5 Publicity Hacks For Startups To Grow Your Business Now

5 Publicity Hacks For Startups To Grow Your Business Now

One common thread about startups is that most are pressed for time and money. They know they need to establish their brand, but lack the major funding of most established businesses. Many try to muddle through in an attempt to pique the interest of journalists and secure media coverage. They understand the longer it takes to create name recognition the longer it will take them to build sales and profitability, but they aren't sure how to get the process rolling. Here are five publicity hacks for startups to quickly attract the attention of newspapers, radio and TV stations, and generate the needed publicity for immediate growth.


#1. Create a short summary highlighting what makes the business special and why it is different than other companies in the market space.

A startup should avoid the standard press release if possible. The common mistake is to create the typical release and just send it everywhere hoping something will stick. Instead, depending on the type and scope of the business, offer an exclusive story to the media with a lot of news “hooks”. Point out interesting details and pitch the local business journal, daily newspaper, or a TV station announcing your company's launch before it happens. You can put together an interesting summary with an eye catching headline. Journalists like to break stories and are always watching for new businesses they can write or talk about. Businesses can always issue and distribute a standard press release later after a major news outlet or two have broken the story.


#2. Develop a short, quirky video for social media.

Video, of course, is highly used in today's highly digitized world. A video can humanize the owners and team, and get people talking about it. Many people would also rather watch something than read about it. A video can help cover all the bases. It can depict some emotion and show aspects of the business print cannot deliver. A company can also link to their video for added PR value when the business does send out its press release.


#3. Host a special event.

A special event can create excitement for the leadership, team and recruiting. The right type of event can also have a lot of media value. Creating a special event is where creativity kicks in. You can do something a little off-the-wall such as creating the world's biggest cheeseburger or selling 50 dresses in 50 hours to build revenue for a nonprofit or repairing a house for a needy homeowner if you are a painting company or construction firm. You can do something related to computers if you are a tech firm. Many ways exist to execute an event and accomplish your goals. Remember a business will need something visual if you wish to attract local TV stations.


#4. Tie-in a charity.

Community outreach can be a key part of a communications program. A new company can develop something at the outset that benefits a local charity and gains the attention of the media. Editors and producers like companies that do something creative and give back to the community. You can do some special things with nonprofits that involve bringing your pets to work or small children. The media loves dogs and kids.


#5. Publicize your press coverage on social media and your website

Your newsroom should be kept up-to-date and make sure you link to your stories on all your social channels. Print, video and digital all play off each other with SEO benefits as well. Keep in mind the more coverage you get, and the more media relationships you establish, the more credibility you will have for future stories.

By Stephen Turner
Stephen Turner is a Principal and owner with Solomon/Turner PR, a public relations and integrated marketing firm in St. Louis, MO. Solomon Turner PR is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020. The firm has been named One of the Top PR Firms in St. Louis for 12 years in a row by Small Business Monthly. Steve was named a Rockstar Publicist by Authority Magazine and Thrive Global. He has over 30 years of experience in PR and marketing communications. His firm, Solomon/Turner specializes in publicity campaigns, social media, and branding. Mr. Turner has written dozens of blogs and articles on PR and marketing. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Visit https://solomonturner.com

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How Can I Build Momentum for My Website During COVID-19?

organic search engine optimization

Many companies are either closed or operating with reduced services due to COVID-19.  As a result, some business owners are wondering if investing in organic search engine optimization (SEO) during this time is wise.  If you find yourself asking this question, here are some thoughts to consider.

Organic Rankings are Still the Gold Standard

While search engine results pages display both ads and organic listings, ranking well organically for relevant search terms is still the gold standard. Ranking well for relevant search terms also has some indirect advantages. For instance, although organic SEO and Google Ads are completely separate entities, when your website ranks well organically for a keyword, you will likely be assigned a higher quality score for that keyword by Google, thus decreasing the pay-per-click amount you pay if you are running Google Ads.

Pausing Ongoing SEO Efforts Can Result in a Loss of Momentum and Rankings

Good search engine rankings take time to achieve and ongoing work to maintain. If you are subscribing to our ongoing SEO services and suddenly stop, then there is good chance that your website rankings will drop.  Not only do you lose the momentum you’ve gained, but you open doors for your competitors.

If Your Competitors Cut Back, the Door Opens Wider for You

If your competitors choose to decrease or eliminate their ongoing SEO efforts, even temporarily, the door opens wider for you.  Let’s say a competitor who has a larger website than you and spends more on monthly SEO suddenly stops SEO.  If you continue your SEO and/or increase your SEO efforts, you now have a better chance of your website being viewed by Google as more relevant and you very well could see a spike in rankings.  If this happens, your competitor will have more ground to make up when they do resume their SEO efforts.

If you have never subscribed to our ongoing SEO services, now is an excellent time to start.  If you are already an ongoing SEO client, now may be the opportune time to intensify these efforts. Let’s talk about where you are, your goals and how we can help!

Mobile-First Indexing on Google

Mobile-First Indexing on Google

Mobile-first indexing is well underway at Google.  Since mobile has become a more widely used platform to perform searches, Google will now utilize the mobile version of the website when it indexes and ranks pages.  As a result, we expect to see search engine rankings drop for websites that are not well optimized for mobile.

What does this mean for your website?

  1. If we developed a responsive website for you within the last five years AND you have been subscribing to Ongoing Support (which includes version, theme and plug-in updates), then your website is already optimized for mobile.
  2. If your website is more than five years old OR you have not been subscribing to Ongoing Support, please contact us for a complimentary mobile review.
  3. If we did not build your website, please contact us for a complimentary mobile review.

Google evaluates all desktop and mobile content to determine mobile friendliness.  We have and will continue to place great importance on the mobile User Experience (UX) as it significantly affects the indexing and ranking of websites.

Sometimes when we develop a responsive website, a client will ask us to organize content and/or navigation in a way that adversely affects the responsiveness of their site.  When such a request is made, we do inform the client of the negative impact their suggestion(s) may have on the mobile optimization of their website. Please keep in mind that since Google has implemented mobile-first indexing, it will be now be crucial for websites to deliver an optimal mobile UX.

If you've received a notification from Google about your website's mobile-first indexing, forward the notice to us for a review.

Have questions or would like a complimentary mobile review of your website?  Send us an e-mail.  We’re here to help!

Should I Build My Website Myself or Hire a Professional?

Professional Website Developer
There is much more that goes into developing a website than most people realize.  If you have the knowledge required to build a website yourself then you may want to give it a shot.  However, time is money and it does take significant time to properly develop an effective website that ranks well on search engines and helps your business grow.

Website development involves a process of checks and balances.  A website that violates search engine best practices can actually hurt your business more than help.  Once Google and/or other search engines index a page of your site it counts either “for” or “against” your search engine rankings.  If search engines index pages that do not fall within best practices, you are compromising your overall rankings.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why you should consider hiring a professional website developer who is also knowledgeable in search engine optimization (SEO):

User Experience (UX)

We design your site with the UX in mind. The UX is important when it comes conversions on your website. It also plays a role in SEO.  Think of your website as your online storefront.  Would you patronize a brick and mortar store that is cluttered and disorganized or choose one that is neat, tidy and makes it easy to find what you need?  Most of us would choose the latter.  The same philosophy rings true with websites.  If your site is cluttered, difficult to navigate and not appealing to the eye, then people are likely to go elsewhere.  You have 3-5 seconds to capture the attention of the user.  If your UX is poor, then there is a greater likelihood they will navigate off of your site.  Search engines also consider the UX when it comes to rankings.  A poor UX does not bode well for search engine rankings.

Mobile First Indexing

Google recently announced the implementation of mobile first indexing.  This means that Google will now consider the mobile version of a website first when it comes to search engine rankings.  So, if your website does not function or display well on mobile, there is now an increased likelihood of it not ranking well on Google.  There is an art to designing a website to display well on both desktop and mobile.  We have been developing websites with both desktop and mobile users in mind for years.

Optimization of Pages

If you want your website to show up in searches, then your pages need to be optimized for search engines.  Our team of experts writes and optimizes each page of your website to ensure the content is both appealing to the user; and includes the proper elements, formatting and SEO metadata to rank on search engines.

Overall Quality and Function

Poor quality websites and websites that do not function properly not only adversely affect the UX, but they also tend to not rank well on search engines.    Users won’t come back and visit a site that is of poor quality and search engines will penalize sites that do not function properly. We take time to ensure each site is built to the highest industry standards!

These days, your online presence is everything.  Ensuring your website is developed properly from the beginning is important now more than ever.  We often have business owners who either built their websites themselves or hired an unqualified website company come to us in crisis because their website is not functioning or ranking well on search engines.  Investing in a professional and experienced website developer can save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run.

Need a new website or assistance with an existing site?   We’re here to help!


Why Should I Hire a Professional Graphic Designer?

professional graphic designer

One of the most common mistakes new businesses make is cutting corners on their identity.  Often times, when we are engaged by a client for marketing services (i.e. collateral materials, website development, etc.) and when we review their assets, we find issues with their logo (also known as a brandmark.) Your brandmark is important because it is the face and identity of your business.  It should be created by a professional graphic designer who understands proper file formats, licensing, and is willing to provide you with rights to the final artwork.

Engaging a qualified graphic designer from the beginning can avoid some very costly issues down the road.  Let’s take a closer look.

Relevant Imagery

A professional graphic designer is trained in strategies to ensure the proper imagery, colors, and text are used to reach your target market(s).  Reaching your target market(s) is the first step in getting your business off the ground. Designers are artists, but artists are NOT designers.  A professional graphic designer will create artwork that influences how people see, feel and react to your message.  Every element of design must have a purpose, otherwise it is just decoration and may confuse or distract from your message.  Most of the time, less is more in graphic design.

Proper Formats

Hiring a professional graphic designer ensures you will receive your logo/brandmark files in the proper formats. Brandmarks must be designed to work at all sizes, from a business card to a billboard.  Creating the brandmark in the wrong format will severely limit its scalability and usability across multiple mediums.

Original Artwork

You must make sure the artwork provided to you is original.  If the artwork is pirated, stock art, or unlicensed clip art, the first indication of a problem will likely be a legal notice or lawsuit.  This can result in your reputation being compromised and the artwork needing to be changed, recreated or licensed.  We have had clients come to us with brandmarks they have purchased from an online vendor that “guaranteed the artwork was original and properly licensed” only to later find out it was not.  This costly mistake can lead to hefty fines and, in worst cases, closing of the business.

Do you need a professional logo or are you unsure if your current logo meets all of the above criteria?

The Site Crew is a full-service online marketing firm with professional graphic designers on staff to create artwork that targets your audience with your message to drive consumers to consider your product or service.  Contact us today for a free marketing asset evaluation.

Stay tuned for “What is brand identity and why should I care?

Is Link Building For Your Website Worth The Effort?

In the past link building was used by online marketers to build tons of backlinks to their website to increase search engine rankings. And it worked. But, in 2012, the Google Penguin algorithm update stopped websites spamming their search results. In particular, those websites which were buying links or getting them through free link building sites designed to boost their Google rankings.

So does this mean that link building for your website is all but dead today? Far from it!

Don't Disregard Link Building For Your Website

Link building for your website has always been an important factor for it to rank well in the search engines. Links back to your website provide strong signals that your site is relevant and popular.

The focus for any website owner is now to create quality content and then build links to that from other relevant high-quality sites.

How To Do Link Building With Content

Generally, increasing the number of backlinks pointing to your website will improve your website's search ranking. To get more links, contact authoritative websites or blogs to see if you can provide a guest post or article. That post or article will contain a link back to your website.

It's much easier to build links to your site when you have high-quality content. Remember that without good content your online business has no value to your audience. It doesn't have to be a literary masterpiece, but it should be relevant and interesting.

Evergreen Content

Content can be an article, a blog post, a report, an eBook, an online course, a video or an audio. The best kind of content is that which is classed as ‘evergreen'. This means that the information presented doesn't go out of date, so in years to come it's still relevant. That means you'll still have content on your site that's worth linking to.

Social Media

It's true that Google still relies on ‘traditional links', that is, links from other authority sites. We're now seeing a shift towards Google and Bing taking more of an interest on what's happening on social media.

What social media links are great for is to reach your real live customers. This is a way to drive traffic back to your site without having to worry about what Google or Bing does. Once again, content is king. If you continually produce high-quality content, your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ will share these posts, comment on them and vote for them.

With over 150 million active monthly users, Google is paying more attention to Pinterest. It's become a major player in the social media universe. Pinterest can boost your search engine rankings and send you free, targeted traffic. Don't ignore this social media superbrand. Download your free Pinterest Marketing Checklist at: http://jonallo.com/pinterestchecklist

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Google Analytics Language Codes

Here’s a reference for the language codes you will find in your Google Analytics reports:

af Afrikaans sq Albanian
ar-sa Arabic (Saudi Arabia) ar-iq Arabic (Iraq)
ar-eg Arabic (Egypt) ar-ly Arabic (Libya)
ar-dz Arabic (Algeria) ar-ma Arabic (Morocco)
ar-tn Arabic (Tunisia) ar-om Arabic (Oman)
ar-ye Arabic (Yemen) ar-sy Arabic (Syria)
ar-jo Arabic (Jordan) ar-lb Arabic (Lebanon)
ar-kw Arabic (Kuwait) ar-ae Arabic (U.A.E.)
ar-bh Arabic (Bahrain) ar-qa Arabic (Qatar)
eu Basque bg Bulgarian
be Belarusian ca Catalan
zh-tw Chinese (Taiwan) zh-cn Chinese (PRC)
zh-hk Chinese (Hong Kong SAR) zh-sg Chinese (Singapore)
hr Croatian cs Czech
da Danish nl Dutch (Standard)
nl-be Dutch (Belgium) en English
en-us English (United States) en-gb English (United Kingdom)
en-au English (Australia) en-ca English (Canada)
en-nz English (New Zealand) en-ie English (Ireland)
en-za English (South Africa) en-jm English (Jamaica)
en English (Caribbean) en-bz English (Belize)
en-tt English (Trinidad) et Estonian
fo Faeroese fa Farsi
fi Finnish fr French (Standard)
fr-be French (Belgium) fr-ca French (Canada)
fr-ch French (Switzerland) fr-lu French (Luxembourg)
gd Gaelic (Scotland) ga Irish
de German (Standard) de-ch German (Switzerland)
de-at German (Austria) de-lu German (Luxembourg)
de-li German (Liechtenstein) el Greek
he Hebrew hi Hindi
hu Hungarian is Icelandic
id Indonesian it Italian (Standard)
it-ch Italian (Switzerland) ja Japanese
ko Korean ko Korean (Johab)
lv Latvian lt Lithuanian
mk Macedonian (FYROM) ms Malaysian
mt Maltese no Norwegian (Bokmal)
no Norwegian (Nynorsk) pl Polish
pt-br Portuguese (Brazil) pt Portuguese (Portugal)
rm Rhaeto-Romanic ro Romanian
ro-mo Romanian (Republic of Moldova) ru Russian
ru-mo Russian (Republic of Moldova) sz Sami (Lappish)
sr Serbian (Cyrillic) sr Serbian (Latin)
sk Slovak sl Slovenian
sb Sorbian es Spanish (Spain)
es-mx Spanish (Mexico) es-gt Spanish (Guatemala)
es-cr Spanish (Costa Rica) es-pa Spanish (Panama)
es-do Spanish (Dominican Republic) es-ve Spanish (Venezuela)
es-co Spanish (Colombia) es-pe Spanish (Peru)
es-ar Spanish (Argentina) es-ec Spanish (Ecuador)
es-cl Spanish (Chile) es-uy Spanish (Uruguay)
es-py Spanish (Paraguay) es-bo Spanish (Bolivia)
es-sv Spanish (El Salvador) es-hn Spanish (Honduras)
es-ni Spanish (Nicaragua) es-pr Spanish (Puerto Rico)
sx Sutu sv Swedish
sv-fi Swedish (Finland) th Thai
ts Tsonga tn Tswana
tr Turkish uk Ukrainian
ur Urdu ve Venda
vi Vietnamese xh Xhosa
ji Yiddish zu Zulu

How do I create a successful social media campaign?

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What appeals to you? What compels you to act? Peer to peer impressions have more influence now than ever before. A friend recommending a restaurant, product, service, etc. can have more impact than a paid advertisement. Think about the types of posts, information, etc. that not only appeals to your customers, but they will also want to share.

The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” was one of the most successful social media campaigns to date. It incorporated entertaining videos of people challenging people they know to support a worthy cause. The challenge went viral and spread like wildfire. As a result, the ALS Association not only raised a ton of money for their cause, but they spread awareness of the disease and their mission throughout the United States and beyond.

Social media was meant to be “social.” Direct selling of your product and/or service through social media is not as effective as offering something of value to your customers. Consider these ideas when developing a social medial campaign for your business:

  1. Helpful tips people will want to share
    (i.e. a pest control service may want to post tips on reducing mosquitos around your home, etc.)
  2. Entertaining videos – people love to share humor so come up with a video or series of funny, short videos that demonstrate the value of your product.
  3. Contests
    (i.e. send us a 30 second video showing why you love our product; we will post and people will have an opportunity to select their top three favorites; winners will receive a prize, etc.)
  4. Live streams – Facebook Live is an example of a platform where you can transmit live video streams. Consider broadcasting “live” content that is entertaining and informative. This new feature of Facebook – introduced in April 2016 – is gaining in popularity. Learn more here: https://live.fb.com/

You don’t have to be a million-dollar company to create catchy a social media campaign that reaches millions of people. It just takes one good idea to go viral.

Immediate Notification When Someone Mentions Your Business Online

Did you know that Google will notify you every time someone mentions your business or website online?

Would you like to receive notifications each time your competitor is mentioned online?

All you have to do is set up Google Alerts.   With Google Alerts, Google will send you e-mails anytime your web page or company name is mentioned.

Google Alerts is an easy method of finding new pages and articles linking to your site or mentioning your service.

Or, for monitoring your competition.

Just go to:  https://www.google.com/alerts

What Is The Nofollow Tag; When & How To Use It

We often consult with clients about the use of the nofollow tag.  Sometimes our job is to identify whether or not a link from another website to our client's site is beneficial to our client's SEO, sometimes we offer advice on how our client should structure outgoing links on their own site.

The nofollow tag is one way that site owners tell search engines to NOT count a link to another web page as a “vote” in favor of that website.

Using nofollow can help site owners whose sites contain many links avoid problems with search engines believing they are participating in unacceptable SEO practices.

This infographic from searchengineland.com explains nofollow quite well.

Nofollow tag

WordPress as a Content Management System

For our clients who require a content management system for their websites, we highly recommend and fully support WordPress and Yoast SEO plugins.  

Google Plus Introduces Giant Cover Photos

Google Plus introduced giant cover photos this week along with several other features in an effort to make their social network bigger and better.  The new larger photos occupy nearly half the screen.

The cover photos aren't the only changes on Google Plus. The “About” tab is redesigned, and “Reviews” now compiles all of your reviews from Google Local.

These new Google Plus improvements are still rolling out, so not everyone can see them yet.

If you need help getting your cover photo ready, just contact us.

How To Get The Most Seo And Web Traffic Benefits From Blogging

The best way to get people and search engines (which means more people) to your website is by getting relevant inbound links. How To Get The Most SEO And Web Traffic Benefits From BloggingIf you have some great new gimmick on your website this may be easy as everyone will be linking to you.

However, with a basic, solid web page the process may be much more difficult and slower.  How do you get people to link to you?


Blogs can be great way to get visitors and develop a long term return. Blog posts tend to stick around for a long time. The trick here is to get people to blog about your website without forking over a bundle of your hard earned cash.

A great idea is to become a guest blogger. This would be where you write blog posts for other people’s blogs and include your link!

This puts you in the drivers seat for a couple of reasons. First you have control over exactly what is said. Secondly, if you do a good job you may have the opportunity to make regular blog posts. That will build an audience on the blogs for your writing and turn into more and higher quality traffic for your website.

The key to being a great guest blogger is to write short (3 to 6 or so paragraph) posts that are interesting, informative, humorous and relevant to the topic of the blog (and your website). Of course they should have a link to your website. Don’t over do the linking. Don’t make it sound like an advertisement or something you just cut and pasted from your website.

A few minutes to compose a couple of well thought out paragraphs could do wonders for your web traffic. Keep looking for guest blogging opportunities and never use the same post for more than one blog. One post could bring a lifetime of traffic.

This may well be your most effective way to developing quality web traffic and enhancing your the SEO for your website(s).

Contact us if you need help finding guest bloggers for your blog or if you want to write blog posts and become a guest blogger for others.

Over Optimization And The Google Sandbox

Google Sandbox
So, you put a lot of effort into creating a really great website only to find that no one can find it and Google doesn't rank your site very highly. You hear about a thing called “search engine optimization” and decide to give it a try. Before you go adding your keywords to every element of your pages and building links any way you can, take a step back and remind yourself of the old saying, “sometimes less is more”.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, has really taken off over the last ten years as more and more fledgling webmasters have created websites, only to find that no one comes to visit. As they search around for ways to get more visitors, most of them quickly find resources on how to optimize a web page for the search engines and go right to work sprinkling keywords everywhere and building links from any place they can get them.

This causes problems for a search engine because, lets face it, you are trying to manipulate the search results and they are trying to avoid being manipulated. After all, just because YOU think your site is a great resource on a topic doesn't mean that it is. Google has already adjusted for the webmaster that is over-optimizing their website, and its called the Google “sandbox”. The sandbox is a name that disgruntled webmasters have given to the situation where a new site that should rank well for a keyword is nowhere to be found in the rankings, only to suddenly appear one day several months down the road. What is this sandbox effect and what could cause it?

One theory is that the “sandbox” is actually more of a “trustbox”, meaning that Google looks at many attributes of your site to determine if you are attempting to manipulate the search rankings. The most obvious, and the twp traps that most beginning webmasters fall into is over-optimizing on-page content and building too many low quality links too fast.

It is believed that the newer your domain is, the less tolerance Google has for over-optimization of pages, or suspiciously fast link building. Once you trip the filter, you're placed in the holding cell (“sandbox”), because Google suspects you of trying to manipulate the results. The tolerance for over-optimization may vary based on the industry, so “spammy” industries such as pharmaceutical drugs are far more sensitive to over-optimization than most. That can cause some discouragement by many who are hoping to find fast success since those industries are already competitive enough that you NEED highly optimized content and lots of links to possibly compete for top rankings, but you can't do it too quickly or you will be sandboxed.

At a recent WebmasterWorld conference, Matt Cutts from Google stated that there really wasn’t a “sandbox”, but “the algorithm might affect some sites, under some circumstances, in a way that a webmaster would perceive as being sandboxed.” This means that avoiding the sandbox is merely a matter of optimizing your site without tripping the filters in Google's algorithm.

Ask yourself these questions to avoid over-optimization penalties:

  • Is your title a single target keyword phrase and nothing else?
  • Is your keyword phrase found in several of the following locations: title, header, subheaders, bold or italicized words?
  • Does the page read differently than you would normally speak?
  • Are you in a competitive industry that is frequented by spammers?
  • Have you acquired a large number of low PageRank links quickly?
  • Do you have very few high PageRank (6+) links pointing to your site?

In summary, the current theory about Google's “sandbox” is that it is actually more like a holding cell where the Google “police” keep your website when it is suspected of possibly trying to manipulate the search results. As the domain ages, most sites eventually gain enough “trust” to escape the sandbox and immediately start ranking where they normally would. Remember that Google is not manually ranking every website – in the end it is simply a computer algorithm and those who are able to score well in Google's algorithm WITHOUT tripping any filters will achieve top rankings and profit the most.