Tag Archives: online branding

Professional Advice Provided For Your Benefit – Not Ours

When you have your business online and are marketing towards a certain niche market, the more consistent and relevant you can make that marketing the greater your chances of success.

closelookConsistency, and relevance are two of the more important factors that affect your online visibility, and surprisingly one of the most damaging things that you can do to a successful campaign is to rebuild your website. That’s not to say that a facelift to your website is always a bad thing, but you need to keep your audience in focus. Are you after general traffic as an informational site, or are you after qualified leads in order to make on site conversions and boost your bottom line.

Significant issues can arise with launching an updated version of your website not only from a search engine bot perspective, but even from your users end. While the web is always in a fluid state, if you suddenly revamp your website without notice to your end users you will experience a sudden, and likely slight, drop off in traffic and page loads. To handle any user experience loss one of the simplest measures you should take is to use a post or a banner with the note “We’re updating!” or something to that effect. What this does is it puts the comfort into their minds that there is a reason that the site looks different, and it’s not the end of the world if I can’t find something right away. Use a feedback form for returning and new visitors to gauge how well your new site is being taken, and also as a notice if there is something missing or not functioning correctly on the site.

From a search engine spider perspective, you need to be careful of how you build your new site. In a perfect world you can keep everything exactly the same as it was structurally, with the same urls and everything that goes with it. But since that’s probably very far from the truth, you need to apprise your SEO team of all changes, not just some of them. If you change a url for example from home.html to home.php, that needs to be communicated as search engines do not view them as the same page. I won’t even begin to get into the 301s that need to be considered, the idea is your online marketing team works through the entire site before it gets turned live to the world.

Professionals are contracted in all manner of business whether it is plumbers, carpenters, coders or marketers – the idea is they’re being paid for the knowledge that you do not possess. The first rule of thumb should always be when you’re given instructions to complete, it’s a good idea to listen as there is a reason they’re advising you.

Small Business SEO – Free Content Tip

When you’re designing a website for your business, you need to make sure that you’re making the correct decisions, and not putting yourself in the realm of always playing catch up with the search engine guidelines.

WebsitegoalsOne of the biggest issues that we run into with new businesses and their websites is the content that they use, or the lack of it. It’s one of the most unpopular conversations to have with a client, but your content and the keywords you use within it can be the first, largest hole to help your site sink or swim. There is a fuzzy number out there, by that I mean there is no real concrete answer – only best guesses, and as to the proper amount, the search engines aren’t talking. On average, you should be delivering your site message and it’s keyterms somewhere in the range of 3-5% of your total content density. Quick and dirty explanation would be if you write a page about the color blue that is 100 words, you’ll want the word blue in there 3-5 times – sounds simple right? It really is, the problem is the other 95 words, they still have to fit the theme of the site/page and can’t just be gibberish, so try not to focus on numbers and shoot for well written, easy to read content for your site.

There are two other points dealing with content that we stress when speaking with our clients, one is the always growing social aspect of the web, and the other is spam, or the appearance of spam.

Where the social web is concerned, having your site and your PR people active on Twitter and Facebook is a good thing, as the jury is still out on just how much this benefits your SEO campaign. But you need to bear in mind that those efforts alone will not drive you up the search results pages. When you boil it all down to the roots, it’s your website content that will drive your site up the SERPs and brand your small business online. Social media leverage is great, but your content is paramount, don’t miss the forest for the trees so to speak.

One more point about your content, and it has some to do with the nature of keywords and the language you use when you put it all together. It’s an unfortunately common occurrence to find out that the reason your site has never done well with results is because with the way you’ve written your content it comes across as spam. It’s the difference between being spammy and readable that plays to your favor with the results pages. A quick and simple test to find out if your content is on the wrong side of that line, is have someone read it out loud to you. Trust your instincts about it, if it sounds funny you’re much further ahead rewriting your content instead of being caught on the wrong side of the search engines wrath. Don’t worry about the numbers and the figures about your content, make it readable, make it relevant, and the web will do the rest of the work.

The Moving Search Target

Search engine marketing is a difficult market to thrive in , and it makes things more difficult for a business with sometimes a brand new site, or even with a site which isn’t been built to be search friendly – yes that is a legitimate problem to this day. In order to help our clients understand some of the issues with the search world, we often relate to them information regarding the following points.

seo-keyOne of the most important things to understanding search and where your website appears in the results is that on any given day, depending on how the search company feels, they can change their algorithm and the entire results page will change. Typically you’re not going to see a complete upending of the results unless there have been significant changes in the algorithm, but a shift of 5-6 spots isn’t unusual to see. The search engine results pages are an ever changing portrayal of the web, so if you’re looking for your position on page one that was there the day before, don’t automatically die a little death if you’re suddenly on page 2. To think of it another way – shift happens.

Going hand in hand with the fluidity of the results pages, before you get knee deep into building your online brand you need to realize your market is not a static one either. A simple way to explain this is with an inside joke about search engine optimization:

An SEO walks into a bar, pub, inn, restaurant, club..

When you’ve contracted a search expert to work with you and your website, you need to pay close attention when we require you to re-evaluate your search targets. On a typical day we will spend a few hours going over your terms and evaluate those against the current search trends. Sometimes being able to think outside the box for your own market can bring you some of your highest conversion rates, and keeping things as simple as possible can also lead to the same end result.

And lastly, one of the more important points that you need to bear in mind during a search campaign is in the online world, there are no quick fixes. Short term SEO, or band aid fixes for website problems aren’t the correct way to deal with any ranking issues you have, and if your SEO is pitching them to you it’s time to start looking for a new provider. With some of the changes in the webmaster guidelines some of the methods you previously could use to give a bump of visibility can even turn around to bite you and end up driving you down the results pages instead of up.

Knowing Your Search Services Definitions

viralEvery now and then when taking an inquiry on the phone, we get asked what it is that we do. Turns out that when you tell people that we deal with online branding and internet marketing, they manage to disconnect those terms with SEO, and instead assume that our focus is on pay per click rankings and such. The truth of those terms however, is that they’re all related, and all different from each other.

Search engine optimization – This is most likely the term you searched for when landing on our website. SEO has been a big buzz word in marketing circles the last few years especially, with the explosion of consultants appearing on the scene. There’s millions and millions of pages online to find information about SEO, and it’s extremely easy to read a forum or two and suddenly decide you know what you’re doing with search. The quick and easy test to discover if the person who is helping you is good at their job? Search for them, if they can’t appear in search for their industry terms, how can they realistically help you?

Online Branding – Online branding is a different goal for your website, and it’s as simple as defining the term. Anyone with a website and a business will only benefit from branding themselves and then growing that brand on the web to suit their offline image. It’s done with the idea that just by the mention of your business name, it conjours up your logo, slogan, and/or design scheme associated with your products or services. The way this plays out online for you is two fold, as you’ll be recognized as an authority in your market by the search engines, and your website (if your developer has done to the SEOs specifications) will be highly relevant as well.

Pay Per Click – This goes by a couple of industry wide terms, AdWords is more revolving around Google with their sponsored ads campaign and search engine marketing as a more all encompassing term when you’re talking about paid advertisements around the web. The paid advertisements often catch a lot of unreasonable criticism from some search users as they can tend to show up in some inconvenient places. While there is some truth to an ads location sometimes impeding on the organic results listings, it’s simple to discern which results are which as the paid ads will say they’re paid ads. The paid results are often on a different colored background, and will say something to the effect of “Ads related to – ” or “Sponsored Listings”. A key point to think about, and consider when you’re first building your own search campaign, is to weigh the return on investment if you were to use PPC as part of your strategy. A simple way to explain how ads are chosen to be displayed are by relevance to the search term, is the bid for the term meet the cost (the ads are based around an auction – high bidder wins in most cases), and is the text of the ad appropriate to the search query. This is a quick way to gain some visibility if you’re trying to rebrand your business, or if you have a brand new website and want to try and gain some quick traction. In then end for things like big money terms, like “hotel rental” it will likely be the company with the deepest pockets who commands the top of the paid results, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a shot at the most important organic results that make up the meat of the page.

Internet Marketing – It’s just an all encompassing term to wrap up all aspects of online marketing. Whether it’s SEO, PPC, branding for your business, when you hear the term internet marketing you just need to keep in mind that it’s a general term, not a specific one.

Are You Panda Proof?

There’s a lot of scary terms in the the SEO world, and if you’ve been reading about the benefits that you can gain from a properly executed search campaign, you’ve undoubtedly run across some of them. Usually they include things like Google bans, black hat tactics, spam penalty, any or all of which can effectively lead to your website being dropped from the search engine results pages. So here are a couple of tips that you can focus on improving your website, instead of thinking about the unlikely doom and gloom that awaits those who try and trick the search gods.

brandingstampNow these won’t make you immune to any radical changes that Google or Bing introduce, but those types of updates are infrequent, and while can be devastating if you’ve been doing the wrong things for some time, don’t automatically end your online marketing campaign.

One of the first things you need to realize about search, is that you need to make your business a brand, regardless of which results page you’re trying to crack. When you conduct a search the most frequent returned results in the top spots are always major brand names. Especially if you’re searching for things like electronics, sporting goods, hotel bookings, most likely all will be major brand names. First instinct may be to think that they pay Google and Bing directly to perch their business and website at the top of the results page, but the realistic truth is they’ve built their brand. When you think of a company like Coke or Pepsi, you get the image of a soft drink in mind, Mercedes and Porsche brings up vehicles, and so on. You need to think of your company as a brand and what type of image you want to build for yourself online, then when you come to us with your goal in mind we can help you mold and craft your website to suit that image. Build your brand offline, and that traction and attention will follow to your online presence as well.

And when it comes to your website, forget about the search engine bots that crawl your pages and your content. You need to build your site for your users, not for the algorithms. While your end goal may be a sale to a visitor, you still want their interaction with your website to be so good, that they bookmark your site and even refer others too it. Create a high quality website with a positive user experience and you’ll find your internet marketing campaigns become doubly as effective.

A strong, positive user experience coupled with a clear and consistent branding campaign will boost any company in the search results, regardless of the size of their bank accounts. And as an added bonus to all of the effort in providing such a clear message online, as I stated in the beginning, you’re positioning your website to be almost entirely update proof.

FTC’s New Paid Search Guidance Will Rearrange Search Marketing

FTC

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning to the major search engines requesting that they more clearly distinguish between the organic results and paid ads. This applies not only to traditional search engines, but also social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as mobile apps.

The FTC’s warning to search engines should be a wake-up call to the search marketing industry. The days of playing fast and loose with mixed paid and organic search results on search engine results pages (SERPs) appears to be coming to an end. In its place will be more stringent oversight of how search engines display paid search results and, as a result, more cumbersome and potentially onerous restrictions on what search marketing can and cannot do with their campaigns.

What are the potential implications for marketers of this new guidance? What do search marketers need to do now to begin adjusting for these changes?

It is unclear at this point the extent that each search engine will address this request, but it is expected that minor changes to the way paid ads are identified will ensue to avoid possible FTC action.

These changes, however, can impact the efforts of search engine marketers, as they will potentially need to make more drastic modifications to their search engine marketing efforts.

Here are some potential effects that the FTC’s warning will have on marketers:

Further Real-Estate Limitations

Clarifying the difference between paid and organic search listings can potentially limit the space available to both organic and paid listings. This means that either fewer results will be able to display “above the fold” without scrolling, or the character limits within each result will be reduced.

If the number of results above the fold is decreased, achieving an above-the-fold listing will be even more competitive. Businesses will be competing heavily for top placement and more of an investment will be needed to generate current levels of volume.

In the case of character limits being reduced within each result, businesses will need to update their online messaging to get their point across in less space. Paid ad titles and ad copy will likely have to be updated to fit within new limits and titles, and meta descriptions of organic mobile pages will need to be shortened to avoid being truncated when listed.

More Strategic Mobile Targeting

Paid search targeted to mobile devices is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing channels and is playing a bigger role in how consumers find products and services. The implications of the FTC warning on mobile paid search could have a big impact on how these ads are displayed. Mobile search real estate, because of the size of mobile browsers, is already very limited.

What marketers will need to pay close attention to is how they segment their mobile targeting by device type. For example, the difference in the amount of SERP real estate between tablets and smartphones is likely to increase. Targeting and bidding strategies will need to vary per device to be most efficient.

Changes to Voice-Activated Search Services

Another implication specific to mobile search is brought on by the request relating to voice-activated search results. The FTC’s warning extends to services such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S-Voice. The FTC has requested that when a voice search is executed, an audio disclosure should be made to identify paid advertising. This could potentially deter users from those paid ads, making the organic listings more valuable.

Marketers must keep a close eye on search engine results and take note of any changes that occur. When used correctly and responsibly, paid search marketing can provide a tremendous benefit to brands’ online marketing and customer acquisition strategies. But in light of the FTC’s letter, the days of deceptive paid search tactics are coming to an end. That will benefit both consumers and marketers in the long run.

Mediawhizzllc

Recapture Your Lost Revenue With Online Growth

growthThere are a handful of helpful tips to keep in mind when building your website for your business, and about how you should go about marketing it online. There are a couple of misconceptions in particular that plague small and large businesses alike where their internet marketing is concerned. Namely the fallacy that you don’t need a website or an online branding vision, and that Google is the only search game in town.

First and foremost, search is not just for online retailers like Amazon or Ebay, it’s for everyone with a website. To put it simply – online research influences offline purchases. Forrester Research estimates that more than $1 trillion of sales generated in 2011 were influenced by online research versus $173 billion of online sales. This is almost doubly true for purchases such as autos, financial services, education, and furniture. If you have a product or service, and you have a website, you need to be marketing it and branding it in order to capitalize on that potential revenue. If you’re not at the top of your niche for search, all of those dollars are going to a competitor.

Now that you know that you need to think about your online presence, you need to remember this very important point – search means more than Google. There is no such thing as a one trick pony for all of your search engine optimization needs, and while Google attracts the majority of paid search (PPC), Bing and Yahoo are slowly gaining share. Then you have the social networks trying to get in on the act, Facebook appears intent on getting into the search market. Your online branding campaign will only see real search success when you contract an agency with the ability to manage all of the major platforms successfully. Those would include organic search, paid search, social media branding, and local marketing just to begin with.

So in short, in order to maximize your search engine optimization campaign you need to first realize that your business and website need to have an internet marketing goal in mind. Once you’ve come to that realization, the next most important step is to ensure that you find the right company which can help guide you along the correct path for you to exceed your return on investment goals.

The Value of an SEO

While there are a number of services that we offer to our clients here at Freshtraffic, we have always made sure that the delivered service is above par for the cost applied. Online branding, search engine optimization, sometimes it’s a social media campaign and a pay per click blitz that clients are looking for, but we always go above and beyond to deliver for our clients. Our experience and skill set come at a premium, and while it seems to be an insurmountable amount, for the value added to your business it does get paid back in spades.

growthOver the last 12 months especially there has been a dumbing down of the internet marketing world. I don’t mean dumbing down as in it has gotten easier, if anything it has actually gotten more difficult, but dumbing down as in the market is saturated with people selling themselves and their “services” for greatly reduced rates. Some of the more frequent occurrences we hear about from clients are being approached via email or phone that they guarantee to rank their website number 1 in Google for only $200 and so on. There are two extremely large issues with this scenario, and while most people know that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, there are still business owners out there who fall for this kind of blast marketing.

The first major issue with these types of claims is you can’t guarantee a rank within the results pages. It’s even difficult to pinpoint placement with Adwords let alone in the organic listings, so if you have someone approach you offering to push you to number 1 on Google, the next words from you should be “no thank you” and hanging up. The organic listings that are derived from the Google algorithm aren’t something to be trifled with, and if someone is offering to drive your site up they’re running a scam of varying severity, and should your site and business get caught up in it, you’ll feel the effects for years online.

The second issue that I have with this type of approach is if you could legitimately rank a website at number 1 on Google consistently and within the guidelines, why would you charge next to nothing for that one of a kind skill? There is a reason that the average monthly charge for an SEO contract is in the $2,000 range, and it’s not because carve a monthly report into marble and hand deliver it to you. Making your site rank in the organic listings takes time, a good deal of effort into learning your brand and niche, and into working with your website to optimize it to it’s greatest potential.

It’s frustrating sometimes to hear from clients that they are the targets of these types of marketers, but we know that with the value and skill set we bring to them they’re more than satisfied with their results. What is even more frustrating however, is when businesses look to hire someone on a contract basis to provide services like social media optimization, SEO, manage a PPC campaign, develop and deliver an email campaign as well as rebuild their website, all for the grand price of $9 per hour. There is an understanding that is missing here on the business owners end, and it’s that no one with the skill set to deliver what they’re asking for will get out of bed to help them for $20 per hour, let alone what they are offering.

Branding Your Business Online

brandingstampAs a business owner, any methods that you can use to interact with your customers and clients is a bonus for your brand as a whole, yes, even the negative interactions are positive online. We have always tried to mentor our clients on the benefits of having a blog tied to their website, and while it can be a great branding and marketing tool what some forget at times is that it takes their time and effort away from their direct business.

A good example of how a blog can be left to the wayside and neglected usually comes from a smaller business owner, someone with a handful of employees who has built it themselves from the beginning. Between paying bills, wages, staffing requirements, meetings and everything else, having to sit down for an hour a day or every couple of days to mash out a few hundred words is the furthest thing from their mind. With a little bit of foresight, the use of a plugin or two and some time management you can manage your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+ accounts all with a single high quality blog post. But first, let’s go back to the beginning or properly managing yourself and your blog.

First things first, your business is what puts your bread and butter on the table so you need to focus your time. Don’t tell yourself that you absolutely need to write a 1000 word blog everyday, because you’ll always find a reason not to write it. Set realistic goals for your blogs, if you only have time once a week to post, then only post once a week. Pick your day, pick your time, and stick to it. Frequent, reliable post times will help garner an audience, I can’t tell you how many websites we have taken on that say they have a blog, and when we look they have 5 posts, 8 months apart with the last one being 18 months ago. Pick a day, pick a time, and sell your brand. Another strong point to consider, is to realize that just because you’ve been doing everything yourself, doesn’t mean that you always need to. If you have a long term employee whom you trust knows your brand and business direction, entice them to blog as well. Something even as simple as a tag at the end of a great branding post like “mention this post and get 10% off your next purchase” not only brings customers in the door, but also allows you to track how well the post was received by your target audience. Then you could do things like provide bonuses, gift cards, paid days off, or other rewards for your employees.

The only two other major points to remember when writing a blog post for your business, is always keep in mind why you’re writing your blogs. Are you reviewing a new in store product? Are you outlining a new service or feature that you’d like your clients and customers to know about? Keep the focus of your blog in mind, what kind of branding image you want to portray to the world. And the last point is simple really, try not to take it too seriously. Yes a blog is part of the parcel of branding your website and your business, but that doesn’t mean the end of the world if you misspell a word or your grammar isn’t perfect. It makes you more human if anything to your audience, and in the end will help with your image.

Clarifying Your Online Message

When we have a new client which comes to us looking for help with their internet marketing campaign, there are two major steps which we take from the beginning. We need to weigh the quality of your content, and we need to determine the strength of the call to action, and how it relates to your marketing goal.

closelookGoing over just how important quality content is to your search engine optimization goals is like a broken record at times, but it’s importance can’t be stressed enough. What has been happening recently in the quality content department is a departure from the past methods of a client creating the articles and snippets of text required to differentiate themselves from everyone else in their niche, and they’ve gone the easy route of using the franchised copy in order to save time. To put it simply, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 people selling blue widgets on the internet, if your copy is different than theirs, and relevant to your site and your goals, you’ll wind up above them in the search results. Why? Because your content is quality, it’s relevant, and it’s unique. Make sure to include relevant terms about your products or services, or something about the supporting services around them. Another useful tactic is to prove yourself an authority in your market, and truly set yourself apart from the competition all in ways that any users can effortlessly see, and identify with.

Now the other side of quality content has to do with how you capitalize on it, with the call to action on your site. A call to action is different for every website and could be as simple as having someone submit their email for a monthly newsletter from your website. But if your call to action is lost within a busy website, if it isn’t clear to a user within a minute, then you’re going to lose out on market share. First impressions are the most important impressions, and on the internet you only have a few seconds to get your impression, and your message across to a user. If you’ve done all of the proper work and are sitting at the top of the search results and continue to have less than stellar conversions, contact us here at Freshtraffic so we can help you find what you’re missing. We’ll work closely with you to build your positions to where you need them to maximize your potential and help you identify your niche market. Take for example the previous example of selling blue widgets, it doesn’t do you any good to rank number one in the results pages for purple widgets if you don’t sell them. It may mean as simple a step as reworking the message of your content, or it may require a completely new online branding approach. When you’re ready to make your business grow in leaps and bounds, we’ll be ready.