Invest in Search Marketing

If you’ve been following me at all you know that the cardinal rule of Internet Marketing is to have a plan.

Once you have that plan, you can look at the different ways you can invest your marketing dollars. Here are three of the avenues you can explore, along with the risks and benefits of each:

  1. Paid Search: The most well-known paid search venue is Google AdWords. The main benefit of a paid search campaign is that you get immediate results. The most common type of campaign is Pay Per Click – you design your ad and it might show up hundreds of times but you only pay when someone click on your ad. The biggest risk is that, unlike other kinds of search marketing, the minute you quit paying for clicks, the minute the traffic stops.
  2. Local Search: As in all other kinds of search marketing, Google also dominates here. Their local search offering is dubbed Google Places. What they discovered is that since most searches are local, they should have a special way of showing local results. Getting listed in the top seven of Google Places can be a boon for your business. Imagine, if you run a plumbing company and you get into the top 7 (1st page) of Google Places. You could go from no calls to dozens of calls a day. A benefit of local search is that it is free (Google doesn’t charge you anything). Completing your profile is fairly easy as well. A drawback is it doesn’t make sense if you’re bigger than local and it also is difficult to work with if you are a home-based business.
  3. Organic Search (this is the area commonly known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO): Getting ranked high in the organic search engine listings continues to pay off for businesses. This is process whereby your site is ranked at or near the top when someone searches for general terms for your service. For example, if I search for “buy contact lenses” the first two organic listings I get are visiondirect.com and lens.com. Getting to the top of organic listings typically costs the company quite a bit (paying a firm like EduCyber to get there) but a huge benefit is that once you’re listed, you can “coast” for a while, not paying anyone anything but not losing you place because of it.

If you want help with marketing your web site, we can help. EduCyber has Internet Marketing plans and packages for many kinds of businesses. You can also call us at 303 268-2245

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Google Changes Local Search

 Yesterday may seem like it was less than 24 hours ago but time flies quickly on the Internet. Just a few months ago John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing wrote about 5 great research tools. I tried to visit the last one today, Bing xRank, to find out how it worked. And it’s gone.

I’ve been talking to a lot of people, colleagues, customers and potential customers, about Google Places lately. And the more I talk about it, the faster Google changes it. Just this week they changed the display dramatically.

If you haven’t claimed your business on Google Places, you should. It’s important for marketing purposes. Last week if I did a search for something local like “Denver Landscaping” I would have seen the two paid ads at the top and directly below that a map. To the right of the map were 7 listings of local (Denver area) landscapers.

This week when I do the same search I see the two ads at the top but the map has now been moved over to the right column and the local listings appear where the organic listings used to show up. Beneath the 7 local listings are the top 3 organic listings.

What does this mean for companies engaged in search marketing?

  1. Local search is more important than ever – completely dominating the first page of Google searches
  2. Google realized that seeing the location on a map is not nearly as important as the listing of the company (so they moved the map to the right column).
  3. If you are going to compete in organic search for many key words, your goal needs to be to get into the top 3 instead of the top 10. Being fourth bumps you to the second page of results.

These changes are designed to make things work better for the end user – the consumer – but sudden changes like this are seismic shifts in the search world. Whether you are a vendor (like EduCyber is) or a customer (like the landscaping companies in the example above), the organic competition just got a lot tougher and the Google Places listing just got a lot more lucrative.

So just like that, what used to work (last week) needs to be changed.Need help trying to figure all this out? Give EduCyber a call at (303) 268-2245.

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36 Ways to Market Your Web Site

  1. Put your web site on business card
  2. Incorporate your domain name into your letterhead
  3. Buy an ad in other ezines or email newsletters
  4. Engage in online communities and make sure you include your domain where appropriate (like in your signature)
  5. Include a link to your web site in your email signature
  6. Build a corporate Facebook page and post interesting information that links back to your site.
  7. Include a link to your site in your Twitter profile
  8. Include a link to your site in your Facebook profile
  9. Include a link to your site in your LinkedIn profile
  10. Include links to your site in your Tweets where appropriate
  11. Exchange links with a related site
  12. Develop an affiliate network where others get paid to market your site.
  13. Create press releases for anything new: staff, location, service, product, etc. Be    sure to mention the web site as the source for more information
  14. Write on your blog regularly (if your blog isn’t on your web site, include links to your site in each blog entry)
  15. Create an informercial video about something relevant to your company. Upload it to video sites like YouTube. Make sure the video finished with a link to the site and that the site is mentioned in the description.
  16. Create a podcast on a relevant topic and don’t forget to mention your web site in the audio.
  17. Use email marketing (like iContact or Aweber) to regularly communicate with your customers. Include links back to your web site
  18. Write guest blogs for other sites with links in the bio back to your site.
  19. Buy an ad in the local newspaper with your domain name as a prominent part of the ad
  20. Create a TV commercial and buy some spots on local TV. Include your URL in the ad.
  21. Run a radio ad that mentions your URL
  22. Create an amusing video that highlights how your company solves problems and make sure the video links to your site. Upload it to Youtube.
  23. Share company videos that you’ve uploaded on Twitter.
  24. Share company videos that you’ve uploaded on Facebook.
  25. Create a PowerPoint presentation about something your company is good at. Include your URL. Upload this file to a site like SlideShare.
  26. Create a new award like “Best <your industry service or product> in <your area>”. Advertise it on your web site asking for submissions / nominations.
  27. Create a press release to go with this new award and send it out to news organizations, pointing them to your site for more information.
  28. Use an email blast to all your subscribers to announce the new award and point them to the site for details.
  29. Read other blogs. Engage in that community by leaving comments (with a link back to your site)
  30. Devote time to write a really good white paper on a hot topic in your industry. Provide this as an incentive on your web site for users to sign up for your newsletter.
  31. Advertise this white paper on social media sites.
  32. Post the white paper download info on sites you have access to – don’t neglect chambers of commerce and other business organizations. They’ll often share your info for free.
  33. Offer a free seminar on a popular or useful topic. Post the details on your site and then refer people to the site for details.
  34. Use social media to promote your seminar and direct people to your site.
  35. Engage in or start a group on LinkedIn regarding your industry (better to engage in existing groups) or area of expertise. Establish yourself as an authority and regularly link back from the group to a pertinent part of your web site.
  36. Blog about current events and tie them back into your topic.

 

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Blogging: The Power of Now

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.
 

 

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Eliminate Orphans

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Internet Marketing Through Web Site Design

Lots of folks start their web design with a logo and maybe some colors. Then they add some copy that seems appropriate and figure out how to navigate through the site and they’re done with the design.

After they’ve finished, they’re ready for Internet marketing – maybe they’ll add a search engine optimization campaign or a paid search campaign (like Google AdWords). The more internet savvy ones will even develop a social media marketing campaign.

But the design and the marketing aren’t planned out together.

That’s a mistake.

Build your web site on a firm foundation

You have to start with a firm foundation. What better foundation for a web site design that your marketing goals? Start with the result in mind and you’ll build a solid site that not only complements your business but actually drives it forward.

Three Questions to consider as you build your foundation:

  1. What is the main call to action throughout the site?
  2. How do the various pages flow or drive the visitor towards the call to action?
  3. How can I forget about the features and focus on the benefits  (which is what the customer really wants anyway)?
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Finding the Right Web Design Firm

There are lots of places on the Internet you can go to get a web site designed for less than $100. You get what you pay for however. There are also web sites that will help you with Search Engine Optimization for only $25 or some such nonsense. Again you get what you pay for which in this case can actually be counterproductive to your site. Finally there are some excellent graphic designers out there that learn how to convert their work into html and declare themselves to be web designers. For a modest sum, they will build you a web site. Be very careful in this case also.

There are three main elements to web design that you need to make sure you’ve got covered:

1)      Good design
Building a good web site means that it needs to be designed to fit YOUR needs. The problem with most do-it-yourself template sites is that you have to customize your needs to  the template rather than having the design customized to your needs. Your site should be visually engaging and should be customized to help you get your message across to your customers.

2)      Search Engine Friendliness
We won’t lie to you. SEO is very competitive and can get quite expensive. But a key part of web design is an architecture that is friendly to search engines. Some key elements to include in the design: using key words in file names and in image tags; naming sub-directories well; and the obvious – using keywords in the written content – but then also placing that written content in the best place on the page. None of these are included in your super-cheap online SEO services but more importantly, many web designers don’t use or understand these principles.

3)      Functionality
I’ve seen some really beautiful web sites but have had no clue what the next step is. Often graphic designers that hang up their web design shingle are the culprits. They design visually engaging graphics that don’t point the user to the next step. A term often used with web sites is “intuitive”. An intuitive web site is one where the user can easily figure out (without having to do any “figuring”) what to do. Navigation, for example, isn’t hidden or difficult to figure out – instead the menu items are clearly menu items and you can click on them to move to the next page.

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Fresh Content for Your Web Site

Having good fresh content for your site is vital for keeping people coming back to your site and to make your site relevant. Google gets this pretty well. So know they have Google Web Elements.  Essentially web elements lets you take different content from Google and display it on your site.

Since Google excels at search, I decided to see how difficult it would be to integrate Web Elements into a page at Educyber.com. Our Social Media Marketing Page hasn’t been updated in more than a month so at the Web Elements home page I clicked on News. Choose the size I wanted typed in Social Media in the Create one field, copied the code, pasted it into www.educyber.com/web/educyber-social-media-marketing.php, uploaded it and “Ta Dah” I was done. (Go ahead and check it out – scroll to the bottom of the page)

Now I don’t really like this kind of integration because if anyone clicks the link that Google displays, they go away from my site and off to someone else’s. That can’t be good for business, can it?

But there are some useful features that can work for your site. For example, you can embed a Google Calendar onto your site. So, say for example you hold regular events, meetings or seminars. You can create a Google Calendar, make it public and then pull your calendar onto whichever page(s) on your site you want.

Or if you have a powerpoint presentation that would be beneficial to share with your web visitors, choose Presentations, upload your presentation (or link to someone else’s), then copy the code and paste into your web page – Presto! You have a web presentation.

All in all, Web Elements is a useful application – one of those “Why didn’t I think of this?” kind of tools that can help you engage your web visitors.

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5 People I Follow on Twitter and Why

  1. PublicityHound (twitter.com/PublicityHound)
    Joan Stewart is the queen of getting publicity and has developed quite a following. For any business looking to get more and better publicity, Joan provides a lot of free and low cost tips. On Twitter she mostly stays on task -focusing on Publicity, with just enough personal info to make life interesting
  2. Mashable (twitter.com/mashable)
    Pete Cashmore is so on top of what’s happening in Social Media and Social Networking that you’d be crazy to follow him on Twitter.
  3. Copyblogger (twitter.com/copyblogger)
    Brian Clark is seriously into social networking but he also posts great quotes like this recent one “I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.” From Albert Einstein
  4. Schwarzenegger (twitter.com/schwarzenegger)
    The Governator actually has harnessed the power of twitter for good – using it to disseminate information and links useful to Californians. While not a Californian myself, I’d like to see more elected officials make the attempt to use new technologies to help them better communicate and stay in touch.  I guess twitter.com/govritter should get mention as well since I live in Colorado.
  5. MattCutts (twitter.com/mattcutts)
    I’ve been a fan of Google since they started at Stanford – for real. Matt is a great public face for Google on Twitter. He lets you know what Google is up to and provides some really cool information such as how to link to a specific point in a YouTube video.
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Web Design 101: 3 Basics

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. мебели сливенSearch-Friendliness. Having a nicely designed, usable site gets you no where unless you also 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.
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