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A Better, Smarter Web Presence
curated by +Stephan Hovnanian
curated by +Stephan Hovnanian


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[NEW] How to Use Google+ in YOUR Business

The tricky part of online how-to articles is who they're positioned to help. Is it the personal brand? The local business? The enterprise?

Not all marketing techniques or platform features are best suited for every type of business, and my latest includes advice that pulls from real examples and interviews of:

► Consultants, Coaches, Solopreneurs
► Local businesses
► SMB (small to medium sized business)
► Enterprise business

You'll also get a high-level view of how to Teach Google about your business using Google+ and How Google+ is a Content Marketing Toolbox from my contribution to the new book, Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars.

Special thanks to everyone mentioned or cited in the article for their outstanding contribution to Google+ (in order of appearance):

+Stone Temple Consulting​​ +Steady Demand​​ +Kieren McGovern​​ +The Social Media Hat​​ +Laurie Laizure​​ +Interior Design Community​​ +Christina Blount Presnell​​ +David Amerland​​ +Mark Traphagen​​ +Denise Wakeman​​ +Lany Sullivan​​ +Ronnie Bincer​​ +David Kutcher​​ +Confluent Forms LLC​​ +Bill Gassett​​ +Bernard Katz Glass​​ Ltd​​ +MarketingProfs​​ +Black Lotus​​ +NOD3x​​ +Unbounce​​ +T-Mobile​​ 

How are you using Google+ for YOUR business?

#googleplus   #googleplustips   #localseo   #semanticsearch   #socialmediamarketing  
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How's your welcome series? +ConversionXL can make it better. Great resource.
Originally shared by ****
Consider every lead magnet you've ever signed up for. 

Of all those free courses and discount codes, e-books and how-to guides, how many of those companies did you actually become a customer of?

And how many of them do you still buy from?

Probably none. And that's down-right disappointing.

According to +MarketingSherpa, 65% of companies do not have a lead nurturing program in place.

Main topics:

 *-*Don’t Forget About Me After I Give You My Email Address.
 *-*How Long Should Email Onboarding Last?
 *-*Structuring Your Onboarding Series
 *-*Welcoming New Leads & Customers
 *-*Tools Of The Trade

Extra resources in this article come from, +Gleanster Research, +Lifehacker, +ExactTarget, +Forrester Research, +Oracle, +Eloqua , +Nir Eyal, +James Clear, +hearandplay, +Infusionsoft, +HubSpot, +Marketo, +Vero & more    
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The most comprehensive technical guide of Google+ there is
This is magnificent, seriously. A 5,200 word piece covering all aspects of G+, complete with examples and Pro Tips, organized clearly. Bravo and thank you, +Dan Petrovic.

#googleplus ping +Guy Kawasaki please add this to your newsletter, sincerely +Stephan Hovnanian.
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A simple way to understand how social impacts search
We talk about this all the signals impact search rankings. It's why so many businesses are joining Google+, and building connections with each other to affect personalized search results.

But there's more to the story
SEO expert (in the truest sense of the word) +AJ Kohn distills a complex topic in a way that everyday business owners can understand. That's a gift. And once you understand AJ's point here about social signals and SEO, you will be able to apply the same point to so many decisions about your online presence: conversion tracking, user behavior, site analytics, and of course other online marketing channels beyond social.

Top-notch stuff here, enjoy! ~ +Stephan Hovnanian

#socialmedia #webstrategy #seo h/t +David Amerland
Social Signals and SEO
Social Signals and SEO
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5 Social Media Ethics Tips for Brands
Good insights here on Brand Driven Digital's blog about how to create a culture that stands up to today's evolving ethics standards on social media:

1) Fact-check
2) Cite your sources
3) Have a policy for each platform
4) Be transparent
5) Be respectful

We are undergoing a communication revolution and the nature of it is constantly changing. As professionals, we share communication platforms with all kinds of writers – tweeters, bloggers, citizen journalists and social media users, and each and every one of us has the responsibility to uphold these basic communication standards.

h/t +Nick Westergaard

#socialmediastrategy #webstrategy #onlinemarketing 
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The real takeaway from #SMMW14 speeches
Read this recap of Social Media Marketing World from +Ryan Hanley, then look a little deeper...what is really going on when it comes to the trends in the social media and digital marketing space?


Our customers and audience have been overwhelmed by clutter, clutter that was once advocated by experts as a way to stay top of mind with our audience in a high-speed stream of content. Now, we are taught to be human, to answer questions, to connect more deeply and personally with our truest fans...basically all the things that a well-run business has been doing forever.

Look at all the buzzwords that have been floating around lately: authenticity, influence, relationships. They're buzzwords, yes, but they still speak to the greater issue that the old model of content for the sake of content is no longer going to work. 

Look beyond social media: responsive web design helps tailor the web browsing experience to the customer. Email segmentation and marketing automation aim to deliver relevant messages to people when they want it, how they want it. Remarketing, like it or not for its intrusiveness, personalizes the advertising experience based on things you have already expressed interest in. Finally, personalized and semantic search puts content and recommendations from people you trust in front of those you don't.

This is great news for businesses who are agile, experienced, and have a core team of professionals helping them with their web presence. I, for one, am happy to see things moving more toward signal and away from noise because that's how I advise my clients in the first place.

The big question: will there be a shakeout of content marketing and social media marketing companies like we've already started to see with SEO firms? Let me know your thoughts... +Stephan Hovnanian 

#contentmarketing   #webstrategy  
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This is a test?
So, Copyblogger decided today to stop allowing comments on their website. To me this does two things:

1) fragments the discussion surrounding their brand and content
While this is really cool for their existing community and established "outposts" I question whether it's a wise move for newcomers to their brand, and visitors discovering an article 2, 6, or 12 months later. How often have you read an article and the comments on an older article and learned so much more? That's gone now, you have to hunt down those discussions yourself.

On the flip side, they are clearly getting more links and social signals surrounding their content than if they were to centralize discussion on their website.

2) puts pressure on their social listening responsibility
Despite the spam, fragmenting the discussion around your content forces you to seek it out to engage, where comments on the blog give you a one stop shop. Will they rise to the occasion and join all the discussions, or miss out because the listening isn't set up?

why this is a test
It's their test, removing comments, but my test because I'm writing this post on one of my pages versus my profile, didn't tag them or spell the company name correctly, and didn't attach the link, to test my hypothesis about listening. If you comment, don't tag Copyblogger, let's see what happens, in the spirit of testing :) Edit: non issue now that Brian Clark commented on the post, so I corrected the spelling. 
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Read this, save to Pocket, Evernote, print it, whatever you do to store rock solid advice on building a platform online. +Marilyn Moore knocks this out of the park.
Five Straightforward Steps for Making Your Content Stand Out
A Small Business Beginner's Guide

I’ve never been one who was particularly interested in standing out in the crowd.  Blending in was more my style.

But blending in will get you nowhere fast with Google.

With the rise of semantic search, Google sees increasing value in social signals.  It needs to know that you are a stand up guy (or gal) who actually knows what you’re talking about; aka ‘a trusted authority’.  In order to do that, social signals are playing an increasing role.  To get any social “juice”  (shares, likes, plus ones)  people have to get to know you and connect with your content.  In other words, you have to stand out and get noticed from among the hundreds of millions of people on social media, each of whom is producing content.
Feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect? You’re not alone.

Fortunately, there are some amazing folks on Google+ who share their insights and expertise about how to accomplish this seemingly monumental task.  Even more fortunately, elbow grease, desire, and determination are the main requirements.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s doable for most people.The reality is, however, that ‘most people’ won’t go to the time and trouble.

Which opens the door for you.

Here are 5 action steps that will help you cut this task down to size.

1 Build an audience.

Building your audience is your first priority. You need an audience who will see, be interested in, and care about your content.  And for that you must build relationships on social media.  Google+ is my platform of choice because it is ideal for content marketing itself. It has Google Authorship and posts are indexed which means it is not only possible to find them in search, but also that they are always there. And most importantly, it works beautifully for building relationships
The people with whom you connect and build relationships are the same ones who will read and (hopefully) plus one, comment on, and share your content.  In short, they are your audience.  Without them, you’ll be talking to yourself.

Engaging on Google+ is actually very straightforward.  Assuming that you have expertise in your field, all it takes is:

▪ a genuine, friendly interest in others

▪ thoughtfully commenting on others’ posts or comments

▪ resharing the posts of other people with a well-written introduction

▪ seeking out like-minded people through communities and hashtags

Engagement allows you to build relationships which leads to building an audience for your content. The importance of using comments in building and nurturing relationships cannot be overstated.

Following the basic social etiquette that makes people remember and like you at a real-life party works the same way on social media. 

People will respond to your:
• courtesy
• interest
• friendliness
• appreciation of their work              

One important reminder:
Before you even think about engaging with other people, take the time to optimize your Google+ profile.  As +Stephan Hovnanian 
puts it, get dressed for the party. When people roll their mouse over your name, it’s their first impression of you.  Make sure it’s a good one.  
• Optimize your hovercard
• Have a complete About page 
• Include a good cover image 
• Check that your profile photo is an up-to-date, clear head shot.  

You would be surprised how many small businesses forget to do this.  Your About page has its own URL and is searchable,  just as your Google+ posts are.  That means it has the potential to be seen beyond Google+ by anyone on the Internet.

“Work as hard at building an audience for your content as you do at building the content [itself].  By audience here I don’t mean just follower numbers on social networks. I”m talking about a dependable base of people who genuinely feel like they have some attachment to you or relationship with you...  Encourage that group, find them, nurture them. Make them special… A lot of pundits are fretting right now over a supposed coming “content glut”.  The content creator who has his/her own audience will never need to worry”.
                                                                          ~ +Mark Traphagen 

2 Crystallize your identity

So now you’re movin’ and-a groovin’ on Google+.  You’ve made some good connections, relationships are forming, you’ve been doing a good job of resharing other people’s content that you find valuable.  In other words, you’ve got an audience forming. It’s time to start posting your own content.  What can you do to make it extraordinary?

Here’s where you’re going to need to put on your thinking cap and take some time spelling out for yourself what you and your business are all about.

The questions are simple.

Who are you?
Why are you in business?
How do you go about it?

The answers to these questions may already be at the forefront of your mind, but very often, they’re not. Take some time for a bit of introspection to come up with clear answers for each of these.  They will comprise your Unique Selling Proposition.  They will also be at the core of finding your unique voice.

If you are not fully satisfied with the answers you come up with for these seemingly simple questions, don’t let that hold you back.  Continue to keep these in mind and as you figure out what you want to talk about and who you want to connect with, it will often help crystallize in  your mind just what your identity is. I can personally attest to the value of that process.

“Identity actually works in two ways. Your identity will inform the content that you create and the relationships that you build because you know who you are, you know what you have to offer, and you know what you want to talk about.  And in the same way, creating content and building relationships will really firm up who you are for yourself...if you have had any lack of clarity"
                                                                    ~ +Marisa Goudy 

3 Find your unique voice. Find an angle._

Your unique voice comes from you talking about topics that will be interesting and valuable to your audience.  When I say “talking” I mean that literally. Whether it’s a written post, video, podcast, Hangout On Air, people should feel like you’re right there talking with them.  It you focus on people, the search engines will take care of themselves.

Much has been said about the glut of content hitting the web and social media in particular.  It’s true.  There very well may  a glut.  But there is NOT a glut of great content.

As  +Seth Godin has said, you need to make yourself, your products, your services remarkable; something that people remark on, take notice of - as in his famous purple cow example.  Brown cows are boring, but a purple cow… now that would be something. Try to put a purple cow in your content.  

For those who may be thinking that means you must say or do something outlandish, read on.

Putting a purple cow into your content means you have brought value to your audience.  Perhaps you
• found a way of communicating or phrasing things that resonated with them 
• made a concept more comprehensible 
• connected some dots for them
• added a new perspective
• discovered a new approach

Any of these adds an element of purple cow-ness to your content that will help differentiate you and your business.

“Whatever market you might be in, it’s probably crowded...One of the most important things you can do is to figure out that unique angle...where you can engage in conversation and add value at a higher level than the other people in your crowded market… You have to look for and find that thing that you become known for… Establish your reputation starting there and build out over time”
                                                                        ~ +Eric Enge 

4 Let your enthusiasm show.

Show that you love what you do! Often this is called passion. There are many aspects to this:  confidence, energy,competence, convictions, enthusiasm, warmth...  Let whatever it is that moves you, move other people, also.  

Passion is contagious.  When it shows in your content and your interactions with others, it will help shortcut the relationship building process and may eventually bring you an evangelist for your brand.  

A healthy dose of passion in your content will get you farther than a perfectly crafted piece that doesn’t feel authentic and human.

“...ultimately the only thing that really matters is how useful the content you create is to the audience it reaches. That also becomes the litmus test of success for your business.  … quality content is created the moment you translate the passion you feel for your  business and your desire to be the best into content that simply resonates with your audience, helps them achieve something with it, in their lives and addresses their questions and needs”
                                                                        ~ +David Amerland 

5 Tell a story.

You  hear the advice everywhere.  Tell a story.  Everyone loves a story.  It makes your posts more interesting, more readable, more entertaining, more personal… in short they help make your content stand out.

But it’s more than just making your writing entertaining, although that’s certainly a good thing. People connect with stories using the intuitive, emotional part of their brain, not the analytical, thinking part.  Stories fire up our imagination and connect with us in a way that mere facts can never do. 

And guess what?   It’s our intuitive side that has the upper hand and directs our analytical mind.  Anything you can do to engage emotion, just as with passion, is going to help grab and keep people’s attention.
I have personally found this to be very powerful, both in other’s content and my own. But I have to be honest. I think it’s rather difficult to do. It’s not easy (for me, anyway) to think of a good story and tell it well.  But I believe that even an imperfect attempt is a huge help in connecting with your audience.  

“Use stories to demonstrate how you empower customers and you will go a long way to communicate your brand's expertise. And do them one blog post at time. Spread them out and mix in stories with news and guides and other kinds of content, to make a well-rounded content marketing strategy”
                                                                         ~ +Mike Allton 

Hop over to the full post to learn the one thing you should NOT do, with some excellent insights by +Mark Timberlake .

Following are additional resources from some of the aforementioned amazing people on G+   My thanks to: 

+Mike Allton  “Tell your business story, one blog at a time”,
+David Amerland , “Semantic Search - Three Basic Principles You Need to Know About”,; “Ten Questions Content Creators Commonly Ask, Answered”,

+Eric Enge,  +Mark Traphagen “Google Plus: Where Content Marketing and SEO Collide”, Content Warfare TV with +Ryan Hanley,

+Gina Fiedel  “Locate Authenticity at the Intersection of Social Media and Life”
This post and the two others in this series are excellent examples of the power of storytelling. 

+Bill Gassett  “When Creating Blog Posts Linking Out Is a Good Thing”,

+Marisa Goudy  “Care to drive your SEO further?”,

+Stephan Hovnanian  “Optimizing Your Google Plus Profile”,;

+Mary Iannotti , “Create Relationships by Commenting in Social Networks”,

+Mark Timberlake , “Marketing Your Web Presence”,

_photo credit:joe_stef/pixabay

posted by +Marilyn Moore by +RightStart Websites 

#contentmarketing   #googleplus   #socialmedia   #semanticsearch  
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The Five Laws of Semantic Search
+David Amerland's book, Google Semantic Search strikes a nerve (in a good way) for businesses and people looking to build a more authoritative and discoverable platform for themselves online.

In this article, David dissects five laws and how they play into your semantic search and overall marketing strategy. My favorite quote comes from The Law of Perceptual Organization:

When it comes to your content you need to think of the grouping it comes under as an additional layer conveying value, prestige and reputation. If it is grouped in ways that make it hard to contextualize or access with ease then you are creating confusion in the minds of your online visitors, as well as making it harder for search to quantify it.

Click below to read the others. ~Stephan

#semanticsearch #seo #onlinemarketing
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A Beginner's Guide to Lead Conversion with Social Media
+Chloe Gray has a thorough post over at +KISSmetrics about setting up lead conversion via social media posts.

Worth a read, but in a nutshell:
1) Optimize how you link to your external content
2) Plan your analytics

Yep, that's it ;) Oh, except for the bonus hacks at the end that can help you generate more leads.

#leadgeneration #conversionoptimization #webstrategy
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