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Archive for August, 2008

Five questions are hardly enough to cover everything you need to address to make your web site as successful as it could possibly be. However, you need to make sure these basics are addressed. Often people believe they’ve covered the following five questions until they’re really put to the test.

  1. Is your site navigation “really” easy to understand? In other words, if a visitor has never been to your site and knows nothing about your industry, is your site navigation totally self explanatory?
  2. Does every page of your site have a clear and targeted message? Are you maximizing the conversion potential of every page by keeping your visitors focused on what the page is suppose to be selling?
  3. Is the text of your site easily scanable? If the most important things you want your visitors to know are buried within the text of several paragraphs, forget it. Make sure the most important information is easily spotted with bolding, bullets, etc. Remember, people scan web pages quickly to see if the content is of interest. Only after you’ve got their attention will they maybe read it.
  4. Does your web page content answer your visitors questions? If an item is available in other colors do you show swatches? Do you provide key product details that a potential buyer may want to know such as weight and measurements? Are you providing different image views? As the old saying goes, the more you tell the more you sell.
  5. Are your product images as good as they can be? Look at the photos on your site and answer this honestly. Are your product photos of a high resolution and do they “clearly” show the details of your products? Would you buy the product based on the images used on your site?

It’s a good idea to tour your site on occasion and to look for any weaknesses that your site may have. Even the smallest of details can have a significant impact on your conversion rates. Therefore, you want to always be thriving to continuously improve your web site in the eyes of your visitors. Make some time today to apply these five questions while touring your site. Some of your answers may surprise you!

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The idea of social media marketing is often embraced with mixed perceptions. Maybe this is due in part the “marketing” word, which conjurors up a lot of wrong ideas as to what social media is really all about. So from now on, think of your social media marketing efforts as “social media optimization”. Taking this view will not only make the time and effort required to be successful in social media more enjoyable, you’ll ultimately gain better results. Now put on your social media thinking cap and approach all of your future efforts with a big picture view of building an awareness of your brand.

One of the most powerful brand building opportunities participating in social media offers is link building. As we’ve discussed before, quality links lead to higher search engine rankings. Keep in mind that many social media sites are given a lot of weight by the search engines. As you’ve probably noticed, social media sites such as Digg, Propeller and YouTube regularly show up within Google’s top ten search results. Now imagine if these high ranking pages linked to your website or blog. Overtime this can become a lot of “link juice” to help push your own site up in Google’s rankings.

If you don’t already have a blog – get one. Anyone can have a blog for free by visiting WordPress.com. Regardless of the topic of your site, there are tons of things you can blog about ranging from new product introductions to news related to your industry. Like any online effort, it will take time to see significant results, but you have to keep at it. Even if you only do one quality blog post a week, these valuable posts will add up over time, and before you know it your following and traffic will increase. Also, make sure you’re active on other blogs within your industry and leave “relevant comments” with a link back to your own website or blog.

Social media is like any other activity; you have to work at it in order to be successful. In other words, you have to be active. Like the famous sales trainer Zig Zigler once said, “You have to circulate in order to percolate”. This is the same for your social media efforts. You have to be continuously active or you will never see results. If you’re not going to commit the time and effort, you’ll never gain any ground in the social media arena.

Focus your efforts. With all of the social media sites available it is impossible to participate on them all. So you want to limit your efforts to a few key sites and regularly put effort into them. Ultimately, you have to decide where you want to participate. However, here are some suggested sites to check out.

  1. Delicious
  2. Digg
  3. FaceBook
  4. LinkedIn
  5. MySpace
  6. Pownce
  7. Propeller
  8. Reddit
  9. Squidoo
  10. StumbleUpon
  11. Twitter
  12. Yahoo! Answers
  13. YouTube

Although the above list isn’t all inclusive, it should help you get going in the right direction. Whatever sites you decide to participate in, make sure they’re worth your time as far as being sites that actually attract traffic. There’s no point in participating in social media sites no one visits. To get an idea of whether or not a site receives enough traffic to make it worthwhile for you to participate, use a traffic ranking tool such as Quantcast or Compete. Keep in mind these tools only provide some idea of traffic volumes and they are not truly accurate.

Think like a virus. Make your social media efforts easy for visitors to pass on to others by adding social bookmarking buttons such as those from AddThis or ShareThis. The easier you make it for people to share your efforts, the more exposure your will gain and the more links you will build to your website or blog.

In a nutshell, being successful in social media is really as easy as described above. The hard part is making the commitment to stick to working at it day after day, week after week, even if immediate results aren’t seen. Other than that, it’s a matter of quality. Every comment you post on someone else’s blog must be relevant, every Tweet on Twitter must add to the conversation. You’ll find that over time, you will develop more traffic to your site and build awareness of your products and brand by simply being out there. Think of it as socializing. After all, that’s why it’s called social media.

Have thoughts on this post? Additional tips? Leave a comment and share!

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In the good old days, it was enough to simply have a website. After all, Kevin Costner told us that, “If you build it they will come”. Today, any online retailer will tell you that Kevin’s old saying is just that; an old saying.

An online business consultant will tell you that great website design will make a big difference in your online success, and that is 100% true. But regardless of how well your site is designed and built, online success begins with driving traffic to your site.

With this said, here are three key factors to get the wheels rolling in your quest to become an online all-star.

  1. Use sound on-site search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
    89% of internet users begin their experience with a search engine. Turning up high on those search results is a key part of driving quality traffic. Sound SEO strategies will get you there and keep you there. Sound strategies include basics such as keyword rich headlines and copy, in addition to carefully researched keywords in your Meta tags. Without a solid footing in your on-site SEO, it will be virtually impossible to gain any level of significant level of success online.
  2. Create compelling web page content.
    Look at your web pages. Is your layout attractive or jarring? Are you using strong calls to action, or assuming the visitor will ‘just know’ what to do? The right mix of words, graphics and informational content is all it takes to raise your rate of conversion as high as 10%. Don’t be mistaken; writing compelling content isn’t easy. It’s generally not intuitive, and doesn’t follow the conventions that your English professor taught you. However, the more you study what other sites are doing right (and wrong), put great methods into practice, and practice applying them throughout your site, the more your conversion rates will increase.
  3. Leverage off-site search engine optimization strategies.
    Remember the fairy tale about Rapunzel imprisoned in her lonely tower? I’m sure Rapunzel was a beautiful, sweet, and intelligent girl, but it was a long time before Prince Charming stumbled over her in the forest.Much like Rapunzel in her tower, your website will be a very lonely place unless people can find it. This means developing quality inbound links.

    Great inbound links not only help search engines find you, it also puts you in the path of more human visitors. When looking for links, look for directory sites where you can add your URL such as dmoz.org, Jayde.com, and ThomasNet.com. Look for blogs about your industry, or a related industry, and develop a relationship with them. Also, submit relevant content from your own website or blog to social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, and Delicious. And don’t forget – regular online press releases can generate quality inbound links by the thousands, all in one go.

Don’t be distracted by every new marketing tip that’s screaming for your attention. By focusing on these Three Keys, attaining a higher level of success online will be much easier. All you have to do is improve your on-site SEO, improve your on-page content, and constantly develop your stable of quality inbound links.

It’s that simple – and it works.

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Last week we talked about building inbound links to augment your SEO. This week, we’ll talk more about the details of link creation, including keywords and content.

As with anything related to SEO, it is imperative to use the right keywords in when building links. Using the same wedding photographer example that we used last week, your first step would be to find out the keywords that fit your business. Then aim build those into the text of, and around, your link. Good text links for our photographer might be ‘wedding pictures’, ‘wedding photography’, ‘wedding photographer’, etc.

Whatever you do, don’t guess. Refer to a keyword research tool like WordTracker or Google’s Keyword Tool. Find out which words are the most popular among search engine visitors and use those.

Once you’ve carefully built your keyworded link, it is also important that the page you’re linking to contains the same keywords. If you focus on building links with terms that aren’t found on your web page, it is unlikely your site will ever show up in the search results. Remember, relevance is key, and content is king.

And this leads us to the next step. Quality one way inbound links should lead visitors to valuable content. Always optimize your content for your human visitors first, and then tune it up with keywords for the search engines. This should be done before you begin building inbound text links. After all, what good is a path if it leads to nowhere?

Consider the relationship between the content of a site you’re trying to acquire a link on, and the content of your website. Google looks at this relationship for signs of relevance, and assigns your votes accordingly. For our wedding photographer, links from sites about weddings or photography will hold more weight with Google than links from sites about, say, pet food.

Link building mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t waste your time getting links from sites with no PageRank. One or two links from relevant PageRank 5+ sites can be worth more than 100 links from sites with no PR. (To determine a page’s rank you will need to go to download the Google Tool Bar and chose to view PageRank.)
  • Be careful about buying links. This can lead to a blacklisting by Google. If your website only has a few back links one day and the next day you have hundreds, Google may penalize you. It can take as much as a year for your site to recover.
  • Don’t spend too much time building URL links. Look for anchor text links that use your keywords in the text of the link.
  • Make sure the links you get are worth something. Look for value in terms of benefiting your SEO, or putting you in smack dab in front of your target audience.

Remember, links count as votes, and the more quality votes your site receives, the higher it will rank in search engines.

Now that you know how to build quality links with effective keywords, you’re ready to get started. Get out there and get some positive link juice flowing your way.


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