Website and Marketing Help Tips Keep updated with Website and Marketing Help Tips information. en-us Website and Marketing Help Tips Topic Clusters = The Future of SEO As trends continue to move towards mobile, search engines have changed to accommodate search terms we now use. Keywords lost their importance in favor of topic-based content. Most questions (queries) posed to search engines nowadays ask about a topic rather than a keyword. This caused influential search engines, like Google, to change their algorithms to favor topic-based content, called topic clusters.

Your team of topic experts

As an HLM client, you already benefit from this topic cluster approach. As SEO practices have shifted, weve tripled our team of industry certified strategists specialized in website writing, UX and SEO. Our content experts have implemented a new way of linking related content under the topic clusters model -- thinking in terms of the topics you want to own, not just keywords. We focus our efforts on topics that are highly relevant to your challenges and goals.

Your success is our success. That's why HLM built a team of uniquely qualified experts to optimize your content by writing concise, benefits-driven copy to drive more traffic and increase your conversion rates.

So what is a topic cluster?

A topic cluster is a group of interlinked web pages built around one piece of pillar content targeting a broad topic, linked to several related but more narrowly-focused pages. Here's a great video explanation:

Search engine semantics

Keywords ruled for many years because they comprised of only one word or a short phrase that search engines could easily search. Keywords act as shortcuts summarizing an entire web page. Search engines have fundamentally changed the way they provide results when a user searches. Search engines, like Google, became "smarter" and can now index an entire web pages content to answer a question (query) or search an entire subject (topic). Thus, keywords alone are no longer as valuable for SEO.

In the past, a search engine would only show results that included the exact phrase someone searched for. A search for "plumber in Michigan" would only show results for "plumber in Michigan." As technology progressed, search engines became better at semantics and understanding what the user wanted. They began showing maps to businesses, product results with prices and links to purchase them and great videos on Youtube. Searches became centered around what the user intended to do with the information, rather than just matching the exact search words.

Beware of SEO companies claiming "We Get You Ranked #1!

Ranking is important, but a great SEO strategy takes into account not only what the user wants, but how they are asking for it. This is the topic cluster approach.

Users search many variations to get exactly what they want, exactly how they want it. Answer the Public is an amazing tool that shows how users search for topics. A search for "marketing" returns this matrix of long phrases that users are searching to find marketing-related information:

This is a daunting list, but illustrates how one word can be used in hundreds of different ways. Imagine how many opportunities would be lost if you only focused on one of these keywords!

Neil Patel, Founder of KissMetrics, discusses this in his past SEJ Summit discussion on "queries vs keywords." Patel explains that a single topic can drive many different query variations:

The example above shows that, while skinny jeans may be the target, theres actually a number of different queries that relate to the topic. A great SEO can research these and optimize for them, driving more than just a single keywords worth of traffic, but potentially hundreds of different ones.

Content is king at HLM

As SEO experts, we look at visibility across a topic, as opposed to a specific keyword. Through building content within topic clusters, were able to capture a large amount of search traffic across an ever-increasing pool of relevant keywords/phrases. Our SEO topic-driven strategy drives important metrics like website visits and user interactions.

If youre with a company that promises big rankings but delivers little traffic, contact High Level Marketing for an SEO strategy that actually works!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Celebrate Your Small Business Independence Running a business, no matter what size, is a way to gain financial and personal independence. As the owner you take control of the reins, set your schedule, make your own decisions and chart your own path. But lets face it, being a business owner is grueling work. It requires bravery, self-motivation, transparency and unwavering enthusiasm. No small-business owner can be successful without these traits. Theyre essential for growth, development and profitability.

Too often we focus on what is going wrong with our business, and dont spend enough time reflecting on our wins. We applaud all of the small business owners out there, as well as tomorrows entrepreneurs for the courage it takes to be a part of a small business. This 4th of July, have a beer, and lets toast to the things youve done well to secure your independence!

A few tips to help you emerge victorious:

Take a day off and disconnect

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are working longer hours than ever before. Even if you love what you do, you cant live on work alone. Taking time off is critical to refresh and recharge. Disconnect for at least a day and spend time doing what you love with the people you love. Youll be happier, healthier, and more productive for it.

Take time to celebrate the milestones

Working long hours and making sacrifices to grow a company requires tremendous dedication. Company-wide achievements should be celebrated with friends and family.

Dont go it alone

Learn from other business owners. Shared experiences and struggles provide invaluable insight that help you construct a strategy that works for you.

Here are a few resources I pull inspiration and information from:

Dont forget to work on your business, not in your business

Most small business owners wear many hats and handle the day-to-day tasks; making it very hard to grow or move your business forward. Create dedicated space in your schedule to work on your long-term vision for the business. Focusing on the big picture and long-term strategy is the best way to ensure you remain independent for years to come.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Are You Ready for Google's "Speed Update"? In 2016, mobile web browsing officially passed desktop traffic in volume. Roughly 60 percent of search queries globally now come from mobile devices. It is likely that mobile traffic will reach a full 2/3 of all traffic by the end of 2018. So if your website is not optimized for mobile devices, your business is missing out on literally thousands of prospects.

What is the Google "Speed Update"?

In an effort to provide the most valuable search results, Google will give preference to fast, mobile-optimized, responsive websites starting in July 2018. Googles "Speed Update" will make site speed part of Googles core mobile algorithm. Previously, Google was only considering page speed as an official ranking factor for desktop websites. Starting in July, it will also be the case for mobile websites.

This Google update to push its "mobile-first" indexing to the web fundamentally changes the landscape of organic search as we know it; where the desktop ranking of a site pre-2018 would inform the ranking of its mobile version, now we are seeing the opposite.

Boosting Mobile-Friendly Pages - Not a New Idea

In 2015 Googles mobile-friendly update, aptly named "mobilegeddon" by the industry, gave preference for responsive websites or those with mobile-only versions (commonly created with an m. subdomain). The continued focus on mobile is both predictive and responsive to shifting user behavior - that mobile devices are the preferred method of web browsing over desktop computers.

Google alluded to this in their most recent announcement, stating, "We continue to encourage webmasters to make their content mobile-friendly. We do evaluate all content in our index -- whether it is desktop or mobile -- to determine how mobile-friendly it is. Since 2015, this measure can help mobile-friendly content perform better for those who are searching on mobile. Related, we recently announced that beginning in July 2018, content that is slow-loading may perform less well for both desktop and mobile searchers."

The July 2018 update adds an additional layer to the aforementioned changes to Google rankings: mobile-optimized doesnt just mean a website sizes appropriately to the device of the user; it also means fast. Users that have experienced slow websites on their mobile devices would immediately identify this as a pain-point in mobile web browsing. Most websites scale appropriately, but often take too long to load. Page speed is important to users because faster pages are more efficient. For a business owner, faster page speed is imperative for search engine optimization (SEO) and driving leads for your business.

Keeping Up With Google

Weve been building websites, both responsive and site speed optimized, for years!
Every responsive website we develop is built to attract the highest possible amount of new customers from search engines, like Google. This creates the foundation for effective SEO mobile marketing. Because most phones are GPS enabled, search engines can pick up your site targeted close to the customer. HLM websites are optimized for all devices and ready for this new Google update.

Is Your Website Mobile Ready?

We encourage you to test your websites mobile-friendliness at , input your website URL, and click "test."

Need a mobile-friendly website? Contact HLM today.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Were Doubling Down on Better Service We understand youre a busy business owner, and want to feel confident your digital marketing company is working hard for you - every day. Because of this, were continually investing in your success by working on your account, staying ahead of industry trends and on the forefront of technology, and hiring experts in their fields. Were stepping up our game to improve yours.

Doubling Down on Better Service

To provide you with faster response times and more attention, weve doubled our Account Management team. This means more time spent on your business and more availability when you want to talk about your campaigns performance. Our team has expanded with new members with much more experience in the digital marketing industry and have gone through more rigorous training to meet the needs of you, our customer.

See Your Performance 24/7

Hello transparency! Weve also launched our new FootprintTM Performance Dashboard so you get real-time results on your marketing campaign. Our proprietary platform is only available to HLM clients. Designed for you, not for analysts, your dashboard gives you 24/7 real-time data on your marketing campaigns performance by bringing together information from all sources including Google Analytics, Google My Business, and more. You can log in and see where your leads are coming from, how you rank on Google, recent activity, competitor information and more! Click here to see a demo.

An Upgrade to Our Communication System

Weve upgraded to RingCentral, a robust phone system platform allowing us to better connect with you when you need us. We can now connect with you at more times, more easily, and in more efficient ways to better serve your needs, including video conferences and screen sharing.

Keeping You Informed is Priority #1

Weve invested in a new division responsible for communications like this one, to keep you better informed. Look for upcoming information on:

  • HLM Invests in Your Success
    Updates on what were investing in to deliver you better results and improve your experience.
  • Pulse on the Industry
    Updates on what Google and other industry companies are doing and what HLM is doing to respond and make sure youre taken care of.
  • One Business Owner to Another
    Recommendations and insights from our Founders on ways to improve your business which might include helpful technologies, tips for closing more deals, and more!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

High Level Marketing Receives High Marks on Clutch!

While our marketing projects and websites already have a proven track record of success, we are excited that our quality of work has been recognized by B2B ratings and reviews agency Every year, Clutch releases a report highlighting leading agencies, developers, and IT service providers in Detroit, and we are excited to be included this year among their list of leaders!

After careful analysis, Clutch identified High Level Marketing as an industry leader in the Detroit metro area, recognizing us as one of their leading SEO companies in Detroit, while also tapping us as one of the highest-ranking digital marketing agencies in Detroit! We are also excited to be recognized by Clutchs sister website, The Manifest, as a leader among their digital marketing companies. We are proud to also be included among the leaders for content marketing, inbound marketing, digital strategy, and digital design.

Companies featured on Clutch are identified as top performers and evaluated on their market presence, work quality, services offered, and client feedback. provides these in-depth insights to aid buyers looking for service providers. The Manifest is also a valuable resource that offers concise company snapshots, providing acute descriptions of services and projects.

Clutchs research is heavily driven by independently conducted and verified reviews from satisfied clients, all of which garnish our 4.9 rating profile. Recently, an accounting firm added their feedback and shared the impact our SEO campaign made on their business, telling Clutch, "New high-quality leads have increased overall revenue."

In another five-star review, a former client spoke with Clutch regarding a website revamp we designed and developed for their company, contributing, "They understood our vision and provided a great mix of creative, productive, and practical ideas."

From SEO campaigns, dynamic web design, and seamless digital strategy, our team of experts excels at integrating these elements across all platforms to achieve our driving goal; growing our clients businesses through the power of website design & search engine optimization. We are proud to be recognized titans of the diverse range of services that make that objective possible, and we love to show off our results.

Thank you to our cherished clients for taking the time to contribute to our profile and entrusting us with your projects. We look forward to all of our future endeavors with you!

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Google My Business Listings: The Benefits and Best Practices No matter what people are searching for, they want to find it quickly and easily. The last thing anyone wants to do is sift through a plethora of business listings, trying to find the description, then trying to find the reviews and then trying to find where the company is located. Wouldnt it be easy if the entirety of your business information was in one place online? There is. Its called Google My Business.

What Is "Google My Business"?

Google My Business is an excellent platform for any business to utilize if theyre wanting to gain more recognition--which every company wants. Businesses can manage their online presence across the entirety of Google with this simple and easy to use feature. But, what exactly is it? Google My Business is a tool that enables a business to fill out all their info, including contact information, business hours, the official website URL, etc. and have it reach across multiple Google platforms. When a company signs up for Google My Business, not only will their business come up in the search results, but will also be shown in locations, reviews and even maps. This makes it easy for potential customers to view your business and gather the information they need.

The Benefits of Utilizing Google My Business

Its obvious that having a solid online presence can attract more customers to your business. An eye-catching description and positive reviews can send crowds of new customers your way. But here are just a few ways that a Google My Business listing can enhance your online presence:

  • Increases Audience Outreach: Whether a phone, tablet or desktop computer, your Google My Business listing will be shown consistently in the search results-- no matter the device your audience uses. Googles standard, organic search results tend to show up differently depending on the device that is being used. No matter which device a person is using, if theyre looking up "landscape design" your business will show up.

  • Interacting with Potential Customers: Utilizing Google My Business is an easy way for potential customers to view and interact with your company. It gives them the opportunity to look at the reviews, engage in discussions, ask questions and more.

  • Everything in One Place: This is perhaps the most important benefit of Google My Business. Your businesss name, address, phone number, description and reviews will be displayed in an easy to view box. Potential customers wont have to search countless pages in order to find everything they need.

Best Practices When Creating Your Listing

Its important to thoroughly (and truthfully) fill out your Google My Business Listing to get the best possible results. Here are the best practices businesses can take into consideration when developing their Google My Business listings:

  • Have Reviews: Everyone enjoys reading reviews. It can help people determine whether or not that particular company is suited for them. Potential customers can view what others have experienced--the good and the bad. Google also rewards your listing for having reviews (but they wont penalize you if you dont). Its important to ask your customers politely to rate their experience, although it can be a slow process, it has greater rewards in the future.

  • Fill Out All Information: Its extremely important to have all the accurate information on your listing, a website linking to your business and a phone number. Also, make sure this information is in text form and not an image. This helps Google able to verify your businesss accuracy. Add photos as well! To get a general idea of what your company is about, many people want to see photos. What does the building look like? Who is on staff? This enables you to begin building a trusting relationship with your customers as they can put a face (or building) to the company.

  • Avoid Misrepresentation: Filling out your listing truthfully and accurately will help your business more down the road. For example, linking the incorrect website to your listing can cause your page to become suspended--which defeats the purpose of gaining more customers. Another issue many businesses do is categorize their business under many categories. They do this thinking it will help them get more business by ranking for all those selected keywords. Under the Google My Business Guidelines, Google Specifically states to "Never make false, misleading, or unrealistic claims." If youre a landscaping company, choose a category that best accurately describes your business. A primary category should be used as an overview of your company as a whole and not the services you offer. If your landscaping company offers a variety of services, such as power washing, you may add additional categories under the primary one.

Overall, utilizing Google My Business is an incredibly effective tool for developing a successful online marketing strategy plan. The tool is free, easy to use and can put your business on the map--literally.

3 Immediate Benefits of Mobile Optimization for Websites Smartphones could be considered the greatest invention since sliced bread. Nearly three-quarters of Americans now own smartphones and have the world at their fingertips. In just seconds, people can look up and view just about anything they can think of. Business owners should take note that optimizing their website for mobile devices can be a complete game changer when boosting sales, leads and customers for their company.

What Happens If My Site Isnt Optimized for Mobile Devices?

If a potential customer is looking for a particular service or product, they are more likely to search it on their phone. With that being said, if the website isnt optimized properly for the web or is difficult to use, the customer will end up finding that product or service somewhere else. They will end up seeking out a competitor company with a website thats optimized for their mobile device instead of finding a computer to search the previous site.

A Bad Experience = Bad Feelings

A user who doesnt have a good mobile experience will get agitated and frustrated. Sometimes these negative feelings will reflect how they feel toward that particular company. A site thats not mobile friendly can show that the company either doesnt care about their business or isnt up on the current technology times. Unfortunately, the user will be less likely to interact with that company in the future.

Immediate Advantages of Having a Website Thats Suited for Mobile Use

When dealing with website optimization for phones, the positives will always outweigh the negatives-- especially in our smartphone world.

More Business

Yes, this is the most obvious benefit. With over three-quarters of the American population using smartphones, almost everyone has access to the internet. For example, if a customer needs a new roof, a quick search can bring up a variety companies as well as their customer reviews in one place. A user simply has to click on the site thats perfectly optimized for mobile use and theyre in. Its fast, easy and efficient. This makes it much simpler on the shopper when choosing and searching for a particular service or product.

Improved User Experiences

Mobile users tend to behave differently than their computer counterparts. Many users arent doing in depth research; they usually are doing a quick search while multitasking or need a quick answer. Since the majority of website traffic comes from mobile devices, its important to keep the whole mobile experience as easy as possible. At the rapid rate we are going with technology, there are potential customers that may not even have access to a desktop computer or laptop. Accessibility is key to a business. Creating a website for mobile use should not only be easy to find but also easy to read and navigate making it quicker to convert a visitor into a customer.

Higher Search Engine Rankings

In 2015 Google began to use "mobile friendliness" as a factor when it comes to search rankings. Its been proven that websites which are optimized for mobile use will rank better than websites that arent. This means that even if a user is on a desktop computer, a companys website thats not for mobile use will become buried in the sea for search results. Whereas a mobile friendly site can increase visibility across any and all devices. Google says the reason they rank a website higher if its it optimized for mobile devices is that it makes it easier for users to find the best search results that can be viewed across various devices.

Like a physical store, customers want to be able to navigate and find what they need more easily--the same goes for mobile websites. Taking your content and creating a unique design thats more responsive on mobile devices will give your company a competitive advantage. Not only will your company stand out from the rest, youll get more conversions, more sales and a higher search engine ranking.

The History and Importance of "Hyperlocal" Targeting Its no secret that targeting consumers near, around or in your area can help a business grow. From word of mouth to a quick Google search, a business can gain consumers faster than they have ever imagined. But what is hyperlocal marketing? And why is it so important for a companys growth?

Breaking Down Hyperlocal Marketing

Even though it seems clear, the simple definition of hyperlocal marketing is reaching possible customers within the immediate area based on their location. This has the potential to help small businesses acknowledge the needs of their consumers in the area. Companies that understand how to utilize their content, products and services for users in their hyperlocal area have a broader opportunity for success.

Hyperlocal marketing, although sounds like a new term, is actually one of the oldest forms of marketing to date. But, how? Hyperlocal marketing used to be utilized by word of mouth before the explosion of technology. Think street vendors yelling out, people at fairs and festivals selling their goods and neighbors asking you who installed your privacy fence. Word of mouth was how small businesses could gain new customers.

How Technology Changed Hyperlocal Marketing

Since the rise of mobile devices, hyperlocal targeting has exploded. Gone are the days of searching for a new landscaping service on your desktop, printing out their info and giving them a call from your landline phone. Consumers can quickly do a quick search of "landscapers near me" and a whole slew of options can appear right at their fingertips.

Back in 2014 and 2015, Google had reported a 2x increase in searches that contained "near me" and "nearby". Where did the majority of those specific searches come from, you may ask? Mobile devices. About 80 percent of those searches came from a users mobile device. Now, that was back in 2015, just imagine what the percentage is now since smartphones are essentially mini robots.

A consumers journey has drastically changed. For example, someone hears or sees a product, they do some quick research, then locate it in the area and purchase it. Sounds simple, but it is incredibly complex. You see, in order for businesses to reach potential customers, they need specific keywords and phrases (think SEO) in order to reach them. So the business needs to be a step ahead of the consumer by knowing the intent of their potential customers.

How Can My Business Best Utilize Hyperlocal Marketing?

First and foremost, if your business has an underwhelming online presence, that can cost your company new customers and money. The first step is to build and strengthen your online presence.

• Build an eye-catching website with fresh content and appealing photos, utilize social media and most importantly fill out your "Google My Business" thoroughly. The Google My Business page can make or break your hyperlocal targeting game.

Secondly, make sure you focus on your city and the surrounding area as well as the interest in those areas.

• For example, say your business is a restoration or roofing and siding company. You are located in an area that gets hit with a lot of storm damage. This the prime opportunity to tailor the content of your site to focus on the issues and keywords of restoration, flood damage cleanup, roof replacements, siding installations and any other keywords needed for that specific location. This will capture consumers attention as those services are greatly needed in that area.

Thirdly, on your new and appealing website, you want to develop landing pages for the specific areas you want to target.

• Utilizing landing pages will allow a business to optimize specific content for that area. With a little digging and research, they can pinpoint that areas exact needs and develop a special landing page for them. When creating landing pages, its crucial to use keywords targeted to the area--most importantly incorporating the citys name somewhere in the title.

Hyperlocal marketing is a great tool to utilize when growing your business. All you need is a little research, a killer website and great SEO keywords to propel your company to success.

Debunking Spam Emails from SEO Companies As a business owner, you get hundreds of emails a day from your current clients, prospective customers, promotions and more. However, in the sea of these emails you notice one or two that say, "SEO Proposal" or a person who is an "Expert Online Strategist" who has reviewed your website and wants to help. This person claims they can unlock the secrets to Search Engine Optimization, grow your companys online presence and make your website better than ever. On the surface, this sounds amazing. But on a deeper level? Its a complete scam. These "experts" are nothing but scam artists out to make a dollar off of you.

But, before we begin, its very important to note that there are many real SEO firms ready and willing to help your company. These businesses are just trying to gain your service, have genuine intentions of helping your site and can help you with your SEO goals. They have legitimate websites, phone numbers, emails and business locations. Their email is expertly and professionally written, detailing out examples and referencing you back to their own valid website. If you can trace back the company and see that the company is authentic--youre in the clear.

However, lets discuss the ones to watch out for and the signs youre dealing with a fake.

The Basics of an SEO Scam Email

Like spam calls, the majority of these SEO spam emails will come unsolicited (usually from an unrecognizable email that cant be traced back to a reliable website). The "SEO Expert" will analyze your website, point out unspecified errors and offer vague solutions to get your website to rank higher. They begin to pitch to you how they, the "experts", can get you to the top of Google search results with just a few tweaks. They assure you that youll get more traffic, more customers and ultimately more business if you follow their lead.

The SEO emails we are pointing out in this article are the scams, these companies are out for something much more malicious than just your business. Those specific spam emails may contain harmful viruses, phishing attempts or even malware. In some instances, once the scammer has access to your site, they have access to everything-- and thats a scary thought. These scammers can gain personal information, financial information and commit cyber fraud. Whether these companies are real or fake, generally theyre not the best or safest companies to be connected with.

They Addressed Me by Name...It Must Be Real!

Not so fast. Sure, there are some SEO companies that are legitimate and want to help-- but we are here to help you spot the fakes. There are a few key factors to look out for when spotting an SEO scam email:

  • The company isnt named and/or no real phone number (HUGE red flag)
  • The email is either not personalized or is personalized--but is either impersonal or wrong
  • Typos...and lots of them
  • The "SEO Expert" has an unprofessional email/email service (Think Hotmail)
  • Information is unsolicited through website form or email
  • No website (or a website with less than ideal ranking)
  • Terrible subject lines
  • Encouraging you to buy their services for low prices

You may think the email is real and that their intentions are pure but if you look closely, past them addressing you by name and/or website, you will notice that the body of the email is quite generic. Though common for business owners to be told that their site is failing to rank for important keywords, they wont identify or specify the ill ranking keywords to you.

If I Receive the Email--Should I Respond?

The best way to respond to these emails is to drag them over to your emails "trash" icon. You could also report the email as spam and hit block. These emails are not worth doing an investigation to see if they are a reputable source or not. These SEO scammers are only trying to get you to pay for one of their poorly equipped services that they have no experience in providing.

When you get these emails, its important to ask yourself one question, "Should I trust someone, whom I dont know that has reached me through an unsolicited email, with no valid website, with my SEO strategy?" The answer is simple--no way. Always remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

You've Received a Lead - Now What? Tips for Closing More Business. Youve got a lead on your website...but whats the next step? As a business owner, converting prospects into potential customers can become a daunting but incredibly necessary task to making your business thrive. Nurturing those leads into sales can take some skill, time and effort---so what are some ways you can quickly close their business? Let us break down a few best practices to get your potential customers to seal the deal.

Dont Wait, Follow Up Quickly

Remember the infamous "3-day rule" when it comes to dating? Essentially you dont want to seem "too eager" to contact the person.

Now, forget that rule.

This is your business! When someone needs your business---they need it ASAP or else they wouldnt have contacted you, right? When you get a lead on your website of someone who is in need of your goods or services --theres no such thing as a too quick reply. Dont give your lead time to forget about you, your company and what you offer. Or even worse, dont give them the time to make a decision to go with your competitor.

If a prospect has contacted you via email or lead form, a thank you email should be sent out immediately and explain that someone will be in contact with them shortly. If they called you, either speak with them directly or set up a time to call them back. The key is showing that youre interested and want their business.

Nurture The Leads and They Will Grow

If a potential customer has contacted you via your website, they have taken careful thought and consideration about your company. With a plethora of businesses similar in industries, the options can seem endless. So when they choose you, its a big deal because they most likely had hit a few sites and done research before making the jump to contact your company.

As soon as you get that email from the prospect, keep an open line of communication with them instantly so you stay at the forefront of their mind. Ask them questions, get to know them and most importantly show them you care. Customers want to know that a business isnt just after their dollar. They want a company that will go above and beyond for them.

Put Your Knowledge, Authority and Expertise on Display

People love confidence, its a known fact. Nothing feels better than being assured by someone who says they are equipped to handle any task thrown at them---no matter how large or small the job may be. Discussing all your services and products to your potential customer in depth could be enough to seal the sale.

But how?

Because you are taking the time to thoroughly explain to your potential customer all you have to offer! A good company may say, "Heres what we offer and heres the cost," while a great company says, "Heres what we offer, this is how it can benefit you and here are all the options you can choose from." See the difference? Compassion can go a long way. People want to know that you care and are there to help them---not just take their money.

Put Your Persuasive Skills To The Test

This is where your inner salesperson needs to surface. Sometimes you may have to experiment and try different ways of persuading the prospect to agree to your services. This could be due to them being nervous or having a fear of making a wrong decision. If this is the case, take more time to explain your various products and services to them even more.

Example, you dont need to persuade a potential client that they need landscaping for their home---they know this, they see that their yard needs some TLC. You need to explain to them why you are the person for the job, what you can bring to the table and how you can turn their visions into realities.

Try discussing past clients and their positive experiences or even show your previous work if your company offers services. Many people are visual and like to see what theyre buying before they make the plunge.

Bottom line, building relationships with your potential customer is the top priority when trying to prove that you are the best business for them. However, it can take some trial and error when figuring out the best approach to encourage your leads to choose you over your competitor. Nevertheless, by providing excellent customer service, paying close attention to the wants of your leads and willing to adapt, you can build your business a large presence in no time.

Boosting Facebook Posts: How Can It Help Your Business? Social media is here to stay. Its the one-stop shop for updates on your friends, family, news and so much more. More and more businesses are using Facebook to leverage their promotions, products and services they offer to expand their audience reach. If you have a business, then you know the importance of a solid social media presence and how it can impact your business. But what if youre a small business or not gaining a large following on your Facebook? The answer is easy - boost your posts.

Simply put, a boosted Facebook post is a post that you pay for to reach a wider audience. For example, when you create a post on your companys Facebook page, only a certain number of your pages fans will see the content. When you pay to boost that particular post, youre essentially widening the posts visibility. Not only will your own followers see the post, but a larger audience beyond them will see it too - such as friends of friends or individuals with similar interests.

Previously On Facebook...

Gaining consistent engagement on your business page used to be much simpler. You post a robust status informing your followers of new products or services and people would like, share and comment on it. Sounds good, right? Not so fast. Because that post would only reach those whove liked your page (and you want to gain more of an audience) it wouldnt reach those outside of your pages circle of followers unless they shared the post on their personal page.

Choose Your Target...Wisely

Now, with the recent algorithm change implemented by Facebook, the intention is to encourage businesses to engage in boosting, or pay for posts, to gain even more visibility than before.

What does this mean for you, the business owner?

More views, more people and more awareness for your company at a small price. Before, you could only boost a post and send it out to those whove liked your page and their friends. Now you have three options:

• People who like your page and their friends

• People similar to people who like your page

• People you choose through targeting

You now have the control to tailor your boosted posts to specific audiences. You can experiment with each of the options to see which audience generates more engagement. But what does each one mean? Lets break it down.

People Who Like Your Page and Their Friends

Say you want to start with baby steps, dipping your toes in the Facebook boosted posts pool - this would be the safest bet. Your boosted post will be shown to not only your audience - but the friends of your audience. Think of this as the +1 guest of visible Facebook posts - except on a much larger scale.

People Similar to People Who Like Your Page

This is the next step if you want to really expand your social media horizon. Targeting similar people who have already liked your page, this option can greatly increase traffic to your post. Your post will be visible to those individuals based on qualities such as demographics, interests and activities. This method could be considered your "next generation" of consumers. You will be reaching those who have similar interests and needs as your original followers who may be looking for your companys goods or services.

People You Choose Through Targeting

Lastly, we have the most customizable option for those that really want to hone in on a specific group. With this choice, you can choose from many variables to target a specific audience. From age, gender, location to even political viewpoints and relationship statuses - the options are endless and you can get very particular.

How does this help you?

You can refine your chosen audience down so precisely that you dont have to worry about your posts being seen by people who arent interested - which saves time and money. Think of this option as Frankenstein - you are picking and choosing specific variables of your potential audience and piecing them together to create an audience thats tailored to your companys needs.

The Best Time to Boost

Unfortunately, there is not a universal "right time" to boost a particular post. The best thing for a company that is active on social media is to monitor their audiences activity. If a business is new to the social media world, their best bet is to sporadically post at different times during the week. This can give you an idea of when the users are most and least active. Once you have figured out the timing, its important to focus on boosting posts during the increased periods of activity to get the best results.

One way to find this information is from Facebook insights. This very powerful tool can help you track user interaction on your companys page. By using Facebook Insights, this allows you to determine the best day and time to post to your page. You can also see which content was the most favorable and best received by your audience. Lastly, its good to be aware that Facebook Insights is almost constantly updating to reflect any developments or patterns that appear on your page. So keep checking back to get a good read on it.

Dont Overdo It

Yes, there is such thing as too much of a good thing! When boosting posts, you want to be choosy. Pick a post thats important to you and your business. Overdoing it can make your posts appear too often in peoples newsfeed, causing them to scroll right by. The best case is to boost a post either once or twice a week, but make sure the content is compelling, unique and engaging.

There you have it! Boosting your Facebook posts can not only increase your visibility to a wide variety of audiences but can also increase revenue for your company. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try, nothing negative can come out of it (unless you think more customers are a bad thing). Boosting a Facebook post can bring the most positive impact for any business thats dived into the social media realm. From promoting offered goods and services to leading more traffic to a website and spreading overall awareness - a small price can make for huge beneficial results.

The 3 Steps to Effectively Managing Online Customer Complaints When it comes to being a business owner, your company is your world. You have put an unimaginable amount of time, money and heart into something that you truly believe will help the masses. When managing online reviews, customer complaints can cut -- and cut deeply.

What may seem to be one little negative comment in a sea of positive ones could sway a future customer (or ten) from your business. Anxiety kicks in: you worry that these potential customers could go to another small business. From there, who knows what the impact could be a year from now.

In this moment of emotional anguish, you could easily respond in all caps and say something along the lines of "I DIDNT NEED YOUR BUSINESS ANYWAY." While this seems to be most instinctual way to defend the honor of your business, its not exactly your best bet.

Before we talk about what to do, lets talk about what not to do.

Dont Buy Positive Reviews

This should be common sense: companies like Google and Yelp have set up elaborate systems to allow genuine users to give their opinions on services and businesses. When businesses attempt to "game" the system by buying reviews, it obliterates the original intent of the system. Harvard Business Review estimates that approximately 16 percent of all Yelp reviews have the potential to be fake. Google and Yelp have been paying attention and have updated their systems accordingly.

Yelp describes their recommendation system:

Yelp introduced their recommended reviews system in 2013 (see above) to promote genuine, real reviews to their users. By using their proprietary system, they can tell when reviews are potentially fake and can "hide" them, removing them from calculating total review scores. Google has a GSRank that, through software magic, can spot even the most elaborate fake reviews. Theres a legitimate way to deal with online customer complaints; this is not one of them.

Just saying "youll get caught" isnt enough; its the premise behind buying positive reviews that is flawed logic. Spending your money on promoting your Google My Business page or Yelp page is a legitimate way to manage online reviews and gain more positive ones. Consider signs, stickers, after-sale flyers, email follow-ups, callouts on your website way before actually buying the reviews.

Dont Sue the Reviewer

This is the most extreme extension of the above that 99% of businesses would never pursue. Thats exactly what a San Francisco Chiropractor did: after a disagreement over billing, Chris Norberg gave a detailed review of his issues with chiropractor Steven Biegel. As a sponsored advertiser, Biegel stated that Yelp traffic plummeted after the customer complaint "unjustly characterizes me as unethical and dishonest." A lawsuit ensued, seeking damages for loss of reputation and business.

While the case was settled and never made it to trial, this was a PR nightmare for the chiropractor. The story made it to major news outlets, effecting the chiropractors business in ways that were completely out of his control.

The lawsuit was supposed to give Biegel control, but unintentionally did the exact opposite. Approaching the situation with open and honest dialog with the customer could have avoided all the negativity surrounding the business post-lawsuit. For this business, it would have been smarter to kill 'em with kindness and not a lawyer.

Dont be Impolite

This should be self-evident advice, but many business owners inadvertently destroy their own business by having no filter or game plan when responding to negative customer complaints.

While it may feel good to blow off some steam when a customer leaves a bad review, dont be provoked into an online flame war; let cooler heads prevail. Customers wont completely write off your business for one bad review -- especially if that review is clearly an outlier from a stellar track record. A genuine, human response to a negative review can be more impactful than the review itself.

So how exactly do you manage your reputation online? Just how Psychology Today says there is three parts to a great apology, mitigating negative customer reviews is much the same:

1. Acknowledge the Problem.

First and foremost, its always good to acknowledge the problem before responding. Your prospective customers reading along to this review want to know that youre not just turning the other cheek on a job that was not done up to expectation. Realizing what the complaint is about could actually help to jog your memory about the job at hand. Maybe you were late to the job a few too many times? What about when you forgot a piece of equipment and just worked with what you had? Weve all been there, and sometimes it helps to raise your level of awareness going forward.

2. Apologize. It Doesnt Matter Who is Right.

Following that, an apology should be doled out. If you know with certainty that you put your heart and soul into a job and this customer still isnt thrilled with it, then apologizing may seem difficult. However, sometimes it is just what people need to hear to move on and initiate next steps. An "Im sorry that you feel that way" and an explanation as to what your intentions were is a great route to take. To make it feel more genuine, provide a plan as to how you will make it up to the client. Bonus points if you can project this to the prospective clients reading your response on your reviews page.

3. Take it Offline. Make it Right.

If this customer is still fuming and not interested whatsoever in hearing what you have to say to diffuse the situation, take the conversation offline. Give them a call or shoot them an email to further discuss, rather than have more obscenities smeared across your pristine Google or Yelp reviews page. An upset consumer could cause more of a ruckus with the whole Internet as an audience than by just talking to you one-on-one.

You dont have to bribe them (remember, buying reviews is bad), but bringing the customer back to your business for another try essentially gives you a "do-over." Service wasnt great the first time? Invite them back in on-the-house and make sure service is top-notch. Issues with the bill? Give them a discount to try again. No matter the business or the complaint, a genuine "let me try again" can turn a negative review into an overwhelmingly positive one.

Most importantly, learn from it. As a small business owner, you have the luxury of dealing with things firsthand and are then able to avoid comparable situations in the future. As the old saying goes, "you cant please everybody". While this may be true, you can definitely try. Knowing that you did everything possible to please a client and have this reflected in your response does wonders to proving yourself to future customers for years to come.

Use Google Reviews to your small businesss marketing advantage, whether it be sharing your past clients praises or setting the record straight for future ones.