First of all please accept my apologies for my absence, I had to take time of for some medical issues (everything is good) and then had to play catch-up on my client backlog.
That said, I have now been in business since 8/17/09 as www.WEBDesign-RI.com and in that time I have leaned an awful lot about being self-employed and in this time I find that I introduce my self as “a marketing guy who designs web sites”. And my philosophy is quite simple…
…A web site should be the carrier of a businesses marketing strategy.
There are many folks who can design great web sites but as there are very few who can develop a marketing strategy for a business’ web site and then execute the strategy through on-page and off-page search engine optimization, and social media marketing.
So, I now look at my fledgling business name and realize that it must change to www.webstrategicmarketing.com to play to my strengths and core-competencies. I seek clients who wish to aggressively want to marketing their business via all the tools and channels that the Internet offers.
The new site will launch during May 2010…watch this space!
If you don’t adapt, you won’t survive!
One of my new business-to-business clients was new to the world of Social Media marketing and we selected LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr (for image marketing) to get them up and running. Although we have created connectivity with other social media sites, the above 4 will be the message drivers. Once we created the accounts, we had no contacts which raised the question of ” How do I get contacts to begin networking via social media”. While the following addresses Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr the techniques pretty much apply to all social media networking. I offer the client the following which has proved to be very successful:
Step 1: Upload your contact database
The majority of the Social Media platforms import contacts from an online email accounts, so the very first step is to upload you contact database to either Google or Yahoo mail
Step 2: Invite contacts from your database to become part of your social media network, as follows:
Import contacts from: Yahoo, Gmail and AOL
Import contacts from: Yahoo, Gmail, AOL and Windows live Hotmail
Import contacts from: Yahoo, Gmail, AOL and Windows live Hotmail plus LinkedIn does permit you to upload direct from your desktop email program
Import contacts from: Yahoo, Gmail, and Windows live Hotmail
Step 3: market your social media connections
1) Complete your bios and make them appealing to your target audience
2) Encourage your followers and fans to retransmit your posts to their social media friends.
3) Your staff and personal friends can really help the cause by occasionally posting something about your business on their social media platforms
4) Link to you social media connections every where: website, email (including the email signatures of your staff), forum signatures etc
5) Include in all hard copy marketing collateral: business cards, flyers etc
Step 4: Addition Twitter specific actions
- Use hashtags e.g. #UCONN – read this blog to find out the benefits of hash tags
- Send Twitpics, photos of your products but use hashtags to identify them, in the hope that they will be retweeted which will build brand.
Once these steps have been completed we can move into the world of a paid promotional marketing strategy but I will address that in a future article.
Selecting the correct keywords to search engine optimize your web site will make or break your website’s search engine performance. You simply have get this right if you want to out perform your competition and put eyeballs onto your brand.
The first step in any web development project should not be the development of the site it should be the development of a keyword strategy.
Why? Because your key word strategy will be used :
- To select a domain name. A keyword rich domain is highly desired from a search marketing perspective
- To create web page URLs
- To name all images
- In ALT /Titles
- Anchor links
- Navigation menu items
- In heading tags
- In web page content
And, of course, the keyword strategy will be the core of each web pages’ Title/Meta Description and Meta Keywords.
Given the above, why would you start a web site project without first formulation your key word strategy?
In working with my clients I find that almost all of them ‘drink their own Kool-Aid” in that each client speaks a language of their particular industry but that language often differs from the language of their customers. Web sites must speak the language of the target customers. While attorneys make use the term “estate planning” to describe this segment of their business, the search term “wills” is much more commonly used. I am not advocating that we ignore “estate planning” but that we build the term “wills’ into the keyword strategy
This is easy to validate thanks to Google’s Ad words tool. We can use this tool to find the most popular, relevant, keyword/keyword phrases with respect to the term that you are investigate.
So, before you begin a web development project, understand the language of the target market with respect to the products and services on offer and then validate with Google Keywords tool.
Be prepared to learn new information about the language of your customers, this can be quite revealing.
My first thought about the introduction of Google Buzz was simply “Oh no, not another place to manage thoughts, links and photos.” For the social user it offers choice. For the business social media marketer, it offers additional reach. According to Mashable, Social Media networking’s #1 blog, Buzz achieved after being launched on 2/9/10, 9,000,000 posts and comments in its first three days, which is simply staggering.
As I experiment with Buzz and seek opportunities to use it to market my clients products and services, one thing become very clear very quickly and that was the power of the integration of Google gadgets and the array of Google web-based tools may make Buzz into a leading contender for a sizable slice Social Media Networking market share. My initial thoughts of Buzz being of just another place to manage information quickly passed by when I discovered this Buzz comment http://www.google.com/buzz/arimilner/EZYXB8WviwV/Buzz-has-turned-my-Gmail-into-my-social-command I found that I could integrate Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and Buzz into a single dashboard- checkout the screenshot below:
As you can see, this is my Gmail browser window but with a web portal to my Facebook page; and you can see the link to my twitter page on the lower left hand navigation sidebar.
With the mass onslaught of new entrants into the Social Media Networking market and the dilution of the marketplace with more than 300 Social Media platforms, I really do not need, nor want, another Social Media platform. However, a new product that permits fully operation, multi-Social Media dashboard is long overdue and I suspect that this is only the beginning.
So, what does my crystal ball predict for Facebook and Twitter? With such a large market share I suspect that Facebook will survive the introduction of Buzz and my rationale is that Facebook is primarily a year book, and photo album; and news sharing is not one of Facebook’s primary strengths because even the most ardent of Facebook users only update their status a few times a day. However, Buzz is primarily a news sharer with great optional extras which put’s it squarely in the same space as Twitter.
Does this mean that Buzz will replace Twitter? I think it is too early to tell after only 6 days but I would advocate that it will take significant share from Twitter.
Watch this space!
A common scenario for Google Analytics users is for a client to request access to the Analytics for their web site. Sounds like a fair request but what happens if you have multiple Google Analytics accounts? Well, the smart folks at Google have thought about this and have set up a reporting mechanism where by you can permit access for others to look at the analytics of a single site while protecting the data of others. To do this follow this process:
Step 1) You client must have an email that is associated with a Google Account, if not, set it up!!
Step 2) Open up the Google Analytics dashboard and select your clients web site, when the window opens up, select ‘User manager’
Step 3) When the user manager window opens up select ‘add user’ per below:
Step 4) Enter you client’s email address (which must be associated with a Google Account) and select ‘View reports only”
…and select ’save changes. The process is now complete.
Your client will now be able to login to Google Analytics and access analytics for their own site without being able to access the analytics of you other sites.
There is absolutely no question that in the rush to get a piece of the social media marketing market a lot of weak products are hitting the market, resulting in a saturation of social media products. There are now 300 plus product platforms that class themselves as Social Media.
I focus on what I consider to be the most important social media networking platforms and I define that in terms of the return on my invested time with respect to my business goals; and my shortlist is:
- LinkedIn personal profile: a professional network from which I have developed business wins. I only network with people I know in some prior business capacity to maintain the value of the contacts.
- LinkedIn company page: the value of this page is that it has great search engine strength and is a tactic to drive off-page SEO. I connect this blog to this page via Feedburner to ensure that the content gets updated automatically.
- Facebook personal page: while I limit this to only ‘friends, I promote my business activities occasionally. Facebook is my personal playground
- Facebook company page: this is where I use the power of Facebook to promote my business. This page is connected to Twitter, every time I post to this page it sends out a tweet.
- Twitter: I use twitter both to take part in personal micro-blogging and to promote business activities via keyword rich tweets. By doing this, I can make my tweets appear on relevant Google searches. This can be powerful if used strategically.
- Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit are used to drive the popularity of my articles , which in turn increases my off-page SEO performance.
- Tecnorati is a real-time search for user-generated media by tag or keyword. It is quite a process to get approved by Tecnorati but the effort is worth it for off-page SEO performance.
- Slideshare is used to both to share PowerPoint Presentation but it is also a great tool for the occasional time that you nave technical issues and allows you to pull us a PowerPoint on any computer with an Internet connection.
- Flickr is a platform that I recommend to my clients to undergo image-marketing program as a tactic to build brand awareness. I do not use Flickr because of the strength of my photography web site but it makes sense for my clients.
While there are hundreds more these are my platforms of choice. At the end of the day it is about return on invested time. D I believe that the status quo will prevail? Absolutely, not I suspect that the mix will change as newer, better products arrive.
To update these, I use the social media icons at the bottom of the blog entry each and every time I make a new entry. Yes, they are not just for your use.! If this is too cumbersome for you or you use many social media networking platforms then I suggest you use PING.FM – this tool, once set up, permits you to make a social media update and them broad cast it to all of your platforms with the click of a mouse. While convenient, I am not a great fan as I like to see my posts tailored for each media platform but it is nice to have a choice.
Once DandyID have gathered all of your social media accounts they provide you with a ‘How Social are you score’. I score 87/100, which is pretty high, and it appears that I am much more social than I thought that I was.
One of the great failings that I see all too often in the use of Social Media as a marketing tool, is the lack of understanding of what it can do for the organic search performance of a businesses products and services. Why? Because the Social Media user rarely looks beyond the communication services offered by the media. Take Twitter, and the world of micro-blogging as an example. The average user believes that the strength of Twitter is the ability to broadcast a marketing message or campaign to that users follows with the great desire that the campaign is so exciting that it goes viral through Retweets.
That is all well and good but Twitter, as a content-delivery media, can be hit or miss depending on how many of your followers see/read your tweets.
However, Twitter can produce high search engine rankings per this example below. I was searching for a recent photo shoot of the ‘RITCA Coaches meet’ and because I loaded these keywords into a Tweet, one of my search results came from Twitter. Great stuff!
Now that’s marketing, and it’s free! How does this work? It is simply an extension of your web site/ blog’s Internet keyword marketing strategy. Carefully craft Tweets, which include the keywords that your prospective clients will search for while using Google, Bing etc. While some of your followers may miss ‘that important Tweet’ we can use the search engines to make sure that they do not miss your marketing message.
The power of Twitter goes well beyond Tweets; it can push you up the organic search rankings.
The importance of the Title tag is one of the most effective aspects of search engine marketing but the value of the Title tag is greatly overlook and is often abused. What is the Title tag? When you log into a web site the title tag for each web page appears at the top of the browser but is most commonly noticed when seen on a search engine return page, per below (for my Sports photography web site):
The Title tag is the top line in blue. The bolded words reflect the search term used “George Ross” and this means that the most important keywords for each web page must be included in the title tag for great search engine optimization performance. It is important to state the obvious that by simply having a great, keyword rich title tag alone does not guarantee great organic search engine performance but it is a very important component of a search engine optimization strategy.
The title tag should:
- not exceed 60 characters
- include the most important key words for that web page ( every page on a site should be unique)
- include a location, if you business is regional (state or town)
Most Title tags are badly written because the importance of them is under recognized. I adjust my clients thinking by asking them to look at their own title tags and the to consider the keywords that a prospective client would use to find their business. If they match great….but they seldom match.
The title tag should be uniquely crafted for each page, it is tedious and challenging but it is an extremely effective marketing action.
The use of the title tag is considered the 4th most important aspect of search engine marketing, see this blog entry http://webdesign-ri.com/web_site_design_and_SEO_blog/2009/09/24/top-search-engine-ranking-factors/
If you ant to market your web site, embrace title tags.
There are many tools available to all for SEO and internet marketing and my primary tool is a free plug-in for Firefox...the SeoQuake toolbar.. While I do use other products and techniques to evaluate the search engine optimization of client web sites, SeoQuake is my first stop as it provide a snapshot of the key search engine parameter. These parameters are detailed below:
* Google PR
Google PageRank of current page
* Google Index
Number of indexed pages. Google version.
* Google link
Number of links, pointing to the current page. Google version (Except links from concerned domain).
* Google cachedate
Date of current Google cache.
* Yahoo Index
Number of indexed pages. Yahoo version.
* Yahoo link
Number of links, pointing to the current page. Yahoo version (Except links from concerned domain).
* Yahoo Linkdomain (LD)
Number of links, pointing to the current domain. Linkdomain (LD) operator finds pages linking to domain, as opposed to link which finds references to a single page. Yahoo version.
* Yahoo Linkdomain2 (LD2)
Number of links, pointing to the current domain (2-level domain). Linkdomain2 (LD2) operator finds pages linking to an entire domain, as opposed to linkdomain (LD) which finds references to a current domain (subdomain for example). Yahoo version.
* Yahoo Directory
Domain presence in the Yahoo Directory.
* MSN Index
Number of indexed pages . MSN version.
* MSN link
Number of links, pointing to the current page. MSN version (Except links from concerned domain).
* MSN Linkdomain (LD)
Number of links, pointed to the current domain. Linkdomain (LD) operator finds pages linking to domain, as opposed to link which finds references to a single page. MSN version.
* MSN Linkdomain2 (LD2)
Number of links, pointing to the current domain (2-level domain). Linkdomain2 (LD2) operator finds pages linking to an entire domain, as opposed to linkdomain (LD) which finds references to a current domain (subdomain for example). MSN version.
* Yandex CY
Yandex Rank of current page.
* Yandex index (russian SE)
Number of indexed pages. Yandex version.
* Yandex link
Number of links, pointing to the current page. Yandex version.
* Yandex catalogue
Domain presence in the Yandex Directory.
* Rambler index (russian SE)
Number of indexed pages. Rambler version.
* Rambler top100
Domain presence in the Rambler top100 catalogue.
* DMOZ Directory
Domain presence in the Dmoz Directory.
* Alexa Rank
Traffic estimation index
* WebArchive age
First date in Archive.org
* Del.icio.us index
Link to del.icio.us history for current url.
* Technorati index
Link to Technorati history for current url.
* Digg index
Link to Digg history for current url.
* IP lookup
Current domain IP.
* Whois link
Link to the Whois record of current domain.
* View source
Link to the source code of current web page.
* Check robots.txt
Check if robots.txt file exists and if it does show link to it.
* Page links
Dispaly quantity of internal/external links with the link to the link list.
* Baidu index
Number of indexed pages. Baidu version.
* Baidu link
Number of links, pointing to the current page. Baidu version.
* Wikipedia (EN)
Number of search results found in Wikipedia (EN)
* Ask index
Number of indexed pages. Ask version.
Number of search results found in Bloglines
I do not use all of these parameters as that would be overwhelming, so I have selected the parameters that are appropriate for my method of working. However, if none of the above parameters meet your needs SEoQuake provides a ‘custom parameters’ module. Great tool, thank you SeoQuake
Viral marketing ( sometimes called word-of-mouth marketing) is yet another buzzword which adds a little glamor to what is effectively grass-roots marketing by utilizing pre-existing WEB2.0 / Social Medium networking marketing platforms. The concept is relatively simple… market an idea to one person, that person tells 6 others, and those 6 each tell 6 others and before long we have created a very strong brand with little investment through what is called self-replicating viral processes. When it works the return on marketing investment is tremendous.
The following was ranked the # 1 viral Ad in 2008 and is a follow-up to the Budweiser Ad ‘Wassuuup’ from the turn of the decade Eight years later the director of the original, create an ad for Obama’s presidential campaign, using the same but older characters whose life had changed. Whatever your politics, the humor of the Ad pulls you in. It’s viral, it’s catchy and you want to share it with your friends.
Note – you do not have to agree with a viral ad for it to be successful, you just need to talk about it and email it to your friends, post it on blogs etc. The word quickly spreads.
With over 7 millions views on YouTube – it got everyone talking and became truly viral.