It’s reassuring, that even though some businesses out there are slow to improve their websites or their online marketing toolset, the trend is slowly but surely shifting. While still only a fraction of the marketing dollars spent out there, the numbers are showing that around 17% of most businesses marketing budgests are being spent on online marketing. Any positive growth is good for everyone involved.
A great graphic depicting some of these changes has been put together, which outlines some of the changes coming about in the marketing world. In the US, 70% of the businesses out there have indicated that they will be increasing spending on social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and 64% also chimed in to add their budget is increasing for SEO as well. With consumers spending more and more time searching online for their next purchase, it’s much more advantageous to get into the game now, as opposed to later. The longer you wait, the greater your costs are going to be. Surprisingly however, it came back that 17% of businesses out there planned on increasing their marketing budgets on print media, which is much like buying stock in Yahoo these days. I kid, I kid, all jokes aside however, almost anyone out there who has a job has access to the internet. It should be no surprise that on average people spend 3+ hours browsing the internet. 84% of people who use the internet, spend their time searching for information on what has caught their interest, there are billions of searches per day.
There’s a great deal more information which can be gleaned from the stats, have a look and take a moment to conisder your marketing plans. Are you on the side of innovation and forward thinking? Or trying to cling to an outdated, unmeasurable stand by. Just remember that the longer you wait, the more difficult the game becomes.
There has been blogs written many times about the cost of SEO and about how the return on investment is one of the highest in the marketing industry, there are times when optimization is just not in the budget. Whether you’re a brand new business with little to no marketing capital, or perhaps an aging business that needs to completely rework your advertising and marketing campaigns. Don’t fret however if you can’t pour vast amounts of money into organic SEO, there are still a couple of tricks you can do which can at least help you in your local marketplace.
First off, if you have a business, then you’ll have a name for it. There are a few free avenues you can explore to begin promoting yourself to your local area and if done right, your name will spread. Facebook, while primarily a social location for friends and families also has their own business listings. Instead of creating a personal profile, you create a business page with which you can begin to share information with your customers and clients in an open format. Within Facebook as well, you can use paid advertisements which will display on profiles which are interested in your business. Pre-qualified traffic can go a long way to helping your bottom line. The ad placements within Facebook do have a cost however, but the page listing does not.
Also tieing in with the free angle, using a Twitter account can be a creative way to send out advertisements for flash sales or discounts to your subscribers. Frequently updating your sales or hosting a conversation in your stream is a free way to generate buzz about your business and your products.
If you find that the information you need or want to share with your customers is too long for Twitter, having a branded blog is a great step forward to get the word out. Use your blog to promote new products which need a description, or a place to layout the details of an upcoming contest or sale. A blog is a free, simple way to get stories out to your current and future customer base.
Continuing in the realm of free, be sure to also create your Google Places page. Creating a quality page with all of your relevant location and contact information can place you within the organic search listings should you be part of the search terms entered. The Places pages are displayed just as the Google Maps listings used to be, typically at the top of the organic listings with their identifiable red arrow markings.
Those are only a handful of the free local advertising tools you can use as a business owner. When you’ve generated the traffic and are starting to improve your bottom line that’s when it’s time to take the plunge and invest in a quality built website and start building your brand on a wider scale.
Let us partake in a litmus test, if you don’t know what that is here’s a very basic definition for you : A test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision. So here’s the question to answer: Do you have a website for your business? If the answer is yes then the answer to this next question is yes as well; you need to have a solid SEO plan in place.
It’s not voodoo or black magic, it’s not about putting videos up on Youtube and tweeting to your Facebook fans (that’s social marketing and it works as well) SEO is about making the search engines love your website. SEO is about telling the world that “Yes I am the authority on <your niche> in <your location>. I can take care of all of your needs.”
Now here comes the tricky part, there are some simple things you’re going to need to come to grips with when it comes to search engine optimization. The number one point you need to realize is: SEO costs money. Who’d have thought that having someone go through your website, clean up it’s code, properly build it’s navigation and make it faster online would cost money! It’s like putting a new engine in your car, if you’re incapable of putting the hours and skills into doing the work yourself, you’re better off paying the professionals. Even those very simpe steps I mentioned can help to increase traffic and visitors to your website. Another extremely important point, arguably the most important, SEO is not an instant quick fix to your search rankings. It takes time to re-tune your website, update the content and clean the code. After all of that the spiders need to come and crawl your site and decide if it’s better than the last one you had and how you would stack up against your peers now. You could be re-indexed in a day, you could be re-indexed in 2 weeks. You may be on page 6 when you started your campaign and after first pass you’re up to page 3, while not the page 1 where all of the action is you’ve literally improved 100% from where you previously were. The most common metric we tell our clients new and old is, you’ll begin to see significant long lasting results in a 6 month plus time frame.
Enough of those two big scary ideas (money and time), lets talk more about what’s going to happen to your website once you’re up in the rankings. Sitting on page 1 enjoying all of the new visitors you’re receiving, you need to begin to take a good hard look at your home page. Traffic is useless without a conversion of some sort. Sign up for my newsletter, subscribe to our coupon book, buy our product. You need a call to action on your website where visitors arrive. Because if people show up to the party and there’s no party, then the visit was wasted.
To recap: SEO will cost you money and it will take time. Once your campaign is in full swing, breakdown your website and determine your call to action on your landing page. Because without these 3 key understandings, it doesn’t matter if you’re number 1 on the SERPs, or number 1000.
What is a domain name worth? well the average price of a .COM domain name is $2,595, according to a study released last week that analyzed 10,608 domain sales during the first quarter of 2011.
Buy your Domain Today
This could be pretty useful information for digital marketers out there to work into their budgets, but more importantly, they should look at the overall value that a domain provides because the return on investment can be fairly substantial.
Domain names are a pretty basic tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal and should be a main component of any campaign, brand management strategy, product marketing strategy, or even an SEO strategy. However, their importance is often overlooked and can sometimes be cast aside due to the sticker shock of how much the right name costs.
Domains have been sold for $13 and for $13 million, but if you consider the average price, it’s a reasonable investment in the grand scheme of a marketing budget. To put it in a brick-and-mortar perspective that most anyone can understand, $2,600 is roughly the cost of a vinyl sign or display booth, making it a very reasonable investment for most companies.
Another thing to remember is that a domain is an investment, The money you spend upfront on a domain will pay dividends in the traffic it helps generate, but it’s also an asset that will appreciate in value over time. According to the same market study that benchmarks domain transactions, the average price of a .COM increased 9 percent from the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.
We often take domains for granted because they’ve become a part of every day life, but they’re a valuable tool for driving traffic, and in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Short and memorable domains can make your site easier to find for new and returning customers; keyword domains can improve SEO and reduce the money you spend on SEM; domains that define a category can capture natural type-in traffic. With the right strategy, domains prove their value many times over.
You only get one domain name, when it’s gone, it’s gone. Securing your business or personal domain name should be one of the first things you do online for Branding, Marketing & Sales.
If you require help securing a domain name for your business or to check out our stable of branded domains, call us today 1.866.259.2483 or drop us a line, we would be happy to help.
There are risks and rewards to be found for your business in any advertising avenue, when you get to the bottom line you need to weigh the costs versus the return on the investment. And while some of the oldest marketing tricks in the book still work, like television, radio and newspaper. The simple truth is, less and less people are buy newspapers, watching television or listening to the radio.
Consumers are beginning to PVR their favorite shows, skipping the commercials and spending their time watching the content they want to see. Newspapers, once one of the largest staples of information, readership has been steadily dropping as more and more people get their news from an online source whether it’s via their computer or even a smart phone. Radio is starting to show some declines as commuters plug in their portable music devices and tune into their own music libraries. Online advertising is still in its infancy here in Canada especially and it’s painful to see when businesses and organisations just flat out refuse to listen to the evolving market.
Here in however, also lies a problem in and of itself. When you’re making that step online, who do you turn to for help? There’s no SEO club, there’s no secondary education available in a formal schooling to teach people how to effectively code online for optimization. We don’t carry cards, we don’t have a monthly news letter and we most certainly do not all fit into the same basket. So what is there you can do to ensure that the “expert” that you’ve hired is the real deal?
You can start at the beginning, asking for such things as previous clients and how their rankings were affected. You can search for their website using keywords you would expect them to be optimized for. Touting themselves as a PPC expert? Google them. Search for them on Bing, Google, Yahoo, pick your engine and scour away. If you’ve found that you’ve hired someone selling themselves as an expert and all they do is build you a Facebook account and a Twitter account, then don’t worry you still have time to get into the game. But don’t be fooled, your competitors are playing the same game as you, and if they started before you, they have the lead however temporary. To catch up, you’ll need to play harder, faster and better than everyone else.
There’s a million and one ways to make yourself found online, local, mobile, social, organic, ppc and within each of these there are countless other methods to work on. Let’s start with the assumption that you’ve followed all of the best practices when it comes to building your website.
You’ve used CSS and XML to create a uniform and attractive look. Used even simple things such as a doctype to tell your browser what it is that it’s reading. Creative, compelling content with a strong call to action which drives your visitors to buy your product, sign up for your news letter or forum and continue visiting your pages. Your images are tagged, your categories are tagged, you’ve worked hard at being the best in your niche market and are steadily enjoying the growing fruits of your labor. And then you learn, there is more which you can do to increase your traffic flow, visibility and as a result, improve your bottom line.
There’s always more which can be done in marketing yourself online, more steps which you can take to become more visible. That step you’ve taken to tag all of your images on your website properly? Congratulations, by taking a very simple step you’ve helped increase your visibility in the image searchs in both Bing and Google. With properly tagged and titled images, it helps your customers reach your site when you have clear pictures for your product to be seen.
Another strong step is issuing news about your company consistently. Whether you’ve closed that massive new merger which will allow you to double production or support, or even if all you’ve done is decided to hold a spring cleaning sale. It’s important to remain active in the eyes of your customer. This is where a blog is an amazing tool for your business, both small and large. It’s an ideal space for all of the aforementioned releases, as well as a location for your clients and customers to reply to your posts and even suggest improvements if some are needed in their eyes.
If you’ve cornered your niche market, and created your very own brand image offline, it’s extremely important to continue that leverage online. As an example, it wouldn’t do Pepsi or Coca-Cola any good to have direct queries for their brand name, direct users to competitors websites. It’s lost revenue and a lost avenue for income.
And if you provide a product or a service which has many steps or intricacies, it only helps your case to develop your very own how to pages on your website. If you provide a specific style of door knocker as an example, providing clear and concise directions on your website on how to install and care for your product can help instantly transform a curious searcher, into a new customer.
With the rapid advancement of the web, the technologies that control it and the methods that people interact with it, it makes me wonder sometimes what’s going to happen by 2020.
*cue time warp*
Your morning might be something like while getting ready for work, you’re receiving all of your local newsfeeds directly to your 3D/Holo television already sorted and delivered relevant to your interests. News snippets, weather announcements followed by sports results all fully controllable should you desire more information. The commute to work, in a hands free car navigating itself to your meetings. No one works in offices anymore, the instant web and cloud offices makes physical locations a throwback to the previous centuries way of doing business.
With cloud computing being fully integrated into mainstream business, social and common use, communication has never been simpler, or faster. Terabit internet in the sprawling cities ensures that there’s always enough bandwidth. And for those with pockets full of money, neural interactivity direct to a focusing lens you wear like glasses; providing a vast, interactive surface with which to work and play.
Online search, commerce and social activities will most likely be completely merged; think of a mega company the likes of a Google and Facebook merger. We’ll call it GoogleBook. A complete portal, with news, social feeds from friends and family, shopping via search and instant messaging for friends, family and clients. Micro-blogging sites like Twitter, would be absorbed and added to the already potent offerings provided by such a massive company. The idea of privacy online has matured and changed with the baby boomer generation gone offline to relax in peace, and the tech savvy information generation coming into it’s prime as the dominant work force population.
The web will be faster, cleaner and more relevant to each individual as the Google algorithm, Facebook social algorithm, and the Amazon shopping algorithm all become written together into a do it all super algorithm. With signing in online, it will deliver the content you’re interested in, show you what your friends have been doing the last few days and find the local best deals for the new television you were thinking of buying.
*end time warp*
It’s going to be an exciting time to be online, even in the next few years let alone in the next 10. The web and it’s technologies are growing at an exponential rate, what we’ve learned and discovered over the last 25 years online, will be doubled in the next 3-4 years; and then that time will be cut again and again. Until discoveries are coming at such a rate, that it’ll be expected to have new tech every week, instead of every couple of months.
You could also subscibe to the theory that it’s game over in December 2012 as well. No one knos what’s to come in the next few days, let alone years. Here’s hoping the web continues to grow, mature and evolve as quickly as it has been.
And with the Happy New Year celebrations behind us all, it’s that time again where people make those resolutions to themselves to lose weight, be a happier person, exercise more etc. The very nature of resolutions is a noble one, but unfortunately most people shoot too high, disappoint themselves for not being able to perform or maintain and end up quitting all together. The best method, is baby steps of course.
Of course I can’t tell you if you need to exercise more, or eat better, but I can promise that if you take baby steps involved with your online marketing, you will see results, and results which will leave you very happy and in a very strong position for the next holiday shopping spree.
Your first baby step, should involve actually breaking down your current online agenda. Is your website up to date? Has your site been built with tons of active elements like Flash or Java menus? Is it easy to navigate your website? It’s hard, but try and imagine visiting your website for the first time as a new visitor, can you find information quickly and easily? It’s a small, but extremely important step in reprioritizing your online efforts in the new year. If you can realize what needs to be fixed after all, you can move forward with confidence.
Your next step, after having a good honest look at your website, should be a stark examination of your current online marketing efforts. Are you an AdWords afficionado? Does your web copy read naturally, or is it full of technical jargon about your product or services? It’s a fine line to sell yourself online to new clients, you need to be able to explain yourself as simply as possible, as accurate and concise as can be.
Now that you have a clear staging point from which to begin, it’s time to bring in the experts. SEO and online marketing experts at Fresh Traffic draw on over 25 years of experience in providing Search Engine Optimization & Internet marketing solutions. As specialists in Online Brand Development & Search Engine Optimization, Fresh Traffic makes the Internet an accessible & successful addition to all businesses, driving more unique visitors & brand impressions to websites. We’re the best at bringing you the traffic you desire to your site, start the new year right and let 2011 be your best online year yet.
We’ve had this talk before. Your slow, stubborn, and deliberate march to an out dated drum beat has to change. The reason? The rest of the world dropped that same beat for a more up beat tune a good 5, if not 10 years ago.
An article printed today about the past year in local business irked me. The overtones of the article reeked of ‘..can’t change it, it’s Winnipeg..’ and that’s just the wrong idea. There was very little in the way of positive news in the article, and the surprise feigned at the end of the article? Either poorly placed, or the article was written over a number of days. It’s not a badly written article, it lists what’s happened in the cities business sector in 2010 in a broad spectrum. Talking about the stadium, the bankrupcy protection of CanWest, CentrePort and a few others. Speaking of how the Yes! Winnipeg is boasting about $1.4 billion in economic activity and new jobs over the next 5 years, how CentrePort is doomed? to slow growth because, hey, it’s Winnipeg.
I don’t pretend to understand the best ways to prod a city to economic boom, but I do understand that this pace needs to change. Why does CenterPort have to grow slowly? The actual verbiage tied to CentrePort alone was “..this is Winnipeg; slow and steady is the best kind of growth we can hope for at CentrePort.” About the Yes! Winnipeg “initiative” possibly attracting only 1(!!) new business to Winnipeg. Saying that it’s the private sector group that has a vested interest in the growth of the city’s economy and that the public sector could learn from them. I’m sorry, but the private sectors growth just doesn’t cut it in this world.
The image in my mind when I read the article, was an old study, full of large, overstuffed old men. Cigar smoke hanging in the air, brandy on the tables, and doing nothing. Playing politics and not doing anything to encourage the city to the greatness it should have. We’re at the geographic center of North America for crying out loud. Any company that requires any distribution of any kind should be banging down our doors to have a warehouse here. The idea that “..this is Winnipeg; slow and steady is the best kind of growth we can hope for..” needs to change.
In the past, the most natural way for a small business to grow was with a solid reputation within it’s community. Spending a little cash here and there for a mail stuffer, newspaper ad and the obligatory ad in the yellow pages. The hard work, strong ethics, positive attitude and positive customer relationships could make a good business into a great one.
Time has shifted a little bit since then, but the basics remain the same. Treat your customers right, and it will help you attract clients in the future. Think about how being out with a friend you ask their opinion on a restuarant you’re curious about trying. Or about the local mechanic who started in his garage and found he needed more room so he opened a shop locally. Local reputation is very important to small and/or new businesses.
In 2011. it is expected that local online advertising efforts will grow north of $20 billion. Definitely much more than just chump change, local business owners seemingly are starting to realize that the yellowpages print ad they’ve used just isn’t cutting it anymore. But as an aside, brand management, or online reputation management, has become increasingly important. Where word of mouth has been increasingly become ‘world of mouth’ being able to manage your own business online has become a more important affair, becoming much more than just taking care of your AdWords account. And active blog tied to your company can help push you up the SERPs, so long as it’s kept active. Allowing comments to be posted onto the blog as well can help boost your positions, but it’s a double edged sword. Diligent management of the comments section is very important, to ensure you’re not having your competitors posting links back to their site, and piggy backing your climb up the rankings.
Online brand management has become more and more important as the world comes more to the online store to conduct business. The danger in improperly managing yourself online can drive your business to the ground if false company reviews are made to climb higher in the rankings than you rank organically.