Appearance, usage, accessibility and speed. Four qualities which should be incredibly important to any website owner and doubly so for users. If a site isn’t appealing to the eye, easy to use, have intuitive navigation and is slow to browse, it’s almost certain to be skipped over by users first and search engines later.
The qualitites came to mind over a conversation with a friend, they’d lamented that the coroporate side had changed the website and made it unfriendly to use. Previously their site was css based, very little code written on page, and had a good deal of content to be indexed relevant to their rather competitive niche. The new look and layout for their site, abandoned CSS in favor of Java, Ajax and active scroll over elements on the page.
The new site is visually more appealing than the old one, the effects that were added with all of the new coding however, was unecessary. Dropping indexable, search engine friend CSS for Java and Ajax was a half step backwards though in the search wars. While the coding offers a great deal of flexibility in what your website can look like and do, it’s basically entirely skipped over by search engines. The website in question has been running a brief survey on the new look and feel, and so far the consistent response has been that past consistent users, have begun to use other portals to meet their needs. Their new site, while more appealing to look at, was too slow, difficult to navigate and wasn’t easy to understand at all.
It’s a good example of the addage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”
All of the talk about people moving their purchasing power to the internet, isn’t complete hogwash. According to StatsCans newest numbers, Canadians online expenditures have increased to $15 billion (2009) from $12 billion (2007).
The total was broken down into 95 million transactions, at an average of $1,420. You might be thinking that doesn’t sounds so huge, but if you factor in the population of our country is only around the 34 million mark, it’s a fair amount of money per person. As for some contrast, in 2007 Candians only spent $12 billion on line over 69 million transactions. One of the more interesting figures is the expenditures per person in 2007 was $1,520 as opposed to the $1,420 of 2009.
That difference is coming from the increased consumer base. As the internet and the web become more accessible, and online shopping becomes a more and more trusted means of acquisition, while the average may drop per person, overall spending will continue to increase.
And if you carry inventory in store, there’s no need to worry. StatsCan also reported that over half of Canadians online, would “window shop”, researching their purchases prior to buying them. Ensuring that you have a quality website, backed with service and sales in store is a great way to drive people to your site, and your address.
The chances grow daily that as someone is researching a purchase idea, they’re asking their friends, families and connections on Facebook, twitter or other social media about their thoughts and experiences. The web has become an incredibly powerful marketing tool when used correctly, and the proof is in the numbers.
Content is an incredibly powerful optimization metric on your website. It’s your effective communication to the search engines of the value of your website. Stuffing your page full of pictures, and not describing them in any way is almost a guaranteed way to get yourself lost online with little to no viewers via search. Now the flip side is also true, you can’t cram a thousand lines of text on a page and expect to rank on page 1 for your niche without using a degree of care.
The simplest way to describe it, you want to sculpt the language on your site, to appeal not only to the search engines, but to your visitors; current, and future of course. No one knows your business like you do, but a key point you need to be aware of as a business owner, is that your clients don’t know your business like you do. So don’t clutter your text with technical terms, or vague descriptions around products or processes. Making the assumption that your customers and clients know you as well as you or your salesmen do, can be a detrimental step in the structure of your content.
The number one rule when it comes to content generation?
On the social front of your site or experience, there’s been a mashup of the trendiest, retweetable terms determined. It seems that while there’s no sure fire way to have your news or posts immediately rebroadcasted, there are ways to help increase your chances. The most popular terms for titles would have to be “How to”, “Increase”, and “Social Media”. In theory, a surefire way to have your post picked up and passed around would be to use that text as your title, and craft an article around it. Apparently however, “Trust”, “Talk” and “Sentiment” seem to be very undesireable text tweets. Food for thought.
Google’s recently accounced it’s “build your own app” program for the everyday person who’d like customize their Android powered phone. For free. Apps that are developed with the platform can be listed in the android store with a nominal registration fee. Some have said this will lead to an influx of poorly designed apps, and others have used the argument that this opens up people to a new realm of spam.
Just to add to the mix, Windows has decided to toss their hat into the ring as well. On the expected arrival of the Windows Phone 7 platform, Microsoft has launched their own suite of developer tools.
A brief timeline from the Windows Phone Developer Blog:
Feb 2010 – Windows Phone 7 was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
Mar 2010 – The application platform was unveiled at MIX 10 in Las Vegas. With that, we had the first CTP of the Windows Phone Developer Tools.
Apr 2010 – The tools received an updated, and the CTP Refresh shipped.
Jun 2010 – Windows Phone Marketplace details unveiled at TechEd 2010.
July 2010 – Beta release of Windows Phone Developer Tools, and the preview developer phones start shipping to ISVs
The iPhone has their apps, with quality guidelines and store and what not. With an SDK which isn’t terribly difficult to learn, but made for the technically inclined. Versus, the newest Android developer software, which allows virtually anyone the ability to create their own custom apps for their Android powered phone. And now the Microsoft version, allowing further customization of the Windows Phone 7 powered handsets. To add a little cream to their offering, free classes on how to fully utilize the Microsoft software are available. The premise:
It will provide developers a jump start for developing Windows Phone 7 applications.
The dates for these course sessions are:
July 20 – 8am: Session One: Getting Started with Microsoft Windows Phone and Silverlight
July 20 – 1pm: Session Two: Programming Game Applications with XNA
July 22 – 8am: Session Three: Programming Applications with Silverlight
July 22 – 1pm: Session Four: Review and Wrap Up
This is a big milestone for everyone involved in Windows Phone 7 – inside and outside of Microsoft – and we hope you share in our excitement. With the Beta release of the tools, developers can build apps with a “ship it” mentality.
So now it’s turned into much more than just a handset battle, the software and apps powered by that software have entered the fray. With the power to be able to completely customize your cell phones functions and uses, to cater to your needs, the way of the paid app development may be on it’s way to the horizon. As an additional bonus, the marketing potential for a creative, lucrative small business owner is tremendous.
There’s a kaleidoscope of steps, styles, methods and opinions about the right way to implement search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. But, there are a few points which are generally accepted. Points such as:
- Quality content is extremely important
- Working actively to accrue quality links and backlinks is also paramount
- Apply K.I.S.S. to your site
One of the most overlooked steps, which should be mentioned more often is having an accurate, up to date sitemap for your website. You can think of a sitemap as the formal written index of your web pages. Up until recently, multiple sitemaps were needed if you desired to have all of your content listed easily. Be it images, text, videos, your geo location, and a news section. An individual sitemap for each was required to speed up the indexing process of those assets. Google introduced the XML sitemap 5 years ago, and have just recently changed the game a little.
Instead of multiple sitemaps, webmasters can now submit one XML sitemap to include all of your websites features. From Google:
With the increasing number of specialized formats, we’d like to make it easier for you by supporting Sitemaps that can include multiple content types in the same file.
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<video:title>Grilling tofu for summer</video:title>
The idea of the inclusion for multiple content types within one sitemap was to streamline the entire process for webmasters and their clients.
At just under 3 hours per day online, Canadians are now spending more time on the web than they are watching TV. The previous trend of television being the dominant source of entertainment has been replaced by the always on, always recent digital world.
With the possibilities ranging from finding news literally as it happens via a service like Twitter, to finding archived and stored information from publications back decades, the Internet is bringing more of the world, to more Canadians every day. The continual climb of Canadians spending their time online is no real surprise, as print publications are slowly coming around to the idea that more of their readers are coming online, than through their subscription services. Television networks as well, with offering some primetime programming on their websites has helped to attract visitors to their websites.
Surveys from Neilsen and comScore, have shown that online video-viewing and time spent Web browsing have increased over the years. And previous research has shown that there is an emergence of multitasking: watching TV while also using a laptop. A commercial or a news story which once caught your attention, can now be examined more closely with the ease of use of wireless networking and high speed internet in almost all Canadian homes.
This doesn’t mean that the “death” is nigh for old media such as newspapers, television or radio. But the data is there, the numbers have been added up. Canadians are moving online more and more each day, the longer you dwell on the past information distribution and marketing schemes, the faster you’ll fall behind.
Often the success a company experiences in growing their brand rests in the resources they allocate toward marketing. How much and where are normally the questions that follow. In the past, the question of “where is my market” was often a major determining factor in deciding which form of media to choose. Are my potential customers reading the newspaper or trade magazines? Are they tuned into the radio? Will bus ads or billboards be enough to capture their share of mind? With 90% of consumers now searching the net before making major purchases, this age-old question has been answered.
The purpose of search marketing is to place a company’s website in a position of high visibility on the search engines for key terms that are relevant to they type of products or services that company may offer. Anytime a consumer is searching on the web for a specific product or service, it is because they are in the market to buy. The companies that invest in positioning their websites atop the search engines will have the first opportunity to present their products/services to that qualified audience, therefore giving them first chance at the sale. When optimized correctly for the key terms a company wants their brand associated to, their website acts as a 24/7 salesperson, capturing the attention of the consumer while they are in the market to buy. For this reason, search marketing is a very cost-effective strategy for any business in any geographic market.
Traditional media or mass media is much more expensive in comparison because it is looking to scream out a message to a large audience hoping some of them are in the market for what they offer. The louder the shout, the larger the expense, still with no guarantee that anyone in that audience will be looking for what they are selling. If a company shouts enough, of course the one effect is that people may gain recognition for their brand, which could lead to them using their company in the future. However, the effect is less than if you are there when the consumer is actively looking.
In addition to the repetition required for traditional media to be effective, it also is costly to shout across a larger market. On a local level, traditional media has a much greater opportunity for success with success measured as return on investment. However, once you move into national, and certainly global markets, search marketing is where a company will see the greatest opportunity to turn eyeballs and ears into qualified leads.
As a whole, a company will see the best return on investment by allocating their marketing dollars to an SEO professional that will position their brand directly to those consumers actively in the market for their products or services.
One of the biggest mistakes many businesses make is focusing the majority of their advertising budget on print ads and local newspapers, fortunately, a new approach is starting to take root to solve this problem.
Local search online is starting to cause a flurry of excitement for some businesses who are taking advantage of the technology.
More and more people are performing local searches on the internet before they ever leave their home. It allows them to do all their research online and make decisions on where to find what they need right from the comfort of their home.
Less and less, people are using the phone book or newspaper because of this. On top of that, there are too many phone books circulating and it makes it nearly impossible to decide which to use.
Companies who still spend hundreds if not thousands on newspaper ads and other print advertising and are passing up on a golden opportunity to get in front of their target audience by using outdated, archaeic methods.
The internet is changing the way people find products and services.
Local search is a form of advertising that allows you to lower your overall costs, it is cheaper than print advertising and gets you in front of more people when they are ready to buy. The overall ROI of leveraging the power of local internet searches are only going to increase and it makes perfect sense to ride the wave.
I was browsing one of the internet marketing forums the other day, and stumbled on a thread titled “What happened to the 4 pillars of Internet Marketing?”.
For those of you who don’t know what the 4 original pillars of internet marketing are, here’s a quick recap:
1. Product. Product is very important, I mean, that is what you are selling, right?
2. Price. 95% of all the selling propositions are being turned down because of the price. Probably this is the reason 1$ trials work so well.
3. Promotion. Traffic, Copywriting, PPC and basically anything related to generating traffic and driving leads.
4. Place. You can’t go to a synagogue and try to sell pork chops. I mean, you can, but…Trust me, you don’t want to. *Hint: big rocks and your head.
Those are the 4 pillars of internet marketing, according to the old school Gurus. However, world is rapidly changing, and we must keep up with it.
Those pillars no longer apply when it comes down to 21st century’s internet marketing industry. They probably still do when selling tea or rice, but when it comes to sophisticated customers who shop online, nahah! Different approach is required!
After taking a cold hard look at the internet marketing industry today as we know it, I have created a new internet marketing pillar blueprint. I am not saying this is going to go global right away, but I do believe it what is needed to be done, if you want to build a profitable internet marketing business.
1. Traffic. You can say it goes under promotion, but Traffic is not about promotion anymore. Today, when the customer gets destructed so easily, traffic has became more about grabbing attention. If you know how to grab person’s attention when he is surfing the web, you got traffic!
2. Conversion. Internet Marketing is all about conversions, are you kidding me? Capture pages, click through rates, bounce rates etc. Everything is needed to be tested, modified, customized and tested some more!
3. Growth. Growth applies to you, the person behind the product. The only way you can be providing more value and getting more sales is by growing. Not in height, but in mind. Growing your knowledge base and raising your personal value through the roof.
4. Content. This is actually an inevitable byproduct of growth. Providing quality content is what is going to separate you from the spammers, self promoters and uneducated newbies who have no clue how to market online.
This is my personal view on the 4 new age pillars of internet marketing. You can support me, or you can dispute me, the choice is yours and comments are welcomed, however, remember that marketing isn’t about you or your product going viral, it is always about the consumer.
If business owners want to gain a competitive edge online in 2009, a comprehensive strategy is the way to go.
Businesses of any size will succeed with online marketing – and blow past the competition – by focusing on multiple fronts at one time to deliver the most favorable ROI.
The Internet offers a dizzyingly array of services, everything from search engine optimization and link building to paid search, banner advertising and video marketing. Each has merit and can improve profits.
How could it make any sense to let them operate as silos?
We tie these and other services together in what we call the Battle Plan. To get the best results, you need to hit your target market with everything you have available.
Regardless of what you call it, a Battle Plan approach requires a good deal of coordination that can become a way of life with practice.
Here are 8 tips to help you get started:
1. Cultivate Teams.
A plan on paper won’t work in reality if the people involved can’t cooperate. Long before our Battle Plan took shape, we made sure to involve the entire staff in team building exercises, contests and social outings. We also have regular staff meetings and hold internal mini workshops so each service line can let everyone else get a sense of what they do.
2. Nail Down Processes.
Yes, it can be tedious, but only good things can happen when everyone follows the same system.
3. Achieve Excellence.
It’s not always easy to define quality, but you need to continually provide exceptional service in each area. Our Battle Plan would suffer enormously if one service dropped the ball. In the military, for example, ground troops would fail more often without air support.
4. Think ROI.
At the end of the day, it’s about leads and sales. Time and time again, we’ve managed through SEO to achieve high rankings and traffic. Unfortunately, the website we inherit sometimes lacks clear Calls to Action. Adding a well placed, unique phone number or a special offer can work wonders.
5. Track and Adapt Conversion Opportunities.
Calls to Action can appear just about anywhere. With the basic website design, you may have any number of response forms or buy/call signals. Similar or different ones may be developed for paid search or video marketing campaigns. In our case, we learn from what each area is doing and adapt or repeat their Calls to Action. In other words, lead forms that work for video may perform as well or better in paid search.
6. A Central Project Manager Is Essential.
Obviously, plenty of work must happen behind the scenes. Yet, it’s also critical to have a project manager in place for each program to keep the lines of communication open. The project manager is in a good position to make sure everyone – from internal staff to clients – is on the same page and up to speed.
7. Share Data.
I’ve hinted at it already, but shared information is paramount to a comprehensive approach that crosses multiple disciplines. For example, when a SEO specialist gets a top ranking on Google, that information must get in the hands of a paid search expert who can help decide if an ad should be paused or continued depending on whether branding or conversion objectives are being met. You can exchange data from many areas – paid search ads, landing pages, banner ads, meta descriptions, inbound link anchor text, video marketing campaigns and much more.
8. Reinforce Efforts.
You have to find ways to stay in touch with prospects. For us, one of the easiest is an opt-in e-mail marketing system. I’m dumbfounded by the number of companies that I hear about that don’t consistently use structured emails to follow up with different types of leads. Sometimes businesses do send emails, but it’s not always well planned. Why not craft automated messages for designated dates, such as 7 days, 30 days and 60 days out from the first point of contact?
In today’s economy, at the moment in time someone is searching for what you offer, how fiercely are you competing to be found?