Category Archives: internet marketing

The Basis of SEO

When we have new clients which are chomping at the bit to take over the world with their website, it seems more and more often there has been some confusion just to how the SEO process works. For some reason, the idea that we as search engine optimization and online branding experts can just call Google and tell them to place you at the top of the listings, seems to be what we do. The demystifying of SEO is a somewhat difficult task at times, even more so when contacts believe you can walk on water.

With this issue fresh in mind from a recent conversation, I feel the need to reiterate some basic SEO facts for those who may hopefully read this post before jumping to conclusions. First off, optimization of your website is only a very small piece of the puzzle for your online business. Any SEO worth their salt will tell you that in order for you to be successful online not only do you need to be visible, but there needs to be a clear call to action on your landing page. It does you no good as an online store for example, to have visitors landing on your contact us or about us page. You want users to buy from you, optimizing your site to drive traffic to your catalogue is your goal.

Search engine optimization is not an over night or fly by night success. It’s been said a million times, organic optimization takes time. If you’re lucky and have a solid base to work with, it may take as little as a month or two, but the norm is closer to 12 weeks + to begin seeing consistently measurable results.

After these two basic points, then you get into the meat of the business which has been talked about at great length all across the web. You need to keep website usability in mind. You need to keep your all encompassing goal when writing new content and rehashing the old on your pages. You can completely derail an SEO campaign with as small a change as making a term into a plural as opposed to singular. Remember to keep your navigation menus clean and clear, the more accurate and simple you can make them the quicker your site can be crawled and indexed.

Just some very plain, basic facts about the SEO process (again) which just seem to keep eluding small and large business owners alike. For all of your search engine optimization and online branding success, you need only pick up the phone and give the experts a call.

Social Marketing & Semantic Search Evolution

When Google launched their first salvo into the social war with Buzz, they made some really big mistakes. Allowing anyone who was on your contact list basically be able to browse your contacts was a pretty big breach of trust for any social network, and it nearly sunk all of Google’s aspirations in one swoop. But fast forward 18 months or so and we’re over a month into their latest social offering with Google+.

They’ve made some serious improvements to their social understanding by watching the explosive growth of Facebook and their flop with Buzz. Privacy controls are easy and intuitive to manipulate, friends are easy to arrange and messaging controls are plain and straight forward. It’s easy to say that Google+ may be a contender in the social arena with hitting 25 million accounts in a fraction of the time that Facebook had, but public understanding and acceptance need to be used to temper their growth. People are beginning to understand the nature of social web sites with Facebook having been the king for so long. Many, myself included, find they have as much as entire friend feeds blocked as all they do is play Farmville or Cafe World. Facebook boasts having high day to day activity and retention rates, but if the majority of those people are just there to play games the quality of the use is definitely in question.

But just like Google’s AdSense and paid advertising you see on results pages, those game players on Facebook are served ads. Social Media Marketing is a very real avenue to explore if your a small company on a tight budget. Google+ at present doesn’t have business options setup, but they’ve made clear that yes, they are coming. So get your practice in with Facebook, Twitter tweets and PPC/AdSense marketing because even with a “paltry” 25 million users, Google+ will be a qualified market for advertising.

All of the taglines you generate with Twitter, Facebook and soon with Google+, may have more strength than you might think. Nicholas Schiefer recently won a Canada Wide science fair and made interesting inroads in the realm of search. The 17 year old is being compared to Mark Zuckerberg for his idea and implementation of his search algorithm, and those are no small shoes to fill.

The algorithm as it’s written, searches short documents like tweets, Facebook statuses and news headlines for starters. That 140 character string of gold is crunched and parsed by his infant algorithm to deliver results. It may not seem much different from what Google, Bing or Yahoo offer, but where it does get different is when his search algorithm applies context to the results. The advantages of a semantic algorithm which could determine context in the results it retrieves would be a great improvement in the realm of social search. As an example, you’ve been out for dinner and had a poor experience, you could use that type of search engine to determine if others have had the same experience. It’s possible to do so with the existing search engines, but it takes a bit of work to sort through the results to find customer reviews if you don’t include it as part of your initial search. It’s an impressive start for a young man who may be a part of changing the way the world searches. Time will tell how interested the world is in semantic, contextual searching should Mr. Schiefer continue his project.

Do You Need SEO Test

Let us partake in a litmus test, if you don’t know what that is here’s a very basic definition for you : A test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision. So here’s the question to answer: Do you have a website for your business? If the answer is yes then the answer to this next question is yes as well; you need to have a solid SEO plan in place.

It’s not voodoo or black magic, it’s not about putting videos up on Youtube and tweeting to your Facebook fans (that’s social marketing and it works as well) SEO is about making the search engines love your website. SEO is about telling the world that “Yes I am the authority on <your niche> in <your location>. I can take care of all of your needs.”

Now here comes the tricky part, there are some simple things you’re going to need to come to grips with when it comes to search engine optimization. The number one point you need to realize is: SEO costs money. Who’d have thought that having someone go through your website, clean up it’s code, properly build it’s navigation and make it faster online would cost money! It’s like putting a new engine in your car, if you’re incapable of putting the hours and skills into doing the work yourself, you’re better off paying the professionals. Even those very simpe steps I mentioned can help to increase traffic and visitors to your website. Another extremely important point, arguably the most important, SEO is not an instant quick fix to your search rankings. It takes time to re-tune your website, update the content and clean the code. After all of that the spiders need to come and crawl your site and decide if it’s better than the last one you had and how you would stack up against your peers now. You could be re-indexed in a day, you could be re-indexed in 2 weeks. You may be on page 6 when you started your campaign and after first pass you’re up to page 3, while not the page 1 where all of the action is you’ve literally improved 100% from where you previously were. The most common metric we tell our clients new and old is, you’ll begin to see significant long lasting results in a 6 month plus time frame.

Enough of those two big scary ideas (money and time), lets talk more about what’s going to happen to your website once you’re up in the rankings. Sitting on page 1 enjoying all of the new visitors you’re receiving, you need to begin to take a good hard look at your home page. Traffic is useless without a conversion of some sort. Sign up for my newsletter, subscribe to our coupon book, buy our product. You need a call to action on your website where visitors arrive. Because if people show up to the party and there’s no party, then the visit was wasted.

To recap: SEO will cost you money and it will take time. Once your campaign is in full swing, breakdown your website and determine your call to action on your landing page. Because without these 3 key understandings, it doesn’t matter if you’re number 1 on the SERPs, or number 1000.

Search – Mobile Marketing & Your Website

Nokia, Android, Apple, Blackberry, all just a few names in the world which compete for market share in the mobile industry. And according to a new report out today from Canalys, Google – the search engine if you didn’t know, holds the lead with 48% of the global market share. Apple’s iPhone running with iOS, comes in at second place with 19% of the market. It’s just another arena that the search giant is dominating in, thanks to their adaptable operating system, Android.

The tech industry has been saying it for years, that the mobile side of search and business was going to be coming soon. Judging by the numbers in the report, that time isn’t just coming, it has arrived. People are using their phones to conduct searches, post to their social network of choice, make purchases and to text their friends about the newest fad/movie/music/television show. Mobile isn’t just a growing industry, Android has grown 379% in the last year to become the market leader, it’s a massively burgeoning marketplace. Business owners and website developers are acting out of sheer folly to not move to take advantage of this space.

And on that note..

It seems that the more we as search experts try to help someone, the harder it seems to become. Search engine optimization is a momentum based business, it takes time to get the proper results so as not to disappear when Panda attacks or the algorithm makes a major change. It’s sort of like pushing a huge stone along a level pathway, it takes a lot of work to get it rolling, but once you start it going it requires smaller amounts of effort to change it’s direction or even to accelerate it. Once you stop pushing however, or once you stop using SEO on your site, you’ll begin to slow immediately, and soon you’ll stop. And then you’re back at square one in the game. And to make matters worse, all of your competitors that have been working out your methods are coming up faster and faster on your rankings, when you stop they’ll just blow right by you like you’re standing still.

So once you’ve reached your desired rankings, it’s not time to let off on the work. It’s actually time to take it up a notch and begin pushing harder and in perhaps an additional direction, say into mobile marketing.

Next Google Competitor?

So in the world of search there’s a handful of true search engines, those little boxes of which you type in your current question or conundrum and off you go into the wild internet. We have Bing, which holds onto somewhere around 27% or so of the search market, Google who holds onto the lions share of search at just over 65%, and all those little crumbs in the bottom are search engines like Ask.com etc.

It’s not difficult to find press about how Bing is making massive inroads into Googles share of search, or how last year Bing grew by over 90%.. blah blah blah. When you boil the numbers all the way down however, all you’re really left with is Google and Bing, and the only way Bing is going to make positive growth in search is to take it from Google. So using misleading titles to the tune of Bing overtaking Google, or Bing Grows 90% over the year are nearly wholely misleading. Even with all of this “incredible growth”, with all of the addins and marketing strategies Microsoft throws at Bing they’re left with a fairly large problem. Despite owning more than 25% of the worlds search volume, Bing doesn’t make any money for Microsoft.

That may not seem like it makes any sense, but look at it from a different perspective, try and see it from the advertising angle of things. The sole product sold by search engines are the advertisements that appear on search pages, which are sold not for a set amount, but based on how many times customers click on an ad tied to the search phrase that brought the user to the page. And since Google has such a huge search market share, they’re rolling in cash right from the start because of their cost per click for their adword programs. Now the one biggest reason Bing doesn’t make money, isn’t because they have a smaller search share than Google alone, as it turns out, the cost per click tied to their advertising model is as much as 1/5 the cost of Googles cost. As bad as that may sound as a revenue model, it actually gets a little worse for the Bing machine. Less CPC looks great on the surface, but as an advertiser it brings up the issue of what is driving that low cost. Bing has less traffic than Google at the outset, the CPC to serve the same ad on Bing is cheaper than Google and in the end it translates into less ad impressions on the Microsoft search engine.

So the question in the end really, is there ever really going to be a solid competitor to the Google machine? If a multi-billion dollar a year company can’t even step into the same arena as the giant and succeed, who truly can? I say bring them all on, competition is what made the web what it is today, more will only make it better.

Is virtual real estate the new frontier

What is a domain name worth? well the average price of a .COM domain name is $2,595, according to a study released last week that analyzed 10,608 domain sales during the first quarter of 2011.

Domains from www.delavegamedia.com
Buy your Domain Today

This could be pretty useful information for digital marketers out there to work into their budgets, but more importantly, they should look at the overall value that a domain provides because the return on investment can be fairly substantial.

Domain names are a pretty basic tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal and should be a main component of any campaign, brand management strategy, product marketing strategy, or even an SEO strategy. However, their importance is often overlooked and can sometimes be cast aside due to the sticker shock of how much the right name costs.

Domains have been sold for $13 and for $13 million, but if you consider the average price, it’s a reasonable investment in the grand scheme of a marketing budget.  To put it in a brick-and-mortar perspective that most anyone can understand, $2,600 is roughly the cost of a vinyl sign or display booth, making it a very reasonable investment for most companies.

Another thing to remember is that a domain is an investment, The money you spend upfront on a domain will pay dividends in the traffic it helps generate, but it’s also an asset that will appreciate in value over time.  According to the same market study that benchmarks domain transactions, the average price of a .COM increased 9 percent from the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.

We often take domains for granted because they’ve become a part of every day life, but they’re a valuable tool for driving traffic, and in the end, that’s what it’s all about.  Short and memorable domains can make your site easier to find for new and returning customers; keyword domains can improve SEO and reduce the money you spend on SEM; domains that define a category can capture natural type-in traffic.  With the right strategy, domains prove their value many times over.

You only get one domain name, when it’s gone, it’s gone. Securing your business or personal domain name should be one of the first things you do online for Branding, Marketing & Sales.

If you require help securing a domain name for your business or to check out our stable of branded domains, call us today 1.866.259.2483 or drop us a line, we would be happy to help.

 

 

Ad agencies are scrambling to evolve

Major companies from Nestle to Ford are increasing the proportion of their ad spend on the Internet to the detriment of traditional press ads and big ad agencies are scrambling to evolve.

The changes have given birth to a slew of tech start-ups trying to come up with more sophisticated ways to match ads to consumers, often with sophisticated data mining techniques and algorithms.

While traditional advertising groups jostled for awards at a recent annual industry gathering in Cannes, the year’s biggest star was a newcomer to the beaches: the social network Facebook.

The company has gone from nowhere a few years ago to become the biggest single seller of online display advertising in the United States with more than $2 billion in revenues this year, according to research firm eMarketer.

“If I have a good experience with a brand I’ll tell a person offline — I might tell my friend — but if I do it on Facebook the average person is telling 130 people,” said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Google versus the Facebook Mafia

Google has finally done it if you subscibe to the theory that they’re competing with Facebook. They’ve rolled out their +1 button to the world in a bid to begin building on their own social signals versus the Facebook ‘Like’ button. Again, it’s really only if you subscibe to the idea that Google and Facebook are involved in an internet shoving match though.

The truth about the two giants however, is when you compare them it’s like apples and oranges. Facebook is socially geared, Google is geared for search and advertising. Facebook wants you to spend time on their site, finding those long forgotten high school friends and poking them. Google wants to help you find a result best suited to your current whims and desires and shoots you off through the inter-webs. One wants you to leave, one wants you to stay and play. The only real comparison you can draw between the two marginally would be in the advertising space and even then their ads are delivered differently. So to the compare the two as rivals would be incorrect, they’re giants on the same plane, but not competitors.

Now about the Facebook mafia, if you have any friends on Facebook, which the average is 150ish if I remember right, odds are 50% of them play a game on the site. There’s a percentage of those players as well, who use their hard earned money to purchase virtual currency to help them along in their game playing. As of July 1st however, the world of the Facebook economy will change with the introduction of Facebook Credits *only*.

Initially this may seem like a good idea as one currency allows for more expedient remedy if there is a dispute, but with only a few days left the group Consumer Watchdog has barked. Their claim, is that Facebook is flexing their muscle with these transactions by taking a 30% cut from each and every one. As an end user you may think it’s not a big deal, but think of it from the developers point of view. Facebook is basically taking each dollar they earn with the new currency, taking out 30% and handing the rest over. That’s like your employer paying you, and then taking $30 for each $100 you earn. It’s a huge tax being placed on the app developers and the Watchdog group likens it to a mafia shakedown. Developers don’t have a choice but to pony up the dough, or risk having no virtual currency at all. To expand a little on the amounts that are being seen, Farmville which is arguably Facebooks most popular game, is reaching for more than $2 billion in revenue this year. That 30% cut just became hundreds of millions of dollars going straight into the Facebook coffers.

8 point SEO Check-up List

To finish up the thread previously in being prepared for the upcoming Panda update and a workable strategy going forward for your search dominance in your market.

Double check keywords targeted – Be sure to dig deep into your keyword strategy, it’s important to know where you’re at and if your current strategy is working.

Analytics – Determine where your traffic is coming from, which keywords are a hit and dissect your most visited pages to learn what’s working. Try and dig as deeply into your search past as possible.

PPC Plan – Are you using Pay Per Click? How are your ads showing in the SERPs? Is your bid high enough?

Re-hash your robots.txt – Give your robots.txt file a once over and see if any rules are inadvertently blocking parts of your website.

Check your currently indexed pages – If you’re constantly updating your website content and tweaking titles and tags it would be a good idea to check what current version the search engines have indexed.

Link Building – Dig deep into your backlinks to your website and ensure that there’s no monkey business happening with your site, you wouldn’t want to find out how painful a lesson J.C. Penney learned.

Perform a crawl – There is a wide variety of spider emulators which can help you gain more of an understanding of just what the bots see when they visit your website. Get used to using one and you can patch SEO holes as soon as they crop up.

Social Media Strategy – Is being social an important part of your business? If you’ve started with a blog, maybe a Facebook page and a Twitter, what kinds of followers are sharing your Tweets and Facebook posts. Is your information being shared adequately for the time you put in?

There are a great many more points which are just as important as the above, and only by being observant and diligent will you be able to fully leverage your search standing to capitalize for your business. The search experience is always changing and evolving, it’s a good idea to perform these checks randomly just to ensure you haven’t been shuffled off of your search pace.

Audit Your Website – Updating Content

There’s rumor of another Panda update on the way, so it might be a good time for all web designers and programmers to do an in depth web site audit. The purpose: to identify and rectify and potential problems which may conflict with the coming update.

The previous Panda applications to the search index have mad a couple of general changes to the way the algorithm works. One factor which has gotten the axe is the Google index has become more stringent with the presence of scraped content. This hit the content farms the hardest initially, but it also managed to scoop up a number of innocent site owners in a round about way. The scneario played out as: web site owner publishes unique content, relevant to their niche. Keyword rich, interesting and informative it quickly begins to climb the search rankings in it’s niche. Along comes a scraper or aggregator from a major mashing site. Suddenly, you realize your original content has been dropped and the aggregator has essentially taken your place. It’s a scenario which has bitten creative owners in the backside for a long time but became a pronounced issue with the introduction of the Panda update. Legitimate creators were being bounced from the index along with the scrapers in a wide reaching effort to reduce web spam. It opened the doors to a long and arduous process to have your website and it’s content reconsidered for inclusion to the index.

Another variable which Panda introduced also ties in the first, the variable began to affect affiliate ecommerce websites. What had happened was, all of the affiliates had been given permission to use the same content as the original seller, and in doing so basically signed their own warrant for the Panda bot. The same net effect as previously discussed, legitimate business owners were finding they were being removed from the index where previously they had been able to make a comfortable living.

In the end when you’re in preparation for the upcoming Panda update, be sure to take a good, hard look at your content. Do your diligence and take every step to make sure your content is as unique, informative and informational as possible for your market to limit any accidental removals from the index. By not doing your homework, the only one to blame in the end is yourself.