Thursday, April 30, 2009
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
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
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
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
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.