Browsing "internet advertising"
The numbers for the past holiday season are starting to be tallied up, and we were a bunch of busy bodies. The question is, as a business owner, local or otherwise, does your earnings this season match up with the increased spending this year?
According to a MasterCard report, online holiday sales rose more than 15 percent, with consumers spending about $36 billion online. A 15 percent gain over last year is a great upswing in one of the busiest times of year and a great way to go into the new year. As a whole, the retail industry saw a 5.5 percent increase in sales for the season, the strongest performance in five years, with consumers spending $584 billion over the holidays.
Online sales increases this past year should be an even larger incentive for all business owners to improve their presence online in a big way. Some of the newer trends this season were mobile marketing, shopping via mobile phones. Intuitive marketers encouraged their businesses to harness the power in mobile technology, and leveraged services like Twitter to announce premium sales, issue coupons and offer very limited time flash sales with huge savings for customers.
Having a glance at the numbers for this holiday season, and having a read about some of the marketing tactics used, how did you fare this time around? Did you experience a 15% increase in sales? Did you leverage the power of local and mobile search to entice your customers into your location? With the power of the web, the world is your marketplace, but you should never forget where you are and those who are around you as well.
In the past, the most natural way for a small business to grow was with a solid reputation within it’s community. Spending a little cash here and there for a mail stuffer, newspaper ad and the obligatory ad in the yellow pages. The hard work, strong ethics, positive attitude and positive customer relationships could make a good business into a great one.
Time has shifted a little bit since then, but the basics remain the same. Treat your customers right, and it will help you attract clients in the future. Think about how being out with a friend you ask their opinion on a restuarant you’re curious about trying. Or about the local mechanic who started in his garage and found he needed more room so he opened a shop locally. Local reputation is very important to small and/or new businesses.
In 2011. it is expected that local online advertising efforts will grow north of $20 billion. Definitely much more than just chump change, local business owners seemingly are starting to realize that the yellowpages print ad they’ve used just isn’t cutting it anymore. But as an aside, brand management, or online reputation management, has become increasingly important. Where word of mouth has been increasingly become ‘world of mouth’ being able to manage your own business online has become a more important affair, becoming much more than just taking care of your AdWords account. And active blog tied to your company can help push you up the SERPs, so long as it’s kept active. Allowing comments to be posted onto the blog as well can help boost your positions, but it’s a double edged sword. Diligent management of the comments section is very important, to ensure you’re not having your competitors posting links back to their site, and piggy backing your climb up the rankings.
Online brand management has become more and more important as the world comes more to the online store to conduct business. The danger in improperly managing yourself online can drive your business to the ground if false company reviews are made to climb higher in the rankings than you rank organically.
So the big day has come and gone, Facebook talked about it’s new messaging service, and the web has been a cacophony of “Gmail killer” and other wild statements to that effect. And one of the funniest points I picked from all of the coverage of the day, was that Schmidt and Zuckerberg were almost playing nice, to a point. With their statements coming out generally like Schmidts “I’m glad they’re launching a service” And Zuckerbergs “Gmail and Gchat is an amazing service”, it’s almost like an unofficial truce of sorts.
I did however, come across a post detailing the top reasons why the new Facebook service will be “Facebook E-Mail Is Google`s Biggest Threat” and I had a really hard time making it past the second item on their list. I’m only going to share the headings of the points they’ve come up with, as the text that followed was almost uncomfortable to read. So headfirst we go:
Gmail means a lot – Okay great, Gmail means a lot. The text which followed that they used to back up their claim, was based on the idea that without Gmail, people wouldn’t use Google. And when I hit that sentance, I had to stop.
Search capabilities are there – And then unfortunately, I came to their second point. I had a hard time trying to wrap my mind around their claim that while Facebook’s search features are “primitive”; non-existant is a more accurate term, to think that they could come close, in the game that Google essentially owns, was ludicrous to read for me.
It’s where the users are – Granted now, Facebook is starting with a userbase of 500 million, definitely not a small number. But, if all you want to count are users, then if you want to include actual numbers, you’d need to include the average user base of Google to compare the two services. The point that made me chuckle here, was the assertion thatusers “spend over 700 billion minutes per month” on Facebook. That’s a whole lot of Farmville! And Googles aim? Speed up the web and it’s usage, not tie you in place.
Video – 500 million users, compared to Youtubes userbase, and the point was Facebook between June and July, Facebook saw unique viewers increase by three million, and total videos watched by 22 million. Funny thing is, all the videos I happened to see were hosted on Youtube..
Ads, ads, ads – I honestly can’t even go here.
The world, and especially the web are constantly growing and changing. It’s when things stay the same that they lose their appeal and die. Schmidt even made the point that it’s not that Google and Facebook have ever openly competed, but the media loves to drum it up that when any company launches any service, they’re competing with someone. When in fact what really ends up happening, is we all get the better end of the deal, new services, new ideas and most importantly, a choice as to which you’ll use. Me, I’ll stick with my Google and my Gmail.
Content is an incredibly powerful optimization metric on your website. It’s your effective communication to the search engines of the value of your website. Stuffing your page full of pictures, and not describing them in any way is almost a guaranteed way to get yourself lost online with little to no viewers via search. Now the flip side is also true, you can’t cram a thousand lines of text on a page and expect to rank on page 1 for your niche without using a degree of care.
The simplest way to describe it, you want to sculpt the language on your site, to appeal not only to the search engines, but to your visitors; current, and future of course. No one knows your business like you do, but a key point you need to be aware of as a business owner, is that your clients don’t know your business like you do. So don’t clutter your text with technical terms, or vague descriptions around products or processes. Making the assumption that your customers and clients know you as well as you or your salesmen do, can be a detrimental step in the structure of your content.
The number one rule when it comes to content generation?
On the social front of your site or experience, there’s been a mashup of the trendiest, retweetable terms determined. It seems that while there’s no sure fire way to have your news or posts immediately rebroadcasted, there are ways to help increase your chances. The most popular terms for titles would have to be “How to”, “Increase”, and “Social Media”. In theory, a surefire way to have your post picked up and passed around would be to use that text as your title, and craft an article around it. Apparently however, “Trust”, “Talk” and “Sentiment” seem to be very undesireable text tweets. Food for thought.
You can read about it in the newspapers, hear about it on the radio, and see it on the television news, the world is changing. The way the world works, communicates, and does business is changing daily, and it’s picking up momentum. There are a number of the old school business minds who still feel that print and radio media are the best ways to go about establishing and maintaining their reputation and products. But today’s youth are online pros. They navigate through content, play games, and use communication services with ease and confidence. Here’s a small snippet of their general online activity:
• Half of kids surveyed say that they have been using the Internet for five years or more, and 58% consider themselves heavy users who access the Internet six or seven days a week.
• Communicating and downloading content are two primary uses of the Internet by young people, but education also plays an important role. Nearly 80% say they use the Web to do research for school assignments.
• Gaming is also a popular activity, with 61% of kids saying they play games online, including multiplayer online games.
• More than half (53%) of kids say that they typically view and download media online.
• When it comes to social networking, 73% of 13-17 year-olds today say they have an account on a social networking site.
• Social networking is a fast-growing online activity. 81% of 16-17 year-olds report having at least one social networking account; this number has grown significantly since 2008.
• Girls are more likely than boys to have a social networking account (72% versus 66%) and to say they always or often update their status (42% versus 29%).
With the knowledge that the upcoming generation is plugged in, aware, and extremely capable using online services, and that they are your next customer. They are next level of consumerism coming into their own, in their online world, where search rules, SERPs matter, and an engaging informative website wins the attention.
The internet is not a fad, search engine optimization is not a flash in the pan, and social networking is not fly by night. Continually marketing business the old, unadapted way via newsprint, radio and television, Is the way of the dinosaur. To succeed you need to evolve, adapt, and embrace the changes required for online success.
So you start with some content, add a dash of keywords and images (with proper code of course). A few linked pages, some good meta data and top it off with a title and voila! SEO recipe is complete, or is it? Is it really so simple as it seems? Not really, no, and even Microsoft has admitted as much.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have the same fundamental goal; deliver the most relevant results to a query for a user. Google however, has that extra ingredient, that spice in the cake which you just can’t put your finger on, which threw it into top spot and has allowed it to become fully entrenched in the position. Bing and Yahoo, while not inherently inferior in their core purpose, just are in the end missing that secret ingredient.
To paraphrase Steve Ballmer :
“..there are certainly some things. I would love it if advertisers would share with us their experience on Google, and we could, if that was allowed to be shared in the right way, with the right algorithmic support, there are certainly things that we could do to help those advertisers on Bing, and we’d be happy to do, and probably offer the advertiser a better value. But there are some things that Google still holds as its proprietary data that makes that tough..”
In the same intervew, Ballmer also admitted that yes, they do want to be number one in search, because you never begin something with the idea to be number two. But that they’re focusing on their long term goals in that aspect with Yahoo.
With no plans to attempt to acquire Twitter or Facebook, Ballmer also said that Bing is happy in it’s long term partnerships with the social media giants. Going so far as to say :
“.. great partnership, a company that is doing, I think, a very nice job, very much wants to be an independent company, so we continue to work the partnership with them (Facebook), and we’re pleased to have extended our search relationship with them a number of years into the future.”
Not happy on being number 2, can’t change it because of that secret ingredient, and unable/unwilling to make the leap via acquisition. Bing is a fine search engine, colorful, interactive and such, but it’s still (admittedly) behind it’s quicker, more efficient leader; Google.
Fun tip: In reading online, I’ve noticed every now and then that an “SEO Expert” will optimize your site for “whichever search engine you wish to be visible on” Be number one and all that jazz. It doesn’t work that way, Google, Bing, and Yahoo are similar enough to a degree, that properly optimizing, will get you listed on all of the SERPs. The only way to be found on a single search engine, is via AdWords and such. Beware advertising resellers in the guise of true SEO’s.
“Location, location, location” — William Dillard
Also known as the three most important rules in real estate, location, is everything in business. Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and such, all infer an immediate sense of value. But what if your new business partner told you that his street address was 123 Pickles Street, Noname USA; but that they rank for all of their terms in search in Googles top 5 organically?
Location, whether it is physical, or electronic, is a key to your success in the business world. A shift however, is in motion. Physical address, is becoming less important, as search results location. There are some key differences in the two, and they all come down to cost vs worth in the end. Having a physical street address like Macy’s 151 West 34th Street, New York, sounds impressive, but at what cost? With a price tag average of around $50 per square foot (4Q 2009), and one million square feet of retail space, Macy’s in New York has a hefty price tag to just keep the doors open. Macy’s is a global brand, the name has been in the public for a great many years, but that they don’t even appear in the top 100 listings of Manhattan shopping in Google? The top 10 is populated with primarily information sources, tourism sites etc.
Macy’s, who made close to $25 billion dollars in 2009. doesn’t appear on the first page of Google for Manhattan shopping. It begs the question; why? They rely on their physical location and brand history, to pull them through. But physical location, like street address, is old business. Just like advertising with the radio, newspapers and billboards are dwindling, so will the importance of physical location begin to crumble.
So what is the cost to be in the top 10, or top 5 even on Google? Time, and tenacity and a fraction of the investment of a prominent street address. Online marketing, online branding, and organic search engine optimization needs to be the focus of business in the Information age. The 13-18 generation lives, breaths, interacts, and learns online. Attention spans are lower than ever, but retention rates for products and services deemed worthy, are higher than ever. Building your site properly, marketing it effectively, and being ready for the rush of traffic, can make your business, the newest brand online.
Page 1 is the new “Location, location, location”, what’s your location?
Sure it rolls of the tongue, just like the late night informercials selling juicers and vaccuum packing machines to help save you storage space. But can you really teach or inform a room of, safest to assume, people who’ve never heard the term before?
Doesn’t seem to make a lick of sense when you think of it as such, and anyone who is truly in the know in the industry will tell you, SEO isn’t something you learn, teach, or even give a strong idea of, over a long lunch.
Say it with me – Search engine optimization is not quick fix. It is not flash in the pan success in advertising. SEO is long term, strategic success in online marketing. It’s a long term plan, with very real, very measurable results in driving traffic to your website.
Recently, it’s seemed that an additional misunderstanding of SEO is that it doesn’t sell your products or services well enough. Optimization isn’t a salesman so to speak, SEO is more like the car the salesman used to get to your home in order to sell you the goods. It doesn’t matter if the salesman (your website) arrived in a gleaming, brand new, state of the art shuttle (SEO), if it’s poorly dressed and hard to understand it’s goals and motives.
You may be advised to have a new website built, to have it restructured, or any number of things. Traffic and exposure to the world is our business. We will bring you the people, it’s up to you to sell yourself from there on in.
Not that this is terribly long to read, but to summarize ::
SEO is NOT a get rich quick business model.
SEO is NOT to be taken lightly.
SEO is NOT a salesman, it’s a vehicle to bring you your customers.
SEO IS the best return on investment, marketing wise, that you can use for your business.
SEO IS long term.
SEO IS is becoming increasingly important, every single day.
SEO IS much, much more than Twitter, Facebook, blogging and Adsense.
Don’t be fooled into simple explanations for the artful science of search engine optimization. You do yourself, and the industry a disservice.
Some relatively simple steps are often the best ones which make the most difference. Using the example of a long distance runner, you wouldn’t buy heavy clothing, or cheap shoes in order to be your best, you’d wear efficient clothing and lightweight, well balanced and cushioned shoes to be your best. Simple steps, yes, but necessary none the less to a runner. Keeping it simple is a key to any endeavor, no matter how large or small. With this principle in mind, a couple of simple, no nonsense tips to always bear in mind when it comes to your website.
What will people type to want to find your site-You have your website, and you want to be able to be found online. Try using the simplest terms in order to define your site, and it’s purpose, and you can go from there. You have a gardening shop? Use that on your site instead of calling yourself an arboretum and botanical garden store. It may sound large and spectacular, but it won’t help your being found any.
Title tags matter, description tag matters-The title of your pages does make a difference. It’s often your first impression to those who find your site through Google. The description tag is what provides the brief little blurb found underneath the link to your website on the SERPs.
Using Adwords doesn’t give you a better placement-Using a Google Adwords account does not give you any better ranking in the organic search listings; those in the center of the page. The Adwords which you purchase, have their own listing, to the right, or on top of the page. To be found highly placed in the organic listings, often requires the skills of an SEO expert.
Only a couple of very, very simple tips, but should be always in mind when building a new website for yourself, or your business.
Reports are showing that the weekly use of the Internet is growing, figures from a recent study by Harris Poll says the average amount of time spent on the web has risen from seven hours in 1999 to 13 hours for the period between July and October in 2009.
“Hours online may have increased because of the recession,” Harris Polls was quoted as saying. “Going online is free; going out usually costs money.”
Website Marketing departments might also like to focus on targeting older generations, as the statistics showed that those aged between 30 and 39 registered an average 18 hours on the Internet, while 40 to 49-year-olds spent 17 hours surfing.
Brands should take note that a little more PR in 2010 may well help as it’s predicted that Internet advertising will grow in the next 12 months.
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