Browsing "internet marketing"
Every now and then you need to stop and take a look at your website, how it’s performing and make a decision based on your findings. Is your traffic up? Have you made any major revisions in the last year? Conversions, are the up or down? Whether you’ve engaged an SEO company or are managing your stats yourself, with a little invested time you can discover the answers to these questions, and any others you might have, without too much trouble. But once you have your answers, what is your next step? Just remember your grade school English class, and the rule of the 5 W’s, who, what, where, when, and why.
Your number one questions, whether you have a new site, an old site or even if you’re thinking about making some updates, is who am I targeting, and what am I after from them. Are you after industry specific targets who are going to use specific terms, or are you after more general users and have to be more in sync with your industries trends and changes. This is paramount, because if you don’t know who you’re aiming for, you’re definitely going to miss; step 1 complete! Take a good look at what you have to offer your audience, whether it’s content, connections, a product or even a service that you provide. Sell yourself quickly and simply and you’ll find that your returns will compound on themselves. Continually delivering on your products or services and being a professional in your space is the quickest way to boost your bottom line. Examine the potential costs you may incur when you’re trying to boost your position and website, do you have the time, money, and manpower to properly execute your plan? There’s nothing worse than setting a lofty goal and falling short due to underestimating any of those costs.
You’ve taken care of who your audience is and what it’s going to take to get them onto your website and after your product, and it may sound like a strange question but when do you want your traffic and visitors. Take Valentines Day as an example, if you’re in the business of replacing roofing, you’re likely not going to be sinking a lot of time and money into attracting people to your website at the moment. At least here in Winnipeg, we have a few more weeks of winter to look forward to. Timing is a very important factor to bringing traffic to your site, you need to focus your time and resources to acquiring the right traffic at the right time. A little more obscure question to answer, is the why side of the equation. Why are you promoting your site at the moment, why are you making content changes, why are you adding new images etc. If at any point you find yourself saying “..because these guys did it” then it’s likely the wrong move for you. Your end goal should always be your customers, gaining them, engaging them and delivering on what they’re expecting. Because if you fail on properly executing your customers/clients needs and wants, you’re in the wrong business to begin with.
One of the worst things about the internet is actually it’s greatest strength, how quickly and easily it can be to find information. It really only becomes a negative when you have your industry is full of people who know everything about it, usually because they read a few blogs, took an online test or quiz and received a virtual diploma or certificate. The reality though, especially where search engine optimization is concerned, is you can’t just pick it up and list a site with no skill set. Being able to properly build a site, tweak the on page so it works in conjunction with your off page optimization and then to keep on top the news, isn’t a three day course in a convention room.
The problems have arisen even more frequently lately, as more and more myths and misconception about the industry is being passed around the web. And while some are much more worse than others, even the smallest one does harm to the industry. One of the points which still makes me curious as to what it actually means, is when you come across an SEO detailing how they’re going to help a website list by submitting it’s url to search engines and domain directories. Now right off the hop our first reply when someone has asked that question of us, is you don’t need to submit your site to anything, the search engines are big enough, and smart enough to find your website. The only other thing I can think of when someone tells us that their previous SEO submitted their site to directories, is they did some shady link building and possibly got your site red flagged at best, kicked from the results at worst.
I think that the largest stain on the search industry, is the trend of writers and bloggers out there, typically in the main stream media like newspapers, television and radio, who bring up SEO as spam and manipulating the search engines. Just like there are more than 2 colors in the rainbow, there are a seemingly unending list of methods you can use to help your websites visibility, so it is understandable that some of them can be seen as spam or tricks. Proper white hat search engine optimization is a process which you can use to tell the search engines what your website is about, no more, no less. There’s no magic, no underhanded methods, and no sending checks to Google or Bing to magically push your website to the top of the results page. If your website is better than the other guys, you’ll rank above them, it’s survival of the fittest on the results pages.
The steps to be able to rank your website effectively online are relatively simple, and can be broken down into a few very broad basics to follow. If you have a simple website, say a few pages detailing a local business for example, as long as you have a good title, strong content, and some kind of a social presence then you have most of the puzzle sorted out. The big time sink though, and usually the most difficult step to work out, is building up that backlink profile.
Building a proper backlink profile seems to have a lot of mystique surrounding it when you start reading online. Wading your way through the myths, theories, and hyperbole may seem like a daunting task, but the rules are simple to follow. It’s only time intensive because you actually need to work at building your profile properly, because just like when you build anything, if you make a mess of the foundation the structure will come tumbling down. When you’re taking the time to build up backlinks there are some basic questions you need to ask yourself, and once you’re satisfied with your answers you can decide if you’re going to approach a site owner to work out a link exchange. First item on the checklist, is their site (the one you’re going to approach for a backlink) relevant to my website/business. A bad idea is running around online just building as many backlinks as possible with other site owners just to have them, if they’re not relevant to what you do then at best you don’t get any help from them, at worst you could be penalized. Once you’ve decided if they’re relevant or not, start browsing their website, keep in mind good website practices as you do so. Do they have a lot of popups or funny activity on some pages? Just like you want your customers to have a great online experience, you want your link coming from a reliable source, because the web works in strange ways at times.
And that is really the bare minimums when you’re looking for a link exchange or a backlink to your site that you need to follow, are the relevant, and are they staying within the rules of the game. If you’re satisfied with your answers then you move ahead to try and work out a link with the site owner, and that would be one link down. This process could take as little as a day, to as long as a week or so, depending on the time you have to put into it and the size of the prospect you’re looking at.
The basics of building backlinks and what to look for are just as important as what you should be staying away from. For every positive and authoritative backlink you could build for yourself, you need to stay away from the places and pages which could sink you. Directory listings as an example, aren’t innately bad for your link profile, but since Penguin last year and how so many were removed from the index they’re not nearly as useful as they once were. A good link should not be the subject of an internal debate with yourself. When you see a good link you know it right away and once you start debating whether it could be considered a good link or not, it just isn’t. And last but certainly not least, does the link enhance your brand to your customers, because ultimately that’s who you’re trying to reach.
Of all of the elements that are required to be in place for a website to serve its purpose, there is one above all, that has to have a clear and present place. It needs to be prominent, attracting to the eye, and clear in its message, because you only get a fraction of the time you have in other advertising markets to make your mark.
Unlike radio, where you have a captive audience, and unlike newspapers where you have a subscribed, reliable audience in the manner of subscription service, your online marketing efforts have the be razor sharp. Today we had a discussion with the encompassing message being to hone your call to action. If you are in the business of sales online, make sure to have a badge showing as much, if you need newsletter sign ups, make sure it is clear and evident on the page what you’re looking for. Because unlike radio, newspapers and television, you have somewhere between 3 and 8 seconds to capture your audience before they click that back button and they never see your site again.
As much as I’ve used and seen the web these last 5 years working with Fresh, I still don’t see it quite the same way as the boss. Often times I need to repeat to myself that same mantra of keep it simple, keep it simple, and while I have few issues with it now, early days I would complicate things too much. Even after staring at a clients site and trying to help them work out a stronger call to action/higher rate of conversion it was (unsurprisingly) the mentor who finally just told him if you want to make more sales, show you’re having a sale. Successful ecommerce sites plaster the front page and landing pages with keywords yes, but also the most important stop words. Stop words are terms which don’t make search engines take notice, but your visitors. He doesn’t like to admit that he’s a salesman, but he can definitely sell, and made the point that people buy benefits more than they buy an item. Extended warranties, free shipping, no taxes, reduced price, all direct benefits to the consumer. And all strong stop words to keep visitors on your site and punching that purchase button over and over again.
It hasn’t been new news for a while now, but the Facebook Graph search feature that is being tried and tested is slowly making it’s way to a live feature available to all. The massive social sharing site which has more than 900 million members has an unimaginably large data set to pull answers from, and allows you to search the interests, location, and preferences of your friends list. At it’s current state, it is the tail end of that statement which holds the most important piece of information – preferences and interests of your friends.
The implementation of Graph search is not a bad idea on paper, or in practice, it does have a long way to go however where you’re really searching for an answer. The best way to describe the service and what it offers was summed up here
For anyone who uses the Internet to search restaurant recommendations, travel advice, books to read on vacation, or which political candidates to vote for, Facebook may have replaced Google as the best search engine.
The veracity of the end of that statement is questionable at best, as Facebook Graph isn’t so much a search engine, as it delivers you a report of your friends opinions. The bonus is you can compile the information quickly, and in an easy to digest fashion that you can use to reach a decision on what you searched for.
The downsides however, have been slowly been coming more and more to light as more people are being allowed to use the service. For example, really searching for a person or topic, doesn’t happen with Facebook Graph at the moment, on the surface it seems that Facebook is using it’s algorithm to scrape statuses, updates and likes. The downside to that being, if you haven’t liked a page, commented on it or had a status update with the term in it, it is highly likely that you won’t show up for some of your interests within their search provider. I’ve not had the chance myself to try the service as it is in beta testing in the US only at the moment, but taking a snippet of information from other sources, it seems they have other issues as well. The image search doesn’t work as well as it potentially could due to most images not having a geo tag associated with them. The Facebook version of instant search goes a bit over the top by putting in elements of auto complete as well, by trying to anticipate what you’re looking for.
Facebook has an immense amount of data and power at it’s fingertips with their user base, but it isn’t a surprise to see them stumbling along in an area they are not suited for, search. It may be a strange thing to say, but I hope they improve and I hope they find a way to truly integrate the web into their service, Google is an incredibly powerful tool and everyone does just that much better when there is some real competition. Here’s hoping Facebook doesn’t drop the ball with Graph search, and the overall improvement of the web.
For the last few years especially, the web has taken off as the delivery method for world news. You can get your local, or world news quicker and you can form a more complete picture quicker now than ever before. Occasionally old media methods, radio, newspaper, or television, come out with a story or report that makes me do two main things. The first I do is shake my head at how common sense the reports often are, and the second is a realization that in order for there to be a story, it meant someone had made a fuss over it.
The news story which stuck in my mind the last couple of days came from a report that security experts were warning users of search engine poisoning, and how if you’re not careful you could hit a bad link. The security company (and I use that term loosely) even said that search engine poisoning is 3 times more likely to infect a computer with malware than opening an email with a tainted attachment. It wasn’t the report so much that makes me wonder about computer users out there, but it does shine some light on how far behind some companies are where the web is concerned.
The real problem I have with these types of reports are the hype they generate, and the disinformation they can spread. Search engine poisoning isn’t a new trend in cyber warfare, it’s been happening for years now. It’s not a new method that suddenly popped up because people stopped clicking on email attachments. The black hat manipulators out there have been gaming the search listings for highly popular terms almost as long as the web has been available. Trending topics are most often the usual suspects that are targeted, whether it’s a celebrity story, or holiday gift ideas. The search engines are getting better at catching the offenders out there, but just like the police can’t catch every bad guy out there, neither can Google or Bing stop all of the bad results from getting through.
Instead of relying on antivirus software and firewalls to protect your computer, you should take some time to practice safe search methods. And always remember, if the text of that little blue link sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is.
In the last week or so we have had the Super Bowl & the blackout, Tiger & Phil winning their first tournaments of the year in great style and of course the usual gibberish around the Winnipeg Internet industry.
As most of you will know, occasionally I like to have a rant, today is the day
Having been around the net now as a marketer for 17 years, I have seen a lot come and go, Google came, AltaVista went, Facebook came and Friends United you get the gist, it’s no different in Winnipeg.
I have seen companies and individuals start in Winnipeg, then go, but they always seem to turn up again like bad pennies as some other company or expert consultant usually in Social Media, SEO or Marketing and it gets very tiring, I cannot believe that Winnipeg businesses keep falling for it.
One year there in college or shelf filling at Walmart, waiting in restaurants or selling flowers, the next there experts online peddling webinars or circuit speakers, really, do real people fall for this BS, In Winnipeg Yes.
People who know me or have dealt with my company know I don’t beat about the bush, I say things as they are, yes the truth hurts sometimes folks, my only concern is my client and the well being of there business and online return on investment.
I don’t care too much about money, it’s not our companies driving force, doing the job well and the client making money usually brings its rewards, enough to pay the wages and rent anyways.
We have friends in the city and probably a lot more enemies, mainly due to me speaking my mind, apologies to my sales manager, but how long can this charade go on for?
We have never really advertised ourselves too much, not joined the numerous clubs or groups in the city, done speeches even when asked or webinars for that matter, why, we never had to and to be fair I would probably struggle to get through it without a F word being thrown in there. I did join the Chamber for a few years after being asked, which did nothing at all for my company, maybe I faces just did not fit.
The truth of the matter is we had it all online, Yes the internet where 92% of people look before buying anything, and so as the old saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So straight from the horse’s mouth are the reasons you could be missing out on all those top spots on Google, Bing & Yahoo not to mention the thousands of $$$$$ people are looking to spend on your products.
There’s a reason why we are the #1 Online Branding Company in Canada on Google, Bing & Yahoo.
There’s a reason why we have dominated local search in Winnipeg over the last 6 years for SEO, Social Media & Internet Marketing.
There’s a reason why we are #1 Online for Winnipeg Digital Media.
There’s a reason why we are #1 for Winnipeg Ecommerce in Canada Online.
There’s a reason we have a 99% renewal rate from clients.
There’s a reason why we have continued to grow and lasted more than 15 years online.
There’s a reason Google purchased one of our companies.
We could give you another 100 reasons why we are leaders online, but we would rather you hear that from others.
Can you think of a reason why you should not be working with us?
Give your company a reason to shout out to the world, Call us today for FREE Quote.
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Unless you were under a rock for the last week, the Super Bowl finally went off last night, and after a slight hiccup with the power system the show went on. I won’t be discussing scores, or players or any of the hits or events of the actual game, instead the focus will be on the commercials that played during the game.
Easily for the last decade, the Super Bowl commercials have been watched by an ever increasing audience sitting comfortably in the 100 million+ viewer range. That is a captive audience, and the owners of the NFL know it, as a result any company who wishes to have their commercial on during the game has to pay a premium. That cost this year rang up with some big numbers, with a 30 second spot during the 2013 Super Bowl ticking in at around $4 million; that comes out to $133,333.33 per second if you were curious. The NFL has two massive hooks however, which makes it easy for companies to write off the cost of the ad time, one is the incredible amount of hype generated up until the game itself, and then there is the aforementioned captive audience which they can practically guarantee will see your ad. So another way to look at the cost would be your company is spending $4 million, to serve an ad to 100 million people – or 25 cents per viewer, so it makes it easy to justify.
A rather more interesting metric that doesn’t get exploited nearly enough however, is the negative marketing you can do around the Super Bowl. Every year there are 30 or so commercials which are accepted by the NFL as being the chosen ones, those who will be gracing the airwaves for that steep cost. Everyone else, so sorry, better luck next year. But instead of looking at the marketing attempt as a fail, it’s very simple to turn that negative, into a huge, free advertising campaign. Your searches will vary by region of course, but here in Winnipeg when I search for ‘banned super bowl commercial 2013′ I return just over 1,200 results. All of those companies who didn’t have to spend millions to have their clip watched by Super Bowl viewers, will likely get massive exposure anyways, as searching the web for those commercials is a business all their own.
The power of negative advertising can be used as leverage to definitely get your brand and business out there, and for a significant cost savings, depending on how you look at it. Make it catchy, make it viral content bait, and instead of spending millions to advertise during the game, post it up on Youtube and let the web work it’s magic.
The online world is a funny place at best, a vastly confusing one at worst. There are massive amounts of information out there, about building websites, about using your social services, about how to rank your site, and so on. Over the last year especially, Google has taken some major twists and turns with the way that they rank information on the web, and it seemed to catch a great many website owners off guard. With how much things can change online, there are still some little tweaks and quirks that don’t often get discussed, so we’ll talk about a couple of nuances that you may have overlooked, or your website developer may have over looked while building your website.
One of the little quirks of the way that search engines work, has to do with how your structure your urls and web addresses. When you look at the terms ‘orange_jacket’ and ‘orange-jacket’ they read the same to a person, but they mean a world of difference to a search engine spider. In the first instance with the underscore, the spiders are going to treat it all as one single term. So ‘orange_jacket’ to a search engine becomes ‘orangejacket’. When you use a hyphen, the opposite becomes true, and ‘orange-jacket’ becomes two separate terms. When you’re building your internal website pages, and you want a page to be ranked for a specific, not wholly competitive term using underscores in your url won’t affect your chances a bunch. When you start to get into the more aggressive terms online however, the difference between a hyphen and an underscore can make or break your positioning.
One other point which bears mentioning, because we still run into a fair number of clients doing it, try to avoid using lots of image based information or using Flash and Silverlight to deliver your website content. Web designers (not developers) are actually some of the worst offenders of using them actually, and when they turn over a clients site to optimize often our first suggestion is to rebuild the website. Flash and Silverlight are great tools for adding snazzy animations or attractive, engaging content to your site, but when you get down to the tech side of it, search engines don’t agree with it. Google and Bing can, to some degree, get the information out of a Flash driven website, but they’re still shoddy at it and it’s poor website optimization practice any how.
These are only two of untold amounts of quirks and tweaks that you can employ as a website owner or developer to help your case when working online. I’ll make sure to discuss the topic further in the coming days.
(Please don’t do anything from below!)
It isn’t difficult to find blogs or news posts about what steps you need to take with your website to try and improve your chances of being found online. What is a little more difficult to find, and what isn’t discussed often enough are the things that you don’t do to your website. These can vary from technical points, to filling your pages with nonsensical content which gives you no value at all.
An older browsing tactic that is almost entirely disabled by browser plugins these days are using pop ups or pop under ads for your website to try and engage the user. In terms of search, they’re not the greatest idea either as any content you have within that pop window is typically lost to being indexed, and it can even hide your real content and intent. Because while a user can easily close a pop window, they don’t know the difference between a user, and a spider from a search engine. If a spider visits your site and is met with a pop up that disables the background, it’ll see an empty site at best, garbled nonsense at the worst. Following in much the same vein, you will always hear website optimization experts extoll the virtues of having and growing the content on your website. But you need to refrain from adding content, for contents sake. When you add extra content you run the risk of diluting your message, and mixing up the signals you send to the search engines at first, and that garbled message will eventually pass to your users.