Victoria Byrne

Victoria Byrne

Victoria Byrne is the founder of Creative Marketing Services, LLC.  She has worked in corporate as well as small business marketing for over 15 years, helping her clients achieve optimal results through a combination of creative and cost effective marketing initiatives.  Victoria is a Certified Constant Contact Solution Provider and regularly speaks at educational seminars where she shares tips and advice on a variety of online marketing methods.

As part of Google's initiatives to make all websites more secure with HTTPS
protocol, Chrome 62 has begun flashing a warning when you visit HTTP sites, as shown below.

Recently, Google has started labeling HTTP sites "not secure" next to the URLs in the address line.

was previously reserved for websites which asked for passwords and credit card details, now it is important that all websites have this designation. With Google Chrome being the dominant browser, with 59% market share, it will only be a matter to time before other browsers will be following this trend in website security.

Benefits of HTTPS:
  • Data Protection
  • Increase Visitor's Trust & Confidence
  • Websites Load Significantly Faster
  • Stronger SEO Rankings vs. HTTP
  • Leading Standard for Secure Sites

Now's the time to upgrade your website to HTTPS. Give us a call at 949-916-7970 to request a quote.


The homepage of your website is the most important page of your site.  It's where the majority of visitors enter your site and you only have a few seconds to grab their attention and connect with them.  It's key that visitors like your site and can find what they're looking for quickly and easily.  If not, they move on to another site and you're out of luck.

To make sure that doesn't happen to you, we've included the following Website Checklist for Your Home Page with 10 "Must Have" Items to help you make the most of this upcoming Holiday season and all year round.


  1. Logo and Brand Identifier - Include your company logo and tagline at the top of the page so visitors will instantly know what website they are visiting.  Also include other branding elements (i.e. tagline, color scheme, key selling points, etc) so that you are consistent across all marketing vehicles.  Include images that clearly communicate and relate to what your business does.

  2. Phone Number - Feature your company's phone number prominently in the upper right hand corner of the home page as well as every page of the website.  You want to make it as easy as possible for clients and prospective clients to get in touch with you.  While most traffic will enter your website through the home page, they are many gates to entry for your site and you don't want people to have to search for your contact information.

  3. Contact Us - Include either a contact us page in the main navigation bar or an email link directly on the home page.  Again, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you without having to search for your contact info.  Avoid including your actual email address on the website as this will increase the amount of SPAM in your inbox.  It's a best practice to use a contact form where you can collect basic information from the person so that you'll have better insight on them before contacting them.  Keep it short (around 5 data fields or so) and in addition to basic contact information, ask them to indicate what product(s) or service(s) they are interested in, how you can help them and how they heard about you so that you can track the source of your leads.  If you have a brick and mortar business, then also include the hours and days of the week that you are open.  Finally, include a "get directions" link.

  4. Clear Navigation- Include a simple navigation bar either across the top of the page or down the side of the page with working links.  If your site has numerous pages, then incorporate a drop down menu instead of trying to crowd too many links in the main navigation.  Also, be sure to test your links regularly or use Google Webmaster tools to make sure that they are working.  Broken links will lead to incomplete orders or traffic navigating away from your site.

  5. Compelling Headline -Include a strong headline that stands out and conveys why your audience should use your product or service.  In other words, what you can do for them?  Following the headline, include key marketing messaging via bullet points and focus on what sets you apart from your competition.

  6. Call to Action -What action do you want your visitors to take?  Do you want them to register for an event, sign up for a free trial or place an order or learn more about a product or service? Incorporate a clear call to action that stands out from the other content on the home page.  We've seen too many businesses that simply try to put everything including the kitchen sink on their home page.  Nobody wants to spend time to have to read through the muddle, instead keep the content on the home page limited to only the key marketing communications.  You have an entire website to house the majority of the content so keep the home page clean, simple and concise.

  7. Company Overview - At a glance, identify the products or services that your company provides.  Avoid going into too much detail on the home page because before you know it, there will be a ton of content on the homepage which visitors will not read.  Instead the idea is that you want to provide an overview which will hook the reader to want to learn more, therefore clicking through deeper within the site where you provide more details on a particular product or service. Include a "read more" link where the reader can learn more.  Also remember to include your keywords within the content of your website.

  8. Email Opt-In Form - Include an opt-in form on your home page as well as every page of the site for the reasons outlined above.  Be creative and provide reasons why a visitor should sign up to receive your company newsletter.  For example, include an overview of the type of information that is included, the frequency or include a special offer like a discount on their first order or maybe a free download as a thank you for signing up.  If you are using an email service provider like Constant Contact, the entries will automatically be added to your email database which will generate a welcome email that you can customize (i.e. include the coupon or link to download, etc.).

  9. Social Media Icons - It has been reported that only 20% of small businesses feature their social media icons on their website.  Whether your company is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest, you want to promote your company's social media presence and provide a direct link to the social media site. Essentially, you want to give your audience a choice for how to connect with you while making it as easy as possible for them to do so.

  10. Google Analytics - Have your webmaster incorporate Google Analytics on every page of your website.  Google Analytics is free and provides an incredible amount of comprehensive data including metrics like: how many visitors were on your site, what percentage of the traffic was new (never been to your site before), how long are visitors staying on the site, what are the traffic sources, and what are the top content pages.  For any business, it is critical to track and measure metrics so that you can determine how effective any marketing initiative is performing.  It is no different when it comes to your website.  You want to track your website stats to determine the effectiveness of your website.  By tracking your website stats, you'll be able to see what's working and what is not.  It's a great way to test different content, offers or incentives to see which is best converting for your target audience.

I’ve been helping clients grow their businesses with email marketing for over 14 years and it’s truly one of the most cost effective ways to reach and engage your audience. Whether you’re marketing to consumers or businesses, you can’t beat it. The average return on investment is $41 per every $1 spent* and since it’s so cost effective, it’s easy to test and try new things to help get the best results.

Online marketing is constantly changing and evolving so it’s important to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and incorporate best practice in order to achieve optimal results.

Recent studies indicate that email marketing is on the rise and will increase over the next 5 years and to help you make the most out of your efforts, I’ve listed out the Top 10 Email Marketing Best Practices for Optimal Results.

Follow these email marketing best practices:

1. Mobile-Friendly
Between 55% - 65% of all emails are currently opened on mobile devices and in order to provide the best user experience, your top priority should be designing your email campaigns for mobile. On average people, check their phones 150 times per day. If readers have to “pinch” to “enlarge” to read your emails they’re not going to take the time to read your message and you have a higher likelihood that they will unsubscribe and you’ll lose them. Focus on a single column layout that will look great on mobile devices. Constant Contact has a number of great mobile responsive email templates that you can easily customize with your logo and branding so you’ll look great in the inbox! Don’t forget to send yourself a preview of your emails and open them on your smartphone/ mobile devices before hitting send.

2. Less is More
Since more than half of all emails are read on mobile devices, it’s important to keep your messaging concise and to the point. Avoid having lengthy content that goes on and on, instead include a catchy headline, excerpt and link to read more/buy today/register now which drives traffic to your website. If you’re using an email service provider, you’ll get detailed reporting including who clicked on which links. Think of your next email campaign design in terms of a picture, a paragraph and a call to action. Keep your audience focused on your message and avoid including a lot of links. Having fewer links within your email will likely results in a higher click thru rate.

3. Feature Call to Action
As you start working on your next email campaign, outline your goal and what action you want your readers to take. Feature a concise and compelling single call to action within the top 25% of your email so that it will appear above the scroll – especially on mobile devices. You want to make sure that it’s one of the first things your readers see when first opening your email.

4. Use Images & Videos to Increase Engagement
Just like with social media, it’s important to include visually stimulating images within your email campaigns to capture reader’s attention. It’s best to use a balance of text and images without over relying on images. For example, don’t include all of your content within a single image in the email. If your image doesn’t load for the reader, none of your messaging will reach them. We’ve seen that keeping the number of images within your email to 3-5 provides best results. Keep in mind that less is more. In addition, you can further increase engagement when including a video within your emails. An additional tip is to include the word “video” in your subject line.

5. Use a Permission Based List
When it comes to email marketing for your business it’s important that you keep in compliance and follow best practices. A key best practice is to utilize a permission based list and not through a purchased list or emails found online. You don’t want to be viewed as a spammer and while it can take time to build a quality list, it is well worth the effort. Permission based email lists consists of both explicit and implied consent. For example, your current customers follow under this umbrella because you have permission to contact them. If you’re at a networking event and exchange business cards with someone then that is also consider permission based since they provided you with their contact information. Based on our experience, we’ve found that if you specifically ask permission or give people the ability to opt-in (i.e. sign up form on your website), you’ll see best results. After all, your email marketing results largely depends on the quality of your database so this is not a place to take shortcuts.

If you’re using email marketing for your business, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the CAN-SPAM Act

6. Optimize the From Line – Will the Reader Recognize You?
You’ve taken the time to write great content for your email campaign and now you need to focus on getting your email opened. The top determining factor on whether or not someone is going to open your email is the “from line”. If they don’t recognize who the email is coming from, they are not going to open it, period. Your “from line” should include your company name as well as a recognizable email address. Avoid using generic email addresses like This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it as they will have a higher likelihood of ending up in junk folders. Be consistent with how your audience knows you online, like on social media. Consider including your name followed by your company name if that will increase the likelihood of being recognized.

7. Create a Compelling & Short Subject
What’s going to help you stand out in the inbox? Creating a compelling subject line that will grab the reader’s attention and motivate them to open the email “now” is key. If the reader classifies the email as they’ll read it “later” that will more than likely become “never”. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and consider what’s in it for them/why they should open your email? Test different subject lines conducting A/B tests. Shorter subject lines consistently outperform longer subject lines so keep it to 5-7 words and be clear and creative. A good subject line can make all of the difference in how effective your campaign will be. Top performing subject lines include: discounts & offers, create a sense of urgency, ask questions, provide top tips, include a sense of mystery, personalize, exclusivity, entertain…bottom line is be creative!

8. Don’t Use Spam Tactics
Avoid using any spam tactics & terms. Be authentic in your messaging and don’t use trickery in your subject lines just to get the email opened. Avoid spam terms in your subject line like: refund, free, guarantee, urgent, fees, credit, act now, etc…Follow the best practices outlined in this article.

9. Test, Test, Test
Since email marketing is so cost effective, it makes it easy to test and try new things. As with ANY marketing method, the key to success with email marketing is to test, test and test some more! Take a close look at your email statistics to help determine the effectiveness of your campaigns. Conduct A/B Test for the following:

· Subject Lines

· Content

· Promotions

· Calls to Action

· Targeted Messages

· Day and Time of Day emails are sent

The more testing you conduct, the more educated you’ll be in regards to what’s working and what’s not.

10. Review & Analyze Reporting
One of the benefits of using an Email Service Provider is the detailed reports that you’ll receive for your campaigns. For example, what is your open rate? It is above your industry’s average? An open rate of 20-25% is considered to be a good open rate, on average. The more you can personalize and include relevant content for your readers, the more likely you are to build a strong following where your customers look forward to receiving your email, thus resulting in a significantly higher open rate. Review the following for each campaign:

· Open rate

· Click thru rate

· Bounce Rate

· Opt-outs

· Spam Reports

Review and analyze the reports for every campaign you send and use the insights to apply the knowledge you’ve gained into action items for your next campaign.


For best results, send email campaigns on a monthly, consistent basis to keep top of mind with your audience.


Ready to get started with email marketing? Sign up for a FREE 60 Day Trial to Constant Contact.


View Our Upcoming Seminars + Webinars on Email Marketing, Social Media & Websites/WordPress


*Sources: American Marketing Association, Adobe Systems Email Survey,, Constant Contact


These days it's reported that 65% or more of all emails are read on mobile devices so it's important that you're designing your email campaigns to provide the best user experience.  In other words, when creating your email newsletters or email promotions, no longer design them for the desktop user, but specifically design them for mobile.

5 Tips for Mobile-friendly Emails:

  1. Include One Call to Action
  2. Use a Single Column Layout
  3. Content - Less is More!
  4. Use Larger Fonts
  5. Test it Out!

Eliminate having a sidebar or multi-column layout, instead go with a single column which will render better on mobile devices.  If you're readers have to "pinch to enlarge" to read the content or have a challenge viewing the information that you're sharing with them, they're not going to spend the time to try to make it work and as a result you've lost the opportunity to engage your audience and share your message with them.

Instead use a single column layout, with one call to action (within the upper 25% of the email, above the scroll), focus on less is more when it comes to the content, use larger font sizes (22 pt for headlines, 12 pt for body content) and be sure to test it out!  Send yourself a test both on mobile as well as desktop, check all links, layout and spell check before scheduling your email.

The average person looks at their phone approximately 150 times per day, so don't miss the opportunity to connect with your target audience with a great looking mobile-friendly email!

For more email marketing tips, attend one of the free email marketing seminars presented by CMS.  View our upcoming list of events.

Having a strong mobile website presence is more important than ever because it is estimated that mobile internet usage will surpass desktop usage by the start of 2015, if not before.  More people are using mobile devices for everyday tasks that they used to rely on their desktops for, including: browsing the Internet, online shopping, social media and reading emails.  According to BrightEdge MobileShare Report, smartphone traffic increased 125% as compared to desktop growth, which increased only 12 percent over the past twelve months.


What is Responsive Website Design & Why You Need It?

Responsive Website Design is one of the hottest trends because it allows one site design to function and navigate seamlessly across different devices, thus eliminating the need for a separate mobile version of the website.  The layout changes based on the size of the screen that the website is being displayed on.  For example, on a smartphone, the content displays in a single column view, while on a tablet it may display in two columns.  Many WordPress themes include responsive designs, however not all have this feature so if you're starting to develop a new website, make sure that the theme incorporates this feature.

Responsive Website Design:

  • Website "responds" to the size of the screen being displayed on
  • Single design works on ALL devices/screen sizes
  • Eliminates the need for a secondary "mobile" version of the website - less to maintain
  • Provides a better user experience which can lead to higher conversion rates
  • Google recommended - view details as featured in an article by Search Engine Land


What is the percentage of traffic visiting your website on mobile devices?

If you have Google Analytics on your website, take the time to view the breakdown of traffic from desktop, tablet and mobile devices. If you have good engagement with visitors on desktop, how does this compare to the user experience on mobile devices?  For example, when it comes to mobile devices does the time on site or pages per visit drop off or does the bounce rate significantly increase? Those are clear indicators that visitors are not having a good user experience when viewing your website on a mobile device and it's time to take action to optimize your website to ensure you're providing a user friendly, strong mobile design.

With Google Analytics, you'll be able to view the following data by device (see screen shot example below):

  • Percentage of new users
  • New visits
  • Bounce rate
  • Pages per visit
  • Average visit duration














If you don't have Google Analytics, then we highly recommend that you create an account, after all it's FREE.  We suggest that you review your web stats, through Google Analytics, a minimum of at least once a month to monitor and track the effectiveness of your website.  Plus, you'll be able to see how your online marketing initiatives are measuring up.  What campaigns are driving quality traffic to your website, etc.  Google Analytics now has an app for the iPhone so you can view your web stats anytime and convenient is that?

How does your website measure up?

View your company's website on a smartphone or tablet and test the user experience.

  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • How's the font size/readability? 
    Do you have to "pinch to enlarge" in order to read the content or navigate the site?
  • Is the call(s) to action above the scroll?
  • Is the phone number click-able?
  • How well is your branding represented?
  • How quickly does your website load on mobile devices?  It is estimate that 75% of consumers will wait 5 seconds for a web page to load on mobile devices before abandonment.


Creative Marketing Services specializes in website optimization and responsive WordPress website designs so if you'd like to provide a better mobile user experience, contact us or give us a call at 949-916-7970 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you establish a strong mobile presence.

Creative Marketing Services, LLC (CMS) is recognized for acheiving exemplary marketing results.

CMS has received the 2013 All Star Award from Constant Contact®, Inc., the trusted marketing advisor to more than half a million small organizations worldwide. Each year, Constant Contact bestows the All Star Award to a select group of businesses and nonprofits that are successfully leveraging online marketing tools. CMS is being recognized as a Solution Provider All Star for its success achieved on behalf of our clients. Campaign results ranked among the top 10% of Constant Contact’s international customer base.

"We’re honored to be recognized by Constant Contact for achieving strong marketing results on behalf of our clients again this year. Constant Contact’s tools have helped us better manage customer relationships and engagement.” – Victoria Byrne, President of Creative Marketing Services, LLC (CMS).

Constant Contact customers and Solution Providers using the company’s Email Marketing tools are eligible for this award. Constant Contact looked at the following criteria to select this year’s All Stars:

  • Level of engagement with email campaigns and events
  • Open, bounce, and click-through rates
  • Use of social sharing features
  • Use of mailing list sign-up tools
  • Use of reporting tools

“We’re always delighted when small businesses and nonprofits are successful,” said Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. “We’re honored to recognize CMS as an All Star, and to be able to shine the spotlight on its achievements in 2013.”

About Constant Contact, Inc.

Constant Contact wrote the book on Engagement Marketing™ – the new marketing success formula that helps small organizations create and grow customer relationships in today’s socially connected world. More than half a million
small businesses, nonprofits and associations worldwide use the company’s online marketing tools to generate new customers, repeat business, and referrals through email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, local
deals, digital storefronts, and online surveys.  Only Constant Contact offers the proven combination of affordable tools and free KnowHow, including local seminars, personal coaching and award-winning product support. The company
further supports small organizations through its extensive network of consultants/resellers, technology providers, franchises and national associations.


Email marketing can be the most cost-effective method to reach your target audience and therefore a top priority should be increasing the size of your permission based database.  There are a number of great ways to easily grow your email database and I’ve included the proven TOP 10 Methods here:

  1. Website
    Add an email sign up form to every page of your website.  Provide compelling benefits for subscribers, such as exclusive offers, expert tips, news, etc.

  2. Social Media
    Add email sign up form (or link to sign up form) to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.  In addition, on a semi-regular basis create posts encouraging people to sign up and include link to the online form.  On Facebook you can add a tab where fans can Join Your List.

  3. Forward to a Friend Button
    Include a “Forward to a Friend” button in your email newsletter or campaign.  This will help reminder your subscribers to forward your email to friends or family that may benefit from your products, services or valuable tips that you’ve included in that issue.

  4. Join My Mailing List Button
    Include a “Join My Mailing List” button so when your subscribers forward your email their friends or family they can easily sign up to receive your future emails with one click of the button.

  5. Events 
    Make the most out of your events by including an email sign up form and include a sample of a past newsletter/ email campaign.  Also include a sign that includes bullet point with compelling benefits for subscribers and indicate how frequently they will receive emails from you.

  6. Showroom/ Office
    At your reception desk, add an email sign up form along with a sign that includes bullet point with compelling benefits for subscribers and indicate how frequently they will receive emails from you.

  7. Text to Join/ QR Code
    At events that you're participating at like trade shows, exhibits or presentations, create a "Text to Join" sign where people can text to sign up for your email newsletters (see CMS example to the right).  You can also create a QR Code where people can scan to opt-in to your list.  What great ways to streamline the opt-in process and eliminate the need for you to have to manually enter their data!  These tools are available from email service provider Constant Contact.

  8. New Customers
    Ask each new customer if they’d like to sign up to receive your email newsletters/ campaigns.  Give them the list of benefits for signing up and let them know that you will never share their information with anyone.

  9. Strategic Partners
    This is a great way to significantly expand your visibility.  Feature your strategic partner that may offer complementary products or services to your business in your email newsletter and include a link to their website or email sign up.  In turn, have your strategic partner feature your business in their email newsletter with a link to sign up for your emails. 

    Note: don’t just add your strategic partner’s email list into your database. These people have not given you their permission to email them and as a result you may get a high SPAM report which can have a negative effect on your email marketing.

  10. Contest or Sweepstakes
    Feature a contest or sweepstake which includes an exciting grand prize suited for your target audience when they agree to sign up for your emails.
Note: Research official contest or sweepstakes rules and regulations prior to launching this promotion to make sure that it is in compliance.

WordPress Hands-on Bootcamp

Maximize Your Website & Blog | Saturday, July 14th

During this bootcamp, experts will demonstrate how to how to manage and maintain a blog or website with WordPress. Plus, you’ll walk away knowing the latest & greatest coolest tools designed to save you time and money.

The possibilities are endless with WordPress. Discovery why… Register today!

Who is this Seminar Designed for?
Businesses t
hat are …

  • Using WordPress for their blog
  • Using WordPress for their website
  • Considering making the switch to WordPress

What You'll Learn:

  • Why WordPress is so popular for business websites & blogs
  • How to leverage the power & flexibility of WordPress to increase sales
  • How to choose the right theme
  • How to update & manage your blog or website
  • Top 10 Must Have Plugins
  • Learn the difference between Plugins and Widgets
  • Helpful WordPress Resources & Tips
  • How to measure & track results with Analytics

Hands-on: 1.5 - 2.0 hours

***Lunch Included***

10:00 AM - 11:45 AM WordPress Presentation (demonstration only)
11:45 AM - 12:00 PM Lunch Provided
12:00 PM - 1:45 PM Hands-on Session

Extended Q&A Session

Class Size: Limited to 30 people

FREE Bonus Workshop - Social Media Marketing Made Simple + WordPress Presentation
8:30 AM - 9:45 AM

National University, Costa Mesa

    Cost: $139.00

Once you've decided to start a blog, outline your goals and map out a plan just as you would with any other marketing initiative.  One of the keys to a successful blog is engaging with your target audience and developing relevant, new content on a regular basis that provides some "value-added" benefits.  Whether you are just getting started or have already been blogging for a while, the tips outlined below are best practices and should come in handy for developing a successful blog.

12 Keys to a Successful Blog


1.  Post Frequently: 3-4 Times a Month

Develop unique content that will connect with your audience and publish new posts on a regular basis.  If you don't update your blog with new content what reason do people have to visit.  The more frequently you post new content, the more reason there is for people to visit again and again.  Think of all of the different topics that may appeal to your readers such as: Tip of the Week, FAQ's (frequently asked questions), Upcoming Events, Specials, Community News...the list goes on and on.  The bottom line is that you want to provide content that your readers find interesting or valuable.  In addition, its not just your readers that like new content...the search engines like to see new content on websites and blogs.  Finally, create a calendar for your blog so that you can plan out future topics and take into consideration seasonality and your marketing events/milestones for the year.

2.  Keep it Brief: 500 Words or So (depends on industry)

Blog posts are usually written in a more casual conversation tone than articles and just like you wouldn't want to drone on and on during a verbal conversation, you don't want to bore your readers with too many details that they'd get lost in.  The key is keeping your blog articles brief, approximately 500 words or so as readers online typically prefer to digest smaller snippets of content that they can read and respond to quickly.  Blog posts that are shorten in length have a higher chance of attracting and retaining a sizable audience.  From an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, it is important to write at least 250 words and even better if you can keep it closer to 500 words.  You want to avoid trying to communicate too many thoughts or ideas in a single blog post.  Instead, consider breaking them up into a series of blog posts.

3.  Use a Catchy Headline

Just like a newspaper headline, you want your blog posts to have a catchy headline that will draw in your readers.  Consider a benefit statement (what's in it for me) or another popular method is "Top 10" or "Top 5" lists. As I mentioned above, blog posts tend to be a more casual type of communication so feel free to experiment, have fun and use some humor to capture some attention.  The key is to make sure that the blog post content actually reflects or expands on the topic outlined in headline.

4.  Use Interesting Images

In order to make your blog posts more appealing to readers, incorporate eye-catching images that are relevant to your content.  It is a quick and easy way to make your blog posts more interesting.  Consider using your own photos (if they are good quality) or there are a number of low cost or free stock photography providers where you have thousands of great images to choose from.  Be creative and have fun!

5.  Include Top Keywords

Anytime that you are creating content online you should always incorporate your top keywords and this is especially true when it comes to your blog posts.  You want to include your top keywords within the blog post itself as well as in the meta tags, description and keywords field for each post to help with SEO.

6.  Include Links

Another best practice is to include links within your blog and/or website that make it very easy for your readers to learn more   For example, you can link to relevant products or services that you may have mentioned within your blog post to specific landing pages with your website.  Another idea is to link to past articles on similar subjects.

7.  Include Videos

If you have developed any videos for your business or organization, include them in your blog posts as a way to gain ever higher visibility.  Blog posts and websites that include videos tend to have a much higher "engagement" rate with their audience.  People are more likely to watch an interesting video compared to reading a lengthy article.   In the example below, one of our clients Geers Plumbing & Heating features DIY (Do-it-Yourself) video tips in their blog posts which provides a great resource for both existing customers as well as prospective customers that visit their website.

8.  Use Bullet Points, Italics and Bold Font

You want to make your blog post easy to read at a glance and some techniques for doing so include:

- use bullet points
- use italics
- use bold font

9.  Encourage Comments

On your blog, you want to encourage people to share their comments with you on any of your posts.  It is a great way to get feedback and gives the reader an opportunity to connect with you if they have any questions relating to your topics.  Most every blog platform allows comments, however you'll need to turn on this feature.  Another thing to note, is that in your settings you can opt to require an approval before any of the comments post to your blog or website.  This is a great best practice which allows you to monitor/control the content that is being added to your blog or website.

10.  Post Tags

I should start off by giving a quick explanation about tags and what they are.  Tags provide a way to easily group related posts together and to quickly tell readers what a post is about.  Your categories are more broad like a table of contents and can encompass smaller, more defined topics, such as tags.  A tag is more specific and relates to particular items you discussed within a blog post.  A tag is usually only one or two words and reflects the keyword within the article.  Plus, using tags helps readers finding more specific topics using the search feature within blogs.

11.  Make Your Blog Easy to Share

You've taken the time to write a great blog post and now you want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to "share" the content with their friends, family or colleagues.  One "must have" tool that you should incorporate into your blog is a Social Media Share Button which is available at no cost if you are using WordPress and many other blog platforms offer similar tools.  The Social Media Share button isn't automatically installed in most blog platforms so you'll need to take a few minutes to set it up.  Essentially it allows any reader to share your blog post on their social media pages, like Facebook or Twitter and with all of their friends or followers.  Using the Social Media Share button is a great way to very quickly expand your reach to people that may normally never come across your blog post.

Social Media Share Bar

12.  Promote Your Blog

Finally, don't forget to promote your blog!  Explore ways that you can leverage social media and email marketing as shown in the example below.  Once you have the full article featured on your blog, create an email newsletter where you only include an excerpt of the article with a link to "read more".  The link will take them back to the blog where they can read the full article and if you are using an email service provider like Constant Contact, you'll be able to track the results to see not only how many people clicked on the link to read more but you'll also be able to see which individuals did as well.  In addition use sounds bites from your blog posts and share them on all of your social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Essentially, explore all of the easy and cost-effective methods that you can use to promote your blog!

Written by Guest Contributor: Steve Kinney - President & Founder, Search Optimizers

There are seemingly endless numbers of companies that claim to do SEO, perform marketing and SEO together, or sell content that purports to teach you how to do your own SEO.  How do you wade through all of the offerings and claims?

The companies to weed out are those providing “Search Engine Friendly” services and calling it SEO.  A majority of “SEO” companies fall into this category.   

•    They’ll use Pay-Per-Click Marketing, commission blog posts, employ targeted advertisements, use social media activities or any number of other online marketing tactics and track the resulting traffic. 
•    Most of their efforts take place somewhere other than your actual website
•    They provide numerous reports, but they are all for specific activities and not for your progression of ranking results
•    They don’t carefully select your keyword phrases to ensure they are valuable to your business (it’s no use getting ranked for things that no one searches!)

These kinds of activities are essentially marketing tactics that can be effective in driving traffic to your website for a specific campaign, but are not the same thing as quality, long-term SEO.  It’s crucial to have a diversified online marketing strategy, but don’t overlook the importance of employing a high-end SEO campaign as outlined below.

The genuine, high-end SEO campaign will:

•    Optimize your actual web site, consistently raising the value of your online property.
•    Gradually achieve high rankings for organic searches of quality keyword phrases that describe your business and drive significant traffic to your website. 
•    Closely track your rankings and report them to you monthly.
•    Make frequent adjustments to your site to keep up with the constantly changing algorithms.
•    Be a forever service; once you reach ROI it will consistently achieve high rates of return

Marketing and SEO are complementary.  They can be an extremely powerful combination when quality services are employed synchronously to drive people to your site from multiple sources and increase your conversion rate.  Be sure you are hiring top quality experts for both services: great marketing strategies and high-end search engine optimization.

"At Search Optimizers we are very focused on organic SEO and prefer to refer best of class partners when web development, marketing strategy and social media needs are revealed to us by our customers. In our efforts to vet out high quality partners we have interviewed literally hundreds and found that Creative Marketing Services (CMS) worked at a very high level, delivering superior results and service to our clients upon referral. Our vision is to provide clients a holistic marketing solution, but organic search is only one piece of the puzzle. CMS provides a significant complement of services that, when employed with SEO, creates a powerful marketing platform to launch a business into the 21st century and beyond." - Steve Kinney

Steve Kinney is the President and founder of Search Optimizers. For 14 years Steve and his team have been performing search engine optimization (SEO), currently serving over 100 companies. Steve focuses on continually automating the process of SEO in order to increase value add to clients year over year. He is a co-instructor of the Search Engine Marketing class for the University California, Irvine Extension Department and serves on their advisory committee for the Internet Marketing Program. He is also frequent guest speaker at various other MBA programs and business conferences.

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