What is Search Engine Optimization and how it can Benefit Your Business

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves a number of activities and initiatives that businesses can implement to achieve high search engine rankings. Such activities address factors that can impact a website’s or web page’s search engine rankings for specific search terms, resulting in a high placement in a search engine’s organic (unpaid) search results. It is important to note that the position at which the company appears in search results is a result of both SEO activities and paid advertising.

Consumer perception is impacted by the position at which a company appears in the result of a search. A high rank in search results helps build trust in the minds of consumers as they generally associate a higher ranked website with being a strong, more established brand with greater reliability. This perception in turn leads to greater conversions on the company’s website and supports the fulfillment of the objectives for the product or brand. Most consumers will not click beyond the search results on the first or second page and the potential diminishes the further into the list that the company appears. A website that is search engine optimized will appear higher in search results resulting in a greater number of visits to the site.

Search Engine Optimization is an Internet marketing tactic that takes into consideration how search engines function and “rank” websites, how people search for keywords, the keywords that are most frequently searched, and the type of searches (text search, image search, video search) that consumers are likely to use to learn more about a product, service, or business as a whole. Keywords are typically defined as either short tail (also known as head keywords) (e.g., women’s clothing) or long tail (e.g., best store to buy women’s clothing). Short tail, or head, keywords usually consist of two words, while long tail keywords usually consist of three to five words. While short tail keywords are generally more popular, long tail keywords are more targeted to specific searches and come with less competition. Less competition is particularly important when developing a pay-per-click campaign as less competition generally means the company does not have to bid as much money for a particular keyword or phrase.

Typically when a business adds a page to its site, the various search engines send a spider, or web crawler, that stores the page on the search engine’s server and then indexes the page (i.e., gathers relevant information on the contents of the web page and the links that it contains) for fast and accurate information retrieval when an online consumer registers a search query on the engine.

Optimizing a website for online searches involves editing the site content and tagging or coding pages to increase the relevance of the website content relative to specific keywords that are key to the business. The objective is to ensure that the site appears in search engine results for the keywords that are most relevant to the business. SEO also involves removing any barriers that would prevent search engines from indexing the site, as well as promoting the site to increase the number of back-links, or inbound links.


[Acknowledgement: This post has been burrowed from https://www.SMstudy.com with due permission. Original can be found at https://www.smstudy.com/article/what-is-search-engine-optimization-and-how-it-can-benefit-your-business ]


VMEdu Cloud LMS Lets You Create and Host Your Online Courses for Free

The state-of-the-art platform from VMEdu is disrupting the Learning Management System (LMS) market. As part of the VMEdu Authorized Content Partner (V.A.C.P.) program, VMEdu is allowing anyone to create and host their courses with zero upfront investment and no requirement for technical expertise. Not just that—it provides content experts with the option of hosting their courses on their own website and provides them with their own high quality mobile app too.

Following are some of the key benefits of the VMEdu Authorized Content Partner (V.A.C.P.) Program:

1. Best Student Experience – Online, Mobile and Classes: VMEdu Cloud Learning Management System (LMS) is, by far, one of the best adult learning platforms globally. It has been built over a period of 7 years, with several millions of dollars of investment – and tested thoroughly by launching multiple courses and websites, which have now become global leaders in their fields. Using the VMEdu LMS allows V.A.C.P.s to offer their courses on their own websites – either online or through their mobile apps. VMEdu also supports physical classroom training options for some high-demand courses. Moreover, VMEdu’s strong back–end capabilities helps its partners easily manage their relationships and training requirements with VMEdu Inc. VMEdu LMS is hosted in a very scalable cloud infrastructure; and already hosts hundreds of courses, with more than 50,000 learning resources including videos, questions, case studies, simulated exams, flashcards, study guides etc. Anyone can join for free and launch their free course in few minutes/hours on their own website.

2. Zero Setup and Maintenance costs – No technical knowledge or infrastructure required: Unlike on other traditional LMS platforms, one does not have to pay any licensing fees, buy expensive hardware, or hire expensive software professionals to launch their online courses and mobile apps. There is no cost associated with creating or uploading the courses. Unlike traditional LMS platforms which usually have negligible support for mobile apps, VMEdu creates the best-in-the-industry mobile apps at zero-cost for Android Phones (if more than 1 hour of video courses uploaded) and $ 250 for IPhone. One can save more than 90% of your current LMS expenses by using VMEdu LMS – and also have significantly more capabilities than those offered by traditional LMS platforms.

3. Additional Revenues – Courses can be sold to VMEdu partner network of 750+ V.A.T.P.s: Courses created by V.A.C.P.s can be made available and sold through VMEdu’s fast-growing partner network of 750+ Authorized Training Partners (A.T.P.s) in 50+ countries. This makes their course available to a huge network of companies, colleges, universities, training companies, and individual trainers/experts. No other traditional LMS platform helps content providers with customer acquisition.

4. Leader in Global Education: VMEdu is a global leader in adult education through its multiple brands and partner eco-system. VMEdu has taught more than 500,000 students from 150 countries and 3,500+ companies; and have a huge A.T.P. partner network of 750+partners in 50+ countries. It is funded by Sequoia Capital which is the leading Private Equity/Venture Capital firm in the Silicon Valley – and has funded innovative global companies such as Apple, Google, Cisco, LinkedIn, Oracle, WhatsApp, etc.

To learn more about the VMEdu Authorized Content Partner Program, visit www.vmedu.com/Overview-VACP.asp

Instagram: Picture Perfect and Ad Friendly

Three years after Facebook purchased the immensely popular photo-sharing social network Instagram, it was officially opened up to all advertisers in the summer of 2015. This was a highly-anticipated and long-awaited social media channel for marketers, because let’s face it, with more than 400 million users per month, Instagram is quite the catch. And although it’s still very young and not everyone has tested the image-centric waters, recent feedback suggests it’s going swimmingly.

As of October, two months following the API launch, Nanigans, a company at the vanguard of advertising technology for in-house marketing, reported that 31 percent of all advertisers using their company’s ad automation software were spending marketing dollars on Instagram.

With user engagement second only to Facebook, Instagram is considered by Nanigans and other digital marketers as a necessary component of any social media marketing strategy, but some changes may be required.  As marketers move in to the unique Instagram environment, adaptations may be necessary to the existing look and function of ads.

Instagram currently offers three options for advertisements; photo, video and carousel, and they’ve done a nice job explaining what they offer and how they can help businesses on their information page … https://business.instagram.com/advertising/

With Instagram advertising in mind, some things to consider are…

1. It’s a visual medium, so bring the goods, or go home. Gorgeous images, interesting videos, highly polished or insanely cool, Instagram is the marketing channel where creativity can and should run wild and where special attention should be given to the aesthetics of the advertisement.

2. Tiny URLs, not just for Twitter anymore. Unfortunately, Google analytics does not track traffic generated from Instagram. Create customized short links in order to track the flow of traffic being driven by the Instagram ad. Bit.ly is a great resource for customizing a short link that can then be tracked.

3. Hop on and share the ride. Improve exposure through sponsored posts on peer feeds. Posting sponsored content on an Instagram account that is relevant and shares a similar demographic can yield wide exposure. This can also be done by including trending hashtags with Instagram ads/posts. The Instagram explore feature allows users to easily search for trending hashtags, so you can serve up biggie-sized exposure by simply adding a trending hashtag to an ad/post. According to Richard Lazazzera, content strategist at Shopify and founder of A Better Lemonade Stand, Instagram is currently the cheapest CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of any ad platform, so it’s worth participating and sharing.

4. And finally (and as always), bring them into the funnel. Once an ad has managed to capture attention and perhaps even a “follow”, it’s time to consider the next step in bringing a customer deeper into the marketing funnel. One of the best (and easiest) ways to accomplish this is to ask for an email address. Whether it’s a newsletter or additional relevant content a company is offering, opportunities for snagging an email address can create marketing success. A direct contact, such as an email address, allows for direct communication, which can be more personal and meaningful for both the customer and company.

Find additional posts on sales and marketing at www.smstudy.com/articles.


Instagram Advertising Benchmark Report 2015, Nanagins.  http://www.nanigans.com/blog/igram/usu/instagram-advertising-benchmark-report-december-2015

13 Instagram Marketing Tips from the Experts, July 22, 2015. Cindy King, Social Media Examiner. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/13-instagram-marketing-tips-from-the-experts/

You are So Annoying! Not You, SMstudy, I am on the Phone

It seems that there are some dangers with “going native.”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has increased its oversight of native advertising online and on smartphones. The most recent company running afoul of this intensified supervision is Lord & Taylor, who just settled with the governmental body over charges that “it deceived consumers through paid article in an online fashion magazine and paid Instagram posts,” according to the FTC.

Part of Lord & Taylor’s problem were efforts to produce and publish native advertising. “Native advertising is a form of online advertising that blends in with its surroundings,” according to Digital Marketing, book two of the SMstudy® Guide. The FTC’s charges identified activities among which were “a seemingly objective article in the online publication Nylon and a NylonInstagram post, without disclosing that the posts actually were paid promotions for the company’s 2015 Design Lab clothing collection.” Here was an attempt to blend in with the surrounding content that seems to have blended in all too well.

“While native advertising can be perceived as annoying, it can also be an effective tool if properly used,” asserts the SMstudy® Guide, and the FTC is addressing both points: annoying and proper. What is the proper use of native advertising? The FTC’s actions against Lord & Taylor has resulted in an agreement between the two entities that is open to comment until April 14, 2016. This means the public can become part of defining what is proper.

While that discussion is going on, another facet of technology-driven changes in advertising will definitely become part of the dialogue: using the smartphone. “Unlike traditional marketing in public spaces–such as billboards, magazines, and television–the smartphone is a highly personal space for the consumer and requires an entirely different engagement model,” says Christina Desmarais in an opinion piece for Inc. magazine online.

With personal engagement comes personal offense. The reaction of the consumer becomes less “Do you really think that little of your customers?” and more “What type of girl do you think I am!”

Those who wish to use native advertising will need to develop a keen sensibility as marketing becomes more personal and the natives become more restless.

For more interesting information and articles about Sales and Marketing visit SM study.

“Lord & Taylor Settles FTC Charges It Deceived Consumers Through Paid Article in an Online Fashion Magazine and Paid Instagram Posts by 50 ‘Fashion Influencers’” (3/15/16) Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved on 3/24/16 from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/03/lord-taylor-settles-ftc-charges-it-deceived-consumers-through

An overview of the SMstudy® Guide is available at http://www.smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide and a free course on Digital Marketing is available at http://www.smstudy.com/Certification/Digital-Marketing-Associate.

The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through April 14, 2016, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.

Desmarais, Christina. (2/29/2016) “Why Everything You Know about Marketing is Obsolete” Inc. Retrieved on 3/24/16 from http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/why-everything-you-know-about-marketing-is-obsolete.html

Pushing the Envelope: The Case for Paper

“It is important for us to note that the fact that we are in the twenty-first century does not make all the earlier avenues of sales and marketing obsolete.”Marketing Strategy, Book one of the SMstudy®Guide.

Online marketing is where it’s at, right? The benefits are numerous and have been noted extensively in reports and articles galore by marketing professionals and others who’ve taken the time to track the data and offer the proof. Online marketing is definitely where it’s at. Or, is it?

Today, many companies and brands opt for a fragmented new-age marketing strategy, one based primarily on a digital, multi-channel approach that includeds all available avenues via the Internet, such as websites and social media, and tools and devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and so on. But in all the excitement of new technologies and the myriad of new ways to reach people with our marketing messages, SMstudy reminds us that “rather than viewing these changes as completely replacing earlier practices, sales and marketing approaches should be viewed as a continuum where recent innovations can co-exist with earlier practices.”

In other words, online marketing might not be the only game in town. Some old-school methods might, in fact, be cooler (and more appropriate) than you think. Take snail mail, for example.

Direct mail, which seemed to have gone the way of paper news and landline phones, is now seeing a revival. The most commonly cited reason is the personal factor. In an age where we receive a slew of emails every day, to receive a piece of paper mail with our name on it (as opposed to “current resident”) seems positively Downton Abbey. We’re loving the nostalgia of it and it’s standing out in our consciousness, because unlike email, paper mail is rare nowadays. Craig Simpson, direct mail marketing professional, emphasizes the personal touch of direct mail.

“It makes it seem like someone put some extra effort into what they sent as opposed to just quickly shooting off another email,” Simpson said.

Simpson goes on to point out the additional benefit of being able to “spruce up physical mail in ways that you just can’t achieve with email.”

Other noted plusses for direct mail include the ability to precisely target market segments and the fact that compared to email, physical mail has a greater likelihood of being opened.

Direct mail is also a flexible channel with a variety of options. Postcards, flyers, publications and free samples are all on the table when considering direct mail.

SMstudy states, “It is a fact that people now spend more time on the Internet using devices than they spend through conventional mass media, such as television, radio, or newspaper.” So, it is logical to focus many marketing efforts online.

However, if physical paper mail is best in reaching a company’s audience and in turn reaching the company’s goals, marketers should not be afraid to pull out an “oldie but a goodie” from the continuum of sales and marketing.

For more on sales and marketing, visit SM Study.


“4 Reasons to Use Direct Mail Marketing Instead of Email Marketing,” Craig Simpson, Feb. 17, 2015. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242731

“What Are the Benefits of Direct Mail Advertising?” Rick Suttle, Houston Chroniclehttp://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-direct-mail-advertising-3476.html

SMstudy®Guide, Marketing Research http://www.smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide/Overview-of-SMstudy-Guide

The Lean Startup Movement and SMstudy

Startup “is shorthand for an ethos that the organization holds dear: speed, flexibility, a willingness to be daring and experiment,” writes Beth Comstock in the introduction to “Video: Eric Ries Talks to Beth Comstock about Entrepreneurship in the Age of Uncertainty” in GE Reports.[1]

Comstock, Vice Chair of GE (General Electric), puts this ethos at the heart of the Lean Startup managerial movement that she credits to Eric Ries and his Times bestseller, The Lean Startup.

When Ries describes what he means by “lean startup,” he says, “We take ideas from lean manufacturing and apply them to the process of innovation itself… we build a minimum viable product … rapidly iterate, discover what is it that the customers want,” and then learn how to build a sustainable business around that. This approach is one of the most effective ways people successfully navigate innovation and change: taking ideas that work in one field and applying them where they can do a lot of good in another field.

The field of sales and marketing has seen its paradigms shift on an almost daily basis—the sellers’ market morphs into conventional mass marketing, which transforms into mass media marketing, then into internet sales and fragmented new-age marketing, and so on.  Technological innovation continually creates both new markets and new ways to reach established markets.

How do professionals successfully navigate this ocean of innovation? SMstudy—the global training and accreditation organization whose experts share their content through the SMstudy platform—takes ideas from the fields of project management and process engineering “to provide a practical and process-oriented approach to Sales and Marketing that emphasizes how its various elements can be integrated to develop a comprehensive and effective organizational Sales and Marketing Plan,” according to their website. [2]

Ries sees that “entrepreneurship is the missing function in corporations… imagine your business but with one of its major silos gone: there’s no marketing, there’s no operations, there’s no finance, you’d say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re in trouble.’”

Startups and established companies often find themselves in this position, but the missing component is an integrated marketing strategy and the capacity to deliver such a strategy. SMstudy’s Guide to the SMstudy Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMBOK® Guide), also referred to as the SMstudy® Guide, “is a series of books that provide guidelines for the Sales and Marketing of products and services. It offers a comprehensive framework that can be used to effectively manage Sales and Marketing efforts in any organization,” according to their website. The process-oriented approach enables companies to design and build marketing activities and departments that match their needs, size and resident expertise.

Describing entrepreneurship as “about operating under conditions of extreme uncertainty,” Ries gives three questions that can help professionals be entrepreneurial within their daily business activities: “You can always be asking yourself ‘who’s the customer for this?’ ‘What is the benefit to the customer, what is it that they hope to get from your work?’ and ‘how do you know that you have positively impacted them?’”  These are topics covered in the SMstudy® Guide.

Being entrepreneurial, using lean startup processes and applying insight across business domains is helping companies like GE and SMstudy move successfully into a future of continuing uncertainty.

For more insights and articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.

[1] Retrieved on 5/23/16 from http://www.gereports.com/a-lean-mean-startup-machine-business-strategist-wants-companies-to-embrace-uncertainty.

[2] http://www.smstudy.com/Individuals/Buy-SMstudy-Guide