Is it Possible to Get Credit after Bankruptcy?

People who experience bankruptcy for the first time often wonder if there is such a thing as credit after bankruptcy. This is because many people who have declared for bankruptcy are afraid that creditors would no longer have any confidence in them. However, we all know what bankruptcy is all about.

It is not just about the protection that you get from creditors. It is also about the fact that all your assets will be used to cover your debts. How are you going to start anew? Will you be given a chance?

For your information, credit after bankruptcy is possible. In fact, you can actually keep your credit card after bankruptcy is declared.

However, if you owe money on the credit card during the time that you file for bankruptcy, you have to list it as a debt. In order to keep credit after debt, you have to report any debts you have. Not doing so will not only remove your chances of credit after bankruptcy, it may also land you in jail. If you do not owe anything on the card, however, it is not necessary to report the occurrence of bankruptcy to the company.

This means that you can have credit after bankruptcy through that card. Credit card companies, however, may find out about the bankruptcy through other means and subsequently cancel your card. This is commonly done by American Express as a precaution against bad debts.

Actually, most credit card companies will allow you to keep your card if you agree to reaffirm the debt amount after the bankruptcy filing is done. This means that you will have credit after bankruptcy as long as you are willing to take on the original amount of your old debt. This means that in order to get credit after bankruptcy, you will have to enter into a new agreement with the creditors.

What is the rationale behind credit after bankruptcy? Well, you have to realize that creditors see bankruptcy as a threat to their business.

And they see your credit as their business. If they terminate your credit, there is a huge chance that they won't be able to collect from you. However, if they exchange credit after bankruptcy for an opportunity to collect the full amount of your debt, then they would be willing to do so.

Every person also sees bankruptcy as a chance to begin a new life. Of course, credit companies wish to profit from that new life. They therefore offer credit after bankruptcy.

However, you should realize that there will be consequences. If you want to get credit after bankruptcy then you will have to settle for certain conditions imposed by the company.

For one thing, the limit on your credit card will be much lower. This is just a precaution by the company.

By imposing this rule on credit after bankruptcy, then the company will be able to make sure that you won't spend more than what you are able to pay. Also, if you want the privilege of credit after bankruptcy, then you might have to pay more. This is another precaution by the credit company just to make sure that they at least get some money from you. All in all, credit after bankruptcy may be hard to get but it does exist.

How should You Select a Bankruptcy Attorney?

Everyone comes to a point when their status in life is reversed. At one time, you are on top. Your business is in full swing and the out-pour of money in your pocket has never been a problem. But then, there is always the moment when your star starts to fade out. Your soon find out that your financial life is never the same again. You are now left with no other recourse but to consider the fact about filing for bankruptcy. As you start to see the perspectives concerning bankruptcy, you will have to be guided in the entire process. Because there are too many legal terminologies that would be covered in your venture to file for bankruptcy, you would need an expert in that arena. And that is no other than a bankruptcy attorney.

It is very significant that a bankruptcy attorney is capable of supplying you with the beneficial insights, other alternatives, possible escapes, conditions, terms, and the possibilities that would come your way as you deal with bankruptcy. A legal counselor could be found in the person of a bankruptcy attorney. He is the one who understands all the guidelines, terminologies, and concepts that come along with bankruptcy. Do not be mistaken by the fact that any practicing attorney would do. You need someone who specializes in that field. The lawyers have their own delicacies, so to speak. And in your battle against bankruptcy, all you need is the services of a bankruptcy attorney. 

There are some important matters that you need to put in mind as you think about hiring a bankruptcy attorney. First and foremost, consider the confidence level of your bankruptcy attorney. What is meant by this? You have to look into his background. Is he fully educated with the most recent laws? Has he handled cases and won them? How is his credibility? Does he have a good reputation to boast of? What could other clients say about him? By knowing the background and capacity of your bankruptcy attorney, you will somehow be assured that you would possibly win in your quest.

Another concern to look into is with regards to the fees that the bankruptcy attorney would be charging you. If he is well-known and he really is that good in the field, then you may expect him to charge you with a considerable amount of fees. But if he is still new in the field, you could bargain with him if ever he charges you with lesser human consideration.

If you are not yet that decided with filing a bankruptcy case but you just want to be enlightened by the counsels of a bankruptcy attorney, then you could opt for the free consultation attorneys. These free consultation attorneys really manifest their concern for you. They may just be too loaded with many cases and inquiries but at least you have given it a try. Feel free and be comfortable to open up your case with these people.

Is also matters that the bankruptcy attorney that you choose would accommodate your queries. It is natural for you to be asking lots of questions because you simply want to be made aware of the deals of bankruptcy filing. Therefore, get the services of a bankruptcy lawyer who is sure to be approachable. 

You must understand the vital point of getting a bankruptcy attorney that could well represent you in your ordeal. Be sure that you work with no one but the best in his field if you want the case to run on smoothly.



Home Buying After Bankruptcy

Who told you that right after a case of bankruptcy your world would never be the same again? You may have lost everything that you've had during the battle against bankruptcy but never think of losing hope because you could still secure a home financing after bankruptcy.

Most often, the lenders would let you stabilize your credit history for about two years before you could be granted with a mortgage loan. You could never put the blame on them because they are simply minding their business. They are afraid to deal with you and let you enjoy the privilege of accessing a loan the same with the rest of the regular customers that they have. After the two-year time frame, everything will fall back into their rightful places. You would be able to gain financing loans easily. Home buying after bankruptcy could now also be made possible.

Usually, people with bad credit find it difficult to gain financing loans because of the two usual requirements asked for by the creditors. They are the down payment and the income verification. It is important that in working up for the improvement of your credit history, you include the necessary explanation that would give light to the flaws in your credit scores.

Now if you are waiting for the lapse of the two-year period right after you have been discharged from the bankruptcy state, you would have to try your level best to polish your accounts. The credit bureau should reflect accounts that have been paid for and cleared. Another thing is that you would be required to come up with the specified down payment. At least about three up to five percent of down payment would be enough for you to be approved.

There are a lot of methods on how you could come up with the necessary down payment that would fill in your needs for the mortgage aside from the fact of shelling out your savings from your bank account. Here are some other helpful tips on how home buying would be made possible after bankruptcy.

Seek the help of your relatives. You may appeal to their emotions by engrossing them to grant you with cash gifts so that your financing the house would come to a reality. You may go up to the extent of taking the second or even the third mortgage that would suffice to the value of the house that you wish to buy and then eventually you would be able to pay back your relatives.

Look for down payment assistance programs that would basically save you from the worry. The internet could be a very good source.

You may do a cash out in terms of the 401K and other investment ventures.

The mortgage loans even after bankruptcy are easier to get access to these days. There are programs that are actually designed to be of help to the people who want to start with a fresh focus in mind. Everyone definitely wants a change of life. A good thing to start with is to purchase a home after bankruptcy. There are these methods in which you may turn to so that you could raise the stipulated amount that is very necessary for your home buying needs.

There are lots of ways that would give you the opportunity to rebuild the credit reputation that you've lost. Home buying after bankruptcy is always possible. 

Credit Monitoring as a Bankruptcy Service

Are you not afraid to face the worries that come along bankruptcy? How could you possibly avoid the pressing threats that bankruptcy might open up for you? It is basically necessary to get a grasp of the pros and cons of bankruptcy so that you would be able to recognize and appreciate which bankruptcy services would do you well in case that you are faced with such personal dilemma. Read on and open your eyes to the ups and downs of bankruptcy.

The Pros of Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy relieves you of the stress and uncertainties that are caused by the hard way of dealing with the harassing techniques of the creditors.

As soon as bankruptcy has been filed and recognized by the court, a mediator in the person of bankruptcy lawyers, take over the circumstance and draws out the necessary decision to be exercised to settle the matter.

Once bankruptcy is filed, the debts get reduced in the scope that is within the capacity of the debtor. In turn, the creditors are legally forced to accept less money as compared with the full amount of debt as the payment for whatever it is that has been owed by the borrower.

As soon as the matter has been taken to the court, the creditors are bound to stop forcing the debtor to yield to their demands.

The Cons of Bankruptcy

When bankruptcy is filed, the debtor should have to let go of whatever existing assets and resources he has. Once a verdict has been arrived at, the debtor would eventually have to split up those resources that would allow him to amend for the debts he has.

Equity in home would have to be sold as well.

Whatever business is owned would be given up and the employees would be dismissed too.

If the debtor is renting a place and has concurred risky arrears, he could be sent away too.

Bank accounts and other credits would be very difficult to apply for because the businessmen and creditors would have second thoughts of entertaining you.

Filing for bankruptcy could be really expensive since there are some payment to make for the trustee, court fees, and the likes.

The financial dealings would be examined and any doubtful arena could be investigated thus putting the debtor into hot water.

The debtor would be hindered from holding public offices and practice his profession.

The name of the debtor would be published and wherever he is in the world, the creditors would be able to view the data and therefore obstruct him from gaining another loan.

Now as you've started again with a new life, you have to make it a point to secure your credit standing. One of the effective bankruptcy services is the credit monitoring. Through credit monitoring, you must work up on raising your credit score. You could also opt to do it by yourself but having an efficient bankruptcy service of credit monitoring would be more systematic.

There are lots of companies that would be willing to offer you with this kind of bankruptcy service. Having seen the pros and cons of bankruptcy should already wake you up and refrain you from getting into the verge of the dilemma. You could make use of the Internet resources to avail of the credit monitoring bankruptcy service.

Bankruptcy Law: Know it and be Guided

Being declared as bankrupt is not something that many people wish to become. This is not a thing to be proud of. Most individuals even arrive at the point of denying their real financial status when the worst thing comes into their lives because they are very much aware that such circumstance is never a noble experience. However, there always comes the instance when you could no longer escape the fact that you have no other option left aside from claiming bankruptcy. If the need arises, you must be very aware of the provisions of the bankruptcy law that could give you the protection that you need the most.

The bankruptcy law was first pushed through in the United States in the year of 1978. The bankruptcy law is enacted whenever someone wishes to file the claim for it. There are the Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 in the bankruptcy laws which are inspired from the bankruptcy code. However, do not be too secured that the bankruptcy law would give you your desired protection because many of its provisions are not meant to cater to the security of the individual who faces financial crises.

The bankruptcy law has been put together by the US congress so that the applicable laws are all integrated into one. The bankruptcy code is the main source of the bankruptcy law and it is designed to give the suffering person the necessary insights that he needs to know in the instance of bankruptcy

To date, there four principal types of bankruptcy laws which have been drawn out from the bankruptcy code. They come in the forms of chapters. These bankruptcy laws are meant to explain to the person the chances that he has, his available options, and the strong grounds that would make him qualify for the filing of bankruptcy.

If you are in serious debt, you must be abreast of the existing bankruptcy laws that are practiced in the state where you are a resident of. The various chapters contained in the bankruptcy law are sources of relevant information regarding handling the debt. Meanwhile, the steps on how the law would keep you away from irrational hassles are discussed under the headings of each of the chapters.

As a citizen of your state, you have the utmost right to be kept well-informed of these bankruptcy laws. You have the right to be protected as well by the bankruptcy law. But then, most people get to read the contents of the bankruptcy law during the time when everything has already worsen so they arrive at a point wherein no other recourse could be made readily available that would be to their advantage. But if you are after knowing your exclusive rights, it will be very significant to get a grip of the bankruptcy law.

The US government has only come up with an outline or guiding framework for the execution of the bankruptcy law. However, it is the discretion of the states to affirm any other bankruptcy law that would be in accordance with the stated bankruptcy code. Therefore, there may be variations in the entire makeup of the bankruptcy law in different states. You do not have to expect that the same proceedings would take place in all states. There may be some changes so it is better that you keep yourself widely informed of the bankruptcy law in your own locale.

Avoiding Business Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is the state of not being able to pay off your creditors. It is, in fact, a legally declared state. This means that any businesses who declare bankruptcy are legally freed from their debts. Although the purpose of declaring business bankruptcy is to give the debtors a fresh start, many people still believe that it is something to be avoided.

The main aim of every business, after all, is to produce profit and to keep producing profit for a long time. Fresh starts may sound good, but having a long and successful business life is better. So how does one avoid business bankruptcy?

1) Keep the finances separate – if you own a business, it may be quite hard to separate your finances. Some people like to dip into the cash register every time that they truly need However, you should try to distinguish the term "need" from "want". In order to avoid business bankruptcy, you have maintained the balance of your income and expenses.

The reason why some corporations go bankrupt is the fact that the executives were unable to keep their finances separate and started to draw from the funds intended for the business operations. In order to avoid business bankruptcy, you have to distinguish what is truly yours and what is needed to keep the business going.

2) Pay your debts on time – Credit is a normal part of business. However, you should definitely take track of when you should pay off your debts. This is because although the principal amount of the debt can be quite hard to carry, it will be the interest that kills you. If you pay your debts on time, you can avoid the interest. This will definitely help you keep your creditors and business bankruptcy at bay.

3) Always keep track of your finances – most businesses go bankrupt because they failed to realize that they had so many debts. There are even people who borrow more money in order to pay off older debts. Usually, a careful accounting of your finances can show you where problem areas lie before they can cause business bankruptcy. Most entrepreneurs think that all they need is an accountant to handle their finances. However, you should realize the value of a good financial manager. Although accountants can tell you where your money is, a good financial manager can tell you where to place that money in order to make it grow. By keeping track of your finances, you can definitely avoid business bankruptcy.

4) Do not be hasty – there are people who, when they find out that their credits are bigger than their assets, immediately think about declaring business bankruptcy. However, you should definitely think about it first. This is especially so if you own a single proprietorship. Before declaring business bankruptcy, you should try to find alternative means to increase your assets. Remember that every business during its first year of operation is bound to lose money instead of making profit. This shouldn't discourage you.

Declaring business bankruptcy is not an easy decision to make. That's why people try to avoid it. There are so many things you can do with a business in order to avoid bankruptcy. Just be smart in making decisions involving money. This way, you will be able to make sure that your debts do not outweigh your liabilities.

Avoid Bankruptcy: Why is it a Step to be Taken

As to the survey, there are numerous people who come to the decision of filing for bankruptcy and the scale grows higher and higher every year. Most creditors are confronted with the debtors who are surely the pains in their necks.

They have to formally file their complaints to the debtors who never show up themselves again, reject phone calls, and ignore notices. These creditors are not only confined to the banks, they are also the credit card providers, loan providers, car companies, and many others.

Indeed, the decline in the financial status of the debtor produces a grave effect on the businesses of the creditors. If you have several loans here and there, you might want to picture yourself being in a state of financial crisis.

How do you see yourself? Would you rather enjoy being chased by banks, credit card companies, and other agents because they ask for one thing—your payment! Do you want to enjoy a life of being threatened and harassed? How do you think you would be able to cope up with such reality? Now if you do not want to even imagine yourself being the object of ridicule and threats, you need to work out on one thing and that is to avoid bankruptcy.

Why should you avoid bankruptcy? Why is there a need for you to be careful when you make loans? The reason is very basic and simple.

You do not want to shame yourself and ruin your credit reputation! It comes instinctively that when you procure any kind of loan, you have to be sure with yourself that you have the financial capacity to pay for those. Because if you do not see yourself being capacitated of repaying those loans, then think about backing out from availing any of those.

You must avoid bankruptcy. This must not sound as if you are being mentored. You simply have to bear this in mind as a reminder to you. When you file for bankruptcy, sure enough, the stain would leave marks on your credit reports. The credit report would bear the stains of bankruptcy for a duration of almost ten years. Now when you have the dire need to secure loans, the creditors would always have second thoughts. You are not in the position to blame them though. They are running a financial business and they do not want to get unlucky. They would never risk negotiating with someone who has got a very ruined credit score. So let us say that you have been allowed to loan some money.

The thing is, you will be charged with a higher interest rate or that you could never get the entire amount of the money that you wish to borrow. Your loan could be decreased basing on the discretion of the creditor. You must understand that these creditors would see you as a big risk to their businesses. More so, they would tightly hold on to your collateral so that they have something to fall back on. 

Also, the loans such as child support, tax liens, and student loans are not among those that could be relieved from you. Even though you claim bankruptcy, you will still be fully obliged to meet the repayment for these loans. You must not see bankruptcy as an ultimate solution to your financial crisis. You are going to let your reputation suffer if you commit to this. Hence, as early as now, try to assess your financial capacity and gauge it with your existing loans. Avoid bankruptcy if you do not want to mess up your life.

Answering the Question about Bankruptcy in Student Loans

In the past, people who could not afford to pay off their student loans were able to file for bankruptcy. However, many people abused student loan bankruptcy, leading the government to make amendments to the law. Today, creditors can practically no longer be prevented from collecting by the debtor's declaration of student loan bankruptcy. There is one situation wherein the student loan bankruptcy can fully discharge a person's debt and that is only when the person can show that the loan causes "undue hardship" on his or her family.

You might think that this would be an easy loophole. However, you should know that filing for student loan bankruptcy under "undue hardship" exemption can be quite hard. You might have to get a good bankruptcy lawyer to help you with this. Courts today are extremely reluctant to approve student loan bankruptcy cases.

This is made even harder by the fact that there are certain requirements for people to prove "undue hardship". For one thing, you need to show that you are physically incapable of working. This means you have to have some sort of disability to keep you from doing the smallest task required to earn you money. Not only that, you have to show that there is practically no hope of you being hired ever in the future.

Besides this, however, there are still things you can do to make student loan bankruptcy laws work for you. You can file a petition under chapter 13 of the bankruptcy law. This way, declaring student loan bankruptcy will ease your burden by allowing you to pay your creditors in small amounts. However, there are certain prerequisites to declaring this type of student loan bankruptcy.

For one thing, you will need to have a stable and disposable income. This means that you have to prove that you have a job you will be able to keep. The job you get should not only be long term, but it should pay enough to let you live and have something left over. Disposable income means that you need to have some income left over even after you have paid all of your expenses. This is very practical since how else can you pay off your debt? Student loan bankruptcy does not really need to discharge your debts in order to ease your burdens.

During your filing for student loan bankruptcy, you should also look into challenging the balance of the loan. This is because of the fact that student loans often get passed from creditor to creditor. With each creditor, the amount of the interest also changes. By challenging the amount involved in the student loan bankruptcy, you might be able to lower the amount that you have to pay significantly.

This can surely ease a great burden which you might have to carry for a few years. This is because filing your student loan bankruptcy will require you to stick to a payment plan which should knock out a huge percentage of your debt. Notice that the plan only requires you to pay for a percentage.

This means that the payment plan does not really account for the whole loan. However, filing for student loan bankruptcy should be able to at least help you develop a habit of paying your debt regularly and on time.


The New SEO


Google has once again changed the way that businesses make themselves visible in search engines. For the last 10 years, Google has set the rules for visibility across all search engines. The reason for this is that Google users visit its website 66% percent of the time that they are looking for information in search engines.  As a result, companies focus their efforts on being visible in Google assuming their efforts will have similar effects on other sites.

For most of the years that Google has made its search engine available to business websites, it was done so based on the ‘keywords’ that users would type in. In other words, when a user was looking for a plumber in Chicago, they would go to the search bar and type in "plumber Chicago".

Then Google would return what it said to be the most relevant results for that phrase. Companies that did a good job of making their websites appear relevant to Google's search engine robots (called its algorithm) would be visible as one of the first 10 listings on the first page of results that a user would see.

In the last five years, companies have been competing for those top 10 spaces on the first page in their local market or area of expertise. Most of the time they would employ consultants that understood how keywords work and how the algorithm interpreted them. These consultants would structure the website and have experts write out web page content on behalf of their clients.

They would also make the website look authoritative in the eyes of its algorithm also. They would do this by making sure that there were enough websites linking to it hinting also at the fact that they were relevant. In other words, companies and their consultants would make sure that there were enough votes from other website owners saying that this was relevant for a particular line or phrase of search.

However, over the last three years, Google has begun to dismantle this way of its algorithm determining which sites were most relevant. It was the belief of engineers at Google, that there were companies that were ‘gaming’ the system and exploiting its weaknesses. Therefore, they began to systematically eliminate the advantages of those that appeared to be involved in this activity.

This meant that companies that appeared on the first page of Google for their business term, in some cases slid back to the last page. Some companies disappeared altogether from Google's search results. 

This was disastrous for some of those businesses.

Think about what would happen, if the main way that people found out about what you offered was suddenly turned off. Think of what that might do to the amount of foot traffic that ended at your door. Think of all those that would never consider you, otherwise.

This meant that companies needed to themselves visible in different ways. As the 2010s approached, these small businesses started to explore the use of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LInkedIn as a way to reach new customers. The logic was that if customers were on these sites, then they needed to be there to meet them. Of course, since that time, most businesses have made it their priority to have a presence on the social media sites also.

Social media provides a different kind of opportunity for businesses to make themselves visible on the web. Often, their customers and or prospects come in contact with them because someone shares information that they have made available. In other words, social media allowed companies that understood how it worked to make themselves available to individuals through the personal online networks of social media users.

This sharing process then hit the radar of Google. Their assumption was that if people were sharing content among each other, then it was likely to be relevant for its topic area. Therefore, in the mid-2011's, Google Incorporated this activity into its search engine results.

Marketing consultants called this social signals. It was a term that meant that the more people got involved with a company and its information on social media that this was a signal of its relevance. 
Therefore, the more social activity that Google detected from companies and their products and services, the higher they began to write them on their result pages.

This factor was a little harder for individuals to "game" the system. When something began to be mildly popular or relevant, people talked about it on their social media accounts, they shared it with their friends and they voted it (liked) as being worthy of their time. This is still an important factor in search engine results as of this writing.

Fast-forward to 2013, where convenience for users has taken center stage on the web. Although Internet users are just as active as they have always been their desire is to do more on their terms with maximum convenience.

Instead of accessing websites through their home computer, users are visiting websites using their mobile device. (Smart phone, iPhone, tablet, etc.) And as their computing has grown more convenient, they are now desiring their search experience become the same thing. Google has taken note of this trend.

In 2012, they began to initiate searching on its site that could be completed by a user speaking its search. While PC users could do this on their laptop and desktop computers, voice search’s main benefits were directed toward mobile device users. Google's desire was for searchers to be able to ask the search engine a question and to get the answer that they wanted from the search engine results that were presented to them.

While this was an advance in technology and marketing, it wasn't quite a full experience for the person looking for information. The search results that the person received on their mobile device where the same as the ones that they would have received on their PC, if they had typed in their search years prior to that time.  It was the same search formula: all of the information that a user received was based on keyword use, link authority and relevance.

It is for this reason that Google recently updated their search engine robot (algorithm). They wanted to make the search experience as convenient as all other computing was becoming, yet even more effective.   The innovation that an individual could pick up their mobile device and ask the search engine a question was the starting point for their most recent change.

Marketing consultants and search engine experts are now using Google’s codename when referring to the change. Called “Hummingbird”, the change gives users more of the answers they seek, rather than the keyword based information they're looking for.

It's uncertain at this time, whether or not the algorithm is doing this accurately. However, their decision to move their business is likely to be final. There truly is no going back to the old way of looking for information based on keywords.

Local marketing consultants, have been ahead of this change. Many have been putting blueprints in place anticipating a major change like this. Having kept up with the clues that Google has been giving, marketing consultants had been noticing the changes that gradually came and incorporated them into the way they advised their clients.

In fact, the announcement didn't necessarily catch local marketing consultants off guard. While no one knew the nature of Google's change, marketers were already preparing to work in this new environment with new search algorithms.

If you're working with a local marketing consultant that understands these changes fundamentally, not only are you unlikely to see any loss in search results, but you may in fact see increases in activity. The reason for this is simple. Consultants have been advising their clients since 2011 to become more socially oriented online in their activities.

This means that companies should have already established their presence on the major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Plus. These same companies should have gone even farther and begun to connect with customers, prospects and partners on these networks. If that is the case, they may have seen some favorable treatment in the search engines, as well as an increase in activity on their websites.

The Google Plus Social Network:

This is where the Google Plus Network established a new position in the marketplace even though the company was a late comer to social networking platforms. As Facebook and Twitter grew in popularity, Google chose not to launch its site in competition with them.
However, in 2010, Google began to integrate its social network into everything else the company did online:

Google Plus was integrated with its business directory site called Google Places.
It was also integrated with the company’s video sharing site, YouTube.com.
In fact, the company began to move all of its online activities into one. The intermediate step was that everything was first tied to their free e-mail service, Gmail.

However, as the Google plus network came into being, even eat Gmail was integrated into Google plus.

It may be difficult to keep up with all that has become part of Google Plus, but there is an important reason to take note of all of this activity. During 2012, marketing consultants began to notice that Google’s search engine results appeared to favor activities that were connected to its social network.

That meant that websites and blog posts that were connected to Google Plus, received favorable search engine treatment. The same was then true for YouTube videos. When created as they had been traditionally done, their authority began to rise along with a user’s connection Google Plus.

What this means for small business owners, is that the ‘new SEO’ should now include various elements of the Google Plus universe. While social signals are still an important part of the determining factors of relevance in a website, Google's own social network is being given weight along with the other platforms.

This means, a company should be active in making connections on Google Plus, creating videos on YouTube and utilizing images on Google's photo sharing site. While this should not take the place of a company’s social activity on other platforms, it is becoming a necessity for determining their relevance to become active on the Google Plus social network.

It appears that there is no slowing down to the use of Google as a search alternative as mobile devices grow in their use. Google's share of the search market still hovers at about 66%. This means that companies need to prepare to create their websites in the way that Google desires to present relevant results to search users.

Just as search results are no longer based solely on the use of keywords, so website content should no longer be done so either. Companies will need to begin to create articles and videos that answer the need, challenge and goals of prospects and customers.

Rich Snippets and Search Visibility:

In 2010, Google began to develop a system of communicating relevant results to its search engine algorithm. They called this new system, Rich snippets.

There is a danger of describing Rich snippets in so much technical detail that it will not be helpful. That being said, Rich snippets allow companies to present details to searchers that ordinarily would not have been found in typical search results.

Here's the relevance to a small business. Let's use a small local hardware store as an example. Furthermore, let’s say that one of the items that they carry in their inventory is a particular kind of hammer. So, the company wants those that are looking for this hammer in their local area to find that they its available at their location.

So with the help of a local marketing consultant and/or web designer, the hardware store uses Google's Rich snippets to communicate the fact that the hammer can be found at their store. The code is placed on their website and then searchers are able to find this kind of hammer at their location. 
The hardware store (or any business) that can do this for a number of different kinds of popular products, may experience increased traffic from those looking for those specific items.

Putting the Author in Authority:

In line with its rich snippets, Google provided companies with the ability to communicate the fact that certain articles were attributable to them. This happens through its authorship system.
The authorship system makes it so that a business owner’s personal photo was visible in the search engines next to articles and entries from their blog or website. 

When a business is exercising authorship with its content may not matter to be at the very top of the search engines. If your particular niche only has one business (yours) with an authorship system in place, you will stand out more than the other businesses.

The converse is true also. If all of the other businesses have authorship systems in place where their photo shows up next to their listing, yours will not look like a credible business without one. Therefore, in this ‘new SEO’ environment, authorship is soon going to become commonplace. 
Business owners should be working with local consultants to make sure their photo shows next to relevant listings now.

This is especially true when you consider some of the emphasis that companies have placed on being found in the Google business directory called ‘Places’. Once Places emerged with Google Plus in 2012, it became possible to have rich snippets appear in those listings.

In other words, take a look at your Google Places local business directory listing. In fact, look at it in comparison to the other companies like yours when you do a search for your category.

Now, imagine what the same set of listings would look like, if your business photograph was next to your listing. Would your company stand out from the others? Is it likely, that you could stand out even if you were not the very first/top company listed.  In the new era of SEO, authorship matters as much if not more in some cases than top placement.

Specifying Local details:

As Google places emerged as a trusted local business directory on the Internet, companies began to make sure their information was accurate on Google's site. The directory highlighted these details to local searchers.  However, in some cases, those same details were not highlighted on their website.

This became an issue when individuals were looking for information that they would probably not find in the business directory. Or, in some cases the business directory would not appear for certain searches that an individual might do (even if they were relevant to a particular business). Once again, Rich snippets began to give companies more options and new life.

Companies could make sure that it was clear that there business was located in a certain geographical area. In addition to this, they could specify other details about their business, including the times they were open and whether or not they accepted cash, credit and or personal check.

Highlighting Individuals at a Company:

In spite of all of the available information that there is online about local companies, certain individuals will still search in ways that only make sense to them. This will not always follow the pattern that researchers find in search engine use.

There are times when the only thing that you (as a searcher) can remember about a particular company, is a staff person that works there. If a company does not put their names in the “About” section of the website, it's quite possible that the company could remain hidden to someone searching for information.

One of the ways around this is to use rich snippets to highlight certain individuals with in a company. In this case, you would highlight people that would probably not necessarily be written into your “About” page.

With rich snippets, you can highlight individuals as well as their capacity within the company. This can be especially useful when you have key decision-makers with extensive followings on social media.

As is the case with all rich snippets markup systems, the coding to make this effort can be very complicated. It requires testing to make sure that the information is coming across so that your effort in implementing will not be wasted.

Most local marketing consultants know and understand how to use the rich snippets that Google provides in order to highlight individuals in the company. Make sure you're working with someone knowledgeable so that you don't miss out on having this kind of leverage in the search engines. Since search is becoming less about keywords and more about answers you'll want to make sure that your site accomplishes this for users.

The new emphasis in search requires that companies and their consultants think in these terms and put systems in place so that these more convenient searches favor them instead of their competition. In most local areas, there are likely to be only 1 to 2 players willing to take this step to maximize their visibility. The companies that do can easily give themselves an advantage for a considerable length of time.

Rich Snippets and Coupons:

Currently, the search engines typically don't highlight or favor particular discount offers in the search results. In routine searches however, the rich snippets framework allows for companies to indicate that they have special offers and coupons with certain coding. It could make sense for a company to include this in their web presence. Being ready with this kind of information can be valuable to a company that has other authorship elements in place.

Making Searchers Aware of Testimonials.

Local businesses can use the rich snippets system to make customer testimonials a visible element of their website in the search engines. When you think about all of the other elements discussed thus far, they reflect on what the company says about themselves.

Being able to display the thoughts and opinions of other people in the form of testimonials can be a powerful element providing added visibility to companies willing to take the step.
It's important to reflect back on the fact that this would not happen as a result of a customer going to the search engines typing in the words “testimonial plumber Chicago”. In fact, that kind of search is likely never to happen. It's pretty rare when someone would actually go to the search engines, looking to find a plumber based on their testimonials.

Google provides this information for those simply looking for plumbers in a certain city. Depending on how the listing is constructed and whether or not rich snippets are able, a company can set themselves apart from the other plumbing companies by making sure that their testimonials are visible to searchers.

Once again, this is an opportunity that companies can avail themselves to in the new SEO environment. Placing information on your website solely based on the old system of people looking for things according to keywords will become less effective as time goes on.

Letting Customers Know About You:

Marketing your business today means often that you are going to be educating your customer. Of course, there are a number of ways for you do that.  Traditionally, if you wanted to educate your customer, you would hold an event either at your location or at a meeting venue. The catch to holding it, is to make sure that it's find-able where those that would actually attend would be searching.

Of course, most business owners or consumers are unlikely to be looking for a particular event on their own in a search engine.  However, if they are searching for information on a particular topic in your local area, you would want to ensure that your event was made known to them.

This is going to be of the utmost importance in the future because according to Google, events can include just about anything that requires a specific date designation. Therefore companies setting up webinars, Google Hangout's, speaking events, interviews and other kinds of dates can and should use this rich snippets event based system.

Once again it's instructive to think about the way that Google would like to treat the new kind of searcher. That searcher comes to the search engines with a question that they asked Google to give them an answer about.

Is it reasonable to assume that someone might search by asking Google if there are events on a certain subject during the current month?

The point to all of this is that you want to begin providing answers to searchers’ questions. The rich snippets data system is Google's official method for helping webmasters provide those answers to people that are searching. Of course, this kind of work is extensive because highlighting individual products, individuals, events and articles can be quite tedious.

However, the payoff is substantial, especially with mobile ready businesses fighting for the kind of attention that will bring customers to their doorstep. Every advantage that a company can gain they will need to employ in the future.

No one knows what the new environment will do to the landscape of companies wanting to be found. What is clear is that a company advertising message in the organic results will likely to be lost. That means that companies are going to have to re-think how they communicate with customers and prospects. Thinking more in terms of information/education as opposed to traditional copywriting, will likely give them an advantage in working with Google.

To reinforce their new emphasis, Google has limited the use of marketing tools originally designed for consultants to leverage keywords being searched. While many consultants saw this as a practical step in taking these tools off the market, there is something else at work.

It is desirable, according Google engineers for companies to come to the Internet in order to provide information and answers to those seeking them. Their position to companies has been this from the beginning; that good information that informs searchers would be rewarded. Individuals and companies looking to disingenuously ‘trick’ the search engines would eventually be displaced.

This will require that you look for ways to improve the lives of your customers through information. Not every business lends itself to educating consumers. There isn't always a perfect reason for companies to put on training seminars, workshops and video presentations.

Google Hangouts:

While this information is being rewarded by Google as part of its new social networking platform, the company has given access to its hangouts technology.  Google hangouts is a multifaceted collaboration and presentation tool.

A hangout allows up to 10 people to get together online with use of webcams, audio and document sharing. In addition to being able to raise the level of collaboration, individuals using Google Hangout can literally broadcast their meeting of 10 people to the entire world.

When the company’s hangout technology is combined with its video sharing site YouTube; this allows for a live broadcast of any presentation or collaboration on Google hangouts. That means that companies can provide educational resources right from their computer screen to the entire world using these tools.

Interestingly, individuals that commit to these collaborations have thus far found that the recordings created and automatically uploaded to YouTube are ranked highly on pages to their subject matter.
Does this mean that all a company has to do is to use hangout technology in order to create all of its web content? While the answer to that is of course no, there is something to be learned for marketers working with small business.

One of the ways to level the playing field between companies with substantial resources and those that have smaller budgets to work with is Google hangout technology, as it creates meaningful search results for customers and prospects.  While there is a process in getting the video recordings to appear in search results, companies that do them on a regular basis, are finding significant results as a result of this.

YouTube: Search Engine, Video Sharing and Social Network:

One of the key pieces in this new era of SEO has been YouTube.com. What started out as a venue for individuals all over the world to make their video known, has grown into a significant part of the business strategy of a number of companies.

Businesses have generally engaged in two kinds of video creation:

  •       Some have contributed largely commercial videos. In other words, these kinds of videos would be the same as those that might appear in a television commercial. They would reflect the promotion of the business and whatever products and services it offers.
  •       Other companies, started long ago in offering the kind of video advertising that is consistent with Google's direction. The companies that it exemplified this best our home improvement companies such as Home Depot and Lowe's.


Looking at their YouTube channel, you would find a substantial number of created videos although that is not what makes it consistent with Google's direction. It is the tone of their videos which is important, as they generally designed not to sell product, but to inform buyers. This kind of activity is likely to place them in a good position to continue to provide answers to those that were looking.

These companies use their video channel to provide information on how to repair things in one's home as well as well as how to build on a budget. Their promotion is not direct. The individuals that speak in the videos typically don’t request that those viewing the videos come to their location to make a purchase. They simply teach and provide information to those that are looking to solve problems.

Consumers looking for information encounter these companies on a regular basis through their videos. This has a branding effect that will linger until individuals get ready to make a decision about a purchase.

This is where the strategy of being present can truly matter for companies deciding to use YouTube as their education tool, and connection medium.  This is especially true since these videos are very likely to be found by individuals that are searching.

Concerns for Small Business:

The move toward authorship and providing answers, may sound like a troubling development for small businesses.

How could a small company actually keep up with a Home Depot or Lowes in creating videos and posting them on YouTube?

Who can afford the time to invest in posting each and every new and existing product into a code and have it posted in a website?

Where are the resources necessary to create educational programming using Google hangouts on a regular basis, keeping up with large companies that are staffed to do so?

All of these questions might lead one to believe that the new era of SEO, could wipe small businesses out of the equation. At least under the keyword model, companies willing to invest in the right techniques could compete with any size company big or small. The question then is if the keyword system goes away, how will small businesses compete for search engine users?

Creating Information for Marketing:

Google’s search engine engineers have been trying to determine what users’ intentions are when they are doing their search. In times past, this factor was based on what they typed into the search bar.
Now of course, the company’s has developed a more sophisticated approach in determining what the prospects are truly looking for when they type in the words into the search bar.

This means now that companies need to be intentional in providing information to their prospects. In every area of content creation, companies and their marketing consultants should think through what is a customer going to ask that I can answer? Or, what does a customer really need to know in order to use our product and/or service effectively?

Companies are not going to be able to wait until their customers and/or clients ask these questions and then put together the answers. They will need to anticipate the questions, answer them then systematically make this information available on the web.

In order to be successful in the long run, businesses will need to listen to their customers and allow them to provide feedback on problems they want to take on and goals and that they want to undertake. This is what companies will use in order to adjust their thought processes to meet the demands for customer information.



Copywriting Basics


Whether you pay someone to structure your promotions and advertisements or you write them yourself, you can benefit from knowing and exercising basic copywriting tactics. Modern-day copywriting is primarily based on direct response marketing, which allows you to get immediate feedback from your prospect regarding your sales messages.

By taking note of what causes the majority of buyers to make purchases when they see, view or hear your offer, you’re able to know what’s working in real time.  This feedback is crucial in being able to adjust quickly, and test new theories until you have a winning advertisement.

Copywriting is defined by marketing specialists as “sales-in-writing”. Your copywriting process takes over where your traffic gathering efforts leave off. Copywriting can be found on marketing pieces as simple as store signage, brochures and business cards.  It can also be found on more complex pieces such as formal sales pages, direct mail pieces and video marketing scripts.

Companies that use the basic principles will typically find themselves successful in converting visitors to buyers. Companies that are unaware of these principles and promote products based on what their competitors do will be inconsistent in their conversion efforts. The fastest path to consistent results, is to work from a standard set of principles and then to test, track and tweak each promotional campaign according to real time feedback.

Although business owners and copywriters all work from a set of circumstances that are different in every promotion, there are certain foundational principles that must always be in place. You may have heard of the acronym AIDA. It applies to copywriting but is probably more suited to the marketing and sales process.

This simplest, most effective method of copywriting involves a mindset that applies to all sales and marketing communications. Business owners that want to identify with their customers and present their product or service as a solution can consider the Problem, Agitate and Solve model.

One of the first things that you must do with your potential customer is to identify the problem that they are likely to be having. You may be resistant to this method because those that are not experiencing the problem you outline will tune your message out. However, you will always be most effective in your marketing when you can identify those prospects that have a situation that they want to either get rid of or a goal that they want to accomplish in the near future.

One of the reasons that copywriting is effective, is that it capitalizes on this sense of urgency already present within an individual desiring a certain outcome. You're not using your marketing to change someone's mind. You are writing to sell to someone that wants to accomplish something that they do not have a reasonable solution for and to do so now.

So, your first task as a writer is to describe a problem that your customers and prospects routinely have. You should describe the problem in such detail that when they read your content, they will say to themselves about you and/or your company, "they get it.”

The next stage be difficult for some business owners, because they might feel that it is manipulative. 

The Agitate stage describes to the prospective buyer what will happen if the problem goes unsolved. In addition to this, the discussion in this state talks more about the buyer’s quality of life than they do particulars of their product or service. The communication is more emotional than it is factual.

If you have an understanding of your customers, then you should be able to describe the worst-case scenario in a factual manner of their problem.  You’re doing this so that you can give your prospects good information with which to make a decision. The reason that some feel that this is manipulative, is that it adds to the sense of urgency in order to “buy”. However, another perspective is that you are acting in the best interests of your potential buyer.

Of course, in the last stage is you should solve their problem. This is very important because it is the only place where you will discuss the particular features of your product or service. Please note that your product’s (or service’s) characteristics are only important once the prospect understands that action is required before their problem gets worse.

When providing a solution to the prospect, your copywritingshould highlight the benefits of having their problem solved. You should have a good idea of what it will mean to them and you should spell this out in detail.

When you’re talking about the solution, you should insert elements of social proof. This means that you should talk about those that have used your product and have experienced relief from the problem that you describe. Although each individual might tell their story in a different way in their testimonial, each one should highlight only the problem that you started your marketing funnel with.

In addition to providing proof that others have had success with your product or service, your testimonials should be carefully constructed so as to highlight the benefits. You may want to ask each of your responding participants the following question, "how has this product changed your life for the better?"

The other thing that your testimonials should do is to help your buyer overcome their own objections. 

You should have a good understanding about what makes people hesitant to buy your product or service and address those issues with buyer testimonials.

When you're doing this, you don't want to cross the line into getting people to say what you want them to say for the sake of the sales process. You want to get true opinions and perspectives as part of your social proof. There should be absolutely no incentive to get individuals to spell out their feelings about your offerings. What you're doing is to solicit those individuals that are willing to make statements about their experience.

Once you have successfully walked through the solution stage, it will then be time for your call to action. Your writing should speak affirmatively as to what you want your prospects to do. The call to action shouldn’t indicate any hesitancy or uncertainty about what is to come next.

If you think about it, you’ve already outlined a problem to your buyer that needs to be solved quickly, in order to avoid the consequences that you’ve spelled out.  You have led the buyer through your entire sales communication with a sense of urgency to buy. If you have been successful, you have done this in a way that helps the buyer understand that it’s in their best interest to make a purchase. 

You have spelled out these terms in both factual and emotional language. While the factual language talks about the features of your product, the emotional language speaks to the nature of how their life will change when they make the purchase.  At this point, anything other than a firm directive to buy will confuse the prospect.

Near the end of your marketing communication you will have given your buyer a guarantee. Guarantees do increase sales conversions and statistics indicate that it’s rare to receive refund requests. Therefore, it's important to use the most effective (and proven) words in your copy with for your guarantee.

Those words and phrases that don't apply to your product should be left out of your guarantee. But the way to think of the process is to start with the following words: 100%, satisfaction guaranteed, no risk, 30 – 90 days. While you can certainly add to this kind of guarantee, those words should be present unless they do not apply.

Making this kind of statement, says to your buyer that you are ready to stand behind your product, if there is a problem. As was stated earlier, it is likely that there won’t be any refunds as a result of this statement.  If you choose to leave out the guarantee, buyers may not necessarily ask for it but they will know something is missing and it may cause them to hesitate before buying.

The guarantee doesn’t always make the difference between prospects making the decision as to buy or not buy. It makes the difference between buying now and buying later.  This will factor into your cash flow as well as your ability to get your customer to buy more from you.

In fact, copywriting is really directed to getting your buyer to make their purchase in the present rather than waiting until the future. Your communication reveals to them the life benefits of acting in the present.

It is not an arm twisting process. You will not be working with a buyer to act against their common sense or their best interest. You're working with them to solve their problem or accomplish their goal sooner rather than later. In this way your sales process benefits both the buyer and your business simultaneously.



What are Key Trends for Mobile Marketing?


A general observation of the people that are your customers, prospects, friends and associates would probably tell you that mobile technology has become a permanent fixture in our culture. The fact that people are using mobile devices in order to access the Internet is not going away anytime soon. In fact, we can expect it to take over more of the conversation about how we communicate, do business and socialize.

Of course that means that as small business owners, we will need to make sure that we are in front of our customers and clients where they choose to be. If the key statistic is correct, and there is every reason to believe that it is, consumers stay within a 3 foot range of their mobile device 24 hours a day. Therefore, any effective marketing strategy must incorporate mobile devices. It's going to be important for you to know your target market extremely well.

Naturally, this is no secret to you, if you have been in business any length of time. However, knowing your customer now means knowing how much time they spend on their mobile device. It means finding out where they "hang out." It means discovering how they transact their business, such as banking and product purchases. And it means knowing how they entertain themselves during their leisure time. If you don't know these things about your particular niche and customer, then you may be doing mobile marketing in a haphazard way.

Understanding how your client communicates is also important. This is especially true when it comes to using a mobile device. Think about your particular demographic. Do you think that those that find you and do business with you use SMS Text Messaging? Do they use instant messaging? Do they use e-mail in the same way that they do on their desktop computer?

Do they use their communication on their mobile device for their work projects or do they use them primarily for leisure? These are all very important questions for you to be able to answer.. Every demographic is going to be different. Your product and service offerings are going to be different, even from your competitors. Therefore, you will need to get to know the habits of your prospects and customers extremely well.

Of course, this means that, just as you have probably been tracking the traffic on your business website, you'll need to start tracking the results of any mobile marketing campaign that you are doing. This includes understanding the open rates of your SMS messages. It includes how much action people are taking on the placement of your QR codes. It means understanding how many people are receiving and then executing their mobile coupons. Every aspect of your mobile marketing campaigns should be tracked and evaluated on a regular basis.

New Opportunities

Mobile marketing represents a great opportunity for those companies willing to invest the time to understand the patterns of their demographic. Those companies will be able to understand what kind of messaging will work best for their customers and clients while they actually have their mobile device in their hands.

As a result of this, you're probably noticing that large corporations, as well as small and middle- market companies, are spending more resources on mobile advertising. Industry statistics indicate that mobile marketing, as a whole, is a $1 billion industry focus. It is expected that this will double by 2014 and continue to increase.

This is a recognition that the transition that people are making between socializing, entertainment, work and communication is now taking place all on a mobile device. It is quite possible that a person could spend an entire day with their mobile device in front of them, without the need to read a newspaper, turn on their personal computer or "watch" the news.

Increased Smartphone Use

You would agree that smartphone use has been increasing over the last five years. While this does not always mean that smartphone access to your business and/or your website has increased, it does mean that consumers are possibly beginning to look at these devices as their first choice for computing.
And this fact alone should have implications for your business, whether you have begun implementing mobile marketing elements or not. Recent studies indicate that over 70% of smartphone users find retailers, compare prices, and search for product details with their mobile devices. Of course, most of this activity is happening while these individuals are on the premises of the business that they are looking to make their purchase from.

Much of this increased activity has to do with the increased ease of attaining smartphones. In 2010, pricing models have been transitioning from that of the traditional cell phone to making sure that individuals get a product they like enough to use data on it. It is this data usage that carriers are leveraging in order to generate profit.

Therefore, you've probably seen companies like T-Mobile offer expensive and elaborate smartphones such as the Google Nexxus, iPhone or iPad for $0 upfront costs. The customer agrees to make payments over the course of 24 months or two years. The charge for the device is made convenient by adding it directly to the actual phone and data plan. This is based on the fact that it is unlikely that consumers who desire to keep a device with them 24 hours a day would fail to continue making payments.

In addition to this, the retailer is also offering its customers the ability to upgrade their device every 6 to 12 months. This allows them to keep up with the most recent technology. While T-Mobile and other companies do this to engender loyalty in their customer base, the effect on the industry is dramatic. Carriers like T-Mobile have basically assured individuals that they can carry a smartphone without the necessity of having to make the purchase of $500-$600 upfront.

As a result, consumers can own and use a smartphone for little to no up-front investment. This assures the carriers that users will work to make sure that they keep their contracts to use the service.  

This factor alone is almost certain to increase the demand for mobile devices and Internet access over the next decade.

Technology companies such as Verizon are also accommodating individuals based on their desire to have and hold this technology. By providing increased bandwidth in their homes, the company acknowledges that it is likely that a family could have one or several mobile devices that accessing the Internet through their home network. Once again, a technical understanding of what is happening isn't as necessary as understanding that smartphone use is increasing and being accommodated by technology companies in order to build their own marketing funnel.

While these accommodations may not yet affect your business directly, they are an indication of the fact that consumers are being left with increasingly fewer reasons to be away from their mobile device. Assuming that they will be accessing your marketing funnel using their mobile devices is vital. How will they be able to be helped by your company? Will they find it easy or more difficult?

Optimization of Websites and Applications for Mobile

One trend that may go unnoticed, is what businesses must do regarding the changes needing to be made to websites to accommodate mobile devices. While there is no statistic based on research as to how many companies have made their websites mobile optimized, there is definitely an increase in concern and discussion among businesses about this.

It has been such a concern, that search engine giant Google has had to weigh in on what businesses need to do in order to meet the demands of their mobile customers. Of course, Google's guidance has primarily been about how to be found in search engines. The fact that they have indicated that mobile design is preferable to other forms, shows that this topic is one that webmasters want to see settled.

There are two factors that are important to note about this statement being made by Google. The first, most obvious statement, is about responsive design its self. A website that is considered to be responsive, changes its operation based on what kind of device accesses the site.

For example, a company can have a certain set of parameters just for their desktop PC users. Typically, the companies want to make sure that individuals find the maximum amount of information, and that they find their experience to be pleasurable, or at the very least positive. 

Companies, as a result, utilize a number of special graphics along with their branding, to give the users of their website the kind of experience that would make them want to come back and do business again.

This is substantially different for their mobile customers. The objective, while still to provide a good user experience, is executed with a minimal number of graphics. It is also executed with just enough branding so that the customer actually knows who they're doing business with. A responsive web design allows the site visitor to land on your web presence and be shown the kind of page most conducive to their device. In other words, the website responds to each device that accesses it.

In recent years, the solution had been to redirect a website visitor to a mobile device when the technology "recognized" that the user was a mobile one. You might have seen it from time to time that a website might look a little different in terms of its address. You may have seen the web address “m.website.com”. The “m” was an indication that you (the visitor) were redirected by the site to a mobile version of the website that your device would be able to read with ease. However, most users, as well as decision makers at Google, felt that this was a less than optimal experience. It was, according to engineers and experts, better if the company invested in website technology that responded instead of redirecting the actual site visitor.

But there is yet another aspect of Google’s statement regarding responsive web design that’s important to note. While the company has made explicit statements about the fact that this kind of website isn’t factored into their search results, some of the evidence in the current search statistics seems to reflect otherwise. There is some evidence, that there is a favoring of websites (in Google search) that have undertaken responsive web design in the actual results.  However, critics of this theory feel as if Google's engineers have not been honest and/or forthcoming about whether or not responsive design affects search results.

When a user is redirected from the standard website to another (a mobile duplicate with the “m” in front), there is a time factor and lag involved in this process. This means that Google could be sending individuals to websites and pages that are and prove to be a sub optimal experience due to the time it actually takes the searcher to get to a page to get the information that they want. In effect, a redirected page loads slower.

What this means to you as a small business owner is that you will need to be aware that the industry trend is to move away from websites that do not respond to the browser of the device user. If you haven’t invested in responsive design, you need to be aware that it is becoming a centerpiece of how business will be done on the web.

While that doesn't mean that this will all change drastically again in the next few years, it does mean that you will need to address this, so that a customer that comes to your website can stay as long as they need to in order to make a favorable buying decision.

Mobile applications are another part of the website experience for your particular buyer and/or prospect. If your company depends on the user being able to engage in some kind of activity on your website, it will be difficult to do this, assuming that they are accessing the Internet from a mobile device using a regular web browser.

As a result, you could follow the practice of a number of businesses that have created their own mobile application. A mobile application is a piece of software that users download to their devices and are then able to interact with a specific company.

For example, accessing mobile banking using a web browser is possible, yet difficult for the user to complete their transactions using them. This is the case, even with the stripped-down number of graphics that a web designer uses for the typical mobile website.

As a result, banks are giving their customers access to mobile applications, which are free to download. These applications are little pieces of software that users download to their mobile devices. This gives them just enough software and interface to transact business with the bank. The connection between the application and the bank is more secure as it does not go through the mobile browsing process.

In order to get perspective on how this trend is going, one statistic to know would be the number of app downloads being done worldwide on an annual basis. The most recent gathering of statistics by the Gartner Corporation, indicated that mobile app stores have seen downloads increase from 64 billion from 102 billion. Free applications account for over 85% of the application downloads.

App downloads are being treated less like computer software than you might think. The fact that the codes are little bits of software placed on the computing device, would cause a business owner to ask whether or not this makes a difference if the user does or does not use the app. This is a valid concern, and is a good question to ask.

The key to understanding the significance of mobile apps can be found in its usage even more than the number of downloads. In an article in 2013, industry analyst Smart Insights, published an article that stated that app usage dwarfs the use of mobile browsers for those that are active with their devices. In fact, consumers spend over 80% of their time on mobile apps versus mobile websites. This statistic is true regardless of platform--Windows, IOS or Android.

What these trends in mobile websites and mobile applications means to your business is that consumer convenience is of the utmost importance in creating the experience you want them to have with your company while online. What mobile apps and mobile websites do, is to make it convenient to do business with your company. It gives your customers the ability to transact business and do research while they are on the go and away from their home and/or office.

Therefore, you will need to evaluate both your website and the process that buyers go through in order to have access to everything that your company provides. Are there ways that you can make the user experience on a mobile device a smoother one? Is the user experience one that will cause them to want to come back or might it tell them to look for another competitor?

The decision on whether or not to create your own mobile app, is not a one-size-fits-all decision. It is one where you will need carefully evaluate how your customer spends their time online and what they respond to. Then consider where to place your emphasis and resources in creating the right mobile experience.

Mobile and Social

One of the factors that makes the Gartner research a call to interpret properly, is the fact that much of the app time span by consumers is being done on a social network: a spoke.  In fact, in the recent edition of even return, the industry analyst indicated that over half of the access to social networks is being granted to mobile devices. Therefore, the vast majority of activity that you are engaging in (if you are engaging on social networks) is taking place with the user from their mobile device.

This is very important for businesses to know as they create their social strategy. Companies that rely heavily on content and sharing in order to get new customers to opt into their list, should recognize that this activity is being directed on a relatively small screen. Therefore, as a business owner, you'll need to consider whether or not your demographic of customer is likely to use their mobile device to sign up for your e-mail list.

While every marketing decision you make will need to be tested, you should assume that social activity on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and even YouTube, is just as likely to be taking place on a mobile device as it is on a desktop or laptop PC. There are indications that the dramatic increase in activity on social networks such as Facebook, are starting to level off. Consumers are finding ways to socialize on their mobile devices using other means.

However, this does not mean that you should not have a social strategy in place. If your goal is to capture audiences on social media, you will need to make sure that you are utilizing digital media to its fullest. This could mean that you are likely to get and keep your customers’ attention if you are using images that are carefully selected. These images should grab the attention of your readers/viewer to get them to pay attention to the message that comes after.

In addition to this, you want to make sure that you are making full use of both audio and video. Audio allows you to get users to share in-depth conversation and information that your company is using in order to promote its business. There is some question as to whether or not this kind of media will actually attract the attention of other users.

Video, on the other hand, is very likely to attract attention. Companies are getting more savvy in uploading their video to social networks and viewing platforms for the networks. They're doing this with front page thumbnails that jar the user out of their regular pattern of viewing. In some cases, the thumbnail is not an indication of what the actual video is about. It simply is a scene that grabs attention.

These are two activities that aren't made easy on a mobile device. If you are sharing a considerable amount of text, assuming that users are going to share your content, the evidence is that this is unlikely to happen.

The Rise of Proximity Marketing

In the early days of the increasing popularity of mobile device use, companies began experimenting with location-based services. Called proximity marketing, companies were using the GPS signal inside of mobile devices in order to trigger advertising on that device. This may come in the form of a push notification to the user, a text message, or in some cases, an e-mail. Of the three, e-mail was the least effective. Primarily, this is because proximity marketing has always been a "real-time" strategy.

Of course, companies that use proximity marketing most effectively are selective about how they use this tool in media. They tend to know their demographic extremely well, and understand whether or not their customers would appreciate receiving a message based on their location. For those customers that see privacy as a significant issue, proximity marketing will probably not be a preferable way of reaching them. Companies will need to make sure that the value that they are delivering to their customers as they go through their testing process is high.

What kinds of information can you deliver using proximity marketing. The companies that are most effective in using proximity marketing tend to do so through SMS messages with coupon codes that give the user either a premium or discount. Other companies are able to deliver product information and links as well as promotions for future products and events.

Although the process is simple to understand, the technology that is implemented is fairly sophisticated. The programming must determine which users have given their permission to receive messaging, what kind of device they are using and the appropriate method of delivery. The business owner will find that the process is relatively invisible to them. They will be determining the specials and the actual advertisement and promotions.

Local Search Activity

One trend that business owners should find encouraging is that mobile devices seem to be encouraging users to look for products and services in their local area using search engines. Once again, this will be another place where businesses must consider making sure that their website design is responsive. On the one hand, they will want to have a conventional website that will rank in search engines. In other words, their website will be found for those searching for the subject.

What has happened over the last 2 to 3 years, is that the formula that search engines have been using in order to determine website ranking has been changing. The formulas that had at one time been based solely on the way that keywords were placed on pages, the way links were created and the way websites were structured. While those factors still have some relevance in how often these are found in their local area, they no longer have the same weight that they used to and there are considerable more relevant factors now that are a part of a local search.

In particular, one factor is the way that content is created. Although there are no humans evaluating every search query and every webpage, search engine companies are getting more sophisticated in determining what they feel is the best possible content for search users to read. As a result, the evidence proves that the guide it has been given by search engines is actually a good match for what actually is happening during searches. Search engine analysts have stated that content should be written for the user. No longer should content be written in order to pile in keywords in order to make their content relevant.

Another factor that plays into local search is event based content. Companies that create the kind of content that doubles as an event that should be attended by users, are gaining the benefit of authoritative linking as well as relevant treatment in the search engines. As a result, your company should be educating your client base whenever possible. This will probably mean announcing that you have webinars, live events and Google hangouts (to be discussed later).
Companies that are able to create this kind of content and make it relevant to mobile users are finding that their content is being favored by search engine companies.

Reputation Management

Another factor that search engine companies have discovered is that a considerable number of consumers rely on reviews to make their decision about what services to purchase. And they have been adapting their algorithm accordingly.

In particular, search engine company Google is providing companies that have good reputations with their customers, as indicated by reviews, favored position in the search engines. What this looks like is having an average of 4 to 5 stars in reviews on Google's online business directory pages.

The relevance to mobile marketing is clear. Users are seeking information about products and services while they are on the go. They want to be able to look at a glance to get recommendations on what they should be seeking in addition to just finding out what is in their local area.

This is a shift that search engines have been making in order to a comment date mobile users. In order to take advantage of this factor, your company will need to pay attention to those things that consumers find helpful. In addition to this, you will need to pay strict attention to your online reviews and how customers are reporting what they are experiencing at your company. This is an important element in local search as it relates to mobile users.

Video Marketing

While video marketing's rise in popularity isn't necessarily directly related to mobile computing, the trends are just as pronounced on devices as they are on personal computers. In other words, mobile users have a desire to experience video content and increasing rates over and above things that they would want or need to read. As a result, you will need to make sure to create video content that is engaging the mobile user and giving them the opportunity to make decisions that would be favorable to your company.

One of the benefits of video marketing within the YouTube platform is that when the description is written in detail, the video content is ranks in the search engine results as high as any typical website content. Currently, search engine giant Google is favoring some video content as much as it does some websites. 

YouTube has become an effective platform in video marketing, as all platforms--Android, Windows and IOS, have integrated apps that allow users to click on links from different applications on their mobile device to land within YouTube.

Therefore, consider the possibility of creating links within certain pages of your mobile device having users to click on them, and then experience video content on YouTube. Furthermore, envision what you could do if users would then be able to experience the rest of your video content conveniently placed within your video channel. In other words, video is central to both searchers/mobile device users.

Google Hangouts

Companies are utilizing Google’s multimedia broadcast system called Hangouts. They're using them as leverage in their business in order to provide live streaming information to their customer base. And they are also using them in order to connect staff members inside of their companies.

A key factor in this process is that Hangouts are mobile enabled. In other words, users can experience live streaming multimedia content from their mobile device. In addition to this, broadcasters can send live streaming content from their mobile device. This means that there are no limits to being able to share which multimedia content might be of benefit to your target customer. Savvy marketers are using Google Hangouts in order to create video testimonials with their customers.

The reason that Google Hangouts are important with respect to video testimonials is that they are instantly uploaded to YouTube. That means that there is a high likelihood that these videos will both rank in search, and provide mobile users a convenient option to view your video content. Companies are leveraging this tool in order to create what users will find helpful. Some have leveraged this tool even further by taking advantage of Google’s favoring mechanism for both events and video content. These events ranked even higher in search on the local level.

The Growth in Influence of Mobile Computing

Google’s focus on fusing their search capabilities with mobile technology will be a major influence on businesses as time progresses.  But make no mistake, Google, even as large and influential as it is, will have no choice but to work in the same direction as mobile’s influence.  Its users (and your customers) have both directly and indirectly demanded it.

On average, typical mobile device users look at their device up to 35 times per day and no less than 20.  This means that while communication and research is happening, so is decision making.  If your company is in position while this decision making is happening, then you will be able to move with your consumers.  To ignore this fact will be to move against the evidence.

This is a move toward increasing convenience.  Consumers are demanding to be able to do more with their computing on their terms.  Their preference is not to have to wait for information, nor is it to have to wait for access.  They want to be able to get all of the information they need, on demand.
Technology is accommodating them.  Devices are being made that grow more powerful and sophisticated.  It’s easy to expect that what we are currently using on our desktop in power and resources will soon be in our hands.   As discussed earlier, the trend is that this technology is being made more , not less affordable.  Companies such as Sprint, ATT, T-Mobile and others are incentivized to make sure that we have devices so that we will continue to use and desire data plans.
Even when consumers use what is considered to be older technology (e-mail), they’re doing it increasingly on their mobile device.  There is no end to the increase of mobile computing. 

What this means for your business is that positioning is critical in all five elemental areas as it fits your strategy: 1) SMS, 2) Coupons, 3) Mobile Websites, 4) Mobile Apps and QR Codes.  This is the starting point for acclimating your company to meet your customer where they are. 

What the future will hold for marketing is anyone’s guess.  We do know that what is slow in adoption in older generations has been fully embraced by younger ones.   In fact, it is fair to say that what is now called “mobile marketing” will soon be termed simply marketing.  It will be as commonplace as the devices themselves.

Not only must businesses implement the elements mentioned above, but they must also rethink foundation principles as they’re altered by mobile computing.  Can a company’s unique selling proposition change based on how they implement mobile?  Can a company think differently about their customer lifetime value?  What will a contact database look like…will it be text or email?  What will it mean to generate PR if there is less emphasis on television and radio? What will media advertising look like--will it remain cost prohibitive or will it be too cheap to ignore?  Businesses will be rethinking the way that marketing has been done since the internet took its place in popularity.  When that happens, what will be the next game changing innovation on the horizon?

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