Showing posts with label Website. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Website. Show all posts

27 August 2010

1 How Google's Page Rank is like High School

High School. No matter how far we go in life the lessons we learned there seem destined to stick with us. It didn't matter if you attended a private school on the east side of Manhattan, a rural school in Montana or a public high school in the heart of Houston they all had their jocks, their slackers/stoners, the band, the click, and tons of other niches. This classification system was universal, so what better way to explain Google's Page Rank then to take us back to high school? That's exactly what Zippycart did. So put on your letterman jacket, grab the pom-poms or tuba case, a settle in for a little lesson high school style.

 Click image to view full size.

(image courtesy of State of Search)

26 July 2010

1 Case Study: Effectiveness of Regular Blogging

As an Account Manager I spend a lot of time talk to client about investing in their marketing plans and efforts. It’s a well known Catch 22 that to make money, you have to spend some money. But what do you do when your budgets are a little strained?

Recently an SEO client that I’ve been working with was having this same problem. Their Page 1 listings were slowly decreasing as other plastic surgeons in the area began to increase their online marketing efforts. Unfortunately, the client didn’t have the financial resources at the time to invest in their own online marketing efforts. I had to come up with a very low cost option for helping boost their website’s positioning.

The Blogging Strategy
After several discussions with the client, a Pittsburgh breast surgery office, I came up with a plan that would allow the client to generate significant content by answering typical questions about the procedures and services the practice offered. The blog was also removed from the website and housed on a different URL to enhance the inbound link building efforts. I generated a list of over 80 common questions for the client to work from. The client and his patient coordinator submitted 1 paragraph answers to the questions, the blog text was linked back to the website and the blog posts were scheduled out for posting at the rate of one per day.

The Results
We began the new strategy in May and by July we have seen a significant increase not only in the website’s search positioning, but also the conversions and unique visitors!

This strategy isn't limited to blogging questions. It can be applied to blogging in general. The key is to provide consistent quality blogging with targeted link building tactic. If your looking for a way to boast SEO results consider giving it a try. It doesn't matter if you are a plastic surgeon, a non-profit, a B2B, a marketing agency or any other type of business. Blog about what you know on a regular basis and take advantage of scheduling tools to keep your posting consistent.

28 June 2010

1 A Marketing Lesson from the Mexican Street Vendors

Recently I was speaking to a colleague about her trip down to Mexico. Eventually our conversation came around to the plethora of street vendors that you inevitably run into in any tourist district when something she said hit me as profound and honestly smart marketing at the simplest level: “Everywhere I walked people would yell ‘Hey there, you honeymooners!’ and even once ‘Hey, you, the Broncos fans!’”

Lesson: Know your audience. Pay attention and look for clues. 
These street vendors weren’t relying on simply standing around waiting for someone to come to them. They were seeking their potential customers out, but more importantly they were paying attention to clues about their potential customers.

It’s marketing 101, however all too often I see businesses forget this step. They get wrapped up in getting out their message and forget that if you want to get someone’s attention and appeal to them, first you have to know something about them!

In my colleague’s case their clues were fairly simple to ascertain. Her and her companion are in their mid-twenties, holding hands, grinning at each other constantly and sporting shiny new rings.  Honeymooners wasn’t really a stretch of a guess in their case. As for the broncos fans bit, her husband had just purchased a Broncos poncho and was still holding it in his hand. But the vendors didn’t stop looking for clues there. One was smart enough to take in their dress, recent purchases and what the vendor had seen them looking at in one of the other kiosks to draw their attention to specific wares that he had for sale. By paying attention and applying what he learned (saw) he made the sale.  

Putting Theory to Work:
Here are a two quick online marketing and social media tips for putting this theory to work.
Pay attention to your Google Analytics. What pages on your website are your visitors hitting more often and spending the most time on? This can help you pinpoint what you have to offer that potential clients are the most interested in and also what areas of your business you may need additional efforts to effectively promote.

Pay attention to your fans & followers interests. Most people’s social media accounts are brimming with information that will clue you in about them. For example, take your Twitter followers: What are they tweeting on? Who are they following? Same goes for Facebook, only here your fans give you their information on a platter. Browse their information page.

A Social media Success Story: 
Recently I discussed this strategy with a plastic surgeon client of mine. After taking some time to view his fans’ profiles we found an interesting trend, over half of his fans were also fans of Grey’s Anatomy. Since offering discounts on his services wasn’t really feasible or significant enough to drive interest, we took to using a Grey’s Anatomy DVD giveaways of the latest season to encourage fans to recommend his page to friends and engage in conversations on his fan page. The results? He saw an almost 60 percent increase in on page activity and almost tripled his fan base. The best part is he continued to experience significant page activity after the giveaway by engaging fans in topics that were in the show, giving his opinion, asking for their's and sprinkling in a little self promoting information along the way.  

17 June 2010

0 A New Website Face Lift

Hollywood celebrities aren’t the only ones who should consider a face lift to stay competitive. Your business or organization should too! We live in an age where technology rules. Your public - be it investor, customer, potential employee, blogger, media, or competitor –can find a wealth of information on your organization in minutes thanks to the internet and our good buddies at Google. More often than not your own website will be one of those information stops on the internet highway. Do you really want the virtual face of your business to be circa 2002?

This is an exact conversation that I had with a legal client recently. While my work day is spent online, I realize not everyone’s is, least of all my client’s. And really 2002 wasn’t that long ago, so you may wonder, how could their website be that out of date? But if we take a trip in the way back machine you’ll learn that in 2002 the average screen size was 800x600, today the average monitor displays 1280x1084 or greater! The average screen displayed 65,536 different colors, today’s monitors display over 16 million. Those are huge differences!

Now consider that the majority of websites were designed in tables and any form of dynamic flash element was still relatively new. Not to mention the world had yet to even hear of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or even the Motorola Razr. Considering this how can one of the top birth injury legal firms in the U.S. realistically expect to stand out and catch a web user’s attention with a website from 2002? They can’t.
While the niche website was bringing in a significant number of new visitors a month, between 900-1,300, it wasn’t keeping them. By early 2010 the website was averaging a bounce rate of roughly 70% with users visiting an average of 1.67 pages and staying on the site for approximately 58 seconds. Incoming web leads were almost nonexistent. It was apparent that something about the site wasn’t appealing to them. It was easy to figure out what was most likely the cause – the design. The website was designed sometime in 2002 and gave the initial impression of an amateur parenting advice site run by an internet newbie in 2002, not a leading New York City law firm in 2010.

The Before Design

Last month we rolled out the new website. The client was adamant about avoiding flash. They didn’t want it to look too “lawyery”, but sharp, clean and professional. I’m very happy with the results of the new design, as is my client, but most importantly so do users. Over the last three weeks we seen a significant increase in the time users are spending on the website and how many are pages they are visiting. (I’ll post again when I have more concrete stats.)

The New Design

Notes on a Few Features to Check Out
1. The header image  - This image consistently changes as you click to other pages of the website. If you return to the site another time (or hit refresh) the image you see may not be what you saw the first time.
2. The internal page images - By far one of my favorite elements of the website. The designer incorporated Web 2.0 technology to bring the images out to the user, if they want to take a closer look, in a very professional presentation. (Pictured below, but for the full effect you have to see the live thing here)  

Take a closer look at the after design for Trief & Olk’s Erb’s Palsy Info site.

10 May 2010

0 Google's Sponsored Local Listings – Is it right for You?

Sponsored local listings are nothing new. Citysearch and Yellow Pages have been offering them for years. But now search engine companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Recently Google announced it was expanding its “enhanced local listings” feature adding to Houston and San Jose, CA, its initial two trial markets. The enhanced listings are now available in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.

What is it?
Google's sponsored listings are essentially an opportunity to call attention to your business's local listing by tagging it. The cost for a sponsored listing is a flat monthly fee of $25. The business can choose from one of seven types of “tags” that are drawn from content in the Google Place listing. Throughout the month the business can change up the tag as many times as they want. Businesses can choose from:

Here are a few examples of what a sponsored listing would look like.

Is it Right for You?
With over 20 percent of Google’s online searches being done for local services, I think the new enhanced listings could be very beneficial to businesses, especially if you’re in a very competitive industry or market. Before jumping in head first and buying the tags, I recommend strategically thinking about what you want to accomplish and what sets you apart from the competition.

Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Does your website not show up on the first page of the organic listings? Then use the website “tag”. But it’s important to make sure your website is presenting the best face possible for your business. If your website is significantly dated or lacks in substance, you may be doing yourself more harm than good by calling attention to it. However, if you have an informative, aesthetically appealing website I highly recommend highlighting it.

Do you have custom video footage of your services or compelling client testimonials? Do you have a great deal running right now?  Do you notice that you spend a significant amount of time giving clients directions to your office? You may want to consider using one of the other tags instead. Google tracks the number of clicks your tag receives so you’re able to track the effectiveness of the tag you use through the Google Place dashboard. You can easily switch up the tag you use from month to month to see which is most effectively meeting your goals.

07 May 2010

0 Google Universal Search & Real Time Search – What Are They?

Recently I’ve spoken to a few clients who have had questions about Google’s Universal Search and Real Time Search. With all the new features and applications that Google has recently rolled out it can easily get confusing as to what each feature does, and, more importantly, how it will affect your internet marketing strategies.

Universal Search
Google’s new Universal Search incorporates listings from its news, local, images, videos, book and blog search engine results into it standard organic website search listings. Now when you do a search on Google you may see results from more than one of these areas along with the regular website listings. Think of this as Google’s way of cutting back on the clicks necessary to find what the searcher may be looking for.

Below is an example search I did for Cosmetic Surgery. Instead of only seeing listings for websites, Google has incorporated news results, local businesses, blog posts and book results along with the regular website results!

Real Time Search
Google’s new Real Time Search automatically pulls in new results as they happen. These results are displayed in a “Latest results” area. The feed will constantly stream new results while the user is viewing their search results. Results are pulled from Twitter, Facebook, Google’s News and Blog searches, new web pages, recently updated web pages, MySpace updates, Google Buzz and a number of other social networking sites.

However, the Real Time Search feature will not always appear in your search results. For the Latest Results section to appear there must be a real-time component to the search topic. If Google recognizes a sudden spike in queries or information for a certain topic, then this section will be activated. The results are ranked by time, site authority and relevancy to the topic.

For example, on the day I did this search Jason Elam had just announced his retirement from the Denver Broncos. Since this is a significantly newsworthy topic (especially if you are in the Denver area like I am) the Real Time Search feature appeared in the results (see below for example). It continued to scroll new results as they were generated and pulled in. When I searched for Jason Elam today, the Real Time Search feature no longer appears since there is no longer a relevant buzzworthy topic related to him.

What Does It Mean For Your Business?
With both of these new features you have an opportunity to gain more significantly more exposure for your business. Want to increase your chances in showing up in the Real Time Search? Then, if there is a specific topic that is gaining considerable attention in your industry, regional area, etc. discuss it in on your social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, or write a blog about it. If your blog and social accounts continually have content relevant to your industry, it’s very likely that each is already acknowledged by the search engines as being focused on specific topics concerning your industry. Continue to post relevant topics on a regular basis, build your authority and utilize that to your advantage.

Google’s Universal Search also opens up plenty of new opportunities for increasing your business’s online exposure. This search silos information from multiple search areas. Not only could your website appear in the search listings, but your business’s videos, images, news, blogs, local listing and social networking pages could also appear! You can easily increase your chances of being found by utilizing these different areas. Have business videos? Post them on YouTube. Have a blog? Register it with the blog search engines. Also, consider how you name the images on your website and what keywords are in their tags. You can further increase your exposure by verifying and optimizing your local business listing, as well as developing a social networking presence.

Below is an example of a search I did for one of my clients, Dr. Terry Bass a cosmetic dentist in Oklahoma City. Not only does his website appear in the organic listings on the first page, but so do his Facebook page and his YouTube videos!
With the one stop shopping method that Google has embraced your business isn’t limited to being found only through its website anymore. Consider expanding your business’s existing online marketing presence and exploring new areas to increase traffic and exposure. After all, the first step in connecting with your customers is to be found!

27 April 2010

0 Welcome the AP style guide to 2000s

As with any official change, it's taken a long time but the AP style guide has finally entered into the new century. We can now officially call it a "website" instead of "Web site" and be grammatically correct!  In honor I'm officially changing all of my tags.

12 January 2010

0 The Site of Your Company Clients Should See

One of the things I've noticed that numerous advertising and public relations agencies have in common isn't the stellar amount of client work plastering the walls or the staff frantically measuring their billable hours, but more often than not they lack self marketing. An agency's main purpose is to sell, promote and increase awareness of its client's services or products, however many agencies forget to truly market themselves on the most used information avenue, the internet.

You may be thinking hold on just a minute. I have a Web site. It is visually creative. And it has a blog.  All of that is well and good, however what is the Web site saying about your agency? What can you do for my company? Why should I hire you? Here are three internet marketing elements that as an agency, you may want to rethink:

Design + Functionality
How dare I ask you to reconsider your Web site’s design! After all you are a creative agency and the Web site reflects that creativity! Stop for a second and rethink that statement. What is wrong with it? That is right; nowhere in that statement does it consider the site’s primary user, prospective clients. 

The Web site is an introduction to the agency itself. Sure it should show that you are creative, but it should also be highly functional. As a prospective client I should be able to find the information I’m looking for. Don’t make me hunt for it. I’m more likely to leave the site than spend the time trying to figure out what is going on there. Before you add tons of flash, widgets or forty little buttons I can click on but can’t figure out what they are right away, consider your audience.

Sure. You’ve got that covered. Look at all of your ingenious work. Next topic please. But wait a minute. Stop and think about the user again. What do they want to know? What do you have to offer? What are your expertise? Have you ever worked with companies like me before? Who are you? Why are you the best for the job? 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love seeing the work that an agency has done for its clients, but I want to know what you can do for me as a client too. I want to know that you will take the time to understand my brand, my business and my consumers. Show me why I should pick you.

You may have a great Web site, beautifully designed and full of information about what you do for your clients and what you can do for prospective clients. Wonderful! Now your website has to be accessible. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. By optimizing your website you insure that your prospective clients can find your agency. 

Please note that effective SEO is not a one time and we are done thing. Optimization needs care and attention. To be effective it makes sense to hirer another company to assist in your SEO campaign if you do not have someone on staff that specializes in it. 

The internet is the first medium prospective clients turn to for information, so if they are looking for more information on your agency and what it can done it stands to reason that the Web site will be their first in-depth look at your agency. Show your website and agency marketing strategies the same care and attention that you show your clients.