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a few minutes, I started clicking around and thought to myself “This guy needs our service – his web site is WAAAY out of date.”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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Recovering From Poor Internet Marketing

I have a friend who lies paralyzed in a hospital bed. A short while back he was involved in an accident and he will never walk again. I stopped by to visit him today. He was sedated but the good news is he has a tracheotomy. That never before sounded like a good thing but for him it is allowing him to breathe without having a tube shoved down his throat. It keeps other bacteria from following that tube right down into his lungs, and it is, the doctors believe, a step towards getting him to breathe on his own again. In short, for my friend, having a hole in his throat is a step towards recovery.

What does that have to do with Internet marketing? Last week I spoke with a client who is running his own AdWords campaign and is quite frustrated because “every time I turn it on it costs me $530 every two weeks” but he’s not getting a return on his investment.

Here’s what I told him he should do:

  1. Have us do an audit of his AdWords campaign. Since he’s not an expert and since he has a business to run, he doesn’t know all the ins and outs of a paid search campaign such as how to set it up for long tail search or whether it actually makes sense to have a different campaign for each city he’d like to get business from.
  2. Have us do a local search campaign for his business. With the tools provided through Google Local Business Center and Bing Local Search, as well as sites like Yelp, CitySearch, BrightKite,  and Gowalla, there are many things a geographically based company can capitalize on. But it has to be done well and consistently.

While he’s still thinking it over, I’d like to tell you why he should choose one or the both of these.  Until now he’s been paralyzed with the urge to stop throwing money away. By choosing either or both of these solutions he’ll be taking a step towards recovery.

And yes we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers for my friend has he faces a long road to recovery ahead but he is making steps, small though they may seem, towards getting better.

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Why Internet Marketing Works

While I’ve never been much of a numbers guy, I’m amazed about how easy Internet Marketing is because absolutely everything can be measured. So your goal is to figure out what to measure and then measure it.

And the beauty of it is that small changes can reap LARGE effects. Let’s say that you have a paid search campaign. You want people to rent a tuxedo from your store instead of your competitors. You can set up a paid search campaign – such as Google AdWords – to drive traffic to you site. At Google you identify when your ad will appear based on search words. So you say I want the ad to appear when people search for “prom”, “wedding”, “tux”, or “tuxedo”. Easy enough.

Not let’s say you start running this campaign and you find that for every 100 clicks (and you pay for every click) you get three tuxedo rentals. To make this a profitable venture for you, you determine that you need at least 5 rentals for every 100 clicks but you’d much prefer 10 or more.

Now that you have the traffic coming, you need to look at why more folks aren’t converting. With some of the nifty tools Google provides, you can do split testing. So you look at your landing page (the one you direct folks to from Google) and decide to keep the existing page as one version of the test. Then you make a small change – perhaps a differently worded call to action – and set that page as the second version of the test.

Next you turn on the test and then as people click through to your site, you can calculate which call to action is getting more business. Once you’ve got enough data to determine which is better, eliminate the underperformer and use the better one. If you change your conversion rate from 1% of visitors converting to customers to 2%, you’ve doubled your business. Pretty good ROI!

Repetitive Unproductive Practice

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

But don’t stop there.  Like my shampoo bottle says, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” If you’ve found that one call to action gets more conversions, what if there is yet another that will triple your conversions? Build another page to test. And often its not the call to action. It could be the image you use or the attention getting headline or the copy leading up to the call to action.

Since you can measure each step of the process, you can measure your ROI at every step and set yourself apart from your competition.

And that is just with Paid Search. The same holds true with Organic Search and even Social Media Marketing.

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Starting at the Top

To be successful in Internet Marketing or in any endeavor, it is important to think big and to face down the fear of failure. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Hopefully this little story will make sense.
My family plays pitch. We not only play it, we’re very very good at it. The last time we were all together, my brother began teaching the exchange student staying with my other brother how to play. Some members of our extended family play very conservatively and seldom win. They know the rules inside out but when they look at the cards, they only see what is in their hand, not what the possibilities are for their team or for their hand based on what others might have. And as I said, they seldom win.
The way my brother was teaching this young lady was so that she could start at the top. Rather than learning the rules and taking baby steps in learning how to bid, he taught her how to bid aggressively so that she could play a strong hand at a strong table successfully.
I think the same kind of thing applies to business in general and to Internet Marketing specifically. There are many things that go into excellent Internet Marketing but it is not only what you see in your hand. Look at the opportunities available and consider how they fit in with your plan. Where do the synergies lie? How can you capitalize on the strengths of the media you’re using? The goal isn’t to learn how to be an Internet Marketer. The goal is to win at Internet Marketing.
Find the right mentor(s). The exchange student was lucky. Her mentor was teaching her how to win, not how to play. Find mentors that have PROVEN success in their industry. There are dozens of folks out there who claim they are gurus and experts. Ask them for the proof and then double-check it. For example, we’ve been around since 1998 and have been growing nearly every year. We’re ranked high for our key words. We actually get business because we’re found on the search engines. We work hard to practice what we preach.
We aren’t in this to “play the game”. We’re here to help other businesses excel on the Internet.

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Plan for Internet Marketing

Internet Marketing, like any kind of marketing, needs to fit into the bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish. There are three questions you need to ask yourself with any kind of Internet Marketing Campaign:

  1. How does this campaign fit into our overall marketing goals?
  2. How will we measure success?
  3. What step(s) do we want people to take?

ONE: Fitting your campaign into your overall marketing plan assumes you have an overall plan. If you don’t have one, get one. You’ll never get where you want to be if you don’t have a plan to get there. Stop and consider what your business goals are, determine what marketing you need to do to help you get there, and then determine what piece of the marketing pie will be Internet marketing.

TWO: A key component of your success will be determining at the outset what you are going to measure. Long ago I had a customer leave because his web site wasn’t getting him any business. So I asked where he was getting his business from. As it turned out, he wasn’t really tracking any of that stuff so he didn’t really know where his business came from – and therefore didn’t know whether he was getting any business from his site or not. What’s the moral of the story? He didn’t measure anything in his business and he’s no longer in business.

THREE: There are all kinds of measurable steps you can have on your web site. Of course, if you have an ecommerce site, the best step is to make a sale. But if the customer isn’t ready to buy, you can get them to sign up for your newsletter (another measurable step) or click to the next page for more information (this too is measurable). I’m sorry but “The purpose of this page is to educate” is not a step nor is it measurable. If you want to educate them enough that they want to call you or fill out a form, then it is measurable but “educate” is not a step.

Think through these questions with answers backed up with data and you’ll be on your way to success on the Internet.

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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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Twitter Done Right

Twitter isn’t all fun and games. There’s some serious business happening among the tweets about Tiger and Charlie and what your accountant had for lunch. Business people want to know, “How can I use Twitter to build a following and promote my business?”

Twitter Done Right! is EduCyber’s January seminar that will teach you how to harness the power of tweeting to build traffic for your business. In this fast-moving seminar, host Brian DeLaet will teach you:

  • How to create a plan for promoting your business on Twitter
  • Who to follow and why
  • How to build a following for you and your business and turn that following into customers
  • Real examples of how businesses have used Twitter to explode their sales.

In other words, you’ll learn how to do Twitter right!

Register online at http://www.educyber.com/upcoming-seminars.php

(Space is limited, so call today!)

When: January 28, 2010

Time: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Where: 4251 Kipling St., Suite 190, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
(2nd Floor Conference Room)

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Evaluating your Social Media Campaign

Question 10 of 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is “How do I evaluate the results?”

If you planned properly this is an easy question. At the outset you should have set a measurable goal and set a time period. So now all you have to do is, when you hit the milestone set, look to see if you reached your goal.

In our first question we talked about setting goals and what those goals might look like. The funny thing about goals though is they often change. And that’s ok. The important thing is to continually set, measure and reset your goals.  If you had said you wanted to get 200 new subscribers to your newsletter over a two month period and you hit 250 after one month, it would be a good idea to evaluate after one month and change the goal to, for example, 700.

If you only had 20 new subscribers after a month but three of them converted to customers, you might reset the goal to 50 and add a new goal of converting 10 of them to customers. But if you haven’t set a goal, how do you know if you reached it or not?

Other things you can measure as a part of your evaluation of a social media campaign include:

  • Number of Facebook fans
  • Number of re-tweets onTwitter
  • Number of profile views on LinkedIn
  • Number of views on YouTube
  • Number of click throughs from any social site to your actual web site
  • Number of new newsletter subscribers
  • Number of new customers

Note that new customers is only one measurement. And it is probably not the most important at first. Of more importance is how you engage and interact with the “friends”, “followers”, “connections” or other social media friends in order to build your network over the long term.

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Your Company Reputation and Social Media Marketing

Question 9 of 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is How does my company reputation fit into Social Media Marketing. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it is ALL about your reputation.

Social Media Marketing is about engaging others and building long term relationships with others.  This enhances your reputation as a company and establishes you as a player in the long term plans of your potential and existing clients.

There are specific things you can and should do to both monitor and build your reputation:

1.       Set up a Google Alert (www.google.com/alert) for your company name. You can try it with or without quotes to see what kind of results you get.

2.       While both Google and Bing have agreements to include twitter in their results, we still recommend setting up a twitter account to monitor your company name / reputation on Twitter. TweetDeck can be used to do this. Monitter.com can also be used to help you do this.

3.       When your company is mentioned online, engage with the mentioner, whether the mention is good or bad. If the comment is negative, see if there is some way you can reach out and change their mind or provide some kind of remedy.

4.       If your company isn’t mentioned or isn’t mentioned much, don’t quit. Engage and you will find that it will begin to be used.

5.       Set up a Facebook fan page for your company. Plan what you want to happen and make sure you implement your plan.

Why do it? Facebook has 300 million plus users. Twitter has around 60 million users.  You won’t find all of them becoming your customers but you will find a sizeable number that you can interact with to broaden your network.

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