How an Orlando Attorney Uses Social Media for Business

From time to time in this blog, I’ve shared different tips and strategies for using Twitter and other social networking sites to grow your business. Whether it’s retweeting other people’s blog articles, or doing a #FollowFriday shoutout, using Twitter and social media successfully comes down to one main concept: it’s all about building relationships.

That concept is what led to the topic for today’s article. For several months, I’ve been trading tweets back and forth with Orlando attorney Steven Kramer. In this interview, Steven shares his experience with social media and how he’s been able to use it to build his law practice.

Continue reading…


My Top 5 Free Keyword Research Tools

[tweetmeme]SEO By Gloria Rand

Getting your website, blog or social media posts found online depends on implementing a successful search engine optimization strategy. And the first step in launching any SEO program starts with keyword research.

Once you come up with a list of words that you think people are using to search for your product or service, don’t just start writing copy with those words. What you think are effective words and what other people are actually using to search may be quite different. So it pays to double check your words with some online keyword tools. You may find some alternative keywords and long-tail search phrases that will be more effective in reaching your target audience online.

Here are a few of my favorite resources for keyword research:

Free Keyword Research Tools

1. Google AdWords

Even though Google AdWords is meant to be a resource for pay-per-click ads, you can still search for words that can be used to help your site rank organically. Simply type in a keyword or a URL of your own website or a competitor’s site, and Google will give you 100 related keywords and phrases to choose from. You can export all of these words into a CSV file. Or if the results include too many keywords or phrases that are not related to your query, choose the ones you do like, and select the “more like this” option to get additional words to choose from.

2. Wordtracker’s Keyword Suggestion Tool

Unlike Google AdWords, this search tool gives you only ten results for free. While Wordtracker is an excellent resource for long tail keywords, you have to pay to take full advantage of the service. Here is an example of the results Wordtracker provided for the phrase “business networking groups”:
Wordtracker free keyword tool results

You can sign up for a free seven day trial, which will give you 100 results for each query. After that, the service costs $69 a month and delivers up to 2,000 keywords per search. You can also measure the level of competition for any keyword in Wordtracker’s database and check KEI or the Keyword Effectiveness Index to hone in on words with high traffic and low competition.

3. KeywordDiscovery.com – As with Wordtracker, you’ll have to sign up for a free trial account to use Keyword Discovery’s service. The free version allows you to do 50 searches per day, but you only get 10 results each time. Those results include trends, but you can’t check domains.

Keyword Discovery sample results

When you click on “analyze,” Keyword Discovery gives you the percentage of searches that generated a click on one of the search results. if you subscribe for their basic plan at $69.95 a month, you get full access to all the keyword databases. You can do 1,500 searches per day. Up to 1,000 results will be displayed, including three domain research results.

4. SEOBook.com – Unlike Wordtracker & KeywordDiscovery, SEOBook.com provides a free account that lasts indefinitely. (I’ve been using it for over 2 years.) Their keyword results are powered by Wordtracker.com but this tool also delivers results from Google, Yahoo, Bing, Google Trends, Quintura, Compete, Keyword Discovery & Wordstream.

SEO Book Keyword results

Of course, as with the other tools above, you get much more functionality if you sign up for SEOBook’s paid membership. This service is the most expensive by far at $300/month. But it includes over 100 training modules covering keyword research, pay per click marketing, site optimization; member only training videos; and much more. There’s no contract, and you can cancel at any time.

5. SEMRush.com – As a free keyword research tool, SEMRush is pretty robust. As a registered user, you will get more opportunities than unregistered, but you are limited to 10 results per request, 10 queries per day. The good news is that those results include ad volume, CPC (cost per click), competition of advertisers for that term, number of search results for that query on Google, and the volume of searches over the last 12 months.

You can also see a list of websites that delivered results for a particular search term. When you click on one of those sites, you’ll be able to see that site’s related keywords – giving you some new keyword possibilities to consider.

Another useful feature, especially if you write pay-per-click ads, is the ability to see which websites bought ads for the search term. You can even click on the Ad icon to see the copy with the search term in it:

Keyword example

In the interest of full disclosure, SEMRush allowed me to use their professional account for free for the last few weeks so that I could do a full test-drive of their capabilities. As someone who has been getting along with ten results at a time from Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, and 100 more keywords from Google, I have to tell you that SEMRush has spoiled me.

Being able to access thousands of keywords at a time – not only from my search term, but to check those of competing websites has been terrific. Paying $69.95 a month for the ability to export up to 10,000 results per domain into a CSV or Excel file is a good deal, if you ask me. And the fact that you can perform up to 3,000 queries per day is another bonus. Plus, SEMRush doesn’t generate random keywords, unlike the other sites do. Instead, the company provides a statistical analysis of the occurrence of keywords in its results. And, a SEMRush spokesperson pointed out to me that theirs is the only tool to include valuable data relative to a keyword’s value/profitability – another good point in their favor.

Which keyword tool is your favorite? Please comment below!


Do Viral Videos Work as a Marketing Strategy? Lessons from “The Apprentice”

[tweetmeme] I recently watched the episode of “The Apprentice” where the two teams had to create a video to promote popcorn maker “Popcorn, Indiana.” But this wasn’t just any video – the task was to make a video that would be such a sensation that it would go viral. Easier said than done.

The men’s team wound up winning the challenge because they made a video that was “over the top” – shutting down part of 5th Avenue as they staged a popcorn fight in front of Donald Trump’s building. Here’s the video:

I thought the judges made the right call initially, but after watching the women’s video again online, I don’t agree. I think their video is funnier and a more effective marketing video – even if it didn’t strictly meet the requirements of the challenge. See for yourself:

I liked how the women made the product placement flow with the content of the video. It was funny and the point I got from it is that Popcorn, Indiana’s popcorn is so good, you can’t even stop exercising to eat it!

While the men’s video was outrageous, it didn’t make me want to rush out and buy some popcorn. And isn’t that the whole point of these “corporate” viral videos? Yes, you want people to watch them. But just like TV commercials, the goal should be to stimulate sales, not just create brand awareness. Unless, that IS your goal…

Viral Videos Spark Interest – Coupons Deliver Sales

Remember the Old Spice videos from this summer? They certainly raised the profile of actor Isaiah Mustafa and created buzz around an old brand. But it turns out those viral videos didn’t boost product sales. Instead, AdAge says the increased sales were due to coupon offers. Once the coupons were discontinued, sales dropped – despite the continued popularity of the funny viral videos.

I suspect Popcorn, Indiana’s exposure on The Apprentice and the resulting team videos will increase their sales. But how long a boost remains to be seen. In the meantime, the company is leveraging its appearance with an online contest to see if anyone else can make a better video. And they’re offering special “Apprentice-related” coupons for its products. As we’ve already seen with Old Spice, it may be the coupons that do the trick, rather than the video.

Do you think viral videos can boost sales? Or are they better suited for brand awareness?

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SEO Best Practices – Title Tags, Keywords & Inbound Links

Earlier this week, I gave a presentation on search engine optimization at a luncheon mastermind workshop of the National Association of Entrepreneurs in Winter Park, Florida. In the following video clip, I share some basic best practices you should keep in mind when optimizing a website for Google and other search engines.



What’s ahead for 2010: Video Marketing

Are you using video to market your products or services? If not, you should seriously consider adding this tool to your marketing arsenal in 2010.

Twitter’s phenomenal growth may have been the big story of 2009, but the bigger story involves the continued surge in online video usage.

Online video viewing jumped 26 percent in the U.S. during October, compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from Nielsen.

The giants of the industry, YouTube and Hulu, continued to dominate in terms of individual views. But Facebook took the number two spot in terms of reach, with more than 31 million unique users compared with Hulu’s 13 million. However, Hulu streamed about 3 times as many videos during the month, at over 632 million.

As big as Hulu’s numbers seem, they are dwarfed in comparison to YouTube, which racked up a staggering 6.6 billion views by 106 million unique users. That’s three times the reach of Facebook.

So, how do you incorporate video into your business? One way is to add video to the e-newsletters you send out to your customers.  This can be tricky, since not all e-mail marketing solutions providers allow video.

Constant Contact, for instance, doesn’t allow you to embed videos in your e-mail, although they do allow you to include a graphic shot of the video with a hotlink to your actual video. (In the interests of full disclosure, in 2011, I became a Constant Contact partner, and generate revenue through an affiliate link.)

On the other hand, Benchmark Email does allow you to incorporate video in your e-mails, and will send them to a mirror page that allows the video to play even if the recipient’s e-mail service blocks the feature.

I recently received an email from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, touting their first-ever video newsletter.

The e-mail included a screen shot of the video, which linked to a landing page on their website, where the newsletter video lived. As a result, the e-mail not only attracted attention to the video, it helped increase overall traffic to their website. Pretty good strategy!

Another way to incorporate video into your marketing efforts is to post videos on social networking sites, such as Facebook. A new report from eMarketer.com suggests marketers worldwide will spend $605 million on Facebook versus $385 million on MySpace.

Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Social Network Ad Spending: 2010 Outlook, says “When companies budget for social media marketing in 2010 and beyond, a substantial portion of their expenses will go toward creating and maintaining a fan page, managing promotions or public relations outreach within a social network, and measuring the impact of a social network presence on brand health and sales.”

What are your plans for video next year?  If anyone has any unusual ideas, I’d love to hear about it and share it with my readers.



Local Search Directories Go Social

Online business directories are cashing in on the popularity of social media tools to reach potential customers.

Superpages.com recently launched the @sp411 channel on Twitter. This feature allows users to receive business addresses and phone numbers via Tweets.  You can also obtain weather reports, movie listings, directions and WiFi hotspot locations.

All you have to do is start following @sp411, and then wait for Superpages to start following you. I tried it out yesterday and it took less than two minutes to follow, get followed, submit a request for, and receive, my local weather forecast.

You don’t have to worry about everyone on Twitter seeing the results of your request either. Movies and directions are only available through direct message requests. And People search results will be sent back via direct messages for privacy reasons.

Yellowpages.com is also preparing a new local social-search tool to reach the under-30 crowd. A user’s social connections and recommendations will apparently play a big role in determining the search results.

These moves make perfect sense since more and more local businesses have discovered that social media is a cheap marketing tool. MarketingVox recently reported on an October 2009 study by BIA/Kelsey that found 32% of small and mid-size businesses plan to include social media in their marketing strategies during the next year by using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.



Online Video Viewing Habits & Projections for Ad Spending

 I watched an interesting webinar the other day from eMarketer.com. All about video viewing habits and what steps marketers should be taking to cash in.

The webinar noted that 72% of Internet users are watching online video in some form – usually short videos on YouTube, movie trailers, CNN news reports, etc. While that percentage is large, in real numbers, television still dwarfs online. 249 million people watch TV each week, compared to 53 million who watch online videos.  According to Nielsen, the average American watches 4.7 hours of television per day – compared to 3.5 hours of online video viewing per month.

The good news for advertisers is that online video viewers are much more engaged than those who watch ads on TV. According to Interpret LLC, viewers are 28% more likely to pay attention to online video ads than to TV ads. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. You actively seek out a video online and lean forward to watch, where as with TV ads, you’re more likely to watch while sitting back in your comfy chair or couch.

 eMarketer.com says online video ad spending should be about $1.04 billion this year – 4.3% of total ad spending in the U.S.  While the number is a small percentage right now, eMarketer expects a 40% growth rate for the next few years – with online video ad spending hitting $4.1 billion by 2013. Why? It’s expected that advertisers will be providing more professional content, viewing hours will increase, technology will improve (HiDef), targeting will improve, and there will be better formats/more creative ads.

 So what can you as a marketer do to take advantage of the online medium? eMarketer recommends several steps:

  • Expand reach through a mix of video advertising buys, including appropriate ad networks
  • Focus heavily on targeting, overlaying online video buys with behavioral targeting
  • Be very clear on your goals before you launch a video campaign
  • Hold the creative of your video ads to a higher standard than you would on a TV campaign

Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal said it best,  “Our challenge is to effectively monetize (online video) so that we do  not end up treading analog dollars for digital pennies.”


Why I Want to Win a Seat to the Copywriting Success Summit 2009

So here’s the challenge: Chris Garrett, co-author of the “Problogger Book,” is offering copywriters a chance to win two tickets to the Copywriting Success Summit 2009 hosted by white paper guru, Michael Stelzner.

How to win: Write a blog post explaining why you want to win, in no more than 1,000 words.

Ok, Chris Garrett, I’ll take you up on that challenge. Here goes! 

This summit is being billed as the largest online event dedicated to helping you successfully market your writing business. But wait – if I can attend online, why would I want to win tickets to this event in person?  Let’s see, let me count the ways…

1. The best of the best in the copywriting industry will be at the summit: Peter Bowerman (Well-Fed Writer author), Steve Slaunwhite (Start & Run a Copywriting Business author), Michael Stelzner (Writing White Papers author), Marcia Yudkin (Persuading on Paper author), Nick Usborne (Net Words author), Casey Hibbard (Stories That Sell author), Chris Marlow (the original copywriter’s coach), Pete Savage and Ed Gandia.

I have taken Nick Usborne’s online copywriting course thru AWAI, so I know what terrific advice he gives.  I’ve also read ebooks by Steve Slaunwhite and Ed Gandia — also offering excellent knowledge to the beginner copywriter.   And I subscribe to Chris Marlow’s newsletters, where she offers some awesome coaching advice. But to be able to see and hear these people in person, as well as others I’m not as familiar with, would be a tremendous boost to me personally, and professionally.  I know I have much more to learn to become a successful copywriter.

2. The grand prize features a consultation with Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer (Peter will spend an hour with you, helping you market your business). 

I’ve read Peter’s book, and it truly gave me a jumpstart in launching my business.  But to have the opportunity for a one-on-one coaching session… Well, that would be great. I’ve doing my best to market my business – using social media, networking, etc. But I’m sure there are lots more tips Peter can offer that will boost my bottom line.

3. The grand prize also offers a site-critique by Chris Garrett, where he  will identify actionable steps I can take to improve my blog. Sounds like a good plan to me!  I hope he’ll also offer some time-management tips.  It’s tough sometimes finding the time to spend on writing, marketing, social media etc. Please help!!! 🙂

4. I’d receive a copy of Chris Garrett & Darren Rowse’s “Problogger” book, and a copy of the book, “Writing White Papers” by Michael Stelzner.  Free books! Who doesn’t want to save money these days? My library card is getting a lot of use, so it’d be nice to have actual copies that I can return to again and again. Plus, I’d be kinder to the environment – staying at home to read, instead of driving to the library to pick up another book. 

5. I can bring a guest.  While I’m sure my husband might like a trip, I know two other copywriters who would love to attend. Not sure how we’ll figure out who goes if I win… but maybe they can battle it out.

So, that’s it, Chris.  Don’t know if this will be enough to get me to win, but I have to say, this is the fastest blog post I’ve written in my life. I saw Michael Stelzner’s post on Facebook, clicked on the link to your site, and in a half an hour, was ready to post!  (Of course, I just realized, I have no idea where this summit is being held, but that’s ok – I can travel anywhere in the U.S. – no passport yet, but it’s on my to-do list!)

Hey blog readers – wish me luck!


Social Media Revolution

You may have seen this video already on YouTube, but I thought it contained some amazing statistics about social media that I wanted to share here too.  Read carefully!  I’m convinced that social media is here to stay, and businesses need to pay attention to leverage it for their success.


Permission Marketing

I apologize for the long lapse between postings, but I’ve been on vacation in Williamsburg, VA & Washington, DC with my family.  Lots of history, lots of walking, and little time for the internet!  Everyone needs a little break from technology once in a while – despite the avalanche of email I’m now having to plow through.  Sigh…

Oh well. It’s back to work now, so let’s get to it.   While I was away, I did use the downtime while my husband was driving the interstate to finish reading Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing.”  For anyone who wants to succeed online, this is a must-read!  Granted, the book is ten years old, but the content is still relevant today.   (If you want to read the first four chapters for free, click here.)

As we all know, time is a precious commodity.  There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.  And as I discovered on vacation, e-mail inboxes can get mighty clogged when you’re away!   What if a marketer wanted to sell me something, and his email got lost in all my clutter?  A very real possibility.

The key is getting permission to market to me.  If I knew someone was trying to send me a newsletter related to a product I purchased, I could always search through the barrage of e-mail to find exactly what I was looking for.

So, how do you go about getting permission?  Online, you should make sure that your website is geared toward signing up strangers to give you permission to market to them.  Don’t trick anybody.  Just be clear that you’d like their email address in order to share something of value with them.

Then, you engage in a dialogue.  Don’t try to sell them something right away.  Send useful information, a newsletter, a birthday greeting, if possible.  Only after you’ve gained a little trust, should you try to sell something.  You’ll be much more successful in the long run, by taking the time to cultivate a relationship.