I get contacted frequently by local companies wanting a quick fix for ranking in the search engines. In many cases, they discover that local SEO doesn’t equate with a cheap shortcut to high rankings. Increasingly, local SEO is about ongoing, consistent online promotion activities. That’s where Content Marketing comes in.
A good Content Marketing program doesn’t have to be a back-breaking enterprise. It will require some effort and/or some cost, depending upon if you outsource it or if you do it completely yourself.
Why Content Marketing is Your Secret Weapon
The good thing is, a great many local businesses still are not doing Content Marketing, so use of it as a search engine optimization tactic is still something of a secret weapon. Here’s how.
Many local businesses in highly competitive categories have already done the straightforward things for optimizing their businesses to rank for local. They may have optimized their sites, obtained local citations and links, optimized their business profiles, finessed their Google+ Local (a.k.a. Google Places) listings, encouraged customer reviews, and more.
Since all these businesses are doing essentially the same activities, they end up barely trumping the listings just below them in Google Local search results, and they may be frequently jostling, month after month, for the same slots.
But, if one of them begins Content Marketing consistently, that business may rapidly become top dog, accruing advantages that the non-Content Marketing businesses lose out on. It gives some distinct advantages, and can become a secret weapon that may allow the first company using it to develop a lead that the others might not quickly imitate.
Advantages Of Content Marketing For Local SEO
Lends your site some ongoing, timely stuff to seduce parts of Google’s algorithms that feature content based on freshness.
- Attracts an audience that may interact with you. User interaction signals can give your site a higher prominence score in Google local algorithms. Blogs can develop subscribers and frequent readers, and generally make a site/business appear more friendly and open to humans.
- Provides your site with an often unique link profile!
- Enables you to rank in Blog Search as well as in regular keyword search results and Local (Maps) search result which equal more exposure and greater distribution of your promotional efforts.
- Enables you to engage with other bloggers by posting commentary pieces and opinions on your blog.
- Enables you to have a forum for jumping on media feeding frenzies when there’s something related to your industry in the news.
- Provides you with a voice that is your own if anyone ever attacks your company online. Content Marketing is a linchpin of proactive online reputation management.
- Provides a solid bedrock for developing your social media presence! A blog is a perfect tool for feeding content out onto Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as well as other social media sites. As a feed source, you can use it to actually reduce your workload by simply adding content in one place and having it show up in your various social media pages if that’s what you want. (Although, there are things that work more effectively on some social media platforms better than others, so it’s good to still customize these things for different places/audiences. And, you’ll still need to respond to people who engage with each of your social media accounts, too.)
There are a great many details to configuring a blog to be optimal for you, but here are a few suggestions.
How To Set Up An Optimal Blog For Local SEO & Social Media
- Use WordPress. It already has a lot of search engine optimization basics built-in. Although, it’s still helpful to get a pro to help you make decisions about the various installation options.
- Avoid themes that you can’t customize to remove or no-follow links to the designer’s site.
- Integrate your blog as part of your existing site. It could be in a dedicated sub-directory or it could be set as a sub-domain.
- Avoid menu navigation systems that do not use SEO-friendly links.
- Incorporate author pages. I’ve written previously about benefits to incorporating employee pages on your business site. You could use our staff pages to double as author pages, or set them up especially for the blog. Having author pages can work hand-in-hand with authorship markup.
- Incorporate authorship markup. Setting up real, human authors to acknowledge with by-lines on the blog posts will make them reassuring and more trustworthy for readers, and this is one reason why Google treats such blog posts a bit more preferentially. Using the author tag markup can help your pages’ listings have greater visibility in the search results — and more eye-catching listings typically equate with higher click-through rates.
- Perform your SEO research and target future blog posts to your ideal keyword combinations over time. Engineer your page titles and matching keyword URLs to help highlight these terms.
- Include tag pages and related post links. These help enhance the topical keyword associations with your pages and can provide readers with navigation features which help them find more similar content on your blog.
- Post frequently. Once a day is fantastic, if you can keep it up! However, once a week might be best, depending on your industry and comfort/familiarity with Content Marketing.
- Mix it up! If you’re a plumbing site, it’s going to grow terribly dull to write (and for your readers to read) article after article on types of pipe fittings you do, or how fast you drive to their place. Instead, mix it up by mentioning interesting and outrageous things that happen in the news which are related to your business type — when some giant water main has blasted open in a city somewhere, or an amazing story of a wedding ring found in a drain ten years after being lost and then reunited with its owner. Get the idea?
- Start a conversation with the blogosphere. Write a blog piece giving your thoughts on another person’s blog from your industry. Link to their piece if you do this, of course — often they’ll link back to you to respond so their readers can follow the thread, or their blog may automatically post trackback links. Engaging with other blogs can help you enter into the overall conversation, get your blog/business more interest, and further reassure search engine algorithms that your company is on-the-level as more humans interact with you online.
- Make it part of the local community. Even when trying to mix it up and engaging with other blogs, if you only post on topics about your industry, it may still be pretty dry for the average reader. Consider also posting on things of particular interest to the people in your community — local happenings, local economic news, recommendations for other partner businesses in the area, etc. By doing this you can make yours a hyper-local blog, and the additional buzz around local topics will help improve your site for locational relevancy with the local search engines.
- Plan a content calendar. Consider posting seasonal items related to your business and area: seasonal tips, special offers, how the changing season or holidays affect your business or products, and more.
- Keep posts brief! It’s not necessary to write a lengthy essay with each post, and Internet users typically prefer succinct content that’s easily-digestible. Also, if you write too long, you’ll burn yourself out and be unable to blog consistently enough to sustain ongoing publishing.
Installing a blog and writing on it consistently are not going to be shortcuts to achieving higher rankings fast — these things take some work. However, this investment in engaging with online consumers will give you an advantage that won’t disappear overnight. And, if you do it right, it could help you get ahead of your competitors in terms of SEO and social media.
I would like to start out by stating that this is an opinion piece. That means that this is my opinion and you have every right to agree or disagree with it, that is one of the beautiful things about this country.
So this election year we have a choice between two men who have very different views on where we should go as a county. On one side you have a man who believes that you should tax the rich to make them pay for less fortunate and he calls himself a Christian, yet does not really show the fruit of being true Christian. He is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and believes that “all” roads lead to heaven. On the other side you have a man who believes that you should let the rich keep their money in hopes that they will use that money to hire more people and he also calls himself a Christian yet is part of a religion that until recently was considered a cult. He is pro-marriage, pro-life sort of, and believes that he will one day become a god and rule his own planet.
I am left asking, what does this election mean for our country? I believe that as for our country we have a clear choice between the two men and two financial world views, Socialism or Capitalism and this year our country will decide what path it will take. I am also left asking, what does this election mean for the Gospel? Do either one of the financial world views help or hurt the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I think that a socialist U.S. would be harder on the daily life of Christian at least it is in the rest of the world. In fact Christians are being heavily persecuted in the rest of the world . (Voice of the Martyrs) But the question remains has capitalism in the freest country in the world helped or hurt the Gospel? I would like to suggest both! There is no doubt that it is easier to be a Christian in the U.S. than it is in any other country in the world today. But is that a good thing?
Today we have more false converts, false preachers and false religions than in any other country. Yet according to CNN “America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago” with 60% of the nation calling themselves Christian (CNN). If that is true and Christianity is flourishing under in the U.S. then why is it only 35% of Christians believe that Satan and hell are real (Christian Post) and only 30% believe that the bible is the true.(CP Poll) I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you don’t believe that he bible is the infallible word of God, you are NOT a Christian… Don’t believe me, read the Bible.
That brings me back to the question, what does this election mean for Christians and more importantly the Gospel? A Vote for the current president Obama would essentially be a vote to support to move our country towards socialism and support for someone who is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-universalism and a representative of the democratic party that openly Boo’s God. So that would mean that the obvious choice would be Romney right? Wrong… Let’s take a look at what a vote for Romney really means. It would be a vote for capitalism, traditional marriage (sort of) pro-life (sort of) and pro god.
Let’s dive in to the social issues a little more. President Obama obviously losses if you are a social conservative and a Christian, once again this is an opinion piece and if you don’t agree, go read your bible (2nd Corinthians 13:6-5) But that doesn’t mean that Romney automatically wins… Let’s look at some of the major issues. First the abortion issue, he is pro-life except in the cases of rape and incest. As horrible as those acts are you are still punishing the child with a death sentence for the crimes of the farther. Second is the marriage issue, while he is for the biblical definition of marriage the problem is that we believe in a different bible and if you don’t believe that polygamy that is alive and well please visit Shield and Refuge and listen to the testimonies in their “lifting the Veil” documentary. The third and most important issue is God. At least Romney is pro God right… Well let’s take a quick look at Mormonism (for an in-depth look visit CARM) Mormons believe in a different Jesus, believe God used to be a man on another planet, God resides near a star called Kolob, God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children and after you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god. Unfortunately none of that is in the Bible.
So if you are a Christian that means that the obvious vote is for… I don’t know… The only thing I can tell you for certain is that this election is a very important election for our country but as a Christian I feel both choices are extremely lacking. If we really want true change, if we really want the Gospel to win the only thing we can do is stand up and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) That means that if you have ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain, you have sinned. Jesus said, “Whoever looks with lust has already committed adultery in his heart.” Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. God, who the Bible says is “rich in mercy” sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for guilty sinners. We broke God’s Law, but Jesus paid our fine. That means He can legally dismiss our case. He can commute our death sentence: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and God will grant everlasting life to all who trust in Jesus. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.
Resources: Living Waters - Wretched Radio – CARM – Shield & Refuge - Bible Gateway - Christian Post – CNN- Voice of the Martyrs – image Politics R Funny
I could just not pass up the chance to re-post life lessons from a man with the following resume. Supreme Allied Commander. Head of the American Occupation Zone in Germany. Chief of Staff. President of Columbia University. Supreme Commander of NATO. President of the United States of America.
To read a list of the positions that Dwight D. Eisenhower held during his life truly makes you reflect on what a remarkable man he really was.
And yet in researching Eisenhower’s accomplishments over these past couple of months, the thing that struck me the most was how truly unremarkable most of his life was–how late in his career he emerged into history-changing prominence.
A Long Season of Stagnation: 30 Years of Missed Opportunities and Disappointments
After graduating from West Point in 1915, Eisenhower was given various assignments which largely revolved around coaching Army football teams, training officers, and organizing new units.
In 1917, as the United States began to mobilize its armed services for entry into WWI, Eisenhower had the same ambition as every other West Point graduate: to get to Europe and into the field. Ike applied several times for overseas duty, and was denied each time—rejections he found quite “distressing.”
Instead, having been noticed by superiors as a “young officer with special qualities as an instructor,” he ended up at Fort Leavenworth, training provisional lieutenants and supervising all of the regiment’s physical training, from bayonet drills to calisthenics.
Ike tried to focus on the fact that by “preparing young officers to lead troops,” he was making a “constructive contribution” to the war effort. But he found the prospect of once again being stuck training and organizing units “one of falling into dull routine” and mighty discouraging:
“For one thing, all West Point traditions that nourished élan and esprit centered on battlefield performance. The leadership of the men who had gone before us, faced with headlong attack, stubbornly defending and then causing their troops to follow them was in our minds the hallmark of a true solider. My mastery of paper work, even of rudimentary training methods, hardly seemed a shining achievement for one who had spent seven years preparing himself to lead fighting men…
Some of my class were already in France. Others were ready to depart. I seemed embedded in the monotony and unsought safety of the Zone of the Interior. I could see myself, years later, silent at class reunions while others reminisced of battle…It looked to me like anyone who was denied the opportunity to fight might as well get out of the Army at the end of the war.”
Eisenhower’s gloomy mood lifted when he was ordered to Camp Meade in Maryland to organize and equip the 301st Tank Battalion, a unit he was told would be shipping out for overseas duty. In March 1918, Ike got word that the battalion would soon be embarking from New York, and that Ike would be going along in command! Eisenhower could barely hide his exuberance from others, and went to NYC to make sure every detail was taken care of, so his men would be ready to ship out without a hitch.
Just two days later, he was back at Camp Meade. His chief told him he was impressed with Ike’s “organizational ability” and that this ability was needed to set up a new training camp in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This was another great disappointment for Ike; “my mood,” he remembered, “was black.” But he was told the assignment was temporary, and that after this training operation was completed, he’d again be considered for an overseas assignment. So Ike threw himself into whipping Camp Colt into shape, and took pride in the fact “that not a single man of ours was turned back from port because of any defect in his instructions, records, and physical condition.”
Ike’s superior, Colonel Welborn, was so pleased with Eisenhower’s masterful training of the troops, that he offered to promote him to full colonel if he agreed to give up his plans for overseas service. Ike not only declined the offer, but told Welborn he’d take a reduction in rank if it would ensure the opportunity to serve in Europe. Seeing that Ike could not be dissuaded from his desire to see combat, Welborn promised to put him in command of a November shipment of troops.
When November 1918 finally arrived, Ike had picked the men he wanted to take with him to the Western Front, had pondered strategy, and had practiced tactics with the troops. He had prepared for every detail…except one: the surrender of the Germans.
With the Armistice signed, Ike’s hope of being shipped overseas vanished; this was the war to end all wars, it was said, and thus when it came to ever getting a field command, Eisenhower was miserable he had “missed the boat:”
“As for my professional career, the prospects were none too bright. I was older than my classmates, was still bothered on occasion by a bad knee, and saw myself in the years ahead putting on weight in a meaningless chair-bound assignment, shuffling papers and filling out forms. If not depressed, I was mad, disappointed, and resented the fact that the war had passed me by.”
Eisenhower thought about leaving the Army and becoming a civilian like many of his classmates had done. But he decided to stay in. Looking on the bright side, Ike saw that his “education had not been neglected.” He had gotten the opportunity to take what he had learned in his textbooks and get real world practice in how to “take a cross-section of Americans and convert them into first-rate fighting troops and officers.” And he was grateful that his military career brought him into contact “with men of ability, honor, and a sense of high dedication to their country.”
After the war, Eisenhower trained more troops, advanced and advocated for the use of the tank (along with his friend, George Patton), became an executive officer to General Fox Conner in Panama, coached more football, attended the Command and General Staff School (graduating first out of 245 officers) and the Army War College, wrote battlefield guides as part of the Battlefield Monuments Commission, and served as a deputy to the Secretary of War, studying how to prepare for the next major conflict.
After a stint as chief military aide to General MacArthur, the Army’s Chief of Staff, Ike was itching to serve with the troops again. But when MacArthur was made Military Adviser to the Philippines in 1935, the General insisted on Ike coming along with him to act as his assistant in developing the Filipino army in preparation for that country’s independence.
In the Philippines, Ike again carried out his duties to the utmost and even learned how to fly. But as hostilities increased in Europe, he realized that the U.S. could not stay out of the war for long, and he wished to get home as soon as possible to be part of the imminent preparations for battle. MacArthur told Ike he was “making a mistake,” and that “the work [he] was doing in the Philippines was far more important than any [he] could do as a mere lieutenant colonel in the American army.”
In reply, Eisenhower reminded the general “that because the War Department had decided I was more useful as an instructor in the United States than as a fighting man in World War I, I had missed combat in that conflict. I was now determined to do everything I could to make sure I would not miss this crisis of our country.”
Eisenhower returned to the States and to active duty again, training the troops and commanding a battalion; he was ready to jump into the war effort with both feet, and was elated when he got a letter from Patton in 1940, saying that if war broke out he was sure he’d be given command in the new armored division and would make Eisenhower regimental commander under him when that happened. Ike dreams about this prospect for weeks. Then, as it had many times before, “the roof fell in.” Ike received a telegram asking him to join the War Department Staff in D.C. as part of the War Plans Division. “Shock waves of consternation hit me,” Eisenhower remembered. The telegram sent Ike “into a tailspin;” after his many years “of constant staff assignments,” he felt he “really deserved troop duty.” But now it seemed a very real possibility that he would be left out of this war, just as he had the previous one.
While Ike wasn’t sent immediately to the War Plans Division after all, he was assigned various other staff positions, ending up as Chief of Staff for the Third Army, where his success overseeing practice maneuvers did not go unnoticed; he was given the star of brigadier general.
Then, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, General George Marshall summoned Ike to the War Department in D.C., putting him at a desk in the Planning Section and then as Chief of Operations. The possibility of ever getting field command had never seemed so remote.
Marshall, who had felt that too many staff officers had been promoted compared to field commanders during WWI, one day saw fit to blurt out to Ike: “The men who are going to get the promotions in this war are the commanders in the field, not the staff officers who clutter up all of the administrative machinery in the War Department and in higher tactical headquarters. The field commanders carry the responsibility and I’m going to see to it that they’re properly rewarded.”
He then turned directly to Ike and said: “Take your case. I know that you were recommended by one general for aviation command and by another for corps command. That’s all very well. I’m glad they have that opinion of you, but you are going to stay right here and fill your position, and that’s that!”
To which Marshall added: “While this may seem a sacrifice to you, that’s the way it must be.”
At that moment, Ike’s long-simmering resentment from not getting overseas in 1918, mixed with his umbrage at Marshall’s insinuation that he was anxious about his promotion prospects, prompting him to angrily reply: “General, I’m interested in what you say, but I want you to know that I don’t give a damn about your promotion plans as far as I’m concerned. I came into this office from the field and I am trying to do my duty. I expect to do so as long as you want me here. If that locks me to a desk for the rest of the war, so be it!”
Eisenhower almost immediately regretted his angry response, knowing it had helped neither man nor made Marshall’s job any easier. He told his son he figured the outburst had sealed the deal for him: he would forever remain a brigadier, and an assistant to other men.
And so it was a great shock to Eisenhower, when, just 3 days later, Marshall promoted him to major general and sent him to command the European Theater of Operations.
It was 1942 and Eisenhower was 52 years old. He had been in the Army for 30 years but had never held a troop command above a battalion and had no real accomplishments to his name. He had been highly praised over the course of his career, but no one knew how he’d perform outside the duties of a staff officer. But Ike had always felt confident in his ability to rise to the challenge. He had prepared himself. And now, at an age when many men begin to think of retirement, he finally had a chance to prove it.
In November 1942, he was made the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force of the North African Theater of Operations, and oversaw Operation Torch and the Invasion of Sicily. Then in December 1943, FDR chose Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Expeditionary Commander. And that is how after 30 years of largely unremarkable service in the Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower came to be the man responsible for pulling the trigger on Operation Overlord–the largest amphibious military assault in the history of the world. And how he gained a war hero reputation that led to two terms in the White House.
To read this article in it’s entirety please visit the Art of Manliness and it’s full series on leadership lessons from Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Never Let the Sun Catch You Sleeping: Why and How to Become an Early Riser
I saw this post this morning via a friends Facebook and it immediately raced back memories of my Grand-farther waking up at 4:00 AM and being out the door by 4:30 to go have coffee with his buddies at a local coffee shop. There were a few memorable times that he would let me wake up early and he would take me with him, I still remember the early morning butter knife sword fights with all of his old buddies and listing to their stories of the “good old days”. Any ways I thought this post was to good not to share…
As a boy, waking up early was something I associated with being a man. I figured once you became a man, it was a rule that you had to wake up before sunrise. My dad would be up at 5:30 drinking his coffee and reading the paper. During hunting season, he was often out the door at 5AM to patrol for hunters. When we visited my grandpa in New Mexico, I remember the scent of coffee wafting into the guest room at pitch-black o’clock and the sound of the screen door shutting as my grandpa headed out to take care of the chores on his small ranch.
It seemed like all the men around me as a boy never let the sun catch them in bed. They were men of action who had things to do and people to see. They couldn’t dilly dally under the covers.
Now, I’ll admit that I love sleep. A lot. But I know I’ve wasted hours of my life that I can’t get back because I kept hitting the snooze button on my alarm. I’ve made an effort these past few years to wake up early so I can accomplish more during the day and complete the goals I’ve set out for myself so I can become a better man.
Below I share a few of things I’ve learned during my quest to become an early riser.
Great Men Who Were Early Risers
If you read the biographies of history’s greatest men, you’ll find that most were early risers. They used each morning to write, read, ponder, and plan for their day.
- Statesman Daniel Webster would use his extra time in the morning to answer twenty to thirty of the letters he received from constituents and other politicians.
- Benjamin Franklin would wake every day at 5AM and would use the time to wash, dress, and plan his day’s work.
- Theodore Roosevelt would rise before dawn so he could get an early start on living his day strenuously.
- Ernest Hemingway felt he did his best writing in the morning. “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” He’d get started at 6AM and write non-stop until noon.
- Philosopher Immanuel Kant would wake up at 5AM and have a cup of tea. After his tea, he’d smoke his pipe and meditate.
- Thomas Jefferson felt “it [was] of great importance to use every moment of every day to its fullest,” so he was up before the sun each day. He’d use the time to record the weather, a habit which he kept up his entire life. After recording the temperature and air pressure, Jefferson would start a fire in his study. He’d sit by it with his feet in cold water and mediate about the day’s activities or any scientific hypothesis or political theories he was working on.
- Benito Juarez, Mexico’s first full-blooded indigenous national to serve as president, woke up before dawn to study. His strict habit of daily thinking and studying gave him the insight and wisdom he needed to restore democracy to Mexico.
I could keep going with this list, but I think you get the idea.
Benefits of Waking Up Early
Increased productivity. The world is a much quieter place at 6AM in the morning. The kiddos are probably still asleep and businesses haven’t opened yet. You can use this time to get a head start on the day. Plan out your day, work on your side business, catch up on emails, exercise, or take care of those annoying administrative things that tend to get overlooked during the workday.
A lot of people ask me how I managed to run AoM while going to law school, working a part-time job, writing a book, etc. Much of it came down to pure hustle and lots of help from Kate. But my success with the blog also came from waking up early and spending the first few hours of the day working on AoM. I was able to get all my writing done in the morning so I could spend the rest of the day concentrating on my studies. Now that I have a full-time job, I continue to wake up at about 5:30AM and write blog posts for the Art of Manliness before starting in on my day job.
Increased creativity. Many writers and artists find they’re the most creative first thing in the morning. It’s when your mind is fresh. I’ve learned to organize my days so that I work on tasks that require the greatest creativity – like writing - at the very beginning of the day. I’ll write late at night if I have to, but I’ve found I usually spew out crap that I have to re-write the next morning.
Decreased stress. This can happen two ways. One, you get more done during the day with your extra time, thereby freeing your mind of psychological clutter. The other way waking up early can decrease stress is if you use the early hours to meditate and think. Many of the great early risers from history didn’t use their extra time in the morning for toil and labor, but rather for quiet contemplation. You could use the time to flesh out your thoughts in a personal journal. If you’re a spiritual person, you could use the time for prayer and scripture study. Studies have shown that these activities, done on a consistent basis, can reduce stress and increase alertness.
Increased fitness. If you’re tired of your gut, but don’t have time for a workout during the day, or find that your motivation to go to the gym evaporates after work, set the alarm clock an hour earlier and exercise first thing in the morning. An early morning workout will leave you feeling full of vim and vigor and ready to take on the rest of the day. And it’s a truly satisfying feeling to know you’ve already gotten it out of the way.
To read this blog post in its entirety as well as tips on how to become an early riser check out the blog “The Art of Manliness” I my self have more recently aspired to become an early riser, I currently wake up sometime between 5:30AM and 6:00AM ish… and spend the first part of my day reading in the Bible. The author of this blog also challenges you to start waking up one hour earlier for the next 30 days. (ouch!) But I think that I just might shoot for an extra half hour or so my self.