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When you build your website and put it online, you’ll have to decide whether you are going to target a local audience or a global market. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make.

It’s not as simple as it may seem. Local online marketing and global marketing actually have a lot in common – online, at least.

For instance, both employ search engine optimization. You can also market both a local business and a global business through social media. You can also drive traffic to a local website as well as a global reach website through pay per click advertising. Virtually any type of online marketing tactic that can be used for one can be used for the other.

All of that said, however, local businesses do have other options that global businesses don’t. Online Yellow Pages is one example of an opportunity that local business have that global businesses can’t leverage. Craigslist classifieds is another marketing tactic that seems to work better for local businesses.

And there are global marketing tactics that can be used for local online marketing but that may need a little bit of creative tweaking for effectiveness.

When you’re ready to build your website and take the online marketing plunge, find a consultant who can help you decide whether local or global is more appropriate for your situation.

When it comes to web design, not many people can do their own. It requires special skills such as knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, and maybe even other Web languages. But many small business owners and community service organizations are beginning to design their own websites now with WordPress as a CMS. Is that a good idea?

Actually, it’s a great idea, but don’t think that using WordPress is going to absolve you from having to know any programming languages. You can build your own website using WordPress, but there are some functions for which you might need professional help.

For instance, if you want to include your Twitter stream in your blog, where’s the best place to put it so that it doesn’t get in the way of your reader’s enjoyment but still provides the content benefits that you are looking for? Do you know how to map an image inside of your header? A lot of people don’t.

Special knowledge aside, there are plenty of benefits to using WordPress as your web design CMS:

  • It’s flexible
  • It’s free
  • You can tweak it and customize it to fit your needs
  • Built in search engine optimization
  • Cuts down on time when designing a website

While the benefits are there for using WordPress as a CMS, you can still get more out of it if you let a professional web designer build your site then teach you how to upload your own pages. You won’t have to pay for ongoing design and management, but you can get a good looking website right from the beginning. Then, when you want to add to it, all you have to do is log in and write your pages.

You can count on one thing for sure: Social media is going to keep getting better.

Here’s a fun fact: Twitter has recently acquired Backtype.

So what does that mean?

Given that Backtype owns Backtweets, the Twitter analytics service, it can only mean one thing. Twitter is headed for a major innovation that will involve the use of analytics for its users.

If you are a current user of Backtweets, then you’ll be allowed to continue using the service for free. New signups, however, have been put on hold. So here’s the question: How long will new signups be on hold and when will the new Twitter-run Backtweets go full time? Also, will it be a paid service or free?

My bet is that Backtweets will offer a free version, but there will be a paid version for businesses, and if you are business Twitter user it would likely be in your favor to pay for the analytics so that you can measure the effectiveness of your tweeting.

Another thing that is likely to happen is the integration of short URLs with analytics. You’ll have to be able to track and measure the click-throughs on your links whether they are short URL links or long URL links, and if short URL, you’ll need to be able to track and measure your effectiveness whether you use Tinyurl, Bit.ly, or another service. Backtweets might also be able to offer analytics for Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

What do you think? Is this a good acquisition for Twitter? Will it improve your social media marketing efforts?

Where do you gather information about your competition? There are plenty of sources online where you can keep tabs of your competition and gather competitive intelligence. Here are 21 sources of information for keeping tabs on what your competition is up to.

  1. Twitter – Are you following your competition on Twitter?
  2. Their website and blog – Are you following the competition’s blog? Do you regularly check their website? You can use SEO tools to look at their effectiveness in search engine marketing and use that against them.
  3. Facebook – Are you checking in on your competition’s Facebook page or the walls of their executives? You should be.
  4. News sites – Do you read industry news portals? That’s a great place to find out what announcements the competition is making public.
  5. E-mail newsletters – Do you subscribe to your competition’s newsletters?
  6. Forums – Industry forums are a great place to gauge what people are saying about you and your competition, plus you might be able to lurk on what representatives of your competition are saying in the forums.
  7. Q&A websites – Is your competition using sites like Quora, Yahoo! Answers, and Answers.com? Are questions being asked about your competition? You should be keeping tabs.
  8. LinkedIn – If your competition is using LinkedIn, find out if they are using the Questions format or joining groups. Go where the competition is going and watch what they are doing.
  9. Google and Yahoo! Groups – Is your competitor a member of any groups on Yahoo! or Google? Unless you join the niche groups yourself, you can’t know.
  10. Niche social sites – Are there are social sites within your niche that your competition might be a member of? Join them.

Competitive intelligence is important. Don’t be blind to its benefits. Use these tools effectively to keep tabs of your competition.

Google is rebranding two of its products. Those products are Picasa and Blogger. Picasa’s new name is going to be Google Photos. Blogger is going to be called Google Blogs.

Why would Google rebrand these products that have been a part of its family now for more than five years? Picasa has been a Google product since 2003 and Blogger since 2004. That’s 8 and 7 years, respectively. Why the sudden change?

Answer: Google wants to roll out Google +. According to Mashable, Google Photos and Google Blogs will be a part of that social media project.

All of that’s understandable, but it makes me want to ask the question: When is it appropriate to rebrand yourself? Does rebranding really have benefits?

Of course, rebranding can and often does have benefit. In Google’s case, the products aren’t going to change. Only the names will change. So where’s the improvement? The improvement could be in how the services are integrated into Google +, so it may not be known until it happens. But if you are considering a rebranding for your Web products, then you should consider how it will affect your overall brand and marketplace position.

Keep this in mind: Rebranding doesn’t necessarily lead to a better service. That requires hard work.

A new report based on a survey of social network users says that LinkedIn is the most important social network for 59% of the people who use them. That’s LinkedIn, not Facebook or Twitter. That might seem unusual considering that Facebook and Twitter get most of the hype.

But, frankly, I think it makes a lot of sense.

Facebook is still a place for personal networking for a lot of people. It’s where they go to connect with friends and family. Yes, they also can set up a page for their business and network with people to attract new business. But being that Facebook is a personal space for a lot of people, and it is the most trafficked social network in cyberspace, the threshold for a high ROI is rather low. In other words, there are challenges in turning a Facebook networking plan into a profit. But it’s not impossible.

Twitter has become much more of a micropublishing platform. And it hasn’t quite caught on with the mainstream just yet.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a business social networking tool. People who use it use it for business. Period. So it makes sense that it would deliver the highest ROI. What do you think?

We’ve already discussed how Facebook and Skype have integrated their services for the benefit of businesses who use both. But recently, they’ve announced that Facebook users will be able to use Skype video chat from within their browsers while logged into Facebook. I’m sure that doesn’t complete the marriage between the two services, but it comes pretty doggone close.

But what does it mean, exactly?

Currently, if you are logged into Facebook, you can click on the chat feature and chat with your friends right there inside your browser. While the particulars of the Skype video chat feature have not be disclosed, I envision is working in a similar fashion. Click “Chat” and you can engage with your Facebook friends in real time with video chat.

And now for the business application: Suppose you are using Facebook vociferously for your business. You have a page and potential customers can Like it or not. You have a habit of posting Facebook wall updates while logged in as Admin for your business page. One of your friends notices that you are running a special and up pops the Skype video chat screen on your computer. The “friend” has a question for you.

With the Skype video chat feature, you can field customer service questions and make sales calls while logged into Facebook. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Have you defined your content marketing strategy or do you just post random content when it comes to you?

It’s important to create a content marketing plan. This is your blueprint for content publishing and your online business success. It entails a three-part process:

  • Decide which types of content you will use in your marketing strategy.
  • Plan how you will publish and promote your content.
  • Execute.

That seems simple, but it isn’t. It really is hard work. But it’s necessary work.

On deciding which types of content you will use, you’ll have to ask yourself if you’ll need a blog. Will you incorporate articles in your marketing strategy? PPC? How about social media? Furthermore, what role will each of these tactics play in your overall marketing strategy and who will be responsible for implementing them?

Your content marketing strategy should consider how SEO and social media will work together to put your content in front of the eyes of the people you want to do business with. Are they local or global?

Does your audience spend a considerable amount of time on social networks? How much? Which ones do they use most often?

When defining your content marketing strategy, you have a lot to think about. Think about how it all fits together and don’t leave anything to chance.

Smartphones have become all the rage. Both iPhones and Androids are gaining in popularity and people are using these devices in strange new ways. Businesses included.

One of the most powerful ways that iPhones and other smartphones are being utilized is through the development of apps. Apps can serve very useful functions for businesses that go through the trouble of developing them. And some of those functions are social.

For one thing, they allow you to repurpose your content. That’s always a plus. But if you can imagine your website being accessible to iPhone users who are also capable of sharing your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social websites, then you’re starting to get the picture. But even beyond that, iPhone apps themselves can be social media tools to reckon with.

Take your website again. Instead of simply reformatting the website for mobile consumption, why not repackage it into an app?

This can be done in a number of ways, but one way that many companies are using to make their content more palatable, interactive, and powerful is by turning it into a game. People love to have fun. The interactive nature of multi-player games that can be played through an iPhone interface will keep people connected to your business as they connect to their friends. You can’t get any more social than that.

Successful Internet marketers know that a blog is a great way to improve your search engine optimization efforts. Here are 5 specific ways that a blog can improve your SEO.

  1. Fresh, original content – A blog adds fresh, original content to your website every day. Search engine spiders thrive on fresh content. Every time you write a blog post, you will invite the search bots to your website again to crawl it and look for new content.
  2. Improve your internal link structure – A blog on your website with the right links pointing to the right pages can improve your internal link structure. This in turn improves your overall search engine rankings.
  3. Attracts inbound links – A good blog will attract inbound links from all over the Web. Those inbound links will help improve your website’s SEO.
  4. Increases you chances at achieving high rankings – Every single web page you post is another chance to rank in the search engines. Each blog post is seen by the search engines as a separate web page. So the more blog posts you have, the more chances you have to rank for your important keywords.
  5. High powered niche marketing – Over time, as you write more and more blog posts targeting specific keywords, those blog posts are more likely to rank for the keywords you are targeting – and your blog as well. An aged blog with highly targeted content with an awesome inbound link portfolio is better suited to rank high in the search engines.

Now that you know 5 ways your blog can improve your search engine rankings, why not start a blog today?