SEO is one of those secretive beasts that has been the obsession of online marketers since the dawn of their profession. Especially with the event of one search engine pulling far ahead of the rest in its usage, an intense culture was born out of focusing on how to best game or manipulate Google’s search algorithms over the years.
Now, for better or for worse – and I think for better – Google has wised up and, through a series of updates, brought their algorithms into the modern day by being able to account for the factors that make a site most relevant to users today. While this is great for Google’s users, it does mean that getting your site on top of relevant search results is no longer a simple matter of pulling the right strings for a few days and awaiting results. So, without further adieu, here are a few ways you can ensure your SEO success in 2015 and beyond.
Google knows what it wants, and so do you!
Google’s end game has always been about providing the best user experience possible. They want to make sure that the results they display are getting people to their desired answers as quickly as possible. While there are literally thousands of metrics that go into determining what websites best service the interests of a given query, a little bit of honesty about your site can go a long way in getting results. In every decision you make, you should be evaluating your options from a consumer perspective: Don’t think about your bottom line, or your conversions, or your sales funnel. Instead, figure out what decision will provide the best possible experience for people searching your niche. Have you adequately answered an asked question? Will your bounce rate remain low because people want to stick around and read what you have to say? These kinds of questions can help you honestly evaluate the usefulness of your site.
Social Indicators Are Huge
If you aren’t killing it in social media already, you’re behind the curve – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started now anyways! Google has been known to, since the beginning of their work as a search engine – weight links and references to your sites as more or less important depending on where they come from. Nowadays, you can bet that social “buzz” is a metric taken into account by Google when ranking any site.
Now, being an expert in your market requires you to also take your social controls by the horns and get active. Promoting your own brand and site(s) through social can generate a kind of natural traction â€“ providing you’re putting out good content – that Google has no choice but to love. Well, that is, until the game changes again.
Ride Waves, Don’t chase Them
The best note to leave you on has to do with education. Simply put, you should be researching SEO and social bloggers and thought leaders regularly. Keeping up is half the battle, and you never know which big trend you can ride the front of and end up catapulted to the top of your market.
The start of the month in internet marketing land should be called copytime. Every website out there is looking for brand new copy, from blogs to social media posts to web copy. Of these three important types of copy, only one is going to represent your website day in and day out. While none should be ignored or written off with any type of nonchalance, I personally believe that webcopy should be the most scrutinized of the three.
After all, many blogs are informal. Social posts aren’t meant to serve as your doctorate. But web copy, this is what the people are looking at when they get to your site. And not only that, it’s what the search engines are looking at when they rank your site. So, it’s easy to see why webcopy should be carefully crafted, but it’s not always so simple to see how it should be crafted.
Five Points to Keep in Mind When Creating Copy for Your Website
Here are five things that you want to keep in mind as you sit down to write your web copy:
1. Capture. The first thing your copy needs to do is capture the attention of your viewers. If you have some bland, boring headline followed by copy that drones on and on, you’re going to bore visitors right off your site (if not to sleep!). Be a little provactive, a little funny, stir it up. The average person browses dozens of websites each and every day, what is going to make them stay on yours?
2. Portray. Your webcopy should be very clear in conveying your value proposition. Visitors need to know exactly what makes you different from your competition. Why should they spend their money with you when there are 50 million other sites selling the exact same product or service? If you can’t answer this, then how can you expect your customers to understand it?
3. Stand Out. People don’t really have time to read everything you write. Even if you’re the most interesting writer in the world, eating a nice juicy steak is more interesting. You aren’t going to compete with reality, so make your content easily accommodating in that you have all key points standing out for quick scanning. Headings and subheadings are a must. Numbered and bullet lists help people get the information they need, do what they have to do and then get on with their life. You aren’t inviting them over for tea, you’re inviting them to learn what you have to offer them and then convincing them to take it and leave.
4. Describe. Description is vital for many products and services, yet so many marketers buy into the “picture is worth a thousand words” ideaology of content creation. Pictures are amazing, yes (videos are even better), but you need the details, features and benefits of your products and services in writing. Why? If nothing else, for the search engines and to rank for keywords, but trust me, there are still people out there enjoy reading everything they can about a product before making a purchase. Remember, an informed consumer buys more.
5. Perfection. Finally, it’s vital that your webcopy be absolutely free and clear of errors. No spelling mistakes, no grammatical errors, no txt spk. You want to convey authority on your site and nothing will lose it faster than mspelling a werd or too or making grammer errors or having poor punctuashun?
Overall, webcopy is to a website what a salesperson is to a brick-and-mortar location. You wouldn’t hire just anybody and send them out there uninformed and unpresentable, don’t do that with your webcopy.
The internet has changed the way millions of things, places, people and brands market themselves and every now and then, it’s good to take a look at one of these new trends and see if we can make it fit universally. Take for instance, the new trend in the music industry of what I like to call “internet marketing overkill.” This trend has proven very, very, very successful for some big names, mainly Beyonce, Weird Al and Pharrell.
Okay, so assuming you know who those people are (don’t worry if you don’t) you’re probably asking yourself what some pop music stars have to do with internet marketing, right? Right. And the answer is simple: they have all used “overkill” in their marketing to dominate the charts. The question is, can this translate into your niche? We think so.
What is Internet Marketing Overkill?
So the concept is simple: Weird Al had a new album coming out. Facing the end of his 32-year recording contract and a wave of YouTube competition, he went into “overkill” mode, he released 8 videos in 8 days. Not impressed?
How about Pharrell, who decided that making a standard music video that lasted for four to eight minutes (the length of the average song), he would make a video that lasted a whole 24 hours? Yes, a video that takes one full day to watch. Getting the concept of overkill yet?
If not, we can turn to Beyonce, or “Queen Bey” as her fans call her. The Queen of overkill dropped a music video for every single song on her album all at once. Previously, this was unheard of. Not only would one music video come out at a time, typically taking a few weeks to months in between them, there is no way one album would get a video for every single song, let alone in one day.
How Can Internet Marketing Overkill Help Internet Marketers?
So now two questions should be popping into your head: why does this work and how can I make it work for me. For starters, the why: it works because it gets people excited. It makes them feel like something is happening that never happened before. It gets them online and talking about what’s going on, sharing the videos and news. “OMG, did you see what Queen Bey did?!”
Okay, so if you have a target demographic of teenage girls, you might have put two and two together and are off to the campaigns already. But what about the rest of us, how can we make overkill marketing work for our target demographics? Simple: think of the most outrageous promotion you can think of and then multiply it by ten.
Of course, do this within reason. Don’t go blowing your quarterly ad campaign budget on this, but think of something that you can do which won’t break your bank. How about 60 free eBooks given away in one hour? All your social media fans have to do is be the first person to comment at the start of every minute and they win. How’s that for quick engagement?
Why Stop There? Overkill Everything!
The real point here is, it doesn’t have to specifically be internet marketing overkill that you are trying. Simply look around at what some of the bigger trends are in other industries and see if you can’t resize them to fit your own internet marketing needs. While not every single idea will work, the ones that do can be the difference in taking that vacation with the family this year or attending another affiliate marketing convention instead.
Times have changed. The new frontier for marketing is no longer traditional media of print and television. More and more small businesses are now taking their business online because that is where their customers are.
Although it presents some new challenges, it also has huge advantages for small local businesses because compared to traditional marketing, the barrier to entry online is very small. That is why so many start-up business take this route as it is much more cost-effective and they can easily reach their target audience.
As a business owner, there are many different strategies that you can follow for a successful online marketing campaign depending on your niche, budget, and time frame but there are some fundamentals that you need to follow.
Marketing is all about creativity and figuring out new and exciting ways to get your message across. This is article will help you avoid the most common and typical mistakes people make.
Internet Marketing is constantly evolving but the basic principles of marketing stay the same. The only difference is that the internet has provided such a different channel in which your company can express itself that sometimes requires a whole new learning curve.
There are 10 basic mistakes that all small businesses need to avoid. Some may seem obvious but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are avoiding them, so let’s start with number 1:
Mistake #1: Having no vision and mission
Most major companies have a mission and vision statement. It clearly states the goal of the company. For example, there is this one from Apple Computers “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.” Apple’s innovations such as the IPhone and IPAD make use of this particular statement as the driving force behind their success.
Even though your small company isn’t nearly the size of Apple, you have to remember that even Apple was just a small operation in Steve Job’s garage at some point in time. It is never too early to have a strong mission and vision statement. Your business needs to have a strong foundation in order to grow.
Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with your online strategy and marketing. Well if you have got a clear vision of your business from the outset, it sets the right foundation for you to build your business on. If you don’t have this then you will have a very hard time fixing the next 11 mistakes which will only harm your online success.
Mistake #2: Not understanding SEO
What is SEO? SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’ and is a crazy arms race between the website owner and the search engine algorithms. The SEO’s goal is to ensure that you rank highly in the search engines when users search for your particular product or service. It takes a lot of knowledge and expertise to keep up to date with what the search engines are looking for from website owners. So should you just ignore the whole problem and not care about SEO at all? Definitely not. That would be a disaster!
SEO is all about optimizing your website. What does this mean for your website? The SEO will optimize your website so that when the search engine web crawlers come along and search your website they will do so on a perfectly optimized site and reward your by ranking you highly in the search engines so that your potential customers can find you.
So you can see how important SEO is and why your business needs to invest in it. Consider how much more traffic and sales you can generate if you feature on the first page of the search engines on your chosen key word. Googling something is almost second nature and the average person will only take a look at the first few links. So not investing in a SEO expert is a mistake that your business can ill afford.
Mistake #3: Not blogging about your business
You might be thinking, “Well I already have a website so why do I need to blog about my product or service?” It’s a good question and here is the answer why: Blogs are an extension of an individuals or companies influence on-line and can have a huge impact on the success or downfall of a product or brand. Some blogs literally can make and break products because of their reviews. Blogs like Perez Hilton and Huffington Post have made internet celebrities out of their creators so don’t underestimate the power of the blog.
When someone is looking for what’s in and what’s not in fashion they read the fashion blog. When people want to know where the new hot destination is they read a travel blog. If they want to see what the hottest new mobile phone is they read a tech blog. In fact, they probably look at your website first than when they see a product they like they look at the blogs to see the reviews.
So you need to get your voice heard. You need to be the advocate and push the message you want out to everyone. One of the best platforms to tell people about your product is through your blog. In the blog you can become one of the influencers out there.
However, make sure you do a few things first: make sure that your blog is hosted on the same site as your domain. That way your visitors will know it is an official blog. If you are blogging about a certain niche like technology for instance, you cannot sound like one big advertisement pushing your products. What you need to do is spend time writing about things that people want to hear about. Your content needs to be informative and engaging.
You also need to interact with your bloggers. So when they comment make sure that you respond to them. That means that you need to respond to both negative and positive comments. This will show potential clients that you care about your product and those who are buying from you.
Mistake #4: Not being social enough
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google + are all social networks and are great places to do your marketing. Some businesses who don’t understand the importance of social media feel that Social Networks are a waste of company time. In fact, when they think of social media they are thinking of ways to block it and increase worker productivity. Don’t make the same mistake. What you can do is tap into social media to rapidly expand your internet footprint without spending too much money.
It’s vitally important for your business to invest in good social marketing as they can drive a lot of traffic to your site. Some of the more savvy companies have even started to address their customer service concerns on social media sites.
Creating an online community where people who enjoy your product can come together is also a big win. Creating fan pages, linked in accounts or even tweeting on a regular basis shows that you are connected to your customers and followers and tells them that you are hip and modern company who cares about them.
The best part about social media marketing is that it is mostly free. None of the major social media sites will charge you to create a site even if it is commercial in nature. You can also build your profile quickly with a minimum of investment and even use graphics that you have already created for your website.
Social media marketing needs to be consistent so you either need to invest in staff or outsource the work to get somebody to monitor your social media or do it yourself which can be time consuming if you also run a business offline business too. Once you are involved in social media you cannot really just leave it alone like a static website.
If you do put a member of staff in charge of your social media accounts you will need to ensure that they are up to date with the new developments in the company as this where people will often go looking for news. Consider creating a corporate communications function and depending on the size of your company make it a department or a single person.
Often you have to address concerns on the social media sites and it is also a good place to check on feedback for your company. So learn to use social media to gauge where you are in the market and what people really think about your company.
Social media along with mobile marketing is incredibly valuable to your business so it is not something that you can afford to ignore and it will have a significant impact on your company profits.
Mistake #5: Not cross promoting with other sites
Once you have built up a reputation for yourself, you should really take a look at into cross posting or guest authoring with another blog with a similar related product. Remember that your reputation is a resource and that cross pollinating ideas is a good way to grow your network and get new customers.
Sites that may not be your direct competitor but is in the same industry would be a good target. Also review sites or blogs that might be on your area of expertise might also be a good option. But whatever the case it’s important that you utilize this opportunity as much as possible.
One thing that this helps develop is name recognition not only of your product but also of yourself. It lets people know you are an authority in your field and gives them confidence in your and your product. So you should always consider your knowledge as a resource and make sure that you share it with as many people as possible.
Another benefit is that you can link back to your site which also increases the relevance and reputation of your site especially if the site that linked to you is older or more established than your website.
The downside to this is that you actually have to be a pretty good writer and write about relevant things that will interest your target audience. So you can’t just pump out a 250 word article that just summarizes other articles. Most reputable site wouldn’t take them and those that do will give very little benefit to your marketing strategy. It might even have a negative effect and should be avoided.
Mistake #6: Not creating ‘raving fans’
There are happy customers and there are raving fans of you and your business. Can you make a customer so happy that they will be a raving fan who will generate excitement and sales for your company?
The best way to do this is have a testimonial page on your blog or website. It’s a perfect opportunity for your company to leverage on the good will of the customers by having them post their good experience on your website. Even better is when they submit positive reviews on your business on third party sites. For example, if someone is so happy with your product that they put a 5 star rating on Amazon. What this means is that whoever sees that becomes curious and might even try your product.
These happy customers might even create blogs about your products and create a loyal following. Customers who love your product are the best ambassadors as they will refer their friends and family to your product. The most important thing about this is that they are doing this because they are truly happy about their product and they are doing it for free.
So make sure that you create more customer advocates, as they are free and their word will really help convince people to visit your site and try your product.
Mistake #7: Not creating an affiliate network
Online advertising can be an expensive and inconsistent means of driving customers to your website, but there is an alternative. Affiliate marketing can boost traffic to your site and you only pay for visits that result in sales. An affiliate program a process by which you make an agreement with other website owners or individuals who want to promote your goods or services online – or vice-versa. It means you can make sales from third-party websites, or ‘affiliates’. However, you only pay for the conversions the affiliate generates – in other words every customer that actually buys from you.
One of the main benefits of affiliate marketing is that it enables you to broaden your customer base outside your own web-marketing efforts. It is all about getting in front of an audience that you may not otherwise reach. Hotels, for instance, could use a number of affiliates such as car hire firms, flight companies or travel insurers which share the same target market to promote their site.
Once successfully up and running, affiliate programs can generate between 10-30% of total sales so it is well worth setting up (this is something that we can help you with).
Affiliate schemes are also cost-effective as they work on a cost-per-action basis, meaning that you only pay on seeing results. So, unlike advertising, you do not incur any costs until a sale is actually made.
Mistake #8: Having no referral program
When you have a customer who is happy the first thing you have to think about is, who does he or she know that will also enjoy your product? On rare occasions and depending on your type of business the customer may offer to introduce you to their friends and family and boom you have a customer advocate. However, on most occasions, you need to ask the customer if they have referrals.
When a customer either receives the product or service it is the ideal time to have a questionnaire or survey for them to fill out and to ask is there anyone that they can introduce you to. This can be sent by email, web form or done through social media. In most cases if the customer was happy with the service or product they would be happy to introduce it to their circle of friends and family.
So make sure that happy customers have a system where they can easily refer new clients to the company. You can even reward them with incentives but either way referrals are a great way to improve lead flow.
Mistake #9: Not using YouTube
Most major companies and corporations use video marketing to create viral marketing campaigns before the release of a big movie or product launch and YouTube is the platform of choice. It is huge.
Surprisingly, very few small businesses realize the potential that you tube has. You have to remember that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube and many of its videos can reach up to 3 million hits. So why don’t businesses use YouTube more often? They are missing out on a powerful free marketing strategy.
Mistake #10: Having bad customer service
A lot of companies spend all their money on developing the right product. Yes, having an awesome product and marketing will sell initially but having terrible service will almost guarantee that you won’t get repeat customers. Not only that but each unhappy customer will tell three other potential customers about their bad experience and make it even harder to expand your market.
Great customer service might even cover up for an average product. You need to have multi-channel customer service and a thriving online community with people willing to help. For example, you would need someone to answer calls, answer emails, answer chats and answer questions posted on the forum. Covering all these channels is only the beginning. You now need to ensure that the service is excellent.
As a company your customer service is a reflection of who the company is. Just by adjusting the company to be more customer focussed you should be able to improve the customer experience and make sure that people come back for more. Don’t forget one of the biggest costs is acquiring customers. So once you have customers why lose them?
It’s just the beginning
Internet marketing can be hard work and it does require investment of both money and time but the return on that investment is enormous. However, if you avoid these 10 potential pit-falls, you will find that it doesn’t have to be difficult nor does it have to be expensive. What you need to have is the drive, the inspiration, and the creativity to think outside the box and create something new that people flock to – or have a team behind you that can do these things for you.
Your business simply cannot succeed without marketing, so it is important that you invest time and money in your online marketing campaigns. Products just don’t become huge hits by themselves. Clever marketing campaigns just make it look easy.
The Internet is constantly evolving, and it pays to keep up to date with the changes. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to do that yourself, why not get in touch? We specialise in helping businesses just like yours to succeed online with tailor made marketing campaigns that will drive new customers to your website.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to social media, you shouldn’t have a problem putting all of your eggs in one basket if you don’t have the time or budget for an extensive social media campaign. There’s nothing worse (in terms of social promotions and brand imaging) than putting social widgets on your website only to lead to malnourished, underwhelming social media sites.
The Importance of Updating Social Media
When a viewer gets to a neglected social media page, a few things happen. First, your lead might think you are out of business. They also might think they are in the wrong place. Third, they might just assume that you don’t care about your customers (or don’t care in general) and just write you off as an option for buying.
The bottom line? If you’re not going to update every one of your social media pages constantly, it’s better to cut your losses and just delete the accounts. Of course, social media is super-important, so a better option would be to delete all but one, but which one?
The One Question that Tells You Which Social Media is Right for You
The best way to figure out which social media platform should be your main focus is to ask yourself the following question: If I only had to use one social media platform for the rest of my life, which would it be? This might seem simplistic, but let’s look deeper into the question.
What is in a social media platform for you? Do you need pictures of your products to get visitors over to your affiliate sites? Is your marketing based on real-time actions? Are you a B2B or B2C marketer? In short: what drives customers to your site?
When you know what your audience is doing, you know what you need to do. For example, if you are an affiliate marketer for Amazon and your only social media presence is to share reviews, having a Facebook account set up where you can share links complete with pictures might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you only deal with flash sales online, Twitter will allow you to stay plugged into the pulse of your audience so you can reach them as it happens. Looking to land higher-ups in the company and sell them software? LinkedIn has the largest amount of professionals so that’s where you will want to be.
The key here is to recognize what each of the social media platforms means for your specific means of promotion. If you only want to pin up items that you are reviewing and then forget about them, Pinterest might be the way to go since you won’ t have to deal with answering questions from posters and commenters.
When You Have It, Run With It
Of course, if you can’t decide on which social media platform you’d choose if you could only choose one for the rest of your life, there’s a very simple option: look at your Google Analytics and see which social media sites are driving the most traffic to your websites. Then, take a serious look at how much time you’ve put into each of those sites.
Are you getting 20% of all your traffic from LinkedIn but only spending 5% of your time there? Then increasing your effort on LinkedIn might be a good strategy over focusing on another platform that brings in 30% of your traffic but takes up 85% of your time.