People often ask me why is it so important to use a blogging software like WordPress. I try to explain the intricacies of RSS technology to them – not so really simple after all – at least not to some folks. But now I have a really simple demonstration.
On Monday, September 13th I posted a blog on Setting Rules for Social Networking. To be very precise, I posted it at 2:41 Mountain Time. Nine minutes later I received a Google alert telling me that “Brian DeLaet” had once again been found. . . you guessed it , from my blog that had just been posted.
That says, more eloquently than I can, why you want to leverage technology. And, I’ll put in a plug for our blog tool of choice: WordPress. WordPress is so nice because it is easy to install (most web hosts have an automated installer), is easy to update (usually just a one click update process) and had hundreds of plugins that help you do whatever you might want to do. The plugins themselves are easy even for beginners to get a handle on.
So why would a company want to blog? Let’s see . . . more people coming to visit your web site? More web site visitors inquiring about your services or products? More inquiries turning into sales?
With the speed at which information is made available, you can monitor the news and blog about what is happening as it happens. If you have a tree removal service, for example, you could blog about how important it is for those in mountain communities to leave sufficient space around their homes in case of fires like the Fourmile Canyon fire or Reservoir Road fire. This typically translates into a lot more traffic on your web site and to more tree trimming jobs.
Need help setting up a blog or hosting your blog? We can help. Call us at 303 268-2245.
Some of you will think this is some sort of Dickensian entreaty to eliminate “the surplus population”. But it isn’t.
I’m talking about orphaned web pages. A web page gets orphaned in much the same way a human does. It’s parent dies or goes away.
Let me give an anecdote to explain both how it happens and why its bad. I recently met a very well known financial advisor in the Denver area. We arranged to meet at one of my favorite restaurants for some adult beverages. I got the time wrong and showed up a half an hour early.
So I googled his name so I could give him a call. The first page that came up was from his web site. So, having a few minutes, I started clicking around and thought to myself “This guy needs our service – his web site is WAAAY out of date.”
Once he arrived, I showed him the page and he said “That’s from our old site.” When I clicked on the Home link I could see the new site but all of the old site was still out there and still active. All of these pages were orphaned. They weren’t really supposed to be there.
The obvious solution to this problem is to delete the pages. Right?
Ahh, you were paying attention, good for you. The number 1 Google Ranking for his name was the orphaned page. Delete that and you lose visibility.
There are two steps that should be taken to make sure you get rid of orphaned pages but don’t lose the Search Engine Optimization power that page or those pages have attained.
- Create a 301 redirect so that links to the old page will be forwarded to the new page or the appropriate replacement for the old page. There are different ways to implement a 301 redirect. The best way is to edit the .htaccess file but many web control panels will let you accomplish this through a control panel.
- Then it is safe to delete the old page.
In case it’s still not clear, let me give you one more example. We recently redesigned the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County web site. Before the redesign there was a Google link to the Youth Leadership Jefferson County that was http://www.westchamber.org/lead-yljc.asp. After the redesign, that page no longer exists but if you try to visit that page, you end up at http://www.westchamber.org/lead-yljc-asp/ which is the correct link.
I just discovered an orphan on our own web site today. That now has a proper 301 redirect so folks don’t get lost or confused. Need help with this? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.
What niche social networking sites might be useful for my goals?
Question 6 from 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign brings some interesting insights that you might not have contemplated. Everyone knows about the big sites:
But what about the little sites (or even not so little sites) that might be tailored to your needs?
Authors, for example, should take another look at Amazon and see how they can use their author account to generate more buzz around their book right on THE site for book selling.
Other sites that you might find useful (not as big as the ones above but still pretty well known) include:
Each of these sites has its own orientation and purpose. For example, flixter.com is designed so you can share your movie review with friends. Depending on your business and what you are trying to accomplish, this could be a great way to connect with customers or vendors and share information.
Everybody is all abuzz about Social Media Marketing Campaigns whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or some niche site that fits their needs. But we keep getting the same questions from customers and we basically turn the questions back around to ask them. Here are the questions that you should think through for your needs as you develop your plan. And of course, if you need help, give us a call at 303 268-2245.
Social Media Marketing Campaign Questions:
- What are my goals (What do I expect to get out of this)?
- What media (or sites) are best suited to my goal?
- How much time am I able or willing to spend on marketing?
- How can I use my physical network of contacts to help in Social Media Marketing(SMM)?
- What tactics will help me accomplish my goals?
- What niche social networking sites might be useful for my goals?
- What tools are available to make my time in SMM more efficient?
- How personal does the SOCIAL part need to be?
- How does my company reputation fit into SMM?
- How can I evaluate my SMM campaign?
By thinking through and writing down your answers to these questions, you’ll be able to keep a laser like focus on what you want to accomplish. It is important to do this so that you don’t get sucked into the social vortex and find yourself spending all your time chatting with old high school friends or getting lost in the college daze.
We get a lot of clients coming to us when the original designer disappears or the in house designer gets so busy with their real job that the company decides to outsource. When we take on a new client, there are three essentials for a business web site that we go over with them:
- Look. Too many people stop with just this basic tenet of web design: having a nice look. What does it mean to have a nice look? The elements of the site need to flow together. There should be a cohesive look to the site with a logo and color scheme that build and reinforce the brand. A clean, simple site is more attractive and more likely to engage your web visitors. Take your logo (or create one if need be) and use the colors and font to determine other key elements. When choosing colors and images or photos, consider your target market and what they are attracted to.
- Usability. We’ve seen way too many sites that look fantastic but aren’t user-friendly. If you want to build a site that actually helps your business, it needs to be usable. Building a user-friendly site means the first question you need to ask yourself is, what do you want people to do? If the goal is to get the visitor to make a purchase, the navigation and purchasing experience need to be very easy to accomplish and should make it clear how to add something to your cart, how to proceed to check out, etc. If the goal is to get someone to call you, make sure you have the phone number as the call to action. I often tell the story of the customer who said his goal was to educate the consumer . . . “well ultimately I want them to call me”, he said. “Where’s your phone number?” I replied.
- have a search friendly site. Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing task that can become quite expensive. But every web site and every page on a web site should be search-friendly. This simply means to keep in mind your key words as you write the content, name images, and create meta-tags. The Internet is not a field of dreams. If you build it, you also have to market it and provide ways for people to know what you’re about. If you use your key words in your site properly, you’ll have a search-friendly site that will help to drive more people to it.
Search-Friendliness. Having a nicely designed, usable site gets you no where unless you also
LinkedIn is one of the largest business networking sites out there. Based on the premise that if I have 10 connections (people I know and network with) and each of those has 10 connections, I’m only one relationship away from 100 people. If you have 100 connections and they have 100 connections each, well, you do the math.
So what all can you do on LinkedIn? You can connect with people, join virtual groups, many times they are virtual versions of physical networking groups. So this can be a great way to communicate between physical meetings. You can send or post reminders, share announcements and more. The benefit of doing this online is that you can reach a wider audience that might otherwise not know of your group.
If you’re looking for work, LinkedIn can be a great way to find the right job for you. There are hundreds of jobs posted but also by working your LinkedIn network, you can find opportunities that you would never know about through other ways. Through recommendations you can also let or encourage others brag about you.
Speaking of recommendations, this is another way to promote your business. Why “toot your own horn” when you have friends, customers and colleagues who are often more than happy to tout your benefits or service or value. Let word of mouth marketing work for you.
Spend a few minutes a day – literally just a few minutes, and you can build your network over a couple of weeks to the point where it can start working for you.
Frequently we have startup businesses ask us to design their web site. After we ask them a series of carefully designed questions about their target market and goals, they often ask us to hold off while they do some more market research. But market research is expensive and time consuming, right?
Wrong. Here are three simple Internet Market Research Tips that you can use to learn more about your target market and what the competition is up to:
- Search in Google for your top two to five key phrases and look at the top five sites in each phrase. Look at the colors, the links, the images and the content. Compare this to your colors, links images and content. Often you will find something you should add or tweak as a result. Repeat this step with live.com and yahoo.com.
- Find backlinks to your top three competitors (in Google, type in link:<domainname.com> and press enter). You can see who is linking to your competitor’s sites and possibly determine why. This will help you determine whether you should pursue similar links. If you have an existing site, use the Google Webmaster Tools at www.google.com/webmasters/tools to get more complete results.
- Getting a high rank in the search engines is only one piece of the puzzle. Next you want to look at the text that goes with a high ranking. For example, a search for best web design finds the site bestwebgallery.com at or near the top. The text beneath the link says “Best Web Gallery is a showcase gallery that features all the best design Flash and CSS websites on the web”. This text isn’t visible on the page but it is in the Description MetaTag. So the text that you put in your meta-tag will help searchers determine whether they will click on your link or not. Check out your competition’s wording and make sure that description tag is GOOD.
If you want to get to grow your business, take time to research what the competition is up to. It doesn’t cost anything more than some of your time. And if you take the time, you can uncover nuggets of information that will help you grow and prosper.
No, this is not about the Denver Nuggets (though they’re looking good this year). One of the nicest things about following blogs and social media is the way in which you can find useful nuggets of information. Starting out my year I have been catching up on some tweets (not using Twitter yet? – you should check it out) and some blogs and I came across these useful nuggets just today:
- A friend sent me a link to 56 of the best tips for growing a small business on a budget. I thought “56”? I don’t have time for 56! But I opened the list and scanned down it and number 12 caught my eye. Basically he says you can either increase number of clients, increase average sale price or increase number of purchases per client. And most people spend all their time on the first which often has the smallest impact on your bottom line. So look at how you can increase the average sale price or increase the number of purchases per client.
- I’ve been following Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, for quite awhile now. Joan is the queen of helping people get noticed by the media. Again, not everything that comes from her pen or keyboard relates directly to me but I do get great ideas on how I can help my clients get noticed. As an Internet marketing firm, we promote our clients on the Internet and Joan Stewart excels at using tools like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out to targeted audiences such as actual reporters. One recent post was about Lynn Terry who wrote a report on how to sell information products without a web site. We of course don’t recommend that – we can build the site for you – but it was thought provoking anyway.
So is surfing the net a mindless endeavor or a business-building activity? I say it’s great for business if you do it with a purpose.
How do you grow your business in a down economy? There are lots of cliché’s I could throw out there. But it really comes down to tuning out the naysayers and focusing on what you do best. So here’s what the technology experts at EduCyber recommend:
- Turn off the TV. Leave it on too long and you’ll be barraged with advice to give it up because the economy is tanking.
- Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Strongly related to the first tip, the point is that you still have your business. Look at ways to expand your customer base, increase sales to existing customers, or make bigger sales to new customers.
- Leverage your existing IT infrastructure. Sounds like big business but it isn’t. There are always efficiencies that can be gained. Take the time up front for training or learning how to best use your network and applications. Greater efficiency equals more money for your bottom line.
- Look at your web site. Can you sell more products to more people through it? Can you target your ideal client more effectively through paid advertising or paid search?
- Continue to invest in yourself and your company. When others see that you’re investing in yourself, they’ll know you aren’t going anywhere. This will help them make the (right) decision to do business with you.