Convergence

One of the cool things that I see happening again and again is the convergence that happens in Social Media. Personal and Professional lives converge and people make connections that never would have happened otherwise.

This has always happened in Face to Face networks but the obvious limiting factors in such instances are geography and room size. We’re limited to the number of people that are or can fit in the room and to the people who are in the area.

But online those two limiting factors disappear. This first hit me a couple of years ago when my friend Max, who organizes cool tours to exotic places told me how he posted something on his personal facebook page about a trip to Africa. His post wasn’t marketing in nature, it was along the lines of “Looking forward to the upcoming trip to Kenya”. The convergence happened when he booked a couple of spots on the tour by folks who saw his post.

I was conveniently reminded of how this convergence works when I posted, last week, on our corporate Facebook page, about how thrilled we were to be working with two new customers, a Lutheran Church and a Lutheran School. An old friend from Iowa saw that posting and invited me to a Lutheran conference in Florida in January. Seems like a no-brainer. Spend my time and energy networking in cold Colorado in January or spend it in sunny Florida. Hmmm. What should I do?

In the first instance Max’s personal sphere attracted new customers into his professional sphere. In the latter, my professional sphere overlapped into my personal sphere, creating an opportunity that wouldn’t have otherwise been there.

What does this mean? (a very well-known question in the Lutheran Church) It means what I have been telling people for years – don’t forget the SOCIAL part of Social Media Marketing – people want to know you personally, even if they’re doing business with you but also don’t forget the MARKETING part of Social Media Marketing. Often people don’t do business with you because you haven’t asked them to.

So I guess I’ll close this with our pitch – Partner – Engage – Convert. Lots of firms partner with their customers to engage web site visitors. And then stop. We help folks figure out how to convert their visitors into clients. Need help with this? Call Brian at 303 268-2245 to find out what else you can be doing.

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Blogging and Consistency

You’ve heard the old adage that the road to heck is paved with good intentions. That appears to be especially true when it comes to blogging. During the design and development phase of sites we have customers who are all excited about the opportunity to blog.

Then reality (and life) sets in. And that blogging thing gets pushed to the bottom of the heap. After all, I’ll get to it when I have time. But then you never quite get the time. And the blog grows stale before you’ve even really started it.

Sound familiar?

Here are a few quick thoughts about blogging and consistency.

  1. The bare minimum you should blog – can’t stress enough that this is the bare minimum – is twice a month. Less than that and it isn’t really blogging.
  2. We recommend at least once a week. One of our customers blogs several times a week and their traffic has gone up around 400% in the last year.
  3. Blogs don’t have to be long – they aren’t college research papers. A good blog post can be two to three paragraphs.
  4. Write about what you do – that way you provide good original content AND you use lots of keywords for your industry.
  5. Write about the questions you get asked regularly. If the people you are in front of are asking, you can bet people are also looking for them online.
  6. If you get stuck on what to write, set aside 10 minutes and perhaps bring in one or more people to help you brainstorm a list of topics. Then you’ll be ready for writer’s block.
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Get Traction with Google Local

Local search is where it is at for service related companies. Whether your service is landscaping, roofing, dry-cleaning or computer support, it only makes sense that you would do most if not all of your business in and around your local community.

So how does local search work? While it can be quite complex to get your site listed high in the local listings, the basics are simple and sometimes that is enough.

Let’s use Google since they account for 84.72% of all search engine usage worldwide.

  1. First go to http://www.google.com/maps and in the search bar, type in the name of your company. If nothing comes up, type in your address.
  2. When you see your listing (there should only be one – if there are more, that’s a topic for another day) click on more info. Along the top on the right you’ll see a link that says “Business Owner?”. Click on that link and claim your listing.
    • If it says “Owner-verified listing” then someone from your company has already claimed the listing. You’ll need to talk to them to get more information.
  3. If you don’t have a Google account, it only takes a few minutes to create a verify one. Do this and come back to the maps. If you already have a Google account, then login.
  4. Now you’re ready to enter your company information. The more info you enter, the better your chances of being listed.
  5. Put in your complete address and ALL of your contact information.
  6. Choose two or more categories for your business.
  7. Enter your hours of operation as appropriate and check off the types of payment you accept.
  8. Upload a couple of pictures – of you, of the outside of your place of business, of the inside, etc.
  9. Upload a video or two. These don’t have to be professionally shot. Just practice a few times and take the best one you have. Introduce people to your business.
  10. Enter some additional details and click on Submit.
  11. The first time you do this, you will be asked to select whether Google should call you or mail you. Select call and be prepared to enter the PIN number they’ll give you on the phone as soon as you click Finish. Then within a day or two your listing will be eligible to begin appearing.

There are lots of things you can do to enhance your local listing such as:

  • Upload more pictures
  • Upload more videos
  • Add / Create fields for Additional Details
  • Add as many categories as you can think of for your listing
  • Try the free trial of Google Tags
  • Update your status
  • Create a coupon
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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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3 Reasons to Invest in your Web Presence in a Down Economy

What’s happening in your financial world? If you’re like most folks, you’re not sure whether we’re headed up or down or what is around the next corner.

In uncertain times it can be difficult to see a way forward and spending money is the last thing many business owners want to do. Yet here I am telling you to invest in your web site. What gives?

Here are THREE reasons you want to invest in your site now:

  1. Get better efficiency. There are several ways to accomplish this: Put more information on your web site so you spend less time answering the same questions over and over again; Qualify your customers better through your site so that those you contact are ready to do business; Reduce or eliminate your store front and sell more from the web site. These are just a few of the ways you can be more efficient with an investment in your site.
  2. While your competitors are giving up and going away, you can establish a firm or firmer foundation now on your web site without having to build a new building or sign an expensive new lease. Your site should look professional (good design), be functional (easy for customers to do what you want them to do) and be search-friendly (search engine optimization)
  3. Get more customers. Beat the rest of the crowd that is still stuck on search engine optimization – which means driving more traffic to your web site – and get started on conversion optimization – which means getting the folks who visit your web site to buy, register, signup, or whatever your call to action is. If you have any degree of traffic you should look at what those visitors are doing and if they aren’t contacting you to do business, optimize the process to make it smoother for them to do business with you.
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Be Findable! The Small Business Guide To Location Social Media

EduCyber Presents Growing Your Business on the Internet Series:

Thursday, May 27, 2010
"Be Findable! The Small Business Guide To Location Social Media"

Pay online to reserve your spot >>
 

Where are you?

That’s not a metaphysical question. Are you and your business findable? Are you being found?

Way back in 2007 Google told us that 73% of online searches were for local goods and services. Sure, you can find out a plumber in South Africa, if you want to. But most folks want to find a local business if they want a plumber, a restaurant, a realtor or even a web designer.

There are many sites that have been created or have adapted themselves to accommodate this need for local search. EduCyber has spent many hours exploring this phenomenon and we will share our findings in a seminar on May 27 from 11:30 to 1:00.

What will you get from this seminar?

  1. Concrete steps you can take to enhance your local presence on the internet.
  2. How to: a) Create local accounts at Google and Bing b) Keep those accounts fresh (and at the top)
  3. Wisdom to make decisions about whether and how to engage in Yelp, FourSquare, Gowalla, Loopt, BrightKite and other location-based social networking sites.
  4. Your business website will get noticed by more potential customers!

Who should come to this seminar?

Local destination businesses: Restaurants, retail stores, specialty shops, gyms, etc.
Local service businesses: Printers, CPAs, financial advisers, business consultants, etc.
Local tradespeople: Plumbers, Electricians, HVAC, Lawn care, trash removal, etc.

Location: 4251 Kipling St.
(2nd Floor Conference Room)
Time: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Cost: $19.95 (includes a light lunch)

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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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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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