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        December 28th, 2012

        Florim USA has introduced Ecowood, a glazed porcelain tile produced using High Definition Graphic, to the North American marketplace. Ecowood is a rustic tile range replicating the inherent beauty of natural hardwood. Offered in five unique colors: Noce, Wenge, Rovere, Avorio, and Multi-Color, two size formats are available: 6”x24” pressed and 6”x36” rectified. Complementary Ecowood trim pieces 6”x12” cove-base, and 1”x6” corner pieces are included, as well.? The 6”x36” rectified format is a brand new size produced by Florim USA. Made in the USA, Ecowood has a Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) rating of > 0.42; making it an ideal choice for nearly any application (residential/commercial; indoor/outdoor). Additionally, all Ecowood materials contain 40% recycled content. Projects which include Ecowood are eligible for LEED points. Florim USA will soon be introducing a 18″x36″ size format, providing the unique opportunity to cut and rectify longer size formats such as the new Ecowood 6″x36″ tile. www.florimusa.com


        Redi Trench?
        December 28th, 2012

        Tile Redi?, manufacturer and marketer of pre-formed, one-piece shower pans and related accessories, now offers Redi Trench?…? the only linear drain system completely integrated into a leak-proof, mold-free shower pan. Designers have the choice of selecting either tile-in-grate or non-tile-able versions. Redi Trench offers an exciting marriage of design and function for the commercial construction sector, in particular for the hospitality industry; following ots introduction at the recent Kitchen & Bath Show it won the prestigious “Best of the Bath award.” ?Redi Trench? features offer endless design flexibility as? it can be used with any size Redi Base (30″–72”), plank pitched, molded-in trench. The Redi Trench? is ?plank pitched with a ?molded-in trench that will accept any tile size. Additionally, it can be put in any trench location or any drain location with the option of specifying a tile-able or grate top. www.tileredi.com

        Marketing Your Blog: Search Engine Optimization is Essential to Success
        December 6th, 2012

        By Kathleen Furore

        Last July, Conestoga Tile,?www.conestogatile.com,? launched a blog with one goal in mind: to educate its audience about all things tile. The challenge for this Hanover, Pa.-headquartered wholesale distributor was to engage homeowners, tile dealers, contractors, architects and designers alike—a diverse mix of consumers, all of them potential Conestoga clients.

        “Because we have a wide audience, many of our blogs are on topics that everyone would be interested in and can benefit from. For example recent posts have been about understanding shade variation in tile, care and maintenance of tile and stone, effects of lighting on floors and walls and curbless showers. We try to post two blogs per week or eight each month,” Steve Vogel, the company’s executive vice president, explains. “Other blogs we post are supplier highlights and new product introductions. Recently, we started a blog series introducing people to the design consultants that work in our showroom. We will highlight one design consultant every month for the next year.”

        To get the blog going, the company ran a few weeks of blog entries before announcing it to the tile world. “We wanted to have some content so visitors could get a good feel for what our blog was going to be on their first visit. Then we announced the blog through an email blast to our customers as well as through our monthly newsletter,” Vogel recalls. “The first month we had 63 visitors. Since then we have had a total of 700 different visitors, and many of them have returned each week to read more blogs.”

        Vogel credits Facebook and Twitter promotions and the “From the Blog” feature in Conestoga’s monthly newsletter with the blog’s steady growth. “The writing is done is such a way that search engine words and phrases are used,” he adds. “The blog’s sole purpose is to create Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and drive people to our website. We review Google Analytics and see that people are finding us through Google searches and then moving on to our website. That’s what we want.”

        Avoiding the Pitfalls

        Vogel and the bloggers at Conestoga Tile have taken the necessary steps toward blog success. Many small business, however, don’t market their blogs in ways that beckon new visitors.

        “It’s easy to build a blog, but hard to build a successful blog with significant traffic,” says Randy Fishkin, CEO of SEOMoz (www.seomoz.org), a Seattle-based developer of SEO software. “Blogging rarely takes off after the first few posts. It’s months, sometimes years of effort and dozens to hundreds of posts before the ROI from a blog can be seen. Because it’s such an intense effort with a long payoff, most businesses don’t invest or don’t invest properly, which means the few who do it well and get it right earn massively outsized rewards.”

        Inadequate investment of time and resources is just one mistake newbie bloggers make, adds Susan Gunelius, President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc. (www.keysplashcreative.com), and author of “Blogging All-in-One for Dummies” and other books about marketing, blogging, and social media.

        “Once the blog has been launched, the biggest mistakes small businesses make are publishing content that is too self-promotional, not bothering to update the blog, and operating in a silo,” Gunelius says. “If you build it, they won’t come—you need to build relationships with your target audience on the sites where they already spend time before they’ll trust you enough to come to your blog.”

        Trafiic-building Tips

        Understanding Search Engine Optimization and doing all you can to make your blog’s content SEO-friendly is essential to marketing any small business blog.

        “SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!” Fishkin explains. “Search engines are unique in that they provided targeted traffic—people looking for what you offer. Search engines are the roadways that make this happen. They are a massive opportunity for traffic, yet many bloggers ignore them, mostly because they don’t understand exactly how to tap into them.”

        With that in mind, Fishkin and Gunelius offer the following marketing tips that can help boost traffic to your blog:

        *Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Posts & Find Connections. Register a personal account and a brand account at Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Use photos and compelling descriptions to make each profile as useful and credible as possible. Research shows profiles with more information have a significant correlation with more successful accounts. Connect with users with whom you share a personal or professional relationship, and start following industry luminaries, influencers and connectors. Services like FollowerWonk and FindPeopleonPlus can also help, Fishkin says.

        *Install Analytics and Pay Attention to Results. Fishkin recommends installing the free Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics), which lets bloggers see where visits originate, which sources drive quality traffic and what others might be saying when they link over.

        *Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing). Uploading and hosting images, or using a service like Flickr to embed your images with licensing requirements on that site, creates another traffic source via Image Search. Letting others use the images legally in a way that benefits you is also a plus. Fishkin suggests posting a notice under your blog’s images saying re-using them is fine as long as the user links back to your post.

        *Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts. A big part of showing up in search engines is targeting the terms and phrases prospective visitors are typing into a search engine. Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool can help. Enter words or phrases related to your product or service, and you’ll see related keywords.

        *Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others). Guest blogging can spread your brand to people who have never seen your work. It also can be useful in earning early links and references back to your site, which will drive direct traffic and help your search engine rankings.

        *Post Frequently. The more great content you publish, the more chances exist for people to find, talk about, and share your content. As Gunelius notes, “Google gives some preference to ‘fresh’ content, so a frequently updated site that’s not breaking any Google rules and is building incoming links to demonstrate its authority should rank higher in search results than a stagnant site.”
        *Write Posts That Are Long Enough to Rank in Keyword Searches. While the best blog posts are relatively short, don’t make them too short to be ranked in search results. Gunelius says a good rule of thumb is to write posts that are at least 300 words, which gives you the opportunity to use your primary keyword twice without seeming like you’re keyword stuffing.
        *Use Keywords in Blog Post Titles and Body. Whenever possible, include your target keyword or keyword phrase in the title of your blog post. Also try to use keywords in the body of your post as early as possible, particularly in the first paragraph.

        *Write a Good Meta Description with Keywords. Search engines use meta descriptions to describe the web pages that appear in their results. A meta description should include your keywords as well as details about the content on the page the link will take visitors to. When search engine results list your blog post, prospective visitors will see the meta description, so it should be compelling enough to convince people to click the link that leads to the post.

        *Link Internally and Externally. Try to link keyword phrases to your other relevant blog posts and pages. Make sure you don’t add too many links or your post could be flagged as spam. The accepted link to text ratio estimated by search engine optimization experts is one link for every 125 words, Gunelius notes. Linking to external blogs and websites later in your post is another way to show your blog is connected with high-quality websites.

        For more tips about marketing your blog to boost traffic, visit www.seomoz.org/blog/21-tactics-to-increase-blog-traffic-2012 and weblogs.aboaut.com/od/marketinablog/u/GrowABlog.htm.

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