Sunday, December 13, 2015

Buiild & Sustain Your Online Marketing - 3 Steps

“Over Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend over $14.7 billion in online sales took place, over half of those on mobile devices.”
~ Market Watch

We live in the age of digital marketing, like it or not. Without a web site touting your wares, you will be dropped from the map that the hordes of shoppers peruse.

Obviously, the first step to be a marketer in the 21st century: get a web site in place with your own domain - one that you own. With that accomplished, you must determine what degree you want to participate in the evolving, and essential, three segments of a professional digital marketing plan: content development, web site development, and marketing campaigns.  Let’s take a closer look at each of these so understand if you are making the best steps to advance your cause.

Content Development

Having quality content is the core of any successful web site - across all business markets and industry categories. Typical this happens in phases for a small or medium size business. In a large business there is usually a web developer on staff. Meaning, with a full time resource, that kinda commitment produces an automatic content creator will churn out content constantly. 

“Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”  ~ Google Web Master

Small and medium size businesses, in my experience, hire a local resource to produce their web content. I have to add, that most businesses I work with get bombarded with calls offering SEO services, the majority of which are people saying they represent Google, and using high pressure tactics to sell content development services. Consider yourself warned; they are a fraud.  Smart business owners want a face to see and hand to shake to do business, especially since they rarely understand the complexity of online marketing and need someone they can depend on to accomplish that for them.

Quality Pages

According to the buzz at this writing, a quality page, according to Google Search Standards, is at least 1,00 words and 2,000 is better. The content on that page is unique and relevant to the topic that relates to the web site. For example, if your web site is a bakery, then maybe your home pages discusses your services in general with specific links to each section of your site. One section is catering services. Another section is breads and pasties. One more section could be cakes. Still another section is your cafe.  How to make the page links to unique sections is covered in Site Architecture below.

When considering the effort tout into your site content, a base rule is 50 pages. When you have 50 pages or more online in your site, you have reached a real milestone. This level of content tells Google and Bing that this web site is here to stay and, more importantly, has something to say.

Producing that is a significant expense in terms of time and labor. But, remember, once you have achieved a first page search result in your SEO status, using organic search results, it cannot be taken away unless your competitor does better content than you. Investing is quality content production will pay off dividends in search engine marketing unless you let it stagnate.

Visitor Traffic

Beyond the obvious goal of increasing web site visitor traffic to your pages, you have to think about conversion and engagement.  When a visitor lands on your home page, you have about a minute, or less, to get them to take some action.

Build your home page content so it is interesting from a customer point of view.

What benefits do your wares offer to customers?

How will your wares help customers solve an issue?

Those three questions will help you build an engagement strategy.  a simple engagement strategy is using a call to action. You see them today as a pop up window on many sites. The window asks you do to something. In fact, you have to do something, even if it’s clicking the ‘X’ to close the window.

Another, more subtle, engagement strategy is using a subscribe button to collect email addresses.

The conversion rate measures the number of people who complete a call to action you created, EX become a subscriber, out of the total number of visitors. More about that in the Marketing Campaign information below.

Web Site Development

There are three main components to web development. Before we cover those, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.
  • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
  • Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the ALT attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.
  • Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
  • Check for broken links and correct HTML.
  • If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a "?" character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.

Site Architecture

Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.  Site architecture is important since it’s the map to of your business, in the eyes and ears of the search engine spiders. Each section should be it’s own directory. And each page of a directory should be the index.html or index.php, or index.htm page.

In our example above, here is a listing of the site architecture of the site:


Ideally, on the Home page you have text and pictures that link to each of the section pages.

When you have pages within a section, be sure to make the link descriptive since that will enhance your SEO credibility.

For example, you produce birthday cakes and customized cakes and wedding cakes. Why not make a page for each one?

Meta Tags
For every page on your site be sure to use descriptive and unique meta tags for the page Title and page Description. Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page's content; the meta tags don't appear on the page itself, but only in the page's code. We all know tags (labels) from blogging, and meta tags are more or less the same thing, little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.

A new meta tag to arrive is Open Graph (OG). It’s not so much about SEO but has more to do with sharing your site in social media. Facebook introduced OG in 2010 to help it assimilate content data into an existing Facebook Standard.

Nowadays, other social media sites also are taking advantage of social meta tags. All of the other major platforms, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, recognize Open Graph tags. Twitter actually has its own meta tags for Twitter Cards, but if Twitter robots cannot find any, Twitter uses Open Graph tags instead.

Marketing Campaigns

Marketing really involves your content development and your web development. Without a solid approach to those two, you will minimize your search engine traction. SEO weaves it’s self into all three segments covered in this article. Publishing your site is, in its self, a marketing endeavor.  For many web site owners that is their marketing  strategy.

To build a more complex marketing effort, here are a few points to consider.

#1 Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.  Research what terms are being used to find your wares in Google Ad Words. Use a limited number of those phrases on your pages. Even better, use them as text links to other pages on your site.

#2 Links play an important role in SEO. They help search engine crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

#3 Another method to build your SEO is creating inbound links to your site from high traffic, media rich, web sites. For example, produce short videos about your products and place them in YouTube and Vimeo, include your web site link in the description of the video. And, be sure to embed keywords into your video.

Social media is a great place to create an inbound link to your site. Be sure to use a natural link and not a shortened link.

#4 Use Google Analytics to measure general and specific visitor traffic. General traffic is the day-to-day traffic. Specific traffic is measuring the engagement strategies we discussed above in this article. Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. According to Wikipedia,  Google Analytics (GA) is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.

Maybe you have a call to action where you want people to view a video on a specific age. Or, you want to track what page visitors come from on your site to view a subscription offer or discount product special. You can track all of those metrics, and more, in the free version of GA. If you have any questions, let me know.

#5 Automate your marketing processes whenever possible and maximize cloud storage. There are so many free and cost effective tools today, plus more are created every month. Keep your pulse on ways to 1) store your marketing data freely online, 2) build or use existing tools, that automate your conversion processes - most can be done with free online tools, 3)  to process web site visitor

Steu Mann has over 15 years of consulting with business owners and educators to learn more effective ways to use web technology. He can be reached at (541) 200-5269.

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