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Resolve to Market Your Business More in 2013

SEO Expert Mark Claypool shares tips on how to keep your website fresh and generating new business.

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

At this point, New Year’s has come and gone and you’ve made your resolutions. You know, those promises you make to yourself to make positive differences in your life and others’… promises you make now as you consider a fresh start… promises you usually break by now!

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I hope that one of your resolutions was to market your business and bring more work to your door.

If you’re reading this, the prediction that the world would end proved once again to be premature (remember Y2K?). So, since life has gone on, I’m going to share four things related to your web presence that you should resolve to accomplish during 2013.

Freshen Up Your Website

When’s the last time you took a look at your website? What’s the copyright date at the bottom (if you have one, and you should)? Does it still say you’ve been in business for X years, which was true years ago when you launched your website but now you’ve actually been in business for Y years?

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Search engines will reward you for fresh content and pick up on the slightest change you make to the site. Regularly updating your site shows search engines that your business is alive, viable and worthy of ranking.

If your site is five years old or more, you should probably look at redesigning it. Your website is your online lobby. Having said that, maybe your lobby area hasn’t been updated lately either, but I’ll leave that topic for other people to write about. Conduct a search on Google, Yahoo and Bing using this information: “auto body [INSERT YOUR TOWN AND STATE’s TWO-LETTER ABBREVIATION].” Skip past the sponsored listings and map pointer listings and look for what are known as the “organic” search results. Is your shop on page one? Two? If not, you should resolve to have an SEO expert do some work on your site. Contact me for more information.

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Build a Mobile Version of Your Website
Generation Y (those folks under 30 years of age) is now the largest generation on the planet. And in case you haven’t noticed, they do everything on their phones. So, a mobile version of your website is in order, something that’s optimized for the size of a small screen. (This was the topic of my August 2012 column titled, “Going Mobile With Your Website”). Connect with a reputable firm that understands how to do this correctly. This will enhance your chances of getting Gen Y vehicles to fix. It’s worth taking the time and spending a few bucks to do it!

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Measure Your Online Results
If you aren’t getting reports on your online performance, it’s way past time to do so. Anything worth doing is worth measuring – and that holds true for your Web presence. And the best part is that these reports are free! If your website developer/hosting service is charging you for reports, fire them. It takes about one minute tops to insert Google Analytics coding into a website and about 10 minutes to create a Google account if you don’t already have one, so there should be no excuses why a developer can’t set this up for you. If they complain, ask yourself why. Is it that they don’t want you to know how poorly the site is performing?

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Facebook reports through its Insight system. After you’ve gotten 30-plus “Likes,” you can start viewing these reports. On these reports, you’re looking for people “Talking About This,” meaning they’re liking things you’ve posted, commenting on them or sharing them on their wall. You can see how many “Likes” you have and the total number of people your followers are friends with. That’s how your Facebook page can go viral: getting your followers to participate in your posts.

Participate In Social Media
Is your business on Facebook? Google+? Twitter? It should be. Ninety-seven percent of Generation Y is, and a large percentage of the rest of us are, too. Social media is about branding, and now it’s also about ranking better through Google+.

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This doesn’t mean just creating accounts and posting from time to time. This means actively promoting your accounts, getting “Likes,” “Followers” and “Circles.” This also means posting the kind of content regularly that gets people participating, commenting and sharing. If you don’t have the time to do this, then outsource it to someone who can do it for you. Contact me if you have questions.

Keep Your Resolutions
Don’t let these resolutions fall into the bottomless pit of broken and forgotten ones. Your business deserves better than that, and so do you and your employees! Make 2013 a year of online marketing action!

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has worked in the fields of workforce development, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships and Web presence management for 30 years. He’s CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, development, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media management services. He’s also the Director of Business Development for Metro Paint Supplies in Chicago. Claypool’s work history includes VP of VeriFacts Automotive, founder of Mentors At Work (now a division of VeriFacts), executive director of the I-CAR Education Foundation and the National Auto Body Council (NABC), co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation and national director of development for SkillsUSA. Claypool served, on a volunteer basis, as the SkillsUSA World Team Leader for the WorldSkills Championships.

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