changes, primarily Google, to no apparent avail? This article will focus on those two elements to your online presence and how to get improved results for the new algorithm updates just released for 2017.
Once again search algorithm updates are changing the way we develop our web content on our websites and blogs and through social and professional media platforms.
Improving the Mobile Experience
First things first; you’ve heard of the buzz over the past year about the rapid escalation of mobile use for internet access. This story continues to move forward to the extent that you can expect that the same trends will continue for years to come. Previously we were focused on optimizing our website and social/professional media for greater visibility in search engine results pages (SERP’s) and advance preparations to ensure that our online locations are mobile friendly.
The mobile technology requires changes to web design well beyond what the average user is familiar with and experts handle that in their website builder designs. What you and I must get on board with right NOW is ensuring that your website or blog is indeed configured for mobile browsing. The background design work has been established and factored into web design and now the end users (ourselves) need to do a number of things to our websites, blogs and social media to further that mobile friendliness in order that when mobile users arrive at our site or page they have an optimum viewing experience, failing which they will quickly click out and move on with the search results elsewhere.
Responsive design is simply not enough. You need to be sure that all of your navigation and site elements are highly intuitive and convenient for your visitors.
Long form content now reigns supreme. Develop your content through lengthy articles that are comprehensive; that is, to fully and deeply cover your topic. Don’t glaze over with superfluous content that does not help readers solve their problem; give them lots of details that represent advice for your readers.
People are sick and tired of old news that has no depth and lacking usable information and meaning. You now need to do extensive research on your subject matter to enable you to produce information-rich long-form articles that provide value to your readers. I know what you’re thinking; now I have to spend hours researching from countless sources and writing even longer articles. I’m pressed for time more than ever.
Because there is such a high level of priority and focus now placed on long-form, information rich content, make that your focus and relax your post schedule to accommodate fewer posts. That way you trim the time factor while maximizing the quality of content you provide for your readers. Never lose site of the end objective; increased traffic, authority interest, followers/subscribers, engagement and conversion to sales or increased customers/clients.
Social Media in 2017
Your social and professional media platforms continue to be crucially important assets for reader engagement, pushing brand awareness, driving consumers to your landing pages, websites and blogs as well as other intended online destinations. That sequence of audience transitions furthers our SEO objectives.
Today, in terms of your social media accounts, the new order for audience engagement is to become much more actively social with your followers and non-followers alike and far less focus and posting on BUY ME, BUY ME, and BUY ME. Engage with your followers and other social media users on their own Tweets or Facebook updates and do so in a genuine, meaningful way that illustrates your interest and engagement in their interests. Stop the constant selling!
By interacting socially with fellow users you subtly support your own brand through the experiential authority of your comments, your voice online. Wherever possible, practice this user engagement with those whose own account platform has relevance to your own. Then and only then do you have something which is mutually interesting to each other to talk about. Demonstrate your brand expertise being sure that your comments are fully relevant to the other party’s interests as expressed in their Tweets/update posts.
Non-Business Engagement: Don’t lose perspective on the importance of social engagement. Drop your shoulders, remove your tie, kick off your shoes and relax with social engagements. Factor that essential time into your schedule.
Comment on others’ posts that you liked; tell them that you got a lot from their post and thank them by name. If there is no room to comment directly on their Tweet, reply to them or send them a private message with the same compliment. Share others’ Tweets or Facebook updates frequently. Shares are a critical way to expand your fellow users’ audience reach and you will find that they reciprocate accordingly.
Be sure to always use the other user’s name in your responsive comments; personalize your comment by saying: “Nancy, what you’ve shared here really resonates with me. Many thanks!” Then follow up with later interaction, perhaps by private message or chat, share more specific comments and develop two-way conversation in a meaningful way. Assure them that their article or post gave you useful, meaningful insights.
By following this approach you’re not just fluffing through your comments in an ingenuous attempt to grab their attention about you and your brand. People see through that façade immediately. Maintain your comments strictly about them and when they respond with meaningful dialogue, return the gesture with your own meaningful response and close the conversation by wishing them a great day/week.
Do you see the trend that is quickly emerging here? Switch gears and back off the sell, sell, sell accelerator pedal. Reduce the frequency of Tweeting/updates about your own brand and links back to your website or blog considerably. I know that sounds counter intuitive to what we have been practicing for so long yet the new world order online paints a very different picture than those of the past number of years where it was THE only game in town.
Place the sell factor on your website or blog and ads where it belongs. Those vehicles are the primary hub location online where your content marketing should rest, beyond which expand your targeted audience through advertising. Social media advertising continues to be a powerful medium. Transition quickly to being social in your social media platforms.
Social Media Platform Profiles
If you have designed your social media profile properly you have begun by inserting your name or business name at the top of your profile next to your profile photo which should be a nice, professional head and shoulders shot of yourself in business attire (smile, looking directly at the camera or slightly off center) or your business logo. Follow with your hashtag keywords that have the highest relevance and potential search terms that people will use to find what you have to offer. Those hashtag keywords are critical not only for search results but also to tell visitors what you have to offer once they land on your page.
Make sure you have included your business website or blog URL – a must to navigate people back to your website where the marketing process takes place. If character limitations become an issue, use a TinyURL or similar for the website or blog link. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is also linked through your social media profile and if there is still room add a short URL link(s) to your Facebook page. Add your location by city and province or state. This is especially important for the many that search for such services or products in their own locale.
A Word on Personal vs. Professional Pages on Social Media Platforms: I strongly advise that you keep your professional content on social media platforms separate from your personal pages. Why? Because the two do not mix for the majority of people. Keep the two separate and by having individual professional pages on each of your social media platforms and LinkedIn as well. On Facebook I opened with my personal page and when I launched my business I created a business page that focuses on the business end. I am also a published writer/poet and keep that aspect of my online presence separate as well. Many people hate users posting business content on their personal page; after all it is a social platform. Business has become a huge part of social media in recent years but keep it separate from your personal page, otherwise you may well suffer adverse effects of lower follower numbers and engagement accordingly.
Images & Video Media
Another critically important aspect of social media content is the use of high quality images and videos that will have relevance to your brand, or that of your targeted audience, and which add informational/beneficial value for your followers. While staying away from the BUY ME aspect of your content, link only to the relevant image/video source or related article.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a LinkedIn profile; if you are a business person, a marketing expert, a social media enterprise, a professional of any description or a writer, author or poet who is marketing their product, services or cause, or if you are job hunting or want to have a professional presence for business networking purposes and potential employer exposure, having a LinkedIn account is essential. The power of this mammoth professional networking platform cannot be understated.
LinkedIn Profile Image
A serious note to all of you who have a LinkedIn account for business purposes. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform with emphasis on ‘professional’. Time and time again I see profile photos that are cheesy, idiotic, circus fare, face jammed right up into the camera, comedic and contorted facial expressions, freaky colored hair and the list goes on. STOP THE GOOFY PROFILE PHOTOS. LINKEDIN IS A SITE FOR PROFESSIONALS. There is a rapidly growing furor over those kinds of playhouse mentality profile images.
Your profile photo on LinkedIn must be professional; make sure your appearance is professional. The profile image should always be a head and shoulders photo, hair groomed, clean-shaven, direct gaze into the camera with a nice smile (or slight turn for a partial side profile but only slightly). Wear a crisp, clean outfit suitable for your vocation. Take the photo while you are fresh for the day and not after coming home from a grueling 18 hour day or a night out on town. Looking stoned or otherwise inebriated turns people off fast. People want to be comfortable that in seeing your profile photo they would be dealing with a professional.
I see profile photos that are actually on the diagonal, fully sideways and some that are truly upside down. You want professionals to connect with you? Use photos like just described and they will click out in seconds and ignore your existence. Such photos have no place on a professional networking or marketing platform.
Disclaimer: I only make the foregoing comments about suitable profile photos, not to make fun or belittle anyone, rather, to illustrate the type of professional photo critical for the LinkedIn profile. Save the goofy, cheesy stuff for your socials.
Follow conventional practices in professional circles and avoid experiencing high bounce rates (quick arrival and click outs) that will render your LinkedIn page virtually useless in terms of professional activity and brand marketing and also reduce your website traffic drastically.
You are using the site to foster interest and drive traffic to your website or blog (whichever is your primary business/marketing platform).
Developing Your LinkedIn Profile
The profile page on LinkedIn is your place to sell your experience, talents and potential as a new employee, associate or business partner to those business professionals. The same holds true if you are marketing a product, service or cause. Put your best foot forward and work painstakingly on a quality, error-free, professional presentation of who you are, what you have to offer, what you have achieved and how to contact you. Get a professional friend to help you or hire a professional content writer or editor to get your profile fine-tuned to where it needs to be that tells other professions: “Yes, I want to be associated with this individual and/or their business enterprise.”
Much of my preceding comments on social media will also apply on your LinkedIn profile. Remember that your LinkedIn account is a professional networking platform – ensure that all of your content is just that…professional from top to bottom including your Profile page. I’ve linked my own social media and LinkedIn profiles at the end of this article for you to take a look at if you wish to help you employ best practices in your profile development.
Following is a partial screenshot of my LinkedIn profile page. Click on the visual to expand it for better viewing.
LinkedIn Profile Image
Use a high quality/resolution photo image of yourself (or your business logo) that is free of distortion. Image specifications are searchable if you are unsure of the most suitable image size to use for best quality image viewing. The image should be clear, sharp and as relevant as possible to your business or profession, services, product or cause. The importance of a professional appearance of the header image is as critical as the header image for your website or blog, often one and the same for brand recognition.
An incomplete, nearly blank profile page is virtually useless here. Even if your experience is minimal you should be able to draw on the experience, education and interests that you have acquired to date and as your experience and employment situation changes. Always remember to update your LinkedIn Profile accordingly.
The colors incorporated into the header image you select should mirror the colors that you have in your business logo. It all goes to brand association and recognition…an important aspect of on-page images. Remember that if you find this page unfamiliar or too difficult to develop on your own, seek the help of a professional associate or friend or even hire a professional writer or editor to set up your profile page. On-page optimization is also essential which many people are not fully conversant with. Your page must be searchable and place well in search results.
That very first field at the top of your profile must be carefully designed from your professional head and shoulder photo image (or logo) to your name and professional credentials and your business name. What follows is the most critical textual elements of your profile; your itemized list of products or services using highest level keywords (on-page optimization for SEO) which must clearly define what you do, what you have to offer and what key components of your business are.
If you are not a business or marketing professional but want a professional presence online, list your qualification/designation and key responsibilities
Be sure to provide your business contact-related content in the fields provided and make sure that this section is updated for any future changes so that the profile does not become outdated or containing dead links.
Use this relatively new feature for creating and posting your articles which showcase your brand with content that is rich in useful information that readers can use today. Present the most up-to-date information available as readers are frustrated by old news and click out fast. Write high quality articles that benefit the reader the most. Your content should be clear, concise and free of superfluous fluff that has no actionable value for the reader. Provide information that is of strong interest and benefit to your targeted audience.
Highlight what your key services, products or cause entails or your occupational summarization. Remember who your targeted audience is to profile the most relevant expertise and experience. Do not rush this summary development and make sure that keyword inclusion is carefully designed to alert search engines and pull traffic for those searching for what you have to offer. Ensure that your profile is showing up in search engine results pages (SERP’s). You can test your search visibility by searching with your name and or business name and city location as your search terms. Note: With new online pages or sites it will take some time before it appears in search results provided the proper on-page search optimization and your page/site ranking has been executed.
Begin with a clear and concise summary of what you do and then build your portfolio/project profile with those project or client services most significant to this profile and relevance to your targeted audience and related achievements.
Word this section for optimum interest and action on the part of your professional readers. The Portfolio section is also of great importance to potential employers, clients and human resources/recruitment specialists seeking to find just the right fit for their client position candidate searches.
If you develop your profile effectively you will find that over time you will begin to receive contacts from business professionals who wish to express an interest in your experience and expertise. It is a powerful tool with a broad reach, not to be underestimated. A well written profile on LinkedIn will translate into exposure to any number of opportunity levels, funnel traffic to your website or blog and social media platforms as well.
I cannot stress enough how critical this section is. If you have had wonderful professional business, client or customer experiences and relationships, be sure to seek their personal testimonials. By obtaining those attestations about your quality services or products, your business objectives are legitimized and create a buzz of interest. Be sure to obtain permission before posting those testimonials publicly. Extend your thanks to that client or customer and support them in some way as well.
Testimonials are a powerful statement that will help sell your professionalism and brand authority. Flogging yourself can be an endless and sometimes futile effort so make sure you acquire testimonials from your best, most appreciative clients; they will pay it forward in spades.
Experience & Employment History
Use a chronological or hierarchal sequence to listing your career/professional history. As you would with your resume, only focus on the history that is most relevant to your targeted audience, employer or business/job role. Be clear, concise and brief in this section. You do not want to overload information beyond the primary position, company and brief, most relevant responsibilities.
Outline relevant course studies that advanced your education and skill sets as relevant to the type of position you are pursuing moving forward in your career or that serve to further your expertise and brand relevance.
Skills & Endorsements
This section is critical for highlighting your top level skill sets and expertise. Do not rush or under-populate this crucial field. This is where more defined details of your acquired skill sets or expertise come into play. I have seen countless profiles that limit their skills list to only five or six points. Consider carefully what your functions were with each respective employer during your career to date. Hone in on those critical responsibilities and the essential skills required to do the work effectively.
The Profile allows for 51 different skills to be identified. Use this area to full advantage; exposure for your expertise to all those seeking your experience level i.e. business managers, human resources personnel and recruitment experts all searching to find the one individual that is the best possible fit for their client’s position search. Do not sell yourself short.
In tandem with the skills listings, once you begin to connect with individuals in relevant industries to your own, you will begin to see skills ‘endorsements’ provided by your connections on your behalf. Make sure that you reciprocate those helpful and important gestures and acknowledge the same by initiating conversations through private messaging. Develop relationships and trust, never rushing the selling aspect of your own brand. Through that engagement process you will increase the potential for business, job or professional partnering prospects.
Engaging with your contacts and relevant group discussions develops powerful professional networking activity, perhaps the most effective means of attracting new business customers and clients today. When networking, focus on what you can do for your contacts based on their own needs and not your own. Forgo the personal selling of yourself; that will happen through genuine conversation and in turn establish your brand authority.
Your educational history is fairly self-explanatory. Outline your key educational highlights and acquired qualifications, diplomas, professional designations, certificates or degrees. From this history you will want to emphasize those skills and qualifications that are most relevant to your career pursuits and at given time.
Do not miss out or skip over this section when you have educational qualifications. Display your highest (hierarchal) designations, diplomas, certificates or degree(s) here.
Another important section of the profile, just as it is in your resume. Do not skimp on sharing your interests, hobbies, life passions outside the office. Show your human side and what you do with your non-working hours; it paints a complete picture for anyone considering engaging in your services in any way.
Honors & Awards
Again, this is very important information. If you have been bestowed a form of honorary recognition for something you have done over the years, professionally or otherwise, don’t leave anything out, especially an award(s) from your employer. Such awards points to your highest skill levels, achievements and the potential to reciprocate with a new employer or business partner.
Getting involved with organizations that are relevant to your own employment or business is important. It can lead to important volunteer work and is certainly a powerful means to network with other business professionals in your community i.e. Chamber of Commerce.
Volunteer Organizations You Support
Volunteer work is an important aspect of your life and commitment to your community. Serving to help others in need is a powerful testament to character. It can also be a very rewarding experience for you personally and again paints a picture for anyone considering engaging with you on a professional level.
This is yet another critical element of the profile building process. When you have a solid experience with a client with whom you have had a good relationship, reach out to them to request a brief written attestation. As with a testimonial, that endorses your abilities in your industry or profession. Such statements are solid gold!
Emphasize a brief statement but if your experience with that individual has been very good, chances are that you will get a lengthier recommendation than you are anticipating! Always express sincere appreciation, publicly if suitable to do so, and pay it back in some way beneficial to the client or customer. Associates will also provide invaluable recommendations.
In summation, invest in the time and energy needed to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is all that it can possibly be. The fruits of your labor are potentially considerable. You will connect with the most amazing, influential individuals, converse in relevant professional groups, network with like minds that move mountains and establish a strong presence in the worldwide professional community.
© Don MacIver 2017; All Rights Reserved