Everspark Interactive Blog by Jason_Hennessey
Six Ways to Manage Your Business' Online Reputation
December 05, 2012 01:30 PM | 6316 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Six Ways to Manage Your Business' Online Reputation
by Jason_Hennessey
December 05, 2012 01:30 PM | 1097 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Six Ways to Manage Your Business' Online Reputation

Reputation is the intangible-but-invaluable currency that determines whether a business withers on the vine or grows to become an institution. That's been true since the dawn of capitalism, but the Internet has added new layers to old practices. Failed online campaigns can doom businesses in and of themselves, and it's essential for companies to not only avoid common pitfalls but to maximize what they do on the Internet.

1. Have a Vision

It's all well and good to know that reputation is important, but it's equally important for businesses to define what kind of reputation they want. Some things are a given; every business wants to be known for quick and friendlycustomer service and excellent products. The focus should be on that and what they can do to set themselves apart. It's equally important for them to target their efforts toward particular crowds. A marketing strategy that isn't congruent with a company's business plan is just wasted effort.

2. Diversify

It might seem a little odd for a soap company to have a Twitter feed, but astrong social media presence keeps that company fresh in people's minds. Ifnothing else, social media can be used to keep consumers up-to-date on sales and other useful tidbits regarding a company's products.

3. Listen and Respond

It's inevitable that people will say nasty things about a business on the Internet. There's no way to counter all of it, but well-placed comments in forum threads and on blog posts can do a lot for a company's image. It provides a chance to debunk common myths by displaying clear examples of employees who go out of their way to address and rectify the concerns of wronged customers. It might not change the opinions of the aggrieved, but onlookers who are on the fence are much more likely to warm up to a company that does everything it can to help its customers.

4. Check Search Rankings

Some business owners obsess over search engine rankings. The formulas can be finicky, and the effectiveness of new content can only be measured over longer periods of time. That's why checking in once every few weeks is the best method for staying on top of how well something is actually working, and if a company's site ranks low for a long period of time, that's when something needs to be done about it.

5. Create Content for Human Beings

Most people are familiar with old-school SEO practices. It amounted to creating pages that spammed popular keywords as many times as possible in order to inflate a site's ranking. That doesn't work anymore, and it's not what reputable companies want to be associated with. It can be difficult to strike the proper balance between readability and properly optimized marketing content, but the basic idea is that if something doesn't read well to a human, search engines will eventually penalize it. Informative content that contains a handful (or less) of the desired keywords is more than enough to draw people in.

6. Monitor Wikipedia

User-generated content is some of the most popular and powerful stuff on the Internet, and unfortunately there are a number of people who will spread lies for kicks. While it partly falls under the category of dealing with negative feedback, Wikipedia is unique in that it ranks so high in most search engines that people may come across a Wiki entry on a company before the company's actual site. That's why keeping the Wikipedia page clean is one of the mostimportant things to do even if it is one of the hardest as well.

The Internet has been around long enough to become a fixture in people's lives, but there are numerous ways to leverage it that are just now being discovered. The most important thing for a business in the 21st century to do is to stay on top of new innovations so that it can maintain control of its image in the face of increasing complexity.

 Jason Hennessey is the CEO of EverSpark Interactive and a Cobb County resident

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How Google disavow tool can help small businesses
by Jason_Hennessey
October 31, 2012 12:06 PM | 1122 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Maintaining a high search engine rank is easier said than done. While quality content and products go a long way toward separating good websites from bad websites, there are certain tactics that can drag down sites that should rank higher than they do. Sometimes it's not even the webmaster's fault; some legitimate sites that use sound SEO practices take a hit when new algorithms like Google Panda are launched. 

The major search engines don't want to penalize legitimate users when they improve their algorithms, and that's why Google has introduced the disavow tool in mid-October. It gives webmasters a far higher degree of control than they've had in the past, and it's the first step toward ensuring that new updates won't force small businesses to rebuild their Web traffic from scratch.

The first rule of traditional SEO is that more backlinks are better. Sites with thousands of backlinks always rank higher than sites with just a few, but that's one thing that Google is trying to change. The latest updates have skewed in favor of sites with quality backlinks as opposed to sites with the highest number of backlinks. That means that sites that are linked from authoritative sources or other sites within the same niche get more traffic from Google than sites that have been linked from spam-laden "get rich quick" sales pages.

While this is a positive change on the whole, webmasters can't always control who links to their sites. That often translates to lower search rankings for something that they didn't do. That's where the Google disavow tool comes in. It safeguards legitimate sites by allowing webmasters to be proactive in cleaning up bad links that can tarnish a site's rank. The disavow tool doesn't actually remove links from anyone's website, but it does tell Google what should and shouldn't be included in a site's backlink profile, and there's a good chance that this data will be used to determine what sites will be punished in upcoming Google updates.

The disavow tool is extremely powerful when it's coupled with a sound white hat SEO strategy. It essentially marks the end of the ranking yo-yo that webmasters have had to contend with ever since the major search engines started cracking down on shady SEO practices. It also gives webmasters the power to penalize sites that continue to use poor SEO practices in 2012, and that may offer a hint about features Google will implement in the future.

Having a high number of backlinks is still a positive thing, but webmasters should make full use of the disavow tool. It's something that's best used sparingly as most sites don't need it in the first place, but the ones that do stand a much higher chance of weathering future updates without taking a significant hit in terms of overall traffic.

 Jason Hennessey, CEO, EverSpark Interactive and Cobb County resident

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Seven Local Business Review Sites
by Jason_Hennessey
September 27, 2012 11:05 AM | 1289 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
All businesses, from barber shops to day care centers to landscapers, gain and lose customers every day, before any direct interaction has even taken place. Consumers are basing their decisions increasingly on local business reviews found on the Internet. While optimizing your own website to draw traffic is imperative, consumers also look to local review sites to hear what your past/present customers have said. The age ofword-of-mouth marketing has arrived, and business reviews can now be found on thousands of sites around the web.

Here are seven local review sites that your business should embrace.

  • Google Places for Business

    Google Places gives your business the opportunity to create a profile, to be listed on Google Maps, and to have an extended information block about the business appear on search result pages. Users may leave reviews on your Google Places page.

    It is best to register after Google has already discovered your business, and found reviews for it elsewhere on the internet. Google rankings give preference to businesses which their robots have already found organically, before the business claims its Google Places page.
  • Yahoo! LocalListings

    Yahoo! Local Listings are very much like Google Places, but with a smaller market share.Complete the Yahoo! profile for your business to earn traffic from Yahoo! users and increase your visibility for the Google robot.
  • MerchantCircle

    MerchantCircle has been gaining popularity since it entered the market in 2005, boasting more than 15 million monthly users in 2012. In addition to business reviews, MerchantCircle provides coupons and special offers from many businesses.
  • Angie’s List

    Originally a Columbus, Ohio-based print publication, Angie’s List has been publishing customer reviews online since 1999. Although they charge a membership fee, more than 1 million members subscribe. It is free to list your business on Angie’s List.
  • Citysearch

    Online since 1995, Citysearch is the elder statesman of user review sites. Although their traffic has declined somewhat in recent years, they still boast an active user base, and rank high in search results.
  • Insider Pages

    Owned by the same parent company as Citysearch, Insider Pages also publishes user reviews, and is a common source of Google Maps data.
  • Yelp!

    Yelp! is a tremendously popular and authoritative customer review website. It boasts more than 71 million monthly users, who have posted roughly 30 million reviews. Yelp!’s social networking features encourage users to remain active, building their friends lists and commenting on each other’s reviews. If your business is already listed, you may claim the existing listing. Otherwise, be sure to sign up. Yelp! Is one website where you want to be sure your business is well-represented.
Additional Advice for Review Marketing

  • Ask your satisfied customers to review your business.
  • Never write fake reviews.
  • Follow up on your negative reviews, and see if there is something you can do to make the customer happy.

Jason Hennessey, CEO, EverSpark Interactive and Cobb County resident

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Five Things Your Business Needs to Know About Google
by Jason_Hennessey
August 15, 2012 01:52 PM | 1779 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Every day, it becomes more important for businesses to have a strong Internet presence. No matter what business you’re running, having a good Google ranking gives it some very much-needed visibility. Understanding Google’s rankings can make or break a business’s web presence.

Atlanta-based SEO agency EverSpark Interactive helps companies gain traction on search engine queries. By elevating rankings on search engines, EverSpark customers experience an increase in click-through rates. EverSpark CEO Jason Hennessey shares five things every business needs to know about Google.

These five concepts can help your business climb to the top of Google’s search engine.

1. Content, content, content

More than anything, you must understand what Google wants. Google loves new, unique, and high-quality content. So, you need to constantly fill your website original material, such as videos, photos and blogs. Blogging a few times a month will not only show off your industry expertise, but it will make an impact on your rankings. Make sure that your blogs are original. When you copy and paste, Google can actually penalize your website for plagiarism. Understanding that well-written, new content can create more business and improve Google rankings is vital on today's Internet.

2. Increase Your Google PageRank

Google ranks pages on a 1-10 scale, with one being the worst and 10 the best, using an “algorithm.” An algorithm is an engine that measures a website’s quality. Google’s engine is called “PageRank. There are many ways pages can score high rankings, but one of the major keys is getting other sites to have links back to you.

A PageRank is a way for Google to determine how popular your website is.

So, in Google’s eyes, getting your website on other websites shows Google that your site is popular. Popularity will elevate you up the search engine ladder.

3. Embrace Social Media

Social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube all play a role in rankings as well. These sites help you to create strong links that Google will then use to give you a higher PageRank. These sites also have the added benefit of getting your business seen in more places, creating an even larger online presence for your company.

4. Have Plenty of Links on Your Page

Links are the currency to the World Wide Web and a driving force behind how Google judges your page. As stated earlier, Google uses the links that go to your website to decide how popular it is. Having your link on other pages is only part of the equation. Getting your link on sites that already have a high PageRank offer the opportunity to move up Google's rankings even faster. This is an example of why it’s so important to have a blog that people will want to share. Make sure that your content can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites as well.

It is also important to get what are called DoFollow links. A DoFollow link tells Google to follow the link to the website it links to. Social media links are DoFollow links, and that is one reason they are so important. Without links, Google will not rank your page as highly as others that do have links.

5. Monitor Your Online Reputation

Maintaining a good reputation online is highly important. Sometimes you are going to have unhappy customers. Every business does. However, letting negative comments sit on the Internet without being addressed can hurt a business.

It is important to do monthly searches for your brand and combat any negativity. Negative comments showing up in a Google search for your business can undermine all the other steps you take to get higher rankings.

Understanding these concepts, as a whole, is extremely important to your website success on Google. Quality, new content drives traffic and leads to new links to your site, as does social media. All these things play a role together with SEO to help improve what Google thinks of your page, and, in turn, how much business you can drive to your website.

Jason Hennessey, CEO

EverSpark Interactive

Cobb County resident

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