3 Internet Marketing Research Tips

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Measuring Your Statistics

I’ve always followed the concept of what gets measured is what gets done. I also follow John C. Maxwell’s leadership newsletter and this last newsletter included this quote from Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

So what’s my point? The beauty of the Internet is that it is like one huge database. The problem with the Internet is that it is like one huge database. A while back I was talking with a potential client about what to measure with the statistics on his web site. He wanted to measure everything. While possible, that isn’t practical. Of what value is there in tracking, for example, how many 206 error codes you get on your site? Anybody out there know what a 206 error is? Those of you who just said yes are web techs. But for a business owner, that information isn’t a useful metric to determine the success of the site or the business.

What statistics are useful? We have five key stats we follow for our customers but what statistics are useful depends on what your goal is. Rarely do I find a customer whose goal is really to be ranked number one for a key word or key phrase. What they really want is to get more customers for their business and see having a high ranking for their key phrases as one of the means towards reaching that goal. So if you try to measure everything, you’ll likely just end up confused. Here are the five web site statistics that we recommend tracking:

  1. Number of Visits
  2. Pages Visited (in order of number of visits)
  3. Search Engine Referrals
  4. Key Phrases Searched For
  5. Backlinks

Of course, if you need assistance understanding these, EduCyber’s Search-Friendly Hosting is probably just the thing for you.

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Understanding Social Media

Social Media: What is it?

One of the biggest “buzzes” in the internet right now is Social Media. But what is this phenomenon known as social media? It’s simple really.

When the Internet was in its infancy, web pages were pretty much static. That is, they didn’t change. The code on the page was hard coded and everyone who came to visit saw the same thing. The media of the day decried that the Internet would just drive us each into our own worlds, drive us away from each other.

Then people began to see how databases could be harnessed to provide live data and even to interact with each other. Larger businesses began to provide database connectivity to share information with their customers and visitors. People found this to be very useful and started to get more “into” it.

Then the Internet left its infancy. I would say it is still in its adolescence but at this time it is changing and growing in all kinds of unexpected ways. The naysayers often say a new technology is going to drive us away from each other but there is a deep need in every human to connect with others.

Social Media web sites provide this kind of connection. MySpace was the first social oriented web site to grab the attention of pretty much the whole Internet. While it still is an important site that is used by a wide variety of people, it is viewed by many to be the site where garage bands and their groupies meet. This, by the way is inaccurate as the average age of users in the mid 30’s.

A site that has really captured the attention of people young and old is Facebook. Facebook started as a way for college students to connect and get to know one another but rapidly moved from college to high school to anyone over the age of 13. It is now used by people all over to engage in both fun and business. This election season there were all kinds of groups created by people who favor one candidate over another, one issue over another or one cause over another.

I even spent the better part of an hour this afternoon catching up with an old friend who created a Facebook account and happened to be on Facebook at the same time I was – yes there is a chat feature on Facebook that lets people communicate in real time. I’ve also connected with an old flame from college – just to touch base mind you, and reconnected with some high school friends.

But Facebook is more than a social network. It is also a way to find partners, employees, work and customers. As a technology professional, I belong to a couple of networks through Facebook that are specifically for technology and entrepreneurs. One of the nicest parts about the web is that we aren’t limited by geography. I can connect with people in Asia, Europe, California, across town or just down the street.

Another very useful social networking site is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is designed for business. Business people sign up for an account and can connect with other business people. The LinkedIn concept is based on the premise that if I have, for example, 30 contacts in my network and each of my contacts also has around 30 people in their network, I suddenly have access to 900 people and that is just within one degree or one contact away. Move out two or three more degrees and you find yourself with 1000s of people within your network and it only takes an invitation or introduction to find the person you want to contact.

As social media has grown up, Facebook has morphed into an application that lets you do business, have fun, or get involved. And LinkedIn has grown into an application that lets you connect with classmates from long ago (or right now) and get involved in affinity groups not having anything to do with business.

Businesses and individuals alike should look into how they can leverage social media networks to improve their business or expand their prospects.

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Beginner’s Guide to SEO

I’ve been surprised lately about the widely different ideas that customers bring to the table about what SEO is. Search Engine Optimization is, in a nutshell getting your site optimized for the search engines.

One of the first things I ask clients is where they’ve used the key words they think they’re targeting on their site. And I’m often met with a long blank stare. Oh, yeah. If you want to be ranked for a key word or key phrase, you have to use that key phrase on your site. Upon reflection it is obvious but not quite so obvious that you need to actually use the key phrases in the content of your site.

Once you’ve made sure you’ve included key phrases in the content, you can also make sure that you’ve included alt text for each image on your site. Yes, each and every image should have alt text and the alt text is a ripe opportunity to use your key phrases.

Another easy step is to use the key phrases in the title tag of the site. I explained this in a previous post on Title Tags for Web Sites but it is often overlooked. Don’t use tags like Welcome or About Us. Instead use titles that help both visitors and search engines understand what your site is about.

???? ??? ????Hyperlink key phrases to other pages. One of the things that search engines really like is to see what text is used to hyperlink to other pages. Instead of linking Click Here to the page with more content, use More information on how to sell books on Amazon (if you help people sell books on Amazon) or Handle your dental needs in one visit (if you are a Dental office offering Oral Sedation Dentistry).

SEO isn’t as difficult as some might make it seem but it does take time and it does take staying abreast of the latest trends and techniques. If you’re not sure how to proceed, call EduCyber at 303-268-2245 for assistance.

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5 Key Web Site Statistics

There are five key web site statistics that every web site owner should pay close attention to:

  1. How many visitors? People used to get all excited about hits but you could easily have 100 hits from one visitor. The number of visitors though (usually tracked by unique IP addresses) gives you a really good idea of whether you’re getting the kind of traffic you need.
  2. What pages are people looking at? If you don’t know what’s popular on your site, you don’t know how to make it better. If a page other than your home page is more popular, you might have managed to get it ranked well in the search engines – another good thing to know.
  3. What search engines are sending people to your site and how many are they sending? With Google fielding around 75% of ALL searches, you typically get the most visits from Google. If you’re not, you can learn why and determine whether that is a good thing or not.
  4. What terms people are searching for when they get to your site? If you sell computers and find that people are searching for hair spray when they click through to your site, you’ve got a problem. If on the other hand, they are searching for motherboard, that is a good thing.
  5. What other sites are linking to your site? Google (and other search engines) love it when other sites are linking to your site. So the more sites that link to you, the better – at least if they’re the right kind of links.

You need to know these statistics to make informed decisions about your site. Do you know these?

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Google Continues to Dominate Search

According to Hitwise, last month Google accounted for nearly 68% of all search in the US. Wow. And if you compare the April numbers to March or to April of last year, you see that they are expanding their dominance.  That is the phenomenal part. Typically if a company creates a new niche and dominates it, other companies come in later to cash in on the good times and in the process they steal some of the market share. Google just keeps growing their share of the market.

Can you image what it would be like to “own” your industry or niche like that? Yahoo has less than 21% of the market (which is still pretty hefty) and MSN has fallen to less than 6.5% of the search market. Ask, while holding a smaller share, continues to grow their share. With Google and Ask expanding, MSN and the rest of the search engines are “taking it on the chin”.

Why do you think Google just keeps grabbing more of the market?

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