the internet ideas blog

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It Isn't Me, It's You!

Guest post by Carolyn Erickson

Writing for your business can be a scary proposition. And that’s understandable, since most of us learned to write by handing in our papers to be graded, critiqued, and covered in red pen by Mrs. Haversham, the 6th grade teacher.

But there’s one thing you don’t have to be afraid of: using the words “I” and “you” in your writing.

(I know you’re waiting for the lightning to strike me right now but, believe it or not, this piece of advice isn’t even controversial anymore. Of course you can find exceptions, but as is the nature of exceptions, they’re a lot scarcer than the rule.)

Writing for business is not far removed from speaking to customers, either by phone or in your store. Aim for a personable, conversational tone. Would you approach a customer and say, “If one needs help, one should query the proprietor, upon whom you are currently gazing,” or would you just ask them if they would like some help?

I found a great example of approachable writing right here on this blog. In her post, A Mini Lesson, Teajai wrote a terrific post that not only illustrates a great principle, but tells a story and gives you a glimpse into her personality.

Consider this sentence…

“Like most Mini owners, I am fanatical about all things Mini so seeing an email that had Mini gift ideas was great!”

after I’ve gussied it up in formal third-person:

“The majority of the owners of Mini Cooper automobiles would experience fervor pertaining to any item, image, or reference to such automobile. Therefore, if such an owner receives electronic correspondence purporting to have for sale products pertaining to the Mini Cooper automobile, such owner would likely hastily activate a link to the particular Web document cataloguing such products for purchase.”

Just writing that made me tired. Tell me the truth—which would you prefer to read?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Am Thankful

"When we exist without thought or thanksgiving we are not men, but beasts." ~M.F.K. Fisher (1908–1992) American writer

In recognition of Thanksgiving, this post is dedicated to the people who make my profession possible. I am thankful for each and everyone of these people everyday, no matter what the day may bring.

My Clients:

Mike, Janet, Jim, Earle, Louise, Bill, Jackie, Chris, Ron K, Phil, Ron W, Ron, Barbara & Derek,Randy, Jim, Delma, Todd, Ray & Linda, Teresa, Debbie, Ben, Eric, Deb, Janna, Roy & Karl, Alice, Cathy, Tiffany, Mike H., Dave & Cheri, Cecil, Megan, Chuck, Sondra, Sharla, Larry, Randy L., Rhonda, Marsha, Jennifer, Kelly, Kim, Sachin & Ashwini, Don, Lainie, Samir, Brad, Paul, Terry, Nabil, Jim S., Walter, Steven, Sandi, Janet, Kevin, Lorenzo, Brad H., Tom, Darlene, Vesta, Jenna, Ken, Joe, Cynthia, Mike & Kate, Joan, Jennifer S., Marlene, Richard, Joni, Nathan, Tom C. Michael, Dave, Bob, Dennis, Perry, Chris, Calvin, Maggie, Karen, Rob, Larry c, Kim, David, Mona, Mike R., Wendy, Tim, Ellie, Dan, Dave & Tami, Barbara M., Jason, Mike S., Howie, Nathan A., Mike D.

My Vendors:

Ted, Bob, Brian, The folks at MyEmma, the techs at the Austin NOC of Hostway, the great people at Tucows, & of course, Google

and last, but not least, the people who help me work magic: Joey & Dave

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Mini Lesson

Yesterday I was excited to get an email from my car manufacturer, Mini. Like most Mini owners, I am fanatical about all things Mini so seeing an email that had Mini gift ideas was great! I could get something for myself and for Mini. . . or so I thought.

I clicked the link in the email with eager anticipation of seeing all the cool things they had dangled before my eyes in the email but when I got to their online "shop" this was all I found:

Big problem. Not only could I not see the items, the only place I could even buy them was through a Mini Dealer. Unfortunately, these are few and far between. In fact I would have to drive 3 hours in any direction just to get to a dealer.

So, what's the mini lesson from Mini?
  1. If you are going to send an email, be prepared to back it up with a solid plan. Clearly sales, marketing and management weren't together on this one. The store had been offline since JUNE of this year!

  2. Remember to meet the expectations of people reading the email. I expected to be able to view and purchase items from the site and was really disappointed.
Take a look at your current marketing campaigns - how do they measure up? With the holidays and winter around the corner, now is the time to make sure everything is working smoothly.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Content vs Search Advertising

It's no doubt that a carefully planned pay per click campaign can produce great exposure, click-thrus and leads. Still many people who use pay per click advertising don't fully understand the difference between content advertising and search advertising when it comes to ad placement.

Content ads are displayed, as the name implies, within the content of a web page. So, as opposed to seeing the ads on the right side of Google for example, the content ads will be seen together with articles, videos and other types of content on the web. You have probably seen these types of ads when you visit sites like "" or in news websites, or even blogs.

So to get the most out of your advertising it pays to make a separate campaign for ads that will be displayed within content and ads that will only display in the search engines.

Remember that in a search engine, your ads are poised to attract the attention of people who are already looking for your product or service. But content ads are displayed to people who were merely reading an article or doing research, they may not necessarily be in the market for your products or services. Content ads need to emphasis low cost, value, savings etc. preferably in the headline. And be sure that the page that the visitor will be directed to upon clicking the link has the same information.

By taking the extra time to write 2 separate ads for 2 different markets you'll gain better exposure and higher quality click thru rates.

Need help with your pay per click campaign? Contact me today.

PS - Remember that you can also place ads on Facebook to highly targeted audience groups but treat these like content ads.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First Impressions

The internet is really great at positioning your products / services. So much so that when a visitor arrives at your site you can be sure they are already interested in your product or service.

New visitors to your website come from many sources: search engines, paid search ads, comparison sites (comparing your offerings against other companies), and social media referrals. Each one of these visitors is ready to make a buying decision. All you need to do is remove any fears, doubts, roadblocks, or anxiety that comes with deciding to buy from your company.

Possible questions new visitors have:
  • If there is a problem with my order, how will you solve the problem?
  • Is this the best price for the product / service I will be receiving
  • Is what I am reading / seeing really trustworthy? Do the photos accurately represent products? Are the services actually as listed?
  • How do I know that this is the best company to work with?
In addition, here are a few of the most common roadblocks which prevent people from doing business with you:
  • Asking for too much information on contact forms
  • Too many "clicks" to get to the information they are looking for.
  • Poor navigation structure.
By the way, all of the above is applicable to every website whether it's or to a local law firm website.

It's easy to gain leads and make sales via the internet, just show your visitors what they want with a good first impression that will make visitors return over and over again. Need help? Contact me!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Difference Between Traditional Branding & Search Engine Branding

What's the difference between these two statements:
  • Pre-owned cars
  • Used Cars
They both say the same thing but the difference is that one of these statements will generate more traffic on the search engines, the other is the car dealer's way of glamourizing the fact that the car is used. (In case you're not sure, used cars is the statement most used in search engines)

For television, radio and direct mail purposes the glamourized "pre-owned" phrase is fine but if you want to gain top rankings and higher traffic from search engines it's important to start with asking "what are people looking for?"

In traditional branding, if you repeat a phrase often enough, people will remember it and sooner or later the phrase will be associated with the brand.

A local example is a commercial for a car dealer that constantly says, "We're out to be number 1 in the USA . . . you can't do better than that." Really it says nothing about the company's value proposition or why you should do business with them but the constant repetition on the radio is bound to imbed the message with the brand.

Search engine branding on the other hand really focuses on what people are looking for in the terminology most commonly used. Using the word "cheap" if it applies to your offer is more than acceptable because people look for "cheap" when searching for bargains but a "red hot" bargain is not going to hit the mark.

The K. I. S. S. adage holds true if you want to generate more qualified traffic to your website. Avoid the hype and write copy in terms that people use on a regular basis. You'll see the results in your web traffic, conversions and sales.

Need help with this topic? Contact me!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guaranteed #1 . . .?

Should you believe a guarantee of top placement?
If you hear that phrase remember what people say about something that is too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

A client came to me last week and said, "Can you guarantee #1 listings? The other company we spoke to said they could, what do you guarantee?"

I could guarantee anyone page one listings for virtually any one phrase a company selects but what good would that be? Let's say you are in the insurance business and your premium product is automobile insurance. If you are listed on the first page for the phrase "automobile insurance Kansas" will that really increase your traffic? It depends on the number of people who search that specific phrase and since common terminology is "car insurance" you'll probably be missing the boat.

The goal instead is to have multiple high ranking terms for a variety of phrases related to your business. Some people will use the term "car insurance," some will say "auto insurance" and still others will just look for an "insurance agent." One of my clients is found through over 900 different key phrases, that explains why she gets a healthy number of visits (and conversions) each month.

Another important thing to remember when it comes to keywords is the "long-tail" search. The long tail refers to those phrases that more specifically define your product or service. This is important because 82% of search engine users will start the same search over using the same initial phrase but adding more keywords to refine the search. This long tail search not only results in a more specific listing of companies, it also leads to a greater chance of conversions because the searcher is more qualified.

Long-tail search terms on their own produce very little in the way of traffic but are a good investment due to the high quality of leads they produce.

The best bet for increased traffic and higher rankings is to have a well rounded keyword list and content written in a natural language using the keyterms.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Funny how that word reminds me of "Ned the Head Ryerson" the insurance salesman in the movie Groundhog's Day. But in this case Bing is the latest attempt by Microsoft to create a search engine that can compete with Google, replacing Live search.

The similarities with Google are interesting: one word name, very simple front page interface, and sponsored (pay per click) ads by Google. They even have a Bing Community Blog - which is similar to the Google community blogs. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery but will having a search engine choice that so closely resembles Google be successful?

How is Bing different?
  • When you hover your mouse pointer at the right side of the search results, you'll get a preview of the website content and other links in the site (although this feature seems a bit hidden, you have to know that you are supposed to hover over the small orange orb)
  • If Bing understands what you are asking it will show fewer results. One example: if you search for Facebook it will give only one result - facebook. But what if you were searching on data about facebook?
  • Some search results are divided into categories like news, songs, movies, biography, wallpaper and downloads. Videos are included as part of the search as well as images that apply.
  • Bing shows the Wikipedia searches inline when you click the "Enhanced view" link.
  • The front page has a different background image everyday (similar to Google's logo being changed for special occasions) and each image has hot spots with more information. But this doesn't interfere with load time.
  • Video results shown in Bing can be played without leaving the search engine.
On the other hand, some of Google's features are missing, Bing doesn't recognize misspellings that Google often identifies with "Did you mean . . . " consequently, Bing returns no results in these cases.

Although Bing has many similarities to Google, but some people have found its results stronger. Microsoft is planning to spend up to $100 million to make this search engine work. Whether Bing is successful or not, it will keep Google in innovation mode. If they develop their own pay per click venue, this could give Google a run for the money.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stop Acting Like A Sissy . . .

I just read this great blog post that directly addresses the mindset of many businesses these days. "Stop acting like a sissy and market your company" by Eric Karjaluoto.

Although I highly recommend you read his post start to finish, here's the topic in a nutshell: Now is not the time to cut your sales and marketing efforts because you will narrow the number of leads coming into your funnel of sales. It is scary out there, for some businesses more than others, but if you're feeling the panic over the current economy and possible consequences to your business remember you are not alone.

Also, it's important to remember that people (& businesses) still need stuff and they are still buying. If they weren't buying, all the stores would be closed - even my business. I can confidently say that business is good and people are still in need of what I have to offer.

Sometimes you may find that you'll have to adjust your pricing, your payment structure or take other measures to keep bringing in business. One suggestion from the blog: make everyone in your company a salesperson and everyone hit the phones.

So, stop acting like a sissy! If you are in need of business, don't huddle in the corner hoping it will all come to you, get out there and start a new grass roots effort to stake your claim.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blueprint Before Building

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting (virutally), Sacred Healing Light based in Madison, Wisconsin. During our initial conversation and review of her website I noticed that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason behind the site structure. Not from a visual standpoint but from a construction standpoint. The architecture behind the site did little in the way of organization.

Why is this important? After all, no one sees the architecture, right? Wrong. The people who see the architecture of the site are the developers who are hired to maintain the site and the search engines. You may even want to update or add to your site on your own and having an organized site structure behind the fancy stuff is important for your own sanity.

The first, most important step to any website design or redesign is to sketch out the blueprint on paper in advance. If your site has hundreds of pages (as many sites do) then you'll especially appreciate this step in the end.

As you add each page to the diagram, remember that each will need to be optimized separately with correct meta tags, title etc.

(note: I prefer round diagrams to denote the multi-dimensional aspect of a website, not flat like a book)

Each section should have it's own folder and index page. Everything stays neatly tucked in it's own area which makes updating a specific page easier - because you'll know right where that page should be in the hierarchy.

When you are naming the pages, use the a file name that reflects the title. This will give additional ease in updating and helps search engines know about the page content.

If you are redesigning a site take care to either use the same file names or use an htaccess file to let the search engines know the page has moved and take people to the content they were expecting. Doing this will assure that you do not lose any traffic in the redesign.

Once you are done with the physical website development create an xml site map and submit the new structure to Google & Yahoo via webmaster tools.

Worth the extra effort? You bet! The sites I've restructured not only make sense from a development angle, they also make sense to people visiting the site because the diagram assists in creating a logical navigation scheme. Try it - I know you'll be happy you did!

Monday, April 13, 2009

ReBlogging - How to make money with SEO

by Seth Godin
(I thought it was so good I decided to deliver it here, just as it was written)

There are two ways to use SEO to help your organization. One is reliable and effective, the other is a glorious crap shoot that usually fails but is wonderful when it works. I'll start with the second.

The most common way to use search engine optimization is to find a keyword (like "plumbing") and do whatever you can to 'own' that word on Google. This is Google as the Yellow Pages (with free ads).

The Yellow Pages are terrific for plumbers, because if you need a plumber, that's where you're going to look. Buy the biggest ad, be the first listing, you get calls. Google is a revelation because it's a super Yellow Pages and it's free! The problem: how to be the first listing, because being the 40th listing is fairly worthless.

The answer: You probably won't be. There are 14 million matches for Plumber, and no, you won't be #1 or #2. You lost. In fact, in just about every keyword worth owning, your chances are winning are small.

(To the .00001% of the people reading this who win--congratulations. You can ignore this post.)

This method is so appealing because it's all about converting the non-converted. For free, you show up in front of people who didn't know about you and you get your shot to convert them. This is the marketer's dream.

Am I saying it's not worth trying to win? Of course not. If you can give it a shot for the right set of keywords and not spend too much or count too much on winning, then go for it. But the other method is a lot more compelling (and, yes, you can do both at the same time).

The other way to use SEO is a bit more organic. (Let's call it the White Pages approach). It involves owning a keyword that you already own. Do a search on ShoeMoney in Google and you'll find 340,000 matches. Wanna guess who's first? ShoeMoney. Why is this surprising? After all, he invented the word and he owns the domain.

Someone hears about Jeremy's site from a friend or from a blog or from some other source. They want to visit his site and they type it into Google. He told me that he gets five times as much traffic from this search term as any other on Google.

The power of this technique is that with determination and patience, you will certainly win. It requires inventing a trademark and then building a business or service or organization around this trademark that people actually talk about. You want to be able to say to someone, "just type ____ into Google."

Obviously, the only people who will do this have heard about you in some other way. So this is an amplification and word of mouth strategy, not a blue sky conversion play.

Here's the math:
If you are lucky enough to 'win' at traditional Yellow Pages SEO, you might convert a few percentage points of the traffic you get into customers. On the other hand, if you win at White Pages SEO, if you win because people talk about your unique take and use your name, you convert just about everyone. Think about that... if someone types Seth into Google, they're probably looking for me, and so when they arrive here, they stay, because they found me. If, on the other hand, they type in Cow, most of the people who end up here aren't looking for my book, so they leave.

David Meerman Scott owns the word 'Meerman'. I have no idea if he uses his middle name in real life, but it sure helps him online. Scott Ginsburg owns the term 'nametag scott'. You get the idea. It's like owning the perfect domain, via Google.

When you start to win at the White Pages strategy, it turns out that this helps you win at both. Your blog or site gets more organic traffic, which will organically raise your Google results for other words and phrases.

Step by step:

1. Make an incredible product, offer a remarkable service.

2. Associate a unique term or trademark with it. (Something that isn't generic, and preferably, not a crowded search term already).

3. Assuming that you do #1 and #2, you'll end up owning that word in the search engines. If you don't, revisit the first two steps.

The hard part, of course, is making something people choose to talk about. The good news is that this is under your control, which is better than the alternative.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Have you experienced any friction in your life recently? When we think of friction it's usually with a negative connotation. But not all friction is bad.

The same can be true for your website.

I recently attended a webinar presented by MarketingExperiments which talked about the quality and quanity of friction on websites. These guys are human factor psychologists so being the geeky girl I am, I naturally felt that I was in my element. Friction on a page...hmmm, something new to consider in this web world. Friction can be as simple as making someone give personal information to be on your email list) Immediately my first thought was that any friction on a page would be a detractor to a potential conversion. However, the words of my father came to mind, "everything in moderation." This seems to prove true in this case too.

So guys and gals this is what I learned. A little friction on your website can be good. Just make sure you have it in the right place and don't overdue it. Get rid of extra steps between the call for action and the end result. Make sure you use clear and simple instructions. The "kiss" rule applies here (keep it simple stupid.) Just remember that you want to make process as easy and natural as possible for your clients to get to and complete the action. Sales and leads are the goal.

Three more tips to keep in mind for your website. Make sure your client can quickly answer the following questions:

1. Where am I?
2. What can I do here?
3. Why should I do it?

These three questions will help keep your website sequence more client friendly.
Friction can always be an inhibitor, but that does not mean that it has to be destructive. Use a little friction to your advantage. The ultimate goal is to optimize the thought process of your client, not the landing page.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Person or The Company?

Today I was talking to one of my clients and I was telling him about the importance of social networking.  As many have already learned, the idea is to become transparent and real to your potential customers. I was giving him ideas of what to put in his blog and what I was working with on twitter and Facebook.

He asked me this question, "Don't people want to know there is a company behind the person?" What he was saying is that he was concerned that if he was blogging as himself and being transparent would he loose his "corporate" image, people would assume that it was just him and not a company. I pointed out other company owners and ceos that tweet like @Zappos

Here is my response: People want to know there is a person behind the company, not that there is a company behind the person.

My reasoning is that people don't by from websites or companies, they buy from people. Who would you rather buy from? The cold corporate image or the guy that you know from his blogs, tweets etc?

Personally, I'm more apt to buy from the people. For example, I recently purchased a new piece of luggage for my upcoming trip because I became introduced to the product through a person on twitter, decided to check out the company that she worked for and saw that the had some good buys. It was because I had been following her, liked what she had to say and the biz philosophy she personified.

Apparently I'm not alone because 78% of people stated they would make purchases based on the recommendation that they've received from co-worker, friend, tweet, blog etc. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”)

So, remember when you blog, tweet, etc. Be real because people want to know the person behind the company.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Snow

It's not very often that I post more personal items (you can get more of that on twitter) but I thought it might be fun to show you the snow we had overnight. This is the view outside my home's front window. I think it's about 6 inches and still coming down.

Hope your day is full of warm thoughts and internal sunshine.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Forget the Hype

Just about every business on the internet states, in some way or another, that they are the best for their particular product or service. Baloney! Companies all over the world will go to great lengths to developing and tweaking their product delivery, marketing, customer service etc. but fail when it comes to knowing their value statement.
A value statement is your unique selling proposition. It's the one thing that you can definitavely say sets you apart from the others.

Think of the tag line for these well known companies:
- Subway: Eat Fresh!
- Walmart: Everyday low prices.
- BMW: The ultimate driving machine.
- Avis: We try harder.
- Domino Pizza: We deliver hot, fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.

What do these phrases say to you? It's a defining statement that promises (from subway) you'll always have a fresh sandwich. This is similar to your "elevator speech" but different in that the value proposition is the major difference between you and the next widget salesperson. Your value proposition should contain quantitative statements about the uniqueness of your business

Take a few moments today to define your value proposition. Think about your customer and what problems they face. Brainstorm with your team to discover those elements of business in which you truly excell to solve the needs of your customer. Think about the single most important reason people should buy from you above everyone else.
Once you think you've got it figured out, add your value proposition to the first page of your website as a headline and see how the public responds in terms of an increase in leads or sales.
This isn't the easiest task in the world, most of the time when I ask a client to come up with their value proposition I'm met with blank stares but once discovered, it turns into the one idea that the entire staff can get behind.

Need help with yours?
Contact me!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What's unsubscribe worth?

When sending out an email campaign most people focus on the open and click-thru rates. While you should be happy when your unsubscribe rate is under 1%, do you really know what that action is worth?

People who unsubscribe to your email felt that the message they received wasn't relevant to them. Worse than the "unsubscribers" are the "mark as spam" users. These recipients were so unimpressed by the email that was sent they simply mark the email as spam (which gets reported to the ISP, who could restrict your message from getting to recipients at all).

It's easy to ignore the unsubscribers but, it's like that old saying: "If one person complains to the company than 100 felt the same way but didn't complain." The unsubscribers are even more dangerous than you think. Because the web is such a social tool, the fact that your message didn't appeal to them will cause each person who unsubscribes to to tell at least 10 other people about the "bad" email that was sent.

The best way to combat unsubscribers is to have an eye catching headline followed by quality information that will appeal across the range of subscribers. If you do loose a subscriber then it's up to you to bring them back before they spread the word. Suggestion: try emailing them personally and offer them an incentive to rejoin / ask them what they found not appealing. Realize that your email may go unanswered but at least you've shown that you are genuinely interested in their opinion, which goes miles towards great customer service.

If you need help with any of your email campaigns, please contact me for a complimentary email review.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Quick Blog About . . . well. . . Blogging!

Blogging doesn't have to be a mind bender.
If you still haven't started blogging (or you have a blog and fail to use it) then this post is for you!

The main reason people (business owners) don't blog is that they don't understand why it's a necessary part of any business website and, quite often, they don't even know how to begin.

Well despite the great value a blog adds to a site in terms of keyword rich content, blogs also reveal the personality of the owner and the culture of the company making it easy for people to want to do business with you. Using an out-of-the-box blogging program like blogger makes it easy for the "blogosphere" to pick up your content and leads to more site traffic. 
In addition, blogs are great for promoting your business via social media. 

Like everything in life, blogging starts with a first post. Some people get real hung up on creating long, thoughtful, informative posts. Don't. Blog posts don't need to be anything more than a paragraph or two on something that is meaningful to you! Here are a few ideas:

  • Have an idea? Put it out there and see what your readers think.
  • See something interesting on your way to the office? Write about it. . .
  • Did something funny happen? Tell the story. . .
  • Going on a business trip or vacation? Tell the audience . . .
The point is, your blog doesn't have to be always about your business. Be transparent by making it about your whole business & your life. Tell people when the company makes a mistake - and how you've learned from it. Share the comments you've received from customers (good & bad) and talk about how the company is addressing them. Talk about the outcomes of your latest business meetings, the experience of your flight in to a strange city on a small airline.  

And include photos! These are more important than ever when you are linking your blog to Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

If you want to get a better idea of how to blog - read blogs. Just get on Google and search the blog content for topics in which you are interested. Add comments when you are inspired by something you read, and feel free to adapt your style to blogs that you find interesting.
Remember, don't use hype or try to sell something. The point is, your blog doesn't have to be a dissertation - have fun with it! Just be yourself.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quick SEO Tips

Many thanks to Alyice Edrich for putting my tips on her blog. She's a freelance writer and asked for suggestions. So, instead of re-inventing the wheel, I'm going to repost the tips here:

  • "Don't brag about your company on the first page. By doing so you loose the natural language that would feed the search engines more effectively (relevancy) and encourage further conversions."

  • "Remember that SEO is never "complete" because technology, language, adoption of products / services all play a part in making high rankings a moving target."

  • "Use the title and description tags correctly. Do not use them as a place to dump a bunch of keywords. By aptly naming each page and putting in a valid description the natural voice will help you achieve better rankings and make search engines happy because they use these two tags."

  • "If you have flash as your first page, dump it. When you have that on the page it is not only difficult for search engines to translate to something with meaning, it's also like barring the department store doors on the day of the big sale.

Reprint by permission only. © Alyice Edrich on Thursday, February 12,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Want a different answer? Ask a different girl.

I can't be your "yes" girl.
Everyday I am asked for my advice on a variety of internet marketing topics. I give this advice freely but, for many people, they just want me to tell them what they want to hear. And I am really bad about not being a "yes" woman.

There are many "SEO" companies that will promise page one results for your company. You want to be on top for "fashion jewlry"? No problem they say and then they take your money, do some unidentifiable work, and you get no results. Of course they were just telling you what you wanted to hear.

Even the best search marketing company cannot perform such magic. There is no way to wave a wand and produce top of search results especially in light of the millions of website owners that want to be on top for the exact same term. Someone has to be second, third, fourth . . .

Almost every time I review a website through my free request service, I see many, many ways the site can be improved in general so it will work well for visitors (usability) and search engines. Most people are so focused on what they perceive to be the money making phrases and hype that they forget about the real human behind the computer who is already primed to consider doing business with you, if you would just tell them how and make it easy.

True search marketing is more than just trying to get high rankings for key phrases, it's also about delivering on the promise and meeting expectations of your visitors.

If you don't have high rankings for a certain word or phrase, don't call or email me. Instead, look at your goals. Do you want to have one word perched at the top of the search results or do you want to do business and make money?

When you are ready to forget about what you think you want, and learn more about what you really need you'll get the results you desire. Sometimes hearing what you really need and not hearing what you want to hear is painful. My philosophy is to tell people the truth so that purposeful goals and solid expectations can be established in the beginning.

In the words of
Tess McGill: "If you want another answer, ask another girl" (Search marketing girl that is...)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Say it isn't so

Every once in awhile an expert of some sort says something I disagree with strongly enough that I think they are misleading the public. This morning I had that experience while watching CNN and Clark Howard speaking so positively of the free dating sites. All I could think was that he must not be single because if he was, he would know that those sites are nothing but trouble in a box.

But that's not what this post is about. I read a post on twitter (yes it's my favorite social media outlet) from the owner of (Kevin Warren) who, IMHO, misunderstood what he read in an article on
Practical E-commerce . Kevin stated,"Paid search is all about keywords. The more targeted keywords you have in your accounts, the more sales you are . . . going to have." While I do agree that having a variety of key terms including obscure phrases that people actually use, I don't agree that you have to have as many as possible.

I think that article was focusing, instead, on the quality of the terms you choose and the importance of targeting the right terms. When I read blanket phrases like the one above, I know there will be many people who read it and go out and suddenly put a bunch of key words in their adwords campaign expecting better click throughs.

Unfortunately, unless you have a good quality score for those terms and a plan of action for the clicks to the landing page the results will not be good at all. The words with low quality score won't even show up in searches so that's time and effort wasted.

If the landing pages for the campaign don't have a clear, direct action for the visitor, then people end up paying for clicks that don't produce.

Choose key terms wisely, be sure they will get you a good quality score, and have a plan for each click to your site. Then your key words will pay off and you'll see results.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Advise to a Multi-Level Marketer

Here's a request for advise I received on a multi-level marketing website from Barbara T. Since I get many inquiries in this field I thought that sharing this information may help other MLM entrepreneurs.

If you are serious about making money with the program you'll need to have your own website (which you do) and you'll need to read carefully the rules the company has put out about having your own site. Many times they will have to review the site for approval (to make sure you haven't misrepresented anything).Once you know what is allowed then you can go to work to make your site successful.

Two things you should know right off the top: 1) Having a website does not automatically guarantee you'll get traffic or make sales (leads) and 2) it will cost you in terms of time and / or money to have a successful website.

The person who told you about putting keywords in the title was right but the title you have is wrong. The title of the page is in the source code along with the description and keyword tags. Write these without hype, be genuinely descriptive and don't include keywords that do not appear in text on the page.

The headline is what you have on the page as a "title." The headline is not for selling. No one is going to come to your site and immediately buy. First they are going to review (scan) the information on the site. The headline should be a compelling statement that will encourage the visitor to go further. Example: "The #1 new year's resolution often fails." Then you could follow it in a slightly smalller text "But you can keep your resolution to lose weight - our product will help"

You also need to have the distributor link and information.

Since it could take a year or more for your site to get good traffic naturally from the search engines, you'll probably need to use pay per click advertising and have a solid landing page to capture leads.

The info above will get you started. . . You'll need a contact form that will generate leads for you as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Magic Formula

The Magic Formula for Online Marketing
What is the magic formula for successful online marketing? That's what everyone wants to know. It's a constant quest for the true "best practice" that guarantees more business online.

Today I got a great comment from one of my long time clients,
Get A Move On (I must confess, I love to hear about the great returns my clients are experiencing).
"We are getting lots of contact requests off of our website. Thank you. We book 80% of them vs 10% of our other internet leads"
So what was his "magic formula?" Well it was paying close attention to the keywords people were using to find his site and the top keywords in his business (moving and storage). He already has high rankings for certain terms, uses google local and started using PPC last year. His pay-per-click campaign is geographically targeted using the same keywords that give him results in the search engines and as identified with

Also an important part of his online marketing campaign is the development of ppc ads that grab attention and a corresponding landing page constructed to convert the incoming traffic to paying customers.

Will this work for your business online? Yes because the basic concepts of solid keyword research is an integral part of every successful campaign. Also important is the implementation of a planned course of action that every visitor should take. Taking advantage of local and geographically targeted campaigns will further qualify your audience. But these are just a few of the elements that go into a successful online marketing program.

Another key factor is the ability of the business owner (or website developer) to work in concert with the internet marketing professional. By having a committed team working with the marketing of the website the necessary tasks can be completed quickly bringing even faster results.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Big is the Internet?

Well, apparently the internet population has reached the billions according to comScore! And, even though that's only 15% to 22% of the entire global populations, that's still a very large number of people.

In the United States alone, 163.3 million people are considered part of the internet populations.
It's interesting to think back at how our world has changed since we first gained access to the internet.
This week the President found that the White House was in the "dark ages" when it came to technology. Of course, the technology that the White House had before the new administration would have shocked even Benjamin Franklin!

Last week I read an article about the end of television advertising for Century 21 Realty. The internet has provided them with so much more in the way of leads per dollar that television pales in comparison.

And then consider the number of newspapers that are looking at bankruptcy or folding completely.

The internet has most definitely changed our world.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

44th President

Today I watched the Inauguration of our new president. I am pretty sure this is the only time in my life I've ever watched the ceremony and I know it's the only time I've ever been so in awe of the tasks that are now on Obama's shoulders. I'm sure that by morning the full weight of the world will be felt. I know I couldn't do his job.

I am also inspired by the change he has stood for during his campaign and his first speech as president. He has so many people counting on him for so much.

I hope that during his term he will not forget how he touched people through the internet and in person. He really seemed to get on the same level as the people. He seemed to have a grasp on what we were all going through.

I know not everyone is pleased with having Obama as president. Now is the time to put that aside and help him to make the change necessary to bring our nation back from the brink. This year it will be more important than ever to communicate with our congressional representatives and senators. If you don't know who they are and how to contact them, take the time to find out because it is certain that you will have an opinion and want to your voice to be heard.

God Bless our 44th President. May he be well guided and wise in his role.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why text content is king

I saw an interesting post in Twitter today so I took a closer look. Steve Rubel had written an excellent post regarding the value of true text on the internet and why it is still the king.

Here are the reasons as he listed them and a couple of my own:

  • It's scannable - according to Jakob Nielsen users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average site visit and 20% is more likely
  • Three letters: SEO - For all that Google Universal Search has done to elevate video, search results are still largely made up of text and everyone wants better SEO
  • The workplace - It's much easier for cube-based workers to read text on the screen and get away with it vs. watching long videos. Watching videos (even work related vids) screams "slacker"
  • Mobile Devices - Yes, of course you can put a video on an iPhone and iPad. But it's work and requires planning. Text is easier to pull up in a nanosecond
  • Distribution - Nothing flies like text. It's so easy to cut and paste it and send it somewhere or to clip and re-syndicate it via email, RSS or social networks
  • Content is a core component to social marketing campaigns.  And having unique content on your own website gives people a reason to come back to your website over and over - great ongoing exposure for your business.
Although text is the best, the major search engines are always seeking ways to index alternative web content like videos. While we are seeing that videos are gaining momentum as quality content because, fundamentally, we are all visual people.  The fact is that people want to be able to have something tangible when they are comparison shopping, learning new information and etc. Text content is the best way to "hold on to" that information in a way that allows your brain to digest and your computer to store information.

So if you want to attract attention, get rid of the splash page and add some solid searchable, scannable content.  And remember to add images for distribution across social media like Facebook, Pinterest and Google plus!
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