4 Ways Your Small Business Is Losing Customers Due To a Terrible Website

No matter what kind of small business you have, its website is likely the top way people find out about it. Because the internet already has a strong presence around the world and it’s rapidly growing, individuals are accustomed to simply navigating to a search engine, typing in desired keywords, and waiting a few seconds for results. That said, if your website isn’t well made or doesn’t serve its purpose, it may push customers away instead of making them want to learn more.

Visitors May Think It’s Too Hard to Find What They Need

The reason many people find out about businesses online instead of through other methods is they crave convenience. Rather than calling a customer service number and potentially waiting several minutes or more to speak to a representative and inquire whether or not a product is in stock, today’s internet users can simply type in the names of the items they want and confirm almost instantly that they’re available for purchase.

However, if it takes longer than that for users to check availability or the keywords they’re using don’t pull up the correct products, they’ll become frustrated and may leave your website for good.

Failing to Cater to Customers With Mobile Devices

If you don’t at least have plans to make your website a mobile-friendly destination in the very near future, you’re missing out. According to recent statistics, more people access the internet on smartphones and tablets than computers.

When users discover your entire site doesn’t load on their devices or that portions of it are not set up for mobile users, they might get the impression your content is behind the times. Having that kind of incompatible website is especially bad for your reputation if you’re involved in a technology business because the outdated website doesn’t fit with your image.

Users Only Find Old Information

Maybe having current website content is not a priority and it’s been months since you last put a new product, blog post, or section online. Ideally, you need to exert significantly more effort than that, because extremely old content sends the message to users that perhaps you don’t often deal with online customers.

Some may even think your company went out of business and decide to take their patronage to another site. Get on a regular schedule of website updates to ensure people see the most relevant content possible.

People Become Fed Up By Poor Overall Functionality

Broken links, clunky drop-down menus, and slow-loading images are just some of the many problems that may make people steer clear of your website and not return to it.

That’s why it’s smart to work with a business that offers reasonably priced small business website design services instead of trying to take care of the web development side of things on your own despite not having adequate experience in the field.

Check out this perfect example of excellent marketing gone to waste due to a terrible website. #1 on Reddit, 35k+ upvotes and thousands of people looking at this Aquadam…but check out this website!

It’s TERRIBLE!

Look at the way it’s being ripped to shreds as people rightfully bash it’s terrible design and lack of function! Imaging how many people WON’T be truly considering ordering from them because they may feel that a site that terrible will have terrible delivery or product. What a waste!

Don’t be that business.

Now that you’ve learned about these four things that could be negatively impacting the popularity of your small business website, it’ll be easier to take prompt action. Doing that is crucial since the undesirable factors above won’t resolve themselves.

How to Use Email Marketing to Boost your Business

So. Now that you’ve been reading my blog and cracked SEO to drive traffic to your website, you need to think about how to retain your customers.

Having a great website and products are key parts to the equation but how do you communicate with your potential customers?

I reached out to Erik who is the CEO of MageMail. He also mentors startups with programs such as MassChallenge and Techstars. He geeks out and writes about innovation, ecommerce, emerging tech, leadership, and SaaS here is what he had to contribute:

The humble email!

With 4 billion accounts (and counting), marketers have started to realize the full
potential of email marketing. After all, 90% of internet users in the United States
frequently check their emails, more than social media and no other e-marketing tool can directly land in the inbox of subscribers.

To put it all together we created this useful ‘Email Marketing Cheat Sheet’ full of tips on how to build and implement an effect email strategy for your business.

  • Personalization – Why should you make your emails personal and how to
    segment your lists.
  • Trigger emails – How you can set them up and respond to the actions of
    subscribers or customers. Avoid the spam folder too.
  • Recovery – Using email marketing to re-engage with inactive customers and
    reduce your abandoned cart rates.
  • Mobile friendly -.Some studies indicate that over 50% of emails are viewed
    for the first time on mobile devices. So it’s more important than ever to format
    your emails correctly.
  • Testing – Why testing is critical to the success of your email strategy and how
    to carry out effective tests.

Email Marketing Cheat Sheet Infographic

Email Marketing Cheat Sheet

As we can see, there are a number of innovative ways we can use emails to ram
home the advantage of an efficient SEO strategy. The ROI of $44 for every $1 spent
is higher than any other form of communication including social media.
Here is what a well-organized, personalized email program can do for your business.

  • Reach – Where else can you send to a potential database of 4 billion
    accounts?
  • Subscribers – Most of the time, people sign up to your list because they
    want to hear from you
  • Conversion – On ROI, no other medium beats the email. For engagement
    and establishing trust with customers, email comes out on top too
  • Segmenting your list will give you the ability to personalize emails to by keeping the content relevant to them. You can do this by interest, age and location among many other metrics.

After 45 years, (incredibly, the first ever email was sent in 1971!) the email is still
going strong. Following these tips will help you grow your business. Good luck, star fighter!

 

What You Can Learn From Blogs That Don’t Suck

Can you make a sandwich with just bread? Not really. You need to add some substance to that carb-fest! Likewise you need to have a strategy for developing some truly unique content in your blog.

Because there is no getting away from the fact that content is one of the most popular digital marketing methods in the world. Because of this, there are millions of new blogs being launched each year – in 2016 2.7 million blog posts were published each day with the website hosting a whopping 966 million websites and blogs.

YIKES! That’s a whole lot of content to compete with!

But Wait! You Can Do It Too!

There is no getting away from the fact that content is still vital for a range of industries, which is why there are so many prosperous and profitable blogs out there. As well as so many freelancers who are able to make a good income working remotely creating content for their sites and for other bloggers too.

Now, the question is, what are the actually prosperous blogs doing that at makes them so much more effective than others who are failing? Why are some blogs ranked highly in Google and have such large social media followings? What is it that makes a blog stand out and prosper while others fail?

 

The quality of the content

 

The fact is, you can’t have a ‘good’ blog without high-quality content. The blogs that make headlines and everyone knows the name of, are the sites that share the most interesting, innovative, and well-written content possible.

For a blog to be an industry leader, the content needs to stand out for all of the right reasons. It needs to show that the site is insightful and informative and that the blogger behind it has a good grip on the niche of the site. Then there’s also SEO to worry about – a blog can’t be successful if SEO isn’t being effectively used to market it, can it? Which is why a knowledge of SEO and how to implement it in your content is so crucial to your success.

 

How it’s marketed AKA You Need Links.

 

One reason why a lot of blogs do incredibly well compared to others is simply due to how they are marketed. The fact is that when it comes to blogging success, marketing is vital. That is why blogs that are run by bloggers who have undertaken a marketing diploma, course or one of the MBA programs in marketing, tend to be more successful. It doesn’t matter how amazing a blog is, if no one knows it exists, it won’t be successful – it’s as simple as that.

All the best blogs are marketed using all of the newest and most innovative digital marketing methods, hence their success.

You are going NO WHERE without links. Feeling stuck because your blog is not in a popular niche? Here’s some ideas on how to build links for boring industries.

Collaborations with brands

 

The fact is that blogs that collaborate on posts with brands tend to be more successful. The reason for this is simple: when a blog works with a brand, the blog gets highlighted as being successful because it’s teamed up with a brand. This is especially true for blogs that are owned by bloggers who aim high and collaborate with well-known brands. The more well known a brand is, the more exposure a blog will get for collaborating with them, so it’s worth aiming high.

 

There you have it, a guide to the backstory of all of the most profitable and prosperous blogs, now go forth and multiply!

SEO Without CRO Is Digital Beaurocracy

The world of internet marketing, search engine optimisation and sales is littered with jargon, rules and “best practices”. When we get mired in these expectations we might miss out on our ACTUAL goal of producing revenue and get stuck in the dreary world of digital beaurocracy.

Action without Reward is the heart of beaurocracy.
Endless action & rule following without reward is the heart of beaurocracy.

This means you need to know what success for you means. It’s different for each business & industry.
That’s why the field of conversion rate optimisation is so vital to making SEO worthwhile.

What does CRO mean? What do you need to know about it? How do you do it? These and many more questions are answered in this ultimate guide to conversion rate optimization and SEO.

What is conversion rate optimisation and should you care?

The aim of search engine optimisation is to get visitors to your site but what happens then? A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website takes an action that you want them to take. If there is no option to take an action, you cannot achieve a conversion. The action needs to suit the purpose of your business or enterprise and you get a benefit from it.  Some examples are:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Signing up for a course
  • Downloading an app
  • Making a purchase

This is the outcome that you can measure. It only has two options. They either do it or they don’t.

When you optimise your conversion rate you take steps to make that action more likely to happen. However, it is not always easy to work out how to do that. It is likely to require a structured and systematic approach to the process.

You are also likely to need to improve the performance of your website and this can mean re-examining all of your IT set-up and accessing appropriate IT support for business. A successful website has to be underpinned by efficient IT support that will identify potential problems before they even happen in your organisation.

This puts you in the best position to use your analytics and feedback to improve your conversion rates. It is important that your conversion goals are defined by your enterprise’s unique objectives and needs.

Attracting more traffic to your site may be part of your overall marketing strategy but taking the traffic you already have and making the most of it is what conversion rates are all about.

If you are serious about improving your conversion rate optimization you will not rely on guesswork and gut feelings. It will be based on data and innovation.

The Jargon you need to know

 

A Call to Action (CTA) is nothing to do with the military. It is an element that invites the visitor to do something. If they pop onto your site, read your content and then disappear then they have not been of much use to you. You need to get the most out of every visitor. At the very least, you want them to share your content so a call to action would be text saying ‘Please share’ or ‘Sharing is caring’ and a button that they can use to quickly and easily share a link to your content on social media.

Other versions would be a ‘Buy Now’ button which takes them to your sales page or a ‘Sign Up’ button taking them to a form where they can enter their email details.

You may have read about conversion funnels in marketing articles. This refers to the pathway that a user takes as they travel from being a visitor to your site (the start of the funnel) to becoming a paying customer (the end of the funnel). The purchase that they make is the conversion. A typical description of a conversion funnel would be Home page > search results page > product page > checkout.

Image source

If your SEO is working, you will be getting a lot of visitors to your site but the best way of getting them into your conversion funnel is not always easy to determine. You could use a method that is referred to as A/B or split testing. You try out two versions of your conversion funnel methods to see which works best. This could be different coloured buttons, different calls to action or different images.

Data and conversion rates

There is inevitably some math associated with this process but it is not complicated. You can collect all the data you need by setting up Google Analytics which only takes a few minutes and there are plenty of tutorials to teach you how to use it effectively.

To calculate your conversion rate all you have to do is divide the number of conversions (the number who purchased/subscribed/signed up) by the total number of visitors to your site.

However, that is not the whole picture. You need to establish how your SEO is influencing what people are doing on your site. Is it bringing in visitors who want to be there? Do they like what they see when they get there? Are they staying for a while or they clicking off you site immediately? The figures that you gain from your analysis can inform your SEO strategy going forward.

There are a few key parameters that you need to measure. The first is the bounce rate. This is the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing just one page (the one they landed on). If your bounce rate is high, this is a problem. Perhaps the visitors are not finding what they are looking for or don’t like what they find. You need to rethink your SEO strategy so that you can attract a different type of visitor.

It is also important to be aware of your exit rate for each page on your site. This is the percentage of people who leave after viewing that page. Therefore, if a page has a very high exit rate it may be an indication that it needs some work!

You can learn a lot from the data on how much time visitors spend on your site. This tells you if they are actually reading your content or if they are leaving very quickly. The more time they spend, the more opportunity you have to get them to convert.

It is useful to take a look at the average page views which is one of the engagement metrics that you can use to inform your SEO strategy. It tells you how many pages the average visitor looked at before they left. More page views can mean more engagement and that is good. It means that they are clicking on internal links and entering the conversion funnel. However, you need to be mindful that it can also mean that there is a lack of clarity and direction on your site so they are clicking all over the place because they don’t know how to make a purchase. This is obviously a bad thing!

Why is conversion rate optimisation important?

 

Firstly, there is never any reason to be complacent. You can never sit back and think that your SEO and CRO are working perfectly because your competitors will not be doing that! You need to keep things under review. You need to constantly look for new ideas and innovations in your SEO strategy and in making the conversion process as easy as you can.

Another reason is to do with money. If you are relying on paid advertising, this is going to get more expensive and more competitive as the web becomes more and more crowded. Spending more and more money to attract more and more visitors is not the answer. You need to do extra with the visitors that you get. You must identify and sort out glitches in your conversion funnel so that the process is seamless.

SEO is not about getting any kind of visitor, it is about getting the right kind of visitor. In the same way, CRO is also about getting the ‘right’ kind of converters. Ideally, you want customers who love your product, come back and buy more and tell everyone how amazing you are!

On the plus side, CRO does not cost you anything. It dovetails with your SEO strategy and makes the most of the traffic that you already have. It increases the return on your SEO investment and is a highly cost-effective strategy. If you look at the math of the situation, a great CRO strategy lowers your customer acquisition costs and this maximizes your profits.

The end result is that you have more money to spend on additional acquisition strategies. Only now, they can be highly targeted at the visitors that you know are most likely to convert.

Ultimately, this has the knock-on effect of making you more attractive to affiliates and partners and this is essential to bloggers for whom this is their main income stream. You will earn more and your affiliates will earn more and so everyone is happy.

CRO gives you the edge over your competitors. Your visitors are more likely to find what they are looking for on your site and are therefore less likely to go hunting for it elsewhere.

So, it is not hard to make your SEO work with your CRO to give your business the best chance of success. Make your call to action clear, your conversion funnel seamless and protect your visitor’s security and you will have a winning formula.

Bloggers DO deserve to get paid.

It’s weird. My talented wife is listening to the audio book of Zelda Fitzgerald’s autobiography and it struck me. There was a power in the written word, and that power enabled those dedicated to the crafting of words a life of luxury.

The question that came to mind after thinking about that topic. Can writing and publishing your words on a blog in an age of content creation still craft you a life of (even modest) luxury?

There’s this idea that blogging is a fantastic way for stay at home parents to make a living. Not only that, it’s a job where no two days are ever the same. You write your opinions, give people tips and advice, review items and sometimes you can turn to your blog to vent after having a bad day. Other people may relate to your post and offer some moral support.

So. After some digging, asking around, and analysis I have come to the conclusion that while content is being produced at a prodigious rate, there is just as much a growing trend of information consumption!

How Can I Tell You You Can Make Money Online & NOT Sound Like A Scam?

This is work. It’s hard. It’s not overnight. It’s LONG-TERM. If you’re not going to stick to your guns you will fail.

Still want tostart monetizing your blog?

P&R Money Please Cinemagraph
“Money please!”

Then you’ve come to the right place. Here are a handful of ideas that, with patience, turn your blog into a full time career.

If you haven’t got a blog yet, here’s some help for how you can start a blog.

Assuming you already have a blog, the first thing you need to do is check out your social media accounts. They’re the tentacles of your octopus, the infantry to your armor, the scouts to your invading army.

You need to use them and post regularly. Want a primer on how to use social media, try my OPEN approach. Promote your blog posts on each account, and make sure for Pinterest that you’re making eye pleasing pins. Following algorithm rules for each social media platform will make the world of difference

This will be your strategy:

  • Create good content. No. Really. GOOD content. There’s no point trying to get people to your blog if the content is no good to them. Offering advice and how-tos are typically very popular blog posts.
  • Make sure you have an eye catching title. Try and make it unusual so that people will click out of curiosity.
  • SEO – Blogger Outreach Best Practices – How To Write A Guest Blog Post For SEO (search engine optimization) is really important for driving people to your blog. When you’re adding tags and categories to your blog post, make sure you’re using a set keyword. This way, you’re more likely to have Google index your pages. This means you will appear higher in Google.
  • Create a call to action at the end of your blog post. This will encourage users to either keep an eye on your social media accounts or return to your blog.

Monetization

To monetize your blog is a little harder, but totally doable. The first thing you should do is get Google Adsense running on your blog. You earn a small amount from each visit and slightly more each time someone clicks through an advert. Unless you’re getting thousands of views a day you probably won’t see loads of profit from it, but it’s a great place to start.

Another way to make money from your blog is via affiliate links. This is when you display a link to a product, and if someone clicks through your link and buys that product, you will receive commission on this. Most bloggers choose this because they can pick products that relate to their blog and encourage people to visit the site.

A great way of making money is through sponsored posts. Companies will pay you to display something of theirs that will link back to their website. These are usually pre-written blog posts, but can be widgets or maybe even just a link that they want you to include.

You should also create a page that prospective clients can visit to find out how they would go about hiring you to work for them.

Check out all of the other ways you can make money with your blog.

If you follow these tips, you’ll begin to notice your income rise. The harder you work at it, the more you will earn. The best thing is, there are no limits on how much you can earn!

Let’s Talk About Apps & SEO

What if I told you that search engine optimization wasn’t just about Google?

There are plenty of new and exciting ways in which a business owner can market their company in this ever technological world. One interesting & potentially beneficial way to do this is to build a business app. 

Think about it! That app store experience? That’s ALSO a search engine, and an opportunity to be discovered.

Now, if you’ve not considered it before, then you’re probably recoiling in fear, because it must be difficult, surely?

In fact, building an app CAN sometimes easier than you think, and it comes with bags of benefits to the company and the user, too.

Below, we take a look at some of the ways in can help a company, and also one or two rules they should follow in development.

Customer Experience

The main benefit of having a mobile is that can significantly enhance the client relationships you already have. A person might be a part-time customer of yours, but if you can convince them to download your app onto their phone, then you become much closer.

In return for being a loyal customer, you’ll be able to send through special offers and exclusive content through the app.

In effect, an app allows a company to create a direct marketing channel right into the pockets of their customers, and establish customer loyalty at the same time.

Social Media Benefits

It’s not just in the app that your company will benefit, either. You can also integrate your other channels into the platform.

They’ll be nudged towards your other online presence zones, such as your website and your social media channels. You’ll have a dedicated space on your customer’s phone, but you’ll also be building your online presence too, which in turn will give your SEO ranking a nudge in the right direction.

Figuring Out the Details

Of course, there are a few rules that you need to follow in development. For instance, you can’t just have it all your own way; you need to offer your customer real benefits to downloading your app.

When designing, always have in the back of your mind, “what’s in this for the customer?” Also, you should keep the app simple, and make sure it’s watertight: there’s nothing worse than a buggy app.

You should be using QASymphony’s qTest Explorer – they’re leaders in the field, as QASymphony’s $40 million series C funding can attest – to make sure everything’s working as it should. When it is, you can prepare to launch.

Adding/Subtracting

Your company app shouldn’t just be created, launched, and then forgotten. To stay on your customer’s phones, you always need to be looking at ways to improve the app and monitoring how its users are interacting with it.

If you see that one particular feature is not being used, then get rid of it. You should only have features on the app that offer real value to your business and the customer.

Standing Out

The benefits of developing and launching a company app can be extensive. Apart from solidifying your relationship with your customers, it can also help you stand out from the crowd and find new customers in the process.

If you think it might benefit your business, get to work and put it on the Apple and Android stores.

Two Methods For Creative Link Building In Boring Industries

So you sell sell insulation for commercial buildings or perhaps you sell heaters that run off that waste oil mechanic shops accumulate…You’re not a startup, you don’t have a super photographic location or service and your clientelle is not even sure what “insta” is unless it’s the black instant coffee they’ve been drinking for the past 4 decades.

We’re Boring SO We Can’t Build Links

Bored finger tapping cinemagraph

You just need a Shakubuku.

Shockabuku
N. Archaic
A swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.

 

You have HUNDREDS of DIFFERENT opportunities for links at your email fingertips.

Practical Example: Links For A Solar Tech Company

First you should think about your nexus of business: Is your solar tech for residential or commercial?

If residential then map out ALL the parralel businesses who are marketing themselves at your same client base.

What are they writing about and how does it cross over to your industry? I.e. Home solar crosses over with home value which is something a Realtor would write about.

Look for a topic you can write a KILLER article that bridges at least one to two other professions, you can then look up the currently ranking article on that topic, see who linked to THAT and email them to see if they’ll link to your bigger better version.

Boom.

I can’t stress enough that it’s ALL about thinking through your non-competing parallel businesses!

Practical Link Building Example: What if I’m The Realtor

Well if you’re a Realtor that means there are these other non-competing professionals in the same “Nexus” who also are trying to marketing themselves: Home stagers, painters, movers, mortgage guys, roofers, home inspectors, tree & landscape guys, renovation & contractors

Every “boring” niche /industryhas people providing services to the same end customer.

Once you have identified that information, then you can start bridging the gaps. Expert roundups, while trite and worn in the SEO space make for excellent link building in boring” industries.

Example: “30 Experts On How To Make Relocation Painless” – drum up 3-5 questions, send emails to those parallel peeps, and when they give their answers SEND THEM A GRAPHIC version for them to post to social or to their blog (or suggest a resource page they have) and just hint at link attribution.

Trust me. This works really well.

Heck, if you don’t want to do it, contact me and I’ll do it for you [for a reasonable rate of course ;)]

You have any unique ideas for boring industries? Share them in the comments, yo!

How Much Of You Goes Into Your Content?

When it comes to producing content for the purpose of SEO, you can’t be boring.

Be Your Weird Self
It’s Okay To Be Your Weird Self!

Well… you can be boring. If you want to write a standard piece of writing, then you can do. “After all,” you’ll tell yourself, “it’s to serve a purpose, isn’t it? The content doesn’t really matter – that’s just the dressing around what really matters, the purpose of attracting people to my site to buy items or a service…”

That’s a nice thought and it might well work. You might be the lucky one, who rises above the fact that content is – and always has been – king. If you don’t produce something worth reading, then it’s effectively a fancy version of Lorem Ipsum. Words just thrown on a page with no specific purpose in mind.

What would ya say ya do here?

The problem is, nine times out of ten, it’s not going to work. Even if your purpose is just to draw people to your site for another reason, it’s still got to… you know… draw people to your site. And no one is going to want to come if they see dull headlines in Google searches and even duller writing if they decide to click through.

That is not SEO. That is dumb.

It makes sense to make whatever you write as good as it can be. There are some people in this world who can write enthralling content about things that have nothing to do with them – and these people tend to be paid very well to do it. For the rest of us, we should stick with the basic principle for all writing: write what you know.

 

So what do you know?

The most simple answer is… you.

This is me!

If nothing else, blogging has proved that people are interested in people. We can’t help ourselves. We like gossip, we like to peek into other people’s lives – we’re all inherently nosey even if we pretend that we’re not.

It makes sense to inject as much of yourself as possible into anything you write. It’s possible to do this without invading your own privacy or putting your life online. Focus on things you have learned, experiences you have had – and then write about them in the abstract. Your readers need to feel that you are a real person, with a real history, which you can at least give the appearance of.

You can still keep a veneer of privacy; don’t include your phone number on your site, but do include your Twitter. No need to give out your home address, but an online P.O. box service could allow people to feel they can touch base with you in a physical sense. There are always ways and means of giving an impression of your life without fully revealing it.

It makes sense to try and engage people with your writing. The more engaged people are with a person, with their personal story, the more likely they are to follow what they do. Or, buy the products they might be selling – why do you think celebrities who know nothing about fragrance have signature perfumes? People are buying as much into the person as they are the fragrance.

Developing a Style Guide for Your Personal Brand

No matter what job you work at, what company you work for, or where you go in your career, one thing that will always remain in tact is your personal brand.

I’m not sure if you are familiar with what exactly a style guide is, but if you aren’t I encourage you to check out official style guide standards of company’s such as MailChimp. They get so detailed with their style guide that they even include a special section on how to write commonly misspelled or mis-hyphenated words. A style guide can be as simple as a 1 page set of rules, or a massive 10,000 word document defining everything you do on and offline for your brand, be it corporate or personal.

In 2013 we wrote a guide to branding your personal name on the web. In this post we will focus more on creating a style guide, so you have a set of standards to stick by. So let’s dive right into things, let’s look at some of the things that make up a personal brand:

Your Actual Name

This one might seem a little bit obvious, but it isn’t always. Mine is simple, my name is Patrick Coombe. In order to maintain brand consistency I always identify myself as Patrick Coombe. Not Pat Coombe, or Patrick Michael Coombe. I’ve been on many forums over the years going by many aliases (that some of you might know me as) but over the past 2-3 years I’ve shed those names in favor of my actual name. I’ve done this for a few reasons, mainly because I’m known for my name on social media, I published a book under my name etc.

Jeremy Rivera is a good example of a name that is in the middle of the spectrum. It isn’t the most popular name by far, but there are definitely a few occurrences of his name out there. Jeremy was really smart by snagging the EMD for his name, and using it in all of his dealings on the web.

With other individuals, there are more complex scenarios when it comes to personal name branding. Take my good friend Glen Allsop, a very successful internet marketer otherwise known as “ViperChill.” This name was a personal association he gave to a chocolate bar when he was 11 years old, he also likes the Dodge Viper. That, along with the fact that he is really “chill” and you get “ViperChill.” The name just stuck, and he has rolled with it ever since 2006 when he started using it.

Whatever the case may be, it is just as important to stick to your personal name brand as it is for a company to stick to theirs. There are a few exceptions of well known name brands that have come up with shortened versions of time, but this really only happens when you’ve achieved truly baller status:

  • Chevrolet > Chevy
  • McDonalds > MccyD’s
  • CocaCola > Coke
  • countless others

One piece of advice I give to our clients, staff and vendors on a consistent basis is to make sure you use your name consistently. For instance if your name is Michael Miller, don’t use:

  • Mike Miller
  • Michael David Miller
  • Mike Miller
  • Mike “madman” Miller

…on that note, if you do have a common name such as “John Smith” or “Michael David,” my advice is to use your middle name or the less commonly used variation so you can stand out a bit more.

Just the Facts

Facts about you as a person play a vital role in your personal branding and developing a style guide. Be sure that you are consistent when it comes to your facts that you use in your bios, about us sections, and other static and dynamic areas of your website. Examples of this include:

  • “I started SEO in 2004” vs “in the early 2000’s”
  • “I live in South Florida” vs “I live in Delray Beach, FL”
  • “My first job was in a restaurant” vs “I worked for my parents at a young age.”

It may seem like it is trivial, but it could come across like you are being not up-front if you are not consistent with the facts about yourself. While it is OK to stray from the norm in longer form content, it is generally a good idea to try and keep some standards when you are doing your bio, etc.

Your Tag Line

You might have a tag line for your personal brand, you might not. I’m not going to say you have to have one, but if you do it is important to stick to it, and not stray from what you use. Again, brand consistency.

Matthew Woodward is a great example of personal branding in general, and he has a good tag line: “no nonsense SEO and affiliate marketing.” He uses this on his website and within his logo, and it does a great job of defining exactly what he does as a person.

Don’t feel pressure to come up with a tag line. In fact, I think it is better for your tagline to come about organically over time. I personally don’t have a tag line, it just isn’t something I chose to do at this point.

Colors

Colors is an area where a lot of people lose lots of “karma” from their brand. They’ll use yellow in one instance, red in another, and blue in yet another. Again, brand consistency. Define a color scheme and stick to it. One tool that I really like to use is Adobe Kuler. Adobe Kuler allows you to browse existing color themes, create new ones, and get suggestions on ideas for colors that match, contrast, or go together.

Color is important because it instills familiarity in your visitor. Every time they see that “Moz Blue” or “Coca Cola Red” your brand is further re-inforced. Many articles and even books have been written on color when it comes to branding, so I can’t even begin to go into this subject in this post but I will say to be sure to keep your colors consistent and remember that the colors you choose you have to live with, so choose wisely.

A really cool website to check out is “BrandColors.net” an entire website dedicated to identifying the exact color scheme of major brands throughout the world. They even list the exact hexadecimal code to use if you want to “borrow” it, just make sure you aren’t violating any international copyright laws before you do so. Kissmetrics also did a really cool infographic on how colors affect purchases, which can be really useful when trying to come up with a color scheme for the first time.

Font

Do not skim over this section. There is a reason why typesetting is taught throughout the world in colleges and universities. Your font is everything and everywhere. A bad font can completely destroy your user experience. Even choosing the wrong font size can ruin an experience. If you don’t know what you are doing, follow these simple rules so you don’t make a fool out of yourself.

It is my opinion that all brands should use a maximum of 3 fonts in all of their static media, most of the time you get away with 2: a heading font, and a body font. On the Elite Strategies website for instance we actually only use 1 font: Open Sans. We do use several variations of this font: Light, Bold, Italic, etc. We also use different weights, sizes and colors. There are a few exceptions of where you might find some other fonts such as icon fonts and a few plugins, but overall we keep it really simple. Take Joel Klettke an esteemed conversion focused copywriter based in the UK. On his blog it may appear that he uses a wide variety of font faces:

…but in fact he only uses one font face: Source Sans. He does make uses of color (his brand color of course) in his font, CAPS, bold, size, etc but sticks to his primary font face throughout his website. The result is a very well done website, that sticks to his style guidelines.

Often times when you spot a “hot mess” of a website, you’ll encounter one that uses 3-5 fonts on the same page. It is a huge mistake, and really can make your page look confusing.

Standardize your fonts. I’ll assume that most of the people reading this are using a CMS that defines this for them such as WordPress. CMS’s are great because you can use templates.

Logo

If you talk to many professionals about personal branding, a logo will be a hot spot for debate. Many people that I’ve encountered say a logo is totally unnecessary. Let’s take a look at some really “big name” personal brands in our industry:

  • Rand Fishkin – no logo
  • Jeff Bullas – no logo
  • Neil Patel – no logo
  • Gary Vaynerchuk – no logo

Those were just 4 off the top of my head I looked up quickly. Even in my research for this post, I couldn’t find a lot of information on logos for personal brands. I did find one gallery of logo designs for professional designers, which gave some great insight into some of the best designs out there.

There are many exceptions however. One of my favorite logos for a personal brand is by Kindra Hall, a professional speaker and story teller whom I met this year at Search Love Boston this past year. She keeps it really simple and to the point, but it comes across very professional and really drives home her name with a big “K.”

Some questions to ask yourself when considering doing a logo for your personal brand:

  • do you need a logo?
  • why do you want a logo?
  • is it overkill to have a logo?
  • who will design your logo?

There are a few options if you don’t want to use a logo, but still want a graphic representation. You can opt for an “avatar” of yourself which is basically an artistic illustration of yourself. You can also just choose to do your logo in a specific font. It is your call, but my advice on this is similar to my advice on everything in this guide: if you are going to do it, standardize it.

Your Headshot

Mr. Dan Shure a very well respected online marketer from Massachusetts stated “your headshot is like the logo of your personal brand.” I really could not have said that better than myself. He also wrote up a great guest post about taking a headshot with an iPhone. Very well done, in fact his post does a great job of summing it all up. I do have a few

Don’t skimp on the headshot. I represent quite a few personal brands and many people will give excuses for not getting a headshot done:

  • I hate the way I look
  • I just changed my hair color
  • I want to wait until XYZ
  • I can’t afford a professional headshot

There are also many different types of “head” shots. You can go with the traditional from the shoulder up or from the waist up. You can choose a neutral background, blurred background or something specific like an “at work” background with your desk in the background. A headshot can convey many different feelings, from friendly, to professional, to confident. Examples include:

Here is my advice on headshots: if you are trying to identify yourself as a “personal brand” then you must have one. People are going to Google you. Do not let Google decide what image shows up when doing a search for your name. Always be in control of your search engine results page.

One last word on headshot: so you already have a professional headshot right? When was the last time you updated your headshot? 3 years? 5? 10? You should definitely have a new headshot taken at least every 2 years, especially if your goal is to personally brand yourself online.

This is probably some advice I need to take myself, as I haven’t gotten a new headshot in years, so yea I gotta get on that 🙂

Grammar, Voice, Tone, Yadda Yadda

Many people overlook this section, but it is really important especially if you are a blogger. It is even more important if you do video blogging, podcasting, or other types of media where you speak out loud.

Personally, I like to keep my articles casual and conversational. I like to keep things really casual, I might even intentionally use some incorrect grammar to drive home a point that I’m trying to make. I try not to make spelling mistakes although I have been known to make errors from time to time.

Now, don’t take this too far. Don’t start using so much slang and improper grammar that it comes across unprofessional. Unless of course your target audience goes for that. There are so many different options. Back in the early 90’s on BB’s and other dial-up communities and before blogging people would talk in “31337 speak” or “leet speak.” It was totally acceptable amongst that crowd of teenage hacker geniuses. If you came in there speaking proper you would be really out of place.

In short: know your audience. Blog / write / speak the way that your audience does.

Social Media

It is imperative that your style standards are used in your social media. When it comes to a personal brand, this is how a lot of people find you in the first place, so often times it is their first impression of you.

I’m going to use Matthew Woodward again because he’s done such a great job of his personal branding. If you look at his Twitter page, even the color of his hyperlinks etc match his main brand colors on his website:

This was very intentional on his part, and really helps you actually “feel” his brand whenever you visit one of his properties. Matthew really takes this to an extreme with his hot pink and light blue colors, so you don’t have to go crazy like he does but it is important that you standardize your look and feel across all social channels. At the very least if you don’t want to heed this advice: keep it neutral.

Using Kindra Hall again as an example from above, she takes a much more neutral, yet consistent approach. She uses her logo in all of her social media profiles, but keeps all of her colors and other details somewhat muted.

The fine details

There are many other aspects of personal branding that could be attended to if you chose to do so. For instance, URL shorteners can be branded according to your personal brand. Take my good friend and former Elite Strategies SEO professional Luiz Centenaro. Luiz uses the URL shortner http://centena.ro to shorten all of his URL’s on social media.

 

This fine detail adds a lot of validity to his personal brand and is really a nice touch that a lot of people can appreciate.

Another fine detail that a lot of people implement is a favicon. For me a favicon is really mandatory but how far you choose to take it is up to you. Paul Shapiro an old bloke of mine uses his headshot as his favicon.

 

The great thing about favicon’s is that they are visible even when the tab isn’t active. So for instance if you navigate away from your page you can still see Paul’s beautiful bearded face:

There are many details you can attend to as time goes on and your personal brand evolves. There are people that casually work on their brand and others that pay attention to every last detail, right down to the permalink / URL structure.

I will end with this piece of advice, which is something I’ve echoed several times within this post: keep it standardized and consistent. If you are going to experiment, don’t do it on a live property or website, do it on your own computer.

Thanks everyone for reading! You can hit me up on Twitter for more questions, I am also an avid SEO blogger on our company website. Thanks!