Money is a great thing, it’s needed for pretty much everything you need or want in this world. There are times to save money, and there are times to spend it. With the new year still fresh, now is the time to spend on your online presence so you can make 2012 your best earning year to date.
Search engine optimization is, for some odd reason, still a largely overlooked advertising expenditure. The internet is the ultimate store front, it never rests, and is always waiting to bring customers to your doors. It takes time, patience, an understanding of your current website and traffic, and what your ultimate goals are to even begin to craft an SEO campaign to implement.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ version of optimization, as each and every client and website has it’s own unique set of problems. When you’re in the market for SEO, you need to bear that point in mind. If you’re searching for someone truly qualified in the area, there’s a very high chance they won’t have pre-packaged services for you to choose from. There are really 2 main steps when you’re hammering out the details of your costs associated with search engine optimization. The first, and one which affects your cost, is what is it that you’re trying to achieve and what key terms are you interested in. If you’re looking to rule the SERPs on a term which returns tens of millions of pages, your contract will have a steeper cost as opposed to a more niche market. The second step is where the compromising comes into play where terms are concerned.
Working as an SEO, we see the web a bit different than other people do. I know I haven’t browsed or used the internet the same way since I’ve began. Sometimes the keyterms clients choose need some adjustment, and through discussion we decide which route to pursue. It can mean the difference of a page 1 ranking, or a difference of a few thousand dollars in the term of a contract. Our goal in the end, is to bring you all the traffic you can convert, are you ready for the 2012 rush?
Even though it may not seem like it on the surface, there are many different facets to internet marketing. Which target you aim for has a lot to do with the methods you employ to achieve your desired results. It could be branding a new image, a run to try and boost email/newsletter readership or it could just be the needed increase to sales to make for a better year end.
If you’re trying to create a new image for yourself as a business, you can try using Adwords as a branding tool until organic results can be achieved. Adwords can be a great tool to leverage as it allows your website instant visibility where as organic SEO can take time to come full circle. You can create a whole new presence for yourself online if you’re creative and persistent.
At the same time as trying to manage your brand online, you should bear in mind your call to action and what your message is online. Try to view your site as a new user from time to time, and try to determine what you are asking visitors to do as they arrive on your site. If you’re trying to create a following for your blog or perhaps signing up for your Twitter feed where you can interact directly. Trying to boost your sales? Are you listing specials or making sure to advertise your newest or best selling items.
Although the industry is still somewhat new in Winnipeg, internet marketing is an incredibly powerful tool you can leverage as a business owner. Leveraging all of the tools you have available to yourself as a business owner should be at the forefront of your mind everyday as you work to improve your online positioning.
There are many key elements once you’ve built your website which you need to stay on top of, besides trying to focus on search engine optimization. Updating content, perhaps having a blog or a Twitter account with which to interact with customers/clients, and if your niche demands it, publishing a newsletter or email campaign to keep subscribers in touch.
In the background of your website, there’s also another element which needs consistent attention. Everytime you add a page to your website, create a new form or maybe add a photo album, your sitemap needs to be attended to. A sitemap is exactly as the name implies, it’s a table of contents for every page on your site. If you add, change, or remove pages, you also need to update your sitemap to reflect the changes. Typically your sitemap will be in xml or html format, but the important point is: it needs to be updated everytime you make a change.
Until now, there’s never really been a way to validate your sitemap without waiting for a short while until the search engines pass by your site to index it. At that point you could sign into your webmaster tools or site analytics and verify that you’ve either done things right, or if you needed to make some adjustments. But now for those who may be a little less technically inclined, Google has added the ability to test your sitemap before the spiders get to it, to make sure that everything is done correctly. This update, as well as a handful of other new and upcoming changes to their site tools are detailed on their blog post.
With the influx of so many SEO “experts” into the field over the last few years, it’s not really a surprise when discussion topics begin to crop up about some old topics. The most recent discussion which has had me pondering who might actually work with this individual, involved one of these aforementioned experts.
Apparently they’ve noticed that when they made content changes on their website, it has zero impact on their search rankings. The point which this began to bother me, is somewhere along the way this search engine otpimization expert had learned or decided that your content was what would make you or break you online. That is true to an extent, but just like you need more than just flour to make a cake, your content isn’t the only factor that will make your website king. Content is not the only piece of the puzzle, just like social isn’t, just like working for quality links isn’t, just like a properly coded and built web site isn’t. They’re all pieces in the SEO puzzle, they need to be put together properly and completely to make you a leader in your field.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo have maintained for years that the content of your website is tantamount to your ranking within the SERPs, but it’s not the only deciding factor. Your tags, your headers, your images all tell a story to the spiders who digest your content and file your website accordingly. If you own a business which makes blue shoes and your content is about red umbrellas with tagged pictures of yellow bananas, then you’re not going to get too far on the SERPs for any term as you’re not relevant to any of them. If however, you’ve created your website, developed your content around blue shoes, provided and tagged pictures of them and optimized your web site properly? You will be viewed as highly relevant should anyone search for the topic ‘blue shoes’ online.
I think the best way to describe how content relates to your SERPs appearance would be – your content is how you tell the spiders who you are. If your content is relevant to all of the elements present on your website, you will be rewarded for your hard work. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to craft your content to be as relevant to your niche as possible, then there should be no surprise if you do not appear in the index for terms you may wish to rank for.
An optimized website
What they say: Even if you don’t actually sell products online, a website gives potential customers and investors the opportunity to find out more about you and your company. For a website to be effective and bring new customers and investors to your doors it needs to be seen. Search engine optimization can help position your website on the first few pages of the search engines which means it’s much more likely to receive visitors.
As well as ensuring the copywriting on your website is optimized with keywords, you need to make sure your web developers or designers have created an SEO friendly website.
With 65,000 new websites coming online every day, not including new pages and blog added to existing websites daily the chances of you ever seeing high traffic and rankings without a BIG cost is near on impossible. Nobody ever mentions the cost do they.
Fact: Investment for marketing the website from approx. $1500 – $20,000 per month depending on size and your competition.
Active social media channels
What they say: Having a profile set up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (plus the numerous other social media networks) isn’t enough. For your social media campaign to be a success you need to continually interact with your network.
And to be honest who gives a crap what bus stop or pizza shop you’re at or what you have just eaten, Your top score on a farm game or flirting teens pretending while the parents are out. Get a life. Limited for business unless very local.
Fact: A full-time job to do it properly along with a full-time salary approx. $30,000 – $50,000 per annum.
An up to date blog
What they say: Blogging is one of the quickest and easiest ways to forge an identity for yourself online. Blogs allow you to share your expertise with your visitors and it encourages them to see you as a leading authority in your industry sector. As you build up your blog with opinion pieces, news stories and reviews you will create an online resource for your blog visitors.
Fact: Takes your time and money, time is money or employ someone to do it, another salary.
While there is a lot of information and help out there to get you started, do not be taken in by all the BS that people and company’s shovel out. Sure Google also has SEO guidelines which cover what you should and should not be doing in order to create a well optimized website. Check it out Rand at SEOMoz have a multitude of free blogs, videos and podcasts on their website to help people understand the basic (and more advanced) SEO techniques too, but the cold hard facts are it takes time, money and knowledge to be a real player. As I have said many times, pay peanuts and you will get monkey’s.
As a small business if you don’t have at least $20k a year to throw at marketing your online presence, forget it, you will never even scratch the surface, if some company gives you bullshit about the must have Facebook, twitter and rest accounts, run for the hills, these usually are the wannabe online marketers, with sharp tongues (usually forked) and snappy suits. You can get business from social, but it’s limited, search is and has been #1 from the start and will continue for a very long time.
Ask yourself what you do when you want something, whether on your phone, laptop or desktop, you search first.
Opinions are those of the writer.
As technology advances, so does our means of communications with others and the public. The radio and television were two technological mediums that companies used to advertise to their target audience. However, since the mid-1990s, the Internet has drastically changed the way we share information. It has turned into a new way for businesses to market their products or services directly to their target audience. Online platforms, such as websites and social media, offer a lot to companies such as higher ROI on their marketing campaigns and more business.
Research shows that more than half of all U.S. residents and more that 3/4 of all U.S. adults are online. A recent survey found that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Internet, with 59% who do so on a typical day. Of these daily searches, 46% are for information on products or services. 89% of U.S. Internet users search online before they make a purchase, even when the purchase is made at a local business.
With an astounding amount of people and potential customers online, it is important for Winnipeg companies to have an online presence so they do not miss out on opportunities and business that could be found on the Internet.
Top 5 Ways to Create Strong Online Presence
1. Website – This allows companies to post valuable information about their company and their products or services. It is a centralized location where users can learn about what the company has to offer. 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. With correct SEO and keyword placement and number of indexed pages, websites are able to rank on search engine results – helping them get found by users who are searching for topics related to their company.
2. Blogging – 65% of daily internet users read a blog. By keeping a frequent blog, 2-3 times a week, you are contributing to your website’s SEO and are generating traffic to your site. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that do not. Businesses that blog at least 20 times a month generate 5 times more traffic and 4 times more leads than those who only blog a few times a month. Blog posts need to be valuable and remarkable content and need to be of interest to your target audience. Instead of solely company news, you should write about industry updates or other information that is of value to your target audience. By continuously updating your blog with industry updates and information you are positioning yourself as a subject matter expert. Also, by opening up the comment box, you are allowing direct communication between you and your potential customer – a place where you can offer advice and suggestions.
3. Facebook – 93% of U.S. adult Internet users are on Facebook. As of date, there are more than 800 million active users on Facebook. When users “like” company pages get updates made to the business’s profile, such as new wall posts (blog and industry news updates), pictures, videos, discussion questions and more. Facebook allows companies to easily provide updates to followers as well as interact with users via comments.
4. Twitter – There are 100 million monthly active users on Twitter with over 250 million daily tweets. Companies with over 1,000 Twitter followers get 6 times more traffic. 70% of U.S. Twitter users are more likely to recommend the brands that they follow. Twitter accounts allow companies to share quick industry or company news, as well as blog posts to followers. Since posts are only allowed to be 140 characters, they are read quickly by followers, allowing them to easily decide if the topic is of interest to them. These updates can link back to your website or blog to drive traffic to updates you have made. With more than 1/2 of active Twitter users following companies, brands or products, it is important to make sure your company creates a continuously updated page for them to engage with.
5. LinkedIn – As of date, there are over 135 million professionals on LinkedIn. Company profiles allow businesses to connect with other professionals and establish themselves in a professional setting. They are also able to provide status updates on industry or company news as well as blog and Twitter updates to its followers. It grants companies the opportunity to network with others in their industry as well as become members in groups consisting of other members that may be of interest to them.
Anyone can build a website and make it active online. Once the search engines get to crunching through your pages is when the bots take your site apart. There’s a number of stand by factors which are widely known to influence your credibility online and recently some newer metrics have began to come into play.
Two of the most talked about and widely accepted forms of online credibility are linking on your website, both links coming in, and going out. The inlinks, or backlinks if you prefer, are the way that websites can lend credibility to each other. The more credible your link coming into your site, the better your site will be received on the SERPs.
The opposite of an inlink naturally, is an outlink. The more you link your site to other sites online, the more you can increase your authority in your niche. If you’re not careful when you outlink to another site however, you can inadvertently damage your website, or the site you’re linking too.
Some of the easier to control facets of improving your credibility online involve straight forward, albeit it often forgotten, steps in your websites construction. Making your website easy to navigate for users makes it easier for people to bookmark and return to your site on multiple visits. The second step which makes things easier for you online is to include a way for the search engines to easily naviget your site as well. The best way to assist with that is to include an XML sitemap. Taking the added step to keep it up to date as you add and edit pages is essential for building and maintaining your reputation on the web.
Your websites reputation online is just as important as maintaining your SEO measures in order to keep on top of your niche. Make sure to take the time to investigate who may be linking to your site and your content and that any links you may have going to other sites are in good working order.
Working in the field of search engine optimization, you can sometimes run into one of your most dangerous client. Dangerous perhaps, is a rather strong word but let me explain a little and then you can make your own judgement.
There are millions of pages on the internet about SEO, SEM, social marketing, etc. There are experts that number into the millions as well if you were to believe all of the results when you search for search engine optimization expert as well. A problem with having so much.. information available for consumption is you tend to end up with large amounts of people who think they know what they’re doing. And more often than not, that blog that they read only told them a portion of the steps necessary where SEO is concerned. This point, is where the ‘dangerous’ part stems from.
When you’re dealing with a client who has done a lot of reading on the web about SEO, you start to run into some frustrating situations. Hopefully they just like to have a conversation occasionally about SEO, ideally questioning what they’ve actually read for themselves. Your worst case scenario would have to be your client poking around at the work that you do on their site for them and, at best unravelling it, or at worst completely ruining it. And as terrifying as that may seem, it can even get worse yet. When your client has a tech who actively builds onto and maintains their site, it can turn into a bit of a stand off.
It’s a thin line to walk when your client thinks they know what SEO is, but that line gets blurred when they try to push what they know as the method they would like you to use on their site. Horses for courses, if you don’t know what you’re doing where SEO is concerned, it’s best that you just sit back and work out how to capitalize on the influx of new traffic.
Republican Rick Santorum has had a few.. issues over the course of his public running for the head of the US office. All politics and personal opinions aside, Santorum has run into the most recent iteration of what used to be known as Google bombing.
A few years back if you visited Google and searched for the term ‘miserable failure’ the first result used to be the then president of the US, George Bush. Santorum unfortunately hasn’t been so lucky with what he’s become associated with, but the methods as to why he’s momentarily stuck there is due, in part, to how SEO works.
The bare basic principles of SEO – you create content, you contact people to link to it and repeat over and over again until you’re the king of the mountain. Backlinks, the fuel for SEO is what keeps you flying high in the rankings. An extremely popular social community, Reddit, has decided that the politician will remain associated with this alternate meaning for the near future at the very least.
You can think of the woes that he is experiencing as you will, on a technical note however it needs examination and repeating. Until Google, Bing and Yahoo outright remove a website from it’s index, it can and will continue to rank for the term(s) with which it’s been written to be found for. The act of completely removing a site from the index is an extreme measure that the search engines rarely wield, let alone with permanency. It needs to be noted that irregardless of the poor quality of the links, the relevance and sheer number linking to the offending website are what is keeping the politician tied to his less than stellar ‘definition’. To quickly deal with the issue the search engines could enforce a nofollow on the Reddit site but Google in particular deems itself a color blind indexing machine. Mr. Santorum would do well to contract the skills of a search engine optimization expert to assist with his character control.
So Google made a little bit of a blunder with their Chrome advertising it seems and what was the end result? Well perhaps the best way to understand what happened and it’s ensuing result, the algorithm needs to be a little more understood.
The Google search algorithm was intentionally designed to go out and read as much of the content of the web as it could find. It pays no heed to race, color or quality of the content. It doesn’t care how pretty your pictures are, how impressive your flash intro is or how quickly you can flip through your menu items on your navigation bar. It takes in the content of the web and spits it out when you ask it a question. It’s because it’s so simple that there needed to be filters put into place and penalties levied against people who either managed either by accident or on purpose to get around the quality controls put in place.
Paying for pagerank, that intangible mega star of the Google world, is a heavily punishable offence in the quality control guidelines. So it came as a rather big surprise when it was found suddenly, that Google was seemingly paying for advertising which was passing pagerank to its Google Chrome web page. The skeptics of the web automatically assumed that the Google machine would just shrug, apologize to the web, as they didn’t intend for it to happen, and everyone would be on their way. The outcome however, was actually the opposite.
Matt Cutts, via is Google+ account had the following to say of the incident:
“Google was trying to buy video ads about Chrome, and these sponsored posts were an inadvertent result of that. If you investigated the two dozen or so sponsored posts (as the webspam team immediately did), the posts typically showed a Google Chrome video but didn’t actually link to Google Chrome… we did find one sponsored post that linked to www.google.com/chrome in a way that flowed PageRank.. we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines”
So okay, it was found out there was a minor slip in what was intended and what was the actual result, so what did they do?
“In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days. After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.”
If anyone ever questioned as to whether the machine would point it’s gun at itself, question no longer. As the webspam team has shown, no one is above the rules set with quality searches in mind. So bear in mind when you next work on your websites SEO, ensure that you’re following the best practices and the search guidelines readily found all over the web, else you’ll find yourself flung deeper into the ranks than you could imagine.