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Author Biography:

Stephanie Taylor Christensen  is a freelance writer who covers personal finance, career, health,and small business news. She is the founder of Indebtedless and Om for Mom prenatal yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter.@STCWriting or www.stephanietaylorchristensen.com

Maximize Your Online Presence In 2015
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen Friday, March 20, 2015
Having a content strategy is an important aspect to ensure that your business appears in search results when prospects and customers are looking for the items you sell. But keeping up with the ever-changing rules of search engine optimization and content marketing can be a daunting task, particularly when you’re a small business owner wearing many hats. Here are a few simple ways you can tweak your content strategy in 2015 for less waste, and more impact. 

Stop Wasting Time On Link Exchange.

Swapping links with other websites and blogs used to be a key strategy in boosting and maintaining a website’s search engine ranking. (SEO is marketing-speak for increasing the likelihood that you’ll appear in the first, second or third page of results generated when someone uses a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo to find a business like yours.) Though search engine rank is still critically important to ensuring your businesses’ online presence, the quantity of websites linking to yours is increasingly irrelevant. In fact, links from websites that have nothing to do with your industry, or that are for some reason deemed not credible in the eyes of the search engine’s algorithm could actually hurt your page rank, making you “guilty by association.” Though a publicity mention or guest post opportunity in a reputable and relevant publication is never bad for business, don’t waste your time acknowledging emails offering link exchange, or free content in exchange for a link.

Revisit Your Keyword Strategy.

It takes an investment to manage your search engine relevance, whether in the form of your time and energy, or money you pay a third party to strategize and write content. Despite that, the quality of information on your site is critically important to position your business as a force to be reckoned with in the online space. (Even if you don’t sell products online). Check in with Google’s Adword Keyword Planner to gain a sense for the terms and phrases that are most relevant to your business, and prospective customers right now. The key to successful content marketing in 2015 is knowing the keywords and phrases that your target audience uses in search, and defining which you will address in relevant, informative content, based on what the keyword tool indicates. Though you’ll want to be mindful of how realistically you can compete with high competition, high volume search terms, it’s likely more beneficial to prioritize how you’ll address common search phrases versus aiming for obscure phrases that will win you a top page ranking—but only for a handful of visitors looking for that term. 

Check In With Your Site Architecture.

Your site’s architecture may need to periodically change course to reflect your audience’s changing search activity.  If you identify that “organic bath products” are high priority keywords, for example, it may also make sense to incorporate category pages like “organic soaps for spring” to deepen engagement once visitors come to your site. Incorporate the relevant phrases you identify into your text-based content as well as in descriptions for photos, product and package images, and videos.

Play With Your Creative Potential.

The easier you can make your content to digest, the more likely visitors will be compelled to share it with others. Shared content is akin to free marketing for your business; leverage the opportunity, and have fun! Social media automation provider Postcron reports that 61% of content that gets shared contains interesting info, which is of course, determined by its relevance, as perceived by how appropriate it is to your audience. Nearly 50% of content goes viral simply because it’s entertaining, and funny. When you’re too time pressed to create something clever, use the (free) tools that do the heavy lifting for you. For example, Recite (http://www.recitethis.com/) allows you to search for a quote and automatically craft it into an image. In less than three minutes, it’s primed and ready to be published onto Faceboook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+. Similarly, Pinwords (http://www.pinwords.com/) allows you to place text onto an image you may have on hand, making it simple to transform product images and other lifestyle photography you might own into an image that’s compelling to your audience, without feeling overly “promotional.” 

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