Archive for category Marketing

Popups Don’t Have to be Annoying

Most everyone hates popups, right? I especially hate the “exit” popups, where you try to leave a page and instead get a popup asking me if I’m sure. Yes, I’m really really sure! Anyways, every once in awhile I run across a really nice website tool or feature and like to give some credit where it is due.

And that is a company called Layered Popups. Go to their website and scroll down a little bit to click on their examples. Sweet!

They have taken popups to the next level, and in a good way. Stunning designs, easy configuration and use. I’ve used them for a few months now and remain impressed. Cost is only $18.

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Business Listings

Finding good backlinks can be such a chore, right? Well we are now offering a really nice business listing service that will:

  • Get your business listed in over 50 important local and national business directories.
  • Allows you to control the listings from one spot which avoids any mistakes
  • You can include advanced content to many of the listings, like a restaurant menu, your personal bio or team, even your daily special or coupons
  • Monitor what people are commenting about your business – get notified when they do it

Follow this link to the business listing service page to get a current status of all your listings as they are right now. Find out what you already have, what you are missing, and any mistakes it may include.

 

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Does Your Domain Name Target Your Audience?

What if Facebook had been named socialstatusupdater49348.com? Or what if Twitter was called 393thebirdknowzall.com? Well I can guarantee you one thing: neither of those names would receive many visitors. The names are simple too complicated and hard to read.

A domain name is your personal identity on the vast expanse we call the Internet. It’s how people remember your site, bookmark your site, and come back to your site. And that’s where the importance of a good domain name comes into play. Now, you can’t expect people to come and socialize on a website name GardeningTools.com.

In order for your domain name to reach the right audience and get the most traffic, your domain name needs to be unique, memorable, and accurate.

First Impression

Your domain name is what leaves the first impression on your site visitors. If you create a search engine website and name it Boogle, chances are, visitors are going to dismiss it as a knock off. That’s why uniqueness is key to having a successful domain name.

Be Creative!

Make sure it is informative and creative at the same time. Renowned bloggers say that when it comes to making a new name, they try to avoid host sites as much as possible. When you use a free website host to launch your own website, the domain name will have your host’s name in it and your site will lose its professional appeal. To avoid this, own your domain name and make sure it does not already exist on the Internet.

Be Memorable!

Memorability is one of the greatest things you can give your domain name. It’s what gives you new visitors and brings back old visitors. To keep your website’s name memorable, I suggest keeping it simple and easy to spell. Overcomplicating a name is not only irritating for a user, but people will lose interest upon seeing such a site in a search engine or web directory.

Oh Those Keywords…

Using keywords that pertain to your site is also handy in finding your domain name easily and increasing accessibility for potential visitors. But accuracy is also a vital part of a domain name. Make sure the name actually addresses what the user will find in the site. Adding a signature twist to the name is also helpful in having your website being remembered for being different. However, don’t go too overboard. Keep your target audience in mind. If you’re aiming to have teenagers visit your site, add something fresh and spunky to your domain name. But if you’re going to have business professionals on your site, having a simple and appropriate name is a safer bet.

Ultimately, all of these elements will catch your visitor’s eye and lead them to your site. When it comes to starting your own site, your domain name is what will ultimately make or break you in terms of how much web traffic you’re going to get. Sure, publicizing your site here and there will get you visitors, but gaining the loyalty of returning visitors is what really counts. So when you’re thinking up a domain name for your site, remember these tips and success is yours.

Connie Davis is a contributing author for NerdWallet, a personal finance website, where you can find advice on a range of topics from managing credit debt to where to find retail coupons.

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PPC Strategies

So you want to do better with your PPC campaign, but you are not sure what to do, or how to do it. There are lots of different strategies you can try, if you find the current one isn’t working. Some work best in certain industries, while others don’t, you just have to try them out and see what works for you. And these work in either Google Adwords or Microsoft AdCenter.

So here are some helpful suggestions for what you might try in your PPC campaigns before walking away in disgust:

  1. The most common strategy to follow is probably a position strategy, in that you increase or decrease your bid to achieve a specific average position. So if your target position is 3 and the average position for the keyword is higher than 3, then you increase the bid, but if it is lower than 3 you decrease it.
  2. Another strategy is what I call the ‘long tail’ strategy, in that you use the more obscure phrase and exact keywords, and then bid low on them.
  3. Try using a ‘geo strategy’ when you want to keep your business local, so you screen out any clicks from outside your target area.
  4. If you know all your conversions occur during working hours, usually with a B2B business, set the campaign to shut off after hours.
  5. Try using the display network. I know I know, it almost never works, but sometimes it does. Make sure you set it up in its own campaign for better tracking.
  6. Test using all 3 versions of the keyword; broad, phrase, and exact. You will find that some will convert while others don’t, and the conversions occur at different bid levels. You can keep them separate ad groups for better tracking.
  7. How are your ads? The keyword and its bid is where it all starts, but look at improving the ads on a continual basis. Always have at least 2 ads running in any ad group, and every couple weeks throw away the loser and try and come up with a new one that can then beat the winner.
  8. How about the landing pages? If you are sending your traffic to your website homepage, this is almost always a mistake. Just like with the ads, always try to keep improving your landing pages since that is where the conversion is taking place.

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How to Increase Traffic to Your Website

The question that inevitably comes up is how to increase the number of website visitors you have coming into your website. Especially now with this struggling economy. So what can you do about it? First understand that all website traffic can be placed in one of four categories;

  1. Search traffic – otherwise known as SEO traffic. This is the free traffic coming from the search engines (Google) and what is most sought after by people. If you don’t already have a SEO plan, then this is the first place you probably should look to fix.
  2. Direct traffic – this is traffic coming from book marks, or they are typing your web address into the browser. They probably know you already, or maybe they found your web address in the newspaper or a flyer, etc.
  3. Referral traffic – this is website traffic coming from another website. This could sometimes be more SEO traffic, since it is traffic coming from the backlinks you have been getting.
  4. Paid traffic – this is traffic that you get from pay-per-click advertising, from banner ads you purchased, from email campaigns you ran, etc.

Here is what you should do:

This is a list of things I have found to be effective in increasing website traffic that results in sales. Read further down for methods that will increase traffic WITHOUT sales.

  • Set up an account with Google Adwords (paid traffic). If you need traffic now, this is one of the more attractive options because it is so immediate. If you are selling doohickeys, then Google can place your ad in front of people searching for them.
  • Optimize your website for SEO (search traffic). Everyone should already be doing this, because it is for free website traffic. This is a long-term option, because it takes time to build up.
  • Get other websites to link to you (referral traffic, or search traffic). This is easier said than done, unless you are paying someone. Not only will it bring you website traffic, but it can also help you with your SEO (backlinks).
  • Email campaigns (direct traffic). You can send emails to potential customers if you have an email list. If you don’t have a list, you can sometimes purchase them.

Here is what you should avoid:

  • Social media (referral traffic). Social media is such a crock when it comes to selling stuff for your business, I recommend against wasting your time. If you don’t care about selling anything, it works great though! You can get Facebook pay-per-click ads and get lots of traffic that won’t sell product.
  • Links in directories (referral traffic). There are some directories you want to be included in, but that is for their SEO value.  Basically, no one looks in a directory, and I am not aware of a single one that is worth the time, effort, or money.

If I can think of others, I’ll add to the list later…

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Backlink Strategies

Once you create a website, one of the most important things you can do to market your site is to get some backlinks (someone linking to your website, from their website). Why? Because Google cares, that is why.  Google uses the number of backlinks that you have (among others) as a method of measuring your ranking. And the higher you are ranked, the more web traffic you should get.

But getting backlinks can be difficult if you don’t have a strategy. So with that in mind, I recommend you get out pen and paper and read The Complete List of Link Building Strategies that was created by Point Blank SEO. And remember, getting one good backlink will outweigh a hundred lousy ones – so think ‘quality’ and ‘relevancy’.

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Good Website Content

What makes a website stand apart from other websites? The first answer that comes to my mind is the website design, right? But what is often overlooked is the content of the website: meaning what the website is saying, and how it is saying it.

Now personally I’m not really a “content guy” – I tend to cut and paste content into the website that I’m making or maintaining, so I’m not a real good person to ask to do that sort of thing. But even though I can’t ‘do’, like most everyone you know good content when you see it.

So that is why I recommend you read this article about content marketing. By Smashing Magazine, it breaks the whole idea down into understandable parts, and makes even me think I might be able to right great website content (smile).

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Do you really need backlinks?

I’ve worked SEO for some years now, and remember fondly (not) how I would put my websites into various directories, lists, blogs and phone books.  Spent quite a bit of time doing it, and today find that it means next to nothing.

So I saw the image below recently on Wikipedia, under Page Rank, which clearly shows that 1 good backlink will trump a hundred lesser backlinks every time, (the orange website C).  Even though website B (red) has lots more backlinks, website C is almost as high with just the single link coming into its site from a highly ranked site.

So the point I would make here is this: stop wasting your time on getting lots of poor back links. Instead concentrate on getting authority backlinks – backlinks that are from “quality” websites relevant to your own.  I’ll write a another post on this, because it is important enough to deserve its own space.

And to be clear on one point. For a new website just starting out, the lesser known backlinks can and do help to get your site discovered around the web.

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Website Analytics

So which website statistics are most important to look at when evaluating the performance of your website? The easy answer is to say the traffic levels – and you would be dead wrong. A high traffic website can still fail if it is not converting the traffic into sales or leads.

So for someone like me who gets hired to improve the performance of a website, the website analytics are crucial to the cause.  Knowing which statistics to look at, understanding what they mean, as well as making them understandable to the client is what it is all about. The first order of business is to get a good snapshot of how the site is performing right now, then second is to figure out how to make things better.

If you are selling stuff, or gathering leads from the site – a good performer is usually pretty easy to spot. With a good performer you don’t need to look at the statistics to know – you look in the cash register (smile).  But wait a second, even with a so-called good performing website – don’t you want to improve it even more, make even more money?  Of course you do!

And you don’t want to just look at the current statistics for the site – what is important is to know the trends. You put the statistics into a spreadsheet if you have to each week, and that way you can tell if you are improving or not. You can take an action on the site and then watch and see if it results in the desired way.

When I first work on a site, I can usually get some significant improvements made because the site is usually missing some fundamental stuff – this is the low hanging fruit. But as you continue, it gets harder and harder to improve things, and at that point you have to look for incremental improvements over time – which is only identified by using trend data.

Anyways, sorry for being so long-winded with this. But with that in mind, here is a breakdown of some stats I tend to watch close. The most important ones are #1 – #3, the others are helpful indicators for your site.

  1. Traffic level breakdown – knowing who it is coming into your site, broken down into 4 main areas.
    1. SEO traffic. Your ‘seo traffic’ is coming in from the search engines, and can be improved by implementing some SEO tactics and strategies. This traffic is highly valued because it is free, and typically represents the level of new customers you are attracting.
    2. Referral traffic. This is traffic coming to you from other websites. Also helps with your SEO efforts because these are the holy backlinks everyone talks about.
    3. Direct traffic. This is the traffic coming from bookmarks, or otherwise from people who already know you.
    4. SEM traffic. This is your paid traffic like PPC, banner ads, or what have you.  A larger company probably has this broken down further by source.
  2. Keyword ranking is important because you will want to increase your SEO traffic into the site. Find a tool that will check the ranking of your desired keywords, and measure them each week.
  3. Goals achieved tells you if the website visitor is doing what you want, buying something, submitting a lead, funneling to certain information, etc.
  4. Bounce rate will show you if people are actually viewing your site, or coming to it by accident.
  5. Pages per visit will show how interested people are in your site and what you are offering.
  6. Unique visitors will tell you how many new visitors are coming into the site, instead of returning visitors.
  7. Top content will give a list of pages that are most visited on your site.
  8. Site navigation will tell you the most often traveled paths thru your site.

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I’m Number One!

I shake my head over some of the promises being made to website owners regarding SEO.  I get lots of spam emails myself , where some SEO company based out of India is promising to make me “number 1 in the search engines!”  So let me address this a little bit, put it into perspective.

First off, the point is not just to be “number 1” – the point is to be “number 1” for the keyword that you want.  Huge difference.  Anyone can get number 1 rankings for the keyword phrase “doohickey 123” by simply placing that prominently on their website. Since no one else is competing for that phrase – give it about 2 weeks and you will be number 1 in google for that term. That is the scam – they take advantage of the fact that people don’t really understand what SEO is about.

If you make yourself a website and have high hopes for it’s success, an important area to look at is who your competitors are, and what are they optimizing for. Obviously they will be optimized for the keywords people are using the most – so a good tactic for new website owners is to use keywords that are more “niche” than what your competition is doing. So instead of optimizing for “idaho plumber” you optimize instead for “boise plumber” – you make the keyphrase less broad. To make that even more effective, you make lots of pages optimized for lots of niche keywords.

Another thing to watch out for with some SEO companies are the ones using what is called “black hat” techniques in your name. If you hire someone to get you better SEO, and they are using techniques forbidden by Google, then Google can ban your website – and it will take you awhile to recover from that.

I’ve had some good success doing SEO for my customers, and you want to know my secret?  I do what Google says I should do – and I do it very well. I admit that doesn’t sound as attractive as promising you the “number 1 position” or “10,000 backlinks” – what it is though is effective.  I’m just saying.

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