Last month Becca and I took a road trip to Waukesha, WI so I could speak at a WordCamp there. For those that do not know, WordCamps are sponsored by the WordPress foundation and are educational weekends for people who want to know more about how they can use WordPress and get more out of their websites. I’ve traveled to many WordCamps this past year including Nashville and Seattle. I had a great time and my presentation has been well-received.
My topic past year has been Managing your Online Reputation. The topic fits in well with just about any industry. I’ve had a great turn out and all the WordCamps so that’s a positive for me. Here are a few pictures from Waukesha. The organizers should be congratulated for a job well done. This was their first WordCamp and there were over 100 people there. Becca and I made some new friends and learned many new things. We will continue participating in more WordCamps this year to make sure we are involved in the community and learn the latest information to share with our clients.
Here are a few pictures from the event. You can view my presentation and others on http://WordPress.tv
Sometimes, I hear from clients who just don’t seem to be making any progress with search engine optimization on Google, even in light of the recent algorithm changes that made it easier to for local businesses to come up in search results.
More often than not, my recommendation comes down to one thing: pay more attention to NAPS.
Unfortunately, I’m not advising you to sleep more in the middle of the day for online marketing purposes – although there’s a chance that could help some of us to be a bit less cranky. Instead, I’m talking about Names, Addresses, and Phone Numbers. If these aren’t accurate, consistent, and up-to-date across the web, it could cause problems for you.
To give you a little more insight as to why NAPS can make or break your local marketing, here’s what you need to know…
Google Uses NAPS to Offer Local Options
When Google crawls the web, it isn’t just looking for keywords and links. It’s also categorizing your website by location, using addresses, ZIP Codes, area codes, and even references to landmarks to determine where you are. Then, that data gets used to match you with local buyers in your area who need vendors or products. Given that nearly a quarter of Google’s 2 billion daily search requests are for something local, earning a share of that traffic should be a high priority.
It Helps to Have Several Sources of NAPS Info
Although Google will draw location data primarily from your website, it will also look for corroborating evidence elsewhere online. That’s where local business directories and industry guides (like Yelp, CitySearch, TripAdvisor, and so on) come into play. If all of them agree on your business name, address, and phone number, then Google can display that information prominently because there is a high probability of giving a searcher exactly what they are looking for.
Outdated NAPS Can Cause Problems
Of course, if corroborating data points are a good thing, then missing or conflicting pieces of information are going to hurt your search visibility. After all, if Google can’t be sure who you are, where you operate, or how customers should contact you, then how can they send traffic to your website without frustrating buyers? For that reason, skipping NAPS and leaving entries blank or with the wrong contact info can be a real problem.
It’s easier than you might think to let your contact details get jumbled. When we moved offices this summer, we discovered just how many entries there were for our business online, both in Peoria and beyond. And naturally, we have more time and attention to devote to online marketing the most of our clients do.
But if the thought of managing dozens of profiles sounds overwhelming, I’ve got some good news: our company is now offering a convenient, low-cost service to ensure your business is listed in all relevant directories, and that your entries stay up-to-date. That’s an easy way to boost your local search visibility, and to ensure that customers who are looking for you can find you easily on the web.
The right NAPS can help your online marketing stay fresh and alert, especially for buyers in your area. Why not call us today at 309-699-2849 to see how easy and affordable it is to get started with our directory listing services?
Are you guilty of treating the photos and images in your email marketing as an afterthought? If so, now is the time to change your ways. Here are three ways you can use graphics more effectively in your email newsletters:
#1: Choose an image or photo that’s interesting – don’t simply choose the first piece of clipart you can find; think like a magazine editor and try to choose an image (one that you have the rights or permissions to use, of course) that creates interest or helps to tell your story.
#2: Make sure to optimize image size with the right resolution – no one wants to sit around waiting for your image to load, especially if they’re viewing your email newsletter from a tablet or smart phone. Do your subscribers a favor and keep image sizes on the smaller side.
#3: Make your image clickable – lots of subscribers will click on images instead of text out of simple force of habit. Make sure yours have hyperlinks that lead to your landing page or any follow-up information.
The right image can add a lot to your email newsletter, and the wrong one is a waste of space and attention. Put a bit of careful thought into the images you choose, because they have a big impact on click through rates.
Want more of your subscribers to open your emails? That starts with writing better subject lines. Here are five easy ways you can make yours more compelling:
#1: Ask a Question – see if you can frame your subject in the form of a question (like “Are you spending too much on web design?”). It creates interest and curiosity about your message.
#2: Promise a Secret – people love secrets! Giving them “5 Secret Tips for Better Marketing,” for example, is a great way to pique their interest.
#3: Offer a Reminder – if the article or idea has been anticipated, say so. Use a subject line like “Here’s
That Product Review You’ve Been Waiting For.”
#4: Use the Power of Numbers – giving numbered tips (like in the title of this post) makes your topic seem easy and accessible.
#5: Lead with a Discount – subscribers love sales and discounts, so if you are having a “20%-off summer sale,” say so in your email subject line.
Any of these five tips can be used to increase the opening of your email newsletter. Give them a try with your next newsletter or promotion!
Now that Google is emphasizing geography in its search results, and customers are increasingly turning to web directories instead of printed Yellow Pages guides, finding local customers is easier than ever with online marketing. And yet, we occasionally meet with business owners who say they don’t really need local buyers.
So, should you care about them?
Before you answer in your mind, consider two things:
First, local customers are easier to win – making inroads in local SEO is often just a matter of changing a few keyword phrases on your website and adding some inexpensive location pages. Plus, buyers trust you more when you’re in the neighborhood.
And second, customers are easier to keep – because it’s easy to form relationships with local customers, they are more likely to stick with you over time, even if some of your competitors have lower prices. Because local buyers know and like you, they tend to be more loyal.
The bottom line is this: in the era of modern online marketing, even if you don’t need local customers, you should want them. They bring a lot to your business, and you won’t have to change much on your website to earn their business again and again.
Sometimes, when we talk to web design clients about ongoing web maintenance, we can almost see them roll their eyes. It’s as if they’re thinking: “First we have to pay for the website, now you want us to pay to keep it, too?”
That’s certainly one way to look at it — but a better way is that website maintenance is like a very inexpensive form of insurance. Not only is it good for keeping your website up-to-date, but it can also be an absolute lifesaver if something bad ever happens to your shiny new web presence.
Data loss resulting from hacking, hosting problems, and simple employee errors can all kill your website in a matter of seconds. If you find yourself dealing with any of those issues, the first thing you’re going to want is someone who knows your website inside and out, has performed regular backups, and can get it restored within minutes. That’s exactly what you get with ongoing website maintenance.
Your website is a big investment. Doesn’t it make sense to maintain it and get the insurance you need to keep it secure?
There is a lot of information out there about search engine optimization, but not a lot in the way of great advice.
Let me explain: there are plenty of experts willing to teach you about tags, keyword density, page titles, and inbound links. They’ll happily take your money and devise complicated schemes to help you improve your visibility on Google.
That’s all good and well, but there is a hard truth about SEO that is not often recognized: make some basic changes to your website and add some fresh content, and you’ll probably see big improvements in a short amount of time. After that, though, progress in SEO is incremental, and it takes a lot of work.
In other words, if there’s a lot of competition for the top spots on Google in your industry, expect that the initial push is going to help, but then improvement will probably be slow and steady. Even if you reach the top spot, it’s going to take some money and effort to retain it.
Does that mean you should invest in search engine optimization? Of course not. It just means you should go into it with the right expectations, even if your search engine expert doesn’t tell you so from the outset.
Lots of online marketers, and especially newer ones, waste thousands and thousands of dollars in pay-per-click advertising every year because they neglect to follow one simple rule: look for buyers, not searchers.
Never forget that the goal of your campaigns is to increase sales, not necessarily to bring lots of traffic to your website. The two sometimes go hand-in-hand, but not always.
To help you keep you focus on buyers and not searchers, here are a few quick tips to follow:
Use More Specific Keywords – look for search phrases that signal a buying intent, and don’t automatically bid on a phrase or term just because it gets lots of traffic.
Put Negative Keywords to Use – keeping the searchers you don’t want away is just as valuable as bringing in the ones you do. Make liberal use of negative keywords so you aren’t paying for clicks that will never turn into sales.
Tweak Your Account Settings – make sure you have the correct location, time, language, and device settings for your advertising messages.
It’s easy to waste thousands on search advertising if you aren’t careful, so put these tips to use today!
Facebook ads – and social media advertising in general – present an interesting dilemma for a lot of business owners and marketers. On the one hand, we’ve all seen firsthand how quickly PPC ads took off, and were effective, as search engines gained in popularity. But on the other, lots of companies are nervous about investing money into social advertising when they aren’t quite sure how it works, or where the opportunities are.
What they may not realize is that it’s often easier than they think to get an instant bottom-line boost from Facebook ads. Here are a few of the reasons why:
Facebook Advertising Lets You Target Customers Differently
Traditional pay-per-click advertising campaigns revolve around keyword searches, but on Facebook you can target customers by information they give about themselves, rather than whatever they’re looking for at the moment. This can be a powerful distinction, as some products or ideas don’t get much search traffic (because customers aren’t aware of them, for example) and/or bidding on them would be expensive.
On Facebook, Even Advertising Is More Social
If you impress a customer enough on Facebook, they are likely to share your post (and products) with their contacts. That means a successful campaign can start to gain lots of momentum quickly, and can even take on a “viral” sort of quality. Get your messaging right, and you could get a lot of bang for your buck.
Facebook Ads Are Great for Impulse Purchases
Everyone knows people go on Facebook mainly to have fun. Why not tap into that and get them interested in your app, game, or other entertainment product? If you have something that looks like a good time and doesn’t cost a lot, you could find Facebook to be your best advertising outlet.
If you haven’t tried Facebook advertising yet, you might be missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business. Why not give me a call and try social marketing this week? It’s easy to get started, and you won’t know how well it works until you’ve given it a shot!
Most of us will never come closer to a zombie apocalypse than the slow crawl through our Monday morning drive to work, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things we can learn from our favorite undead drama. In fact, it turns out watching a little bit of TV – and studying what we see each week –could even be good for business.
Don’t believe me? Here are four things any entrepreneur can learn from The Walking Dead…
#1 You Have to Know Who You Can Trust
As any loyal viewer of The Walking Dead will know, it isn’t just the zombies you have to look out for; sometimes your fellow survivors are the real threat. That’s a good thing to remember in business, too. Some colleagues and vendors really do want to help you, while others are just looking for an easy way to get into your pockets. Learning to tell the difference and manage your relationships accordingly is important.
#2 It’s Hard to Survive without a Good Leader
On TV, Rick is a strong leader who only delegates tasks to those he knows can handle them. That kind of leadership is critical to the group as a whole, and maximizes everyone’s skills or talents. Remember that anyone you work with has things they are good at – and things they aren’t so good at. When you ignore that basic reality, you set yourself up for disaster.
#3 It’s All about Working with What’s at Hand
Each week, the gang on The Walking Dead has to find new ways to make do with what amounts to scraps. Because others have often picked through the best options, they may find themselves crafting weapons from twine or belt buckles and even braiding straws. Most entrepreneurs can relate to that. When you’re first starting out, you probably won’t have money for everything you want for your business, so making do with what you have (or can afford) at the moment is a valuable skill.
#4 You Never Get Better If You Don’t Learn New Things
None of the characters on the show started out as a zombie-fighter. Carol, for example, was a battered housewife who has become one of the most dangerous people in the group. You might not ever undergo that kind of change, but successful entrepreneurs do grow and evolve all the time. Just because you don’t have a skill now doesn’t mean you can’t develop it later.
It turns out The Walking Dead isn’t just entertaining us, but also is giving out lots of great advice on business ownership. Hopefully you can use these four tips to stop the competition from pulling you back into the crowd of the undead?