Archive for the ‘Search Engines 101’ Category

5 Proven Methods to Boost Your Google Rankings

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On May - 20 - 2014

googlePublishers Note: Gregg Towsley is a fellow Digital Marketer who specializes in helping plumbing/HVAC companies get more local exposure on the Internet to help grow their business. Gregg’s area of expertise is with helping plumbing and HVAC companies get listed high in the search engines, but his recommendations are just plain good advice for any local business that relies on website traffic. It’s all part of a process called Adaptive SEO, which by most accounts is the only way to “future proof” your search engine efforts.

 


 
 By Gregg Towsley

Gone are the days of tricking your way to a number one position. Old tactics like multiple user accounts, keyword stuffing, and spammy content just don’t work anymore… and in fact can get you in to trouble.  Google updates like Google Panda and Penguin and Hummingbird have made it harder than ever for website owners to maintain top search engine rankings above competitors.

Today, if you want to get your plumbing/HVAC company listed high in the search engines, you need to invest long-term in best practice SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Best practice SEO has two key elements that together form a very POWERFUL combination:

  1. Content
  2. Social activity

 

The Five Steps to Adaptive SEO Success:

1. Keyword and Competitive Research
At the core of every successful SEO (search engine optimization) strategy is a comprehensive keyword research component, one that includes discovering highly converting non-branded keywords as well as your branded keywords that you want to dominate the results for.  This research will show you who is listing (competition) above you.

2. Technical SEO Fundamentals
The technical fundamentals and the foundation of your website need to be correct and operational.  Things like load speed, site structure, navigation, user experience, and responsive design all play a part in how the search engines rank your site pages.

3. Optimized Content Marketing Plan
SEO cannot be done successfully without the inclusion of content marketing plan.  Your content should help your customers through the buying process and be distributed effectively through your social networks.

An example of content, you can provide answers to ALL the common questions your plumbing and HVAC technicians hear in the field. These questions and answers can be posted on your website in multiple pages and shared on your social channels. Example two, create content around the different geographies that your plumbing and HVAC trucks services. Each services area can be a separate page of your website. 

4.  Publish, Socialize, Share
The social signals generated from the top social media channels can be used to increase or discoverability in the search engines and help you distribute your content to you hyper local service areas. Remember, social networks are part of SEO (search engine optimization) and over 65% of ALL internet searches are geographic (location based within a 10 mile radius of a zip code) in nature.

5. Benchmark, Report, Improve
Regular analysis of the data is essential. Reviewing your search ranking position for a keyword/keyword phrase, data back links, social signals, social reach, organic visits, phone calls, leads, and conversion metrics are all critical in helping you make the right decisions. This information helps you decide what should happen next in your search strategy.

 

In conclusion, unless you take action with a new approach to SEO like the one suggested above, you will find yourself falling off search engines radar and your competition rising above you.

 

As the founder of Grow Plumbing,Gregg Towsley helps plumbing and HVAC businesses reach and connect with more customers online. Find Gregg and his team at www.GrowPlumbing.com

 

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Online Reviews are a Key Strategy to Your Marketing Plan

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On February - 27 - 2014

Reputation ManagementPublishers Note: Gregg Towsley is a fellow Digital Marketer who specializes in helping plumbing/HVAC companies get more local exposure on the Internet and grow their business. If there is one thing we agree on, it’s the absolute necessity for local businesses…in any industry to proactively manage reputation through positive customer reviews.


By: Greg Towsley


 

Online reviews play an important role in your ability to your grow plumbing/HVAC business, not just with word of mouth marketing, but online reviews also have a stake in the success of your online marketing. If you aren’t soliciting your customers for online reviews then you could be missing out on some great marketing opportunities.

 

In the past, word of mouth marketing was a very powerful plumbing marketing tool, and it still is today. However with the onset of the internet, word of mouth marketing has changed over the years. While the traditional form of word of mouth marketing is still alive and well, the power of online reviews supersedes the later. With online plumbing marketing trends changing ever so rapidly it is important to stay on top of the trends. Google algorithms are constantly changing and adapting to combat some of the earlier strategies of SEO and link-building, in an effort to promote relevant content for search results. In addition, with the onset of more and more mobile searches, online reviews prove to be more relevant in some search results.

 

Here’s why you should be soliciting online reviews
Online reviews for a plumbing/HVAC company allow owners to reach out to customers. We hope that all of your customers have wonderful things to say about your plumbing company, however on occasion there will be a disgruntled customer. Online reviews allow company owners to correct a bad business experience. By taking a negative situation and correcting it, it creates a positive customer experience. This is pure customer service, and an important part of owning a plumbing company. It allows plumbing companies to find out what their customers are looking for to better serve them.

 

Online reviews are also great to create new business. Like we stated before this is the new word of mouth marketing, and new customers are more likely to hire a professional plumber that has great reviews vs. one who has bad reviews with no resolution or one who has no reviews at all. Customers listen to what other customers have to say more than any other source.

 

Reviews help improve search ranking. The more reviews a plumbing business has the more relevant to search engines your plumbing company will be. Google favors online reviews because they are organic. With Google Local reviews are heavily weighted, and many mobile users pull up search results from platforms such as these because they are more compatible with mobile use. In this sense you are allowing your customers to do the plumbing marketing for you. In addition many reviews will contain keywords that bring in new customers.

 

All in all, online reviews are great for plumbing/HVAC marketing and a good strategy to grow a plumbing/HVAC business. If you are short on reviews first make sure you have claimed your local directories on Google, Bing, YahooLocal, and Yelp! Then simply ask your customers to review your plumbing business, you can even send a follow up email after service has be completed or reach out to them on social media. This is a great way to engage with your customers and do some free marketing.

 

Here are 4 tips to get more online reviews for your business.

  1. Organic method—making sure your business is listed on as many third-party sites as possible, so that customers can find you if they feel like writing reviews spontaneously.
  2. Phone call—kinda old-fashioned, but highly effective.
  3. Link to clickable images on your site—something that customers who return to your site can click on to write you reviews.
  4. Single-page handouts—a sheet of instructions you can simply hand to customers, which walks them through how to post a review.

Gregg Towsley is the founder of Grow Plumbing “All Things Plumbing Marketing” and blogs regularly at GrowPlumbing.com.

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What is Visual Content, and why do I Care?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On November - 8 - 2013

 

Face it, the Internet is all about content. Why else would you go there unless you expected to find a product or service that you’re looking for, or to consume videos or music, or to share socially with your friends? Visual content is simple converting your message to something consumers “see” rather than just read. It comes in many different flavors, but here are a few of the more popular ones that you can leverage for your business:

 

Infographics:

A nicely designed and targeted infographic is amongst the most sharable content on the Internet today and should be a part of every businesses Digital Marketing strategy. Simply put, and infographic is a fun and efficient way to learn about a topic without doing a ton of boring reading. Even heavy, dry statistical based information becomes easy to digest.

Essentially a series of text and images organized into one large comprehensive graphic designed to present complex information easily and clearly. The ultimate goal is for it to be shared. In fact, high quality infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles. Why? Because human beings are naturally visual…and lazy.

 

What are the Benefits of having my Infographic shared?

Branding: Create something interesting and let others do the work for you. Tastefully branding the graphic with your company logo, contact information, and even a call to action can grow your brand and position you as an authority in your industry. A particularly good Infographic can go viral (or at least be shared between friends and groups on Social Media). Whenever the Infographic is shared, it spreads your brand across your demographic. The idea is to put it in motion and let everyone else spread the word for you.

Direct Traffic: There is a ridiculous amount of information on the Internet…most of it noise unless it’s something that is of particular interest to us as individuals. Anyone who takes the time to look through your Infographic has already pre-qualified themselves by virtue of the fact that they were interested (why else would they bother looking at it?). If it’s a topic that is near and dear to their heart, and it’s a product or service that you offer they may click through to your website out of curiosity alone.

Backlinks to your website: One of the most enduring search engine optimization factors has been links form other web properties (blogs, other websites, directories, etc.) back to your website. Search engines make the assumption that if someone was willing to link to a page on your website, without you necessarily linking back to them, you must have something of value to share. Because of the fun –factor alone, webmasters are more prone to publishing an Infographic (and the associated link back to your website) than they are posting a text based article.

Social Signals: Consistent with backlinks to your website being an indication that you have something of value on your website, search engines also factor in shares, likes, re-tweets and re-posts from Social Media, and infographics are full of the types of info we love to share with our friends on social media like fun-facts and interesting tidbits of information.

Here is an example of a recent Infographic we did for Michaels Tsao Photography, a local wedding photographer in Orange County, CA:

 

 

How Much Does a Wedding Cost? – An infographic by the team at Michael Tsao Photography

This was part of an overall search marketing strategy. In the first month we were able to publish this Infographic on 65 different web properties and blogs.  It’s a bit early to tell, but this should give our search engine optimization a nice little bump in the weeks to come.

Infogrpahics are just one type of visual content. For example publishing a virally shared cultural symbol or social idea called a “meme” on Facebook is also a sound on-going strategy:

 

Meme’s:
You’ve seen these on Facebook and Google Plus for years. I don’t know about you, but when I scroll through my Facebook feed, I just filter past anything without a graphic and any graphic with text that is too small to read. I favor images that tell a story or a joke at a glance. Sometimes the image is the entire story, sometimes it’s the image and a caption, and sometimes just a caption (see below).

 

 

 

Presentations:
Creating or publishing existing PowerPoint type presentations on SlideShare is also a good strategy. Chances are you already have a library of presentations (or at least good ideas) waiting to be published. Sometimes they can simply be uploaded “as-is”, but typically a few minor tweaks to accommodate your target audience is all it takes.

Here is an example of a SlideShare presentation we adopted from a workshop we did on Landing Page design for a group of Digital Marketing consultants in Toronto late last year.

 

It quickly garnered almost 2000 views and multiple downloads and shares. It was originally done for a live presentation, but with a few minor tweaks we quickly repurposed it to continue to live on the Internet and promote our brand. To this day, it’s still getting views and shares.

 

Promoting your Visual Content: Just a few ideas…

  • Include Embed Code: This is a snippet of HTML code that a visitor can copy from the bottom of your blog post or Infographic that will allow them to add it to their own blog, thus virally sharing your content, and crediting your website with a high-quality backlink for SEO purposes. Here is what it might look like:

There are free embed code tools that will help you generate your own code. However websites such as SlideShare will automatically generate an embed code for you:

 

  • Leverage your Network: That’s code for “Social Media”. We generally write a very short teaser and an image to catch the eye. Then we syndicate it out simultaneously to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn. For a minimal investment, you can experiment with paid advertising on these social channels which will give your content a real boost. Since these social networks know everything about everyone, you can really target your audience by demographics and location. This will give you plenty of bang for your buck.

 

  • Content Curation: Pinterest, Tumblr, SlideShare are all great places to collet visual content. If you create enough of your own, you can feature your own works exclusively. If not, you can blend (but highlight) your own content with other worthwhile and relevant content that you collect around the web. For example, one of our clients ABC Glass & Mirror started their “Dream” Boards on Pinterest featuring “Dream Showers” “Dream Bathrooms” Dream Mirrors”, etc. Most of the images on their boards are theirs…but not all of them. They feature glass shower doors, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing. So to augment their boards, they re-pin photos from other “non-competing” websites to round out their Pinterest Boards and keep them interesting. Thus “Curating” other companies content, for their purposes.

Leveraging visual content takes some planning and a bit of creativity, but if you have the graphic skills, it’s more fun…and effective than just writing blogs and tweeting about your breakfast.  We at Kreative Webworks employ visual content services as part of our overall content marketing strategy. Let us know if we can help you with yours.

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What is Adaptive SEO?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 11 - 2013

First you have to understand that Google’s objective is to promote the best websites, not the best “optimized” websites. Search engines want to display the most accurate and varied results for each and every search query. Search engine optimizers know basically what the engines are looking for and attempt to gain a competitive advantage by “gamming” the system.

These techniques were not only publicly advertised, but considered industry best practices. The problem was they never met Google’s guidelines in the first place…they just happened to work.

What is Adaptive SEO?

Google is Smarter than You and everyone you Know.

You might assume “Adaptive” means reactive, but that’s not quite accurate. In fact where SEO is concerned it’s just the opposite. For years search engine optimization companies have been reacting to Google and adopting their techniques to outsmart the search engines.  These practices not only proved to be unsustainable, but have taken a dramatic turn for the worst. Regardless of what you think, Google is smarter than you, and everyone you employ… regardless of how tricky you think you are.

 

Adaptive SEO is about Web Presence Optimization, not Search Engine Optimization.

Adaptive SEO is about NOT playing cat and mouse with the search engines. It’s about developing a legitimate long-term, bulletproof web presence by doing things right. It’s about developing and sharing good quality content, it’s about link “earning” not link building. It’s about a good sound technical structure for your website, with easily indexable pages, clear navigation and fast load times. It’s about being mobile friendly and socially active (yes, your social presence is an actual search engine ranking factor). It’s about reviews and reputation and citations on directories and other reputable and industry related websites.

 

So where did your Google Rankings Go?

Did you used to have top rankings for all those money keywords, but they literary dried up over night? …and I do mean overnight. If you’ve seen a slow decline in rankings, or if your rankings fell off a cliff on a specific date, it was most likely because your SEO team wasn’t playing by Google’s rules.

So what happened? Were you actually penalized for these tactics? The answer is both “yes” and “sort of”. “Yes” if these tactics were blatantly overused, “sort of” if all those tactics which were previously sustaining your search dominance were simply no longer being counted.

Backlinks (links from other website, directories and web properties around the Internet) are a ranking factor. Suppose you had 1000 incoming links, but 950 of them were cheap “spammy” links that your SEO company purchased instead of earned. There was a day when you woke up and Google decided to no longer give you credit for those 950 spammy links. Now you have only 50. Naturally your search results are going to take a hit. Were you penalized? Sort of…it was more like a “correction” similar to what the stock market goes through periodically.  Similar to investing in good quality stocks with a track record of a return over time, Adaptive SEO is about investing in quality techniques and developing a sustainable long-term strategy…not about using questionable practices that will eventually stop working.

 

Where to start?

Start with the Research

Kreative Webworks Inc. Orange County CA Internet Marketing
Kreative Webworks
is a full service Digital Marketing Agency serving Orange County California since 1999.

 

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PPC: Lead Generation on Demand

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On May - 3 - 2013


Enable contextual and measurable multi-device marketing

  • Are you struggling to make your presence felt online?
  • Do the deeper pockets of your larger competitors keep you up at night? 
  • If potential customers are using multiple devices to search for information, how will you drive them to your landing page?
  • Should you invest more in organic marketing or incorporate a paid advertising program in your overall digital strategy?

If questions like the above are on your mind, pay per click (PPC) advertising offers a solution so you can compete with the bigger players in your industry. It gives smaller local players a level playing field by allowing healthy competition for the more generic keywords.

Google is following the trend where more users now search for information using multiple devices such as tablets, desktops, and smartphone, and other search contexts, i.e. time of day and the device used. The search giant’s recent update to its advertising product, Google AdWords offers to reduce some of the complexities involved in managing multiple ad campaigns.

 

Google AdWords – Enhanced Campaigns

Termed Enhanced Campaigns, these new features hold promise that the life of the digital marketer is going to get much easier. Separate campaigns for each digital device will soon be a thing of the past. We can now integrate campaigns across all devices based on parameters such as a prospects’ location, time of day, when a query is run, and type of device used. The ability to run contextual, multi-device marketing campaigns that can be measured to a granular level can add significant value to paid ad campaigns.

Key benefits include:

  • Ability to integrate and run a single campaign across multiple devices 
  • Create targeted ads based on device used and location of search
  • Measure the impact of various ads across devices

For businesses this is great news since paid campaigns will become much more flexible, easy to launch, less time consuming, and best of all, cost-effective.

PPC: How does it help Deliver Qualified Prospects?

Most of us have been front row witnesses to the evolution and development of the PPC model, and especially Google’s AdWords tool. It has definitely changed the way we view display advertising. Having to pay only when someone clicks our ad gives you some assurance that you are meeting the core objective of driving qualified traffic to your website.  PPC helps you:

√ Generate quality leads quickly: Ads are delivered only to web surfers searching for information related to your keywords. This is good indication that the visitors are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

√ Ensure real-time impact: You no longer need to wait several days or even weeks to understand the impact of a campaign. With PPC, you can roll out a campaign within hours and watch the results rolling in almost immediately. If required, you can even pause the campaign or experiment with a different creative format based on reports generated.

√ Location-based targeting: Local businesses can automate the delivery of ads based on search location and time of day. This enables quicker lead conversion as the target audience is in close proximity to your business location.

√ Quantitative measurement of campaign effectiveness: One of the biggest advantages is measurability.

PPC offers insight into:

  • Conversion Rate (CR): Calculate the number of leads that took action after clicking your ad—made a purchase, registered on your site, filled a form, etc.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Measure the relevance and impact of ad campaigns. A low CTR means you need to improve the quality of keywords and/or the creative.
  • Quality Score: This is the sum of relevant keywords, CTR, quality of your pages used by Google to measure ad rankings, and effectiveness of PPC. A good quality score indicates highly optimized use of ads, keywords, or campaigns.
  • Negative Spend: This indicates that your ad is appearing in searches that are not relevant to your business. You need to identify a set of negative keywords to avoid appearing in irrelevant listings.

 

Integrate With Other Tactics

Merely investing in a PPC campaign will not help. You need to make it an integral part of your overall campaign and ensure consistency in messaging and positioning across both paid and organic channels. Consider the following factors: 

  1. SEO Strategy: Don’t run your PPC campaign isolated from other tactics like Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Consistency in the message you deliver through the ads and your organic search results landing page will have a measurable impact on your overall strategy.
  2. Competitive Search and Visibility: PPC campaigns help capture keywords that actually aid conversion. You need to invest in extensive and ongoing research to identify keywords that will increase your visibility.
  3. Data Analytics: Compare data gathered from both your organic and PPC campaigns to understand your buyers’ behaviour and optimize campaign effectiveness.
  4. Targeted advertising: Link your landing page directly to your ad. Ensure that the call to action is visible on the first click.
  5. Digital Marketing Budget: Determine the maximum cost you are ready to incur per lead since it plays a key role in determining your advertising cost. You can either pay a flat rate for each click or opt for a bid-based program.

Kreative Webworks Inc. Orange County CA Internet Marketing
Kreative Webworks
is a full service Digital Marketing Agency serving Orange County California since 1999.

 

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SoLoMo

SoLoMo Marketing for the Savvy Business

SoLoMo (Social, Local, & Mobile) combines social media networking with mobile devices, and its location information.  SoLoMo is now bringing new marketing opportunities to businesses.  The mobile statistics in favor of SoLoMo marketing are staggering to say the least; where 90% of people researching products from their mobile phones are taking action within 24 hours of their search- This according to an article in In2 Communications

There appears to be a huge untapped mobile market, because few businesses have built mobile friendly websites. Even if businesses have mobile friendly websites, they are only beginning to exploit the mobile phone location marketing that is now possible with some of the latest Google mobile search engine capabilities.Maybe some businesses are counting on SoLoMo being a passing fad on the way to the next marketing focus.  The businesses that jump in now have the advantage, while competition is at a fairly low level.

Mobile Internet users are rapidly expanding in 2013, and by the end of 2014 the number of mobile searches online is expected to exceed the wired Internet searches.  Businesses in almost every vertical market need to consider what mobile devices can do to expand their business.

Sometimes businesses are focusing in on just the social and mobile aspects, but they are still counting on the fact that people keep their smart phones with them at all times. Those mobile users are searching online where ever they happen to be.   A recent case study for a retailer demonstrates this in an article – How a Retailer found Mobile Success On Facebook Through Socks and Stories.

What is iEmSoLoMo marketing and is it on the horizon?

So what additional marketing opportunities are on the horizon?  According to an article in Emarketer, there is a big push to expand SoLoMo further by adding email marketing that is mobile device sensitive. So I thought everyone could already get email on their mobile phones- what is this new thrust into mobile sensitive emails?  Companies worldwide are designing their emails to render differently on mobile devices- and then integrating their mobile marketing efforts with email marketing efforts. 

In addition, I think Apple should also jump on board with the Email marketing addition to SoLoMo, so that we can coin a new term and call it iEmSoLoMo.

Does this mean every time I come near a favorite restaurant or shop that I might receive a location sensitive and maybe time sensitive email for specials they might be having that day?  Will this change my mind about where to eat dinner or what items I might look for in shopping?  Maybe when several friends in my social networks talk up their recent purchases, maybe these influences will help buying decisions.  Businesses with a significant social media presence are counting on the social networking word of mouth advertising to expand their sales force.  Certainly the best sales, reviews, and referrals come from customers discussing items with other potential customers.

Combining Social media with Social Media Marketing

In addition to SoLoMo and Email, what happens when we combine the strengths of multiple social media marketing efforts together?  So do we have a SoSoLoMo marketing effort or something more exciting?  In a recent article in Social Media Examiner, some guidelines were given for driving more YouTube Views with Pinterest.  The article suggests that all our YouTube videos should be pinned on Pinterest.  Certainly building an audience in one social media network and cross linking to another social network will build new opportunities. However, businesses should not ignore the building mobile device market place when exploiting Social upon Social marketing efforts.  By itself the social crosslinking can be powerful, but what happens if one pulls a Foursquare into the mix, or other social, mobile location information.   Will the opportunities get more interesting- or just more convoluted?  The opportunities may depend on what market vertical your business is in, and whether mobile location can be exploited to build marketing excitement.

Can the savvy business jump ahead of competition with high powered SoLoMo marketing efforts?  We certainly are running into more SoLoMo creative marketing efforts every day.  Don’t let your competition come up with all of the creative ideas, build some new ones into your next marketing effort- So Go So So Lo Mo!

Mark Colestock, a digital marketing strategist at WSI DigNet, helping businesses with their online marketing needs. 

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Content Marketing; the big gun in your Digital Marketing Arsenal!

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On February - 21 - 2013

content marketing KWW

Year 2012 saw an increased focus on content marketing. There was a marked rise in the number of small and medium businesses adopting integrated content marketing strategies to engage with customers and prospects. We also saw increased adoption of trends such as responsive Web design, geo-tagging, targeted content distribution, propensity for visual content, and emergence of integrated content marketing tools and techniques.

In 2013, we are likely to see these trends gain traction. The increase in the number of customer touch-points has introduced several new complexities for marketers. Content strategies will need to accommodate the multi-device ecosystem that consumers are using to access content. Irrespective of the device used, marketers need to develop content structures that enable optimal viewing experience to content consumers. HTML5 is still a year away from its official launch. In the meanwhile, website design needs to be more responsive to the viewer’s screen size.

Stay Updated on Content Marketing

  • The increasing demand for audio-visual content and the easy availability of devices that enable anytime access to video content will make it necessary to invest in this content format.
  • The increasing popularity of Pinterest among consumers is an opportunity to repurpose your existing as well as new content as a visual medium.
  • Look at ways to utilize Instagram and make your consumers your content generators and gain maximum marketing mileage.
  • Advancements in marketing automation systems, its integration with social media platforms, and complexity of measurement tools have enabled the ability to understand content effectiveness. This has made it possible to make your content marketing strategy more targeted.
  • Integrating content marketing mechanisms with your CRM system can provide insights that will enable you to develop contextual content. This can enable greater interaction with potential as well as existing customers.

Keep Up-to-date with Google – They are Driving the Conquest for Content

Google is undoubtedly steering the content marketing ship, as it has done in past years. The latest Panda updates give a glimpse into what we can expect in this direction. Not only has it clearly indicated that only quality content will work but it has also highlighted the growing prominence of social media in the larger scheme of things. Search experience optimization (SXO) is the new SEO. Ensure you stay updated about developments in the Google world to stay abreast of the latest trends in the content marketing space.

Google is also your best friend if you want to know what your competitors are publishing or to be alerted about newsworthy events in your industry. You can use these as idea sources for your own content development.

Trends: Expansion of an Application Driven Web (HTML5) and Video Marketing

Predicted to be the future of the Internet, HTML5 may prove to be a game changer. The growing preference for the audio-visual medium is likely to receive a surge with HTML5’s built-in video support capabilities. The ease with which HTML5 enables content sharing will only give a fillip to this growing trend.

 

Embrace Integration

Develop a Complete Content Strategy

Businesses looking at content marketing as a means towards increased online credibility should put on a publisher’s hat. You need to create roles such as ‘chief content officer’ or ‘content strategist’. This function will work with your sales, solutions, and marketing team to understand what your customers want and how you can make your content standout. Look at ways to:

  • Create an editorial calendar and prepare a strategy to update your content regularly
  • Integrate your strategy across all content dissemination mediums including print, digital, and social media
  • Create an inventory, identify and close gaps, and prepare a plan to reuse relevant content
  • Prepare a strategy to improve your reach across social media channels. The larger your network, the more likely it is that your content will reach the intended recipients.
  • Measure and analyze the impact of your content. Understand which content is driving the highest levels of engagement with your prospects and customers, and then plan to optimize in this direction.

Integrate SEO, Social, PPC and other Digital Tactics

It’s not about website optimization; it’s about web presence optimization. Develop a consistent message across all your content assets. Use social media to promote your content across multiple channels. Leverage its growing importance in search engine optimization (SEO). Visually express ideas and populate your LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram accounts.

Convert your text content into interesting presentations that can be uploaded on SlideShare and other similar sites. Then share the link through your social media channels and blogs. Integrate social sharing across all your online marketing assets.

Content is the Lifeblood of Online Marketing

Readers will only visit your blog or website or video channel if your post fresh and compelling content on a regular basis. Reuse your content across all channels. Convert multiple blogs into an ebook or vice versa. Articles and white papers can be converted into multiple blogs. And all of these artifacts can be re-purposed into an audio-visual format or a podcast or webinar. This will help you reach various types of audiences and increase your online visibility.

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I’ve had the good fortune to train other digital marketing consultants around the world and I quickly learned that what works in the US, doesn’t play well in South Africa, or Columbia or in Amsterdam.

I’ve been to a lot of countries, but never to Central Europe, so I asked my colleague Mateusz Wisła to weigh in on the subject of Internet Marketing in his region.  What I learned from his insightful article is that any brand looking to expand into another country might be served well by employing a local consultant as part of their team:

3 things to consider when starting your Internet Marketing campaign in Poland and Central Europe 

When I talk to my colleagues within WSI operating in other countries I am often surprised how different is the Internet Marketing landscape in Poland and other Central European countries from that present in US, Canada or Great Britain. Of course there are many marketing tactics that work all over the world, but if you want to promote your company successfully (both B2B and B2C) you must be aware of the key differences and aspects that need to be localized. Here I would like to name a few of them.

But before that, I would like to share with you a few statistics to present how the Internet Marketing market is growing here in Poland. As you can see on the below graph we observe significant growth rate in budget spent on Internet -it shows you how significant this marketing channel is here. It is in line with the trend that is observed in almost every place in the world: Despite of the crisis, marketing budgets are moved to the online space and are growing.

 

internetmarketing_guestpost

Graph 1 Online marketing spend in Poland, data based on www.interaktywnie.com

 

Always remember about cultural and language differences!

This is truism but believe me, it happens all the time – companies want to implement the same approach towards every market they target, and you know what? It doesn’t work! Let me give you some example: when I was on one of my first WSI trainings in Toronto (back in 2010) I spotted Old Spice Commercial: The Man your man could smell Like for the first time – this was really great video. But I was shocked when after a year the Brand launched the same campaign in Poland (only text was translated). What do you think was the result? Complete failure – I think only marketers put some attention to the campaign, just to criticize it J Comparing to US or Canada, Poland is a homogeneous society – if you want to attract masses you must show something that is close to them. Moreover, we do not have Caribbean beaches in Poland and oysters are not a part of our day to day menu (at least not of the majority of society). For Old Spice even the translation sounded really weird – without this flow that we all liked in the English version.

Ahh, translations. Effective marketing campaign requires great, convincing copy – but it means something totally different in each region. It is not just a matter of good translation; it is about the text that sounds right. In Central and Eastern Europe we are much more allergic on the texts, that are full of marketing incentives, call to actions – we found them too offensive and, as a result, we are repulsed  by them. The border is blurred – I know, but you have to be careful with that.

Here you can find a link to the polish most popular MEM – we call it forfitter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFxdDCIAS6c)  – this is a video of Polish guy living in US who was feeding a alligator with a chicken. The language he uses is a mixture of polish and English – for us its hilarious J Here you can find other videos that were created after that (songs, covers of movies etc.): http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=forfiter . Do you find it funny? Now maybe you know better what I mean by cultural differences?

One more thing that I would like to underline is the following: do not rely on automatic tools like Google translate if you are going international, especially outside English speaking world. Majority of those great technologies we use these days started in English speaking world and it really takes time till the quality of other language versions is similar.

This brings me to the next point.

Search Engines usage differs between countries – the whole SEO landscape is different

In Poland more than 97% of all searches are done via Google. When we think about SEO or PPC we do not consider anything else here. Looking at the region this is almost always a rule. The exception are Czech Republic with Seznam and Russian speaking countries (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine etc.) with Yandex. The reason for that lies deep down in the past when Google was concentrating on English language and Latin alphabet. In Russia you have Cyrillic, in Czech Republic the Latin alphabet is pretty localized (42 characters) and Google was not doing a good job in presenting the relevant content.

To be honest, Google algorithm is here a few generations behind, especially in terms of contextual content analysis. Also the localization of search results is not so strong here as in US. However, I do not want to go much into technical details in this post. From business point of view search engine optimization and pay-per-click campaigns work on the same basis (people looking for answers, products or services land on your website), but the processes and tools used to optimize the Internet presence are a bit different. So you cannot just copy-paste keywords and action plan from your local campaign when you enter the different market.

Search Engines are still the fastest growing internet marketing segment. In the below chart you can find a few statistics about that.

 

internetmarketing_guestpost_2

Graph 2 – SEM marketing spend, data based on www.interaktywnie.com

 

Differences in marketing mix

Ok, as the last point I would like to name several differences in the marketing methods and tools that are popular and effective here in Poland.  The fact is that we have already had a number of attempts from global leaders who tried to run business in Poland and it didn’t work for them. I would like to name two of them (significant ones):

  • eBay – this auction platform is almost not existing in Poland, we all use service called Allegro. Few years ago eBay tried to launch his product in Poland, but the market was already covered by Allegro and eBay didn’t find a way to offer a better value proposition.
  • Amazon – we are still waiting for opening a polish instance of this platform. Amazon.co.uk offers free delivery to Poland (it is quite popular among those buying English books, e-books etc.), but there are no polish products there, which is why this service didn’t get much attention here. The role of Amazon is played by local bookstore called Empik (which is polish version of Virgin) , but I think that there is a huge opportunity for Amazon in Poland

 

When it comes to social media I must mention that Twitter is almost non-existent here in Poland and it is not because of the platform but due to fact that the whole idea of microblogging is not popular. Of course there are some users who use Twitter, but they are members of few industries like marketing who are early birds in almost any new technology. Take this into account when you plan your social media presence here. I could also name a few more services that are not so popular here: like Foursquare or ITunes.

Luckily, like almost the whole world we use Facebook – really heavilyJ (Facebook is one of the most popular services in Poland) – so at least here the principles for marketing in this medium are the same.

Maybe you have some comments, questions? I will try to answer the best way I can.

 

About Mateusz Wisła

Certified Internet Marketing Consultant, part of “We Simplify the Internet” since 2010, running a local office of WSI in Warsaw, Poland. Mateusz works with medium and big companies on development and implementation of their Internet Marketing strategies aimed at Lead Generation and Building Brand Awareness. Mateusz, fan of Web Analytics and conversion optimization specializes in international marketing projects helping companies to expand their international presence.

 

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Mobile SEO and Beyond… 3 steps to Outpace Your Competition in 2013

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On December - 31 - 2012

mobileSEOSince Mobile devices are getting hotter ever hour as we move into 2013, should businesses take advantage of mobile devices in their websites? Does a business need to create a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) approach to leverage mobile in addition their regular website SEO? The answer to both questions is most definitely YES.

One needs to start with a basic Mobile Device strategy, and then decide what other web phenomenon can be used to create enhanced Mobile SEO results. For example, by combining unique characteristics from Mobile, YouTube and Social Media- we may find new opportunity doors opening for search results, bringing even better results to businesses. This article describes 3 simple steps to enhance your website beyond mobile for a fresh look in 2013:

1) Develop a Mobile Search Strategy,
2) Add YouTube videos to your website and Mobile solution,
3) Extend your social media footprint.

Get even more content marketing results by combining Mobile SEO, YouTube SEO, and Social Media SEO efforts.

1)  Develop both Mobile Device and Mobile SEO Strategies

Mobile users are searching for content that is mobile friendly. Business owners can step ahead of their competition early in 2013 by making updates to their websites ahead of their competition. With less than 10% of today’s websites that are mobile friendly, a business can definitely get ahead of competition by starting now with their own mobile solution. But beyond creating a mobile friendly website, what does one do to attract searches and get real customer results?

That is where a basic Mobile SEO strategy is needed. A great article by Bryson Meunier- “Mobile SEO is Not a Myth…”, suggests Mobile SEO ideas for a mobile unique environment to enhance Mobile SEO performance.

Knowing how search results are different between desktops and mobile creates a business advantage for mobile friendly websites. Google keeps making changes to search parameters as they try to enhance the searchers experience. Savvy business owners will need to keep one eye on Google changes, and another on their smart phone search results. Mobile SEO adjustments are not needed daily, but over a period of time, as analytical data provides the measured results for making strategic updates.

Also knowing how Mobile SEO can take local SEO to a new level of interactivity can help some business verticals; particularly where the business needs to build its local market reach. Mobile smart phone users often commute and travel to different cities. As an example, a salesman or other traveler may be looking for a restaurant, gas station, or local entertainment spot- and these searches might be added to the base mobile devices living in a particular area. Being able to target searches from a local area gives businesses an ability to capture potential customers coming into an area- much different than targeting only local desktop searches.

In addition to Mobile SEO, one might also investigate including Mobile Paid Search ads, with your Mobile SEO solution to enhance your search results even further. Because there are so few websites that have been converted to mobile friendly solutions, Mobile paid ads can give your mobile website a real advantage while your competition is playing catch up in 2013. Take advantage of the window of opportunity that Mobile paid ads can bring, before your competition recognizes the need to even have a mobile website.

2)  Add YouTube videos to your website and mobile solution

YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google this according to an article on 5 Essential Tips for Your YouTube Channel. Adding fresh new SEO relevant video content to your web solution can enhance your Mobile SEO results. Although YouTube is still building its SEO relevance, 2013 will be the year to plan to add quality video SEO content to your web solution. Make sure that your video content is also Mobile SEOfriendly, which will further distinguish your web solution ahead of your competition. YouTube videos are playing a larger role in creating relevant, fresh, quality, entertaining content for SEO search engines to find. Combining mobile searches and video SEO opens up new opportunities for businesses to stay ahead of competition in search results.

Not only does YouTube rate as a fresh new SEO source for your website, it also plays highly into search results for social media content. Although in some rating systems such as Nielsen, YouTube may not be considered as a social media entity.

See SEO for YouTube- Best Practices to get a basic understanding of what steps a business needs to take with SEO practices for your YouTube Videos. It is not just a simple matter of uploading videos, but steps are required to enhance your video’s SEO search position. Consider producing your videos in High Definition quality, because this improves your YouTube rankings. Video tags are also very important part of building your YouTube SEOposition.

3)  Extend your Social Media Footprint to enhance your Mobile solution

Mobile Internet users are overtaking wired Internet users in the next couple years, but the shift is happening faster for Social Media, this according to an article by Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes. Social, Local, and Mobile (SoLoMo) is a term people will be hearing more often in 2013. Social networks sharing location information from their mobile devices, is becoming integral part to some social media environments. Certainly Business to Consumer (B2C) retailers will find new opportunities in 2013 to provide innovative offerings to consumers through SoLoMo. When creative offerings become accepted as part of the social media mind set, then SoLoMo will become a standard for new business opportunities in 2013.

Social Media is not just a capability for B2C, it also is starting to be more relevant in the business to business (B2B) market place as well. Turn the social media noise into music is a YouTube video about social media geared to a B2B scenario.

Like most other website enhancements, Social media itself provides a significant stride forward in your web solution. However the real pizzazz for 2013 is to combine social media with your SEO approach.  See an article – SEO and social media get married, which discusses what happens when SEO and social media join forces to build a strategic approach to content marketing.

Summarizing Mobile SEO and Beyond for 2013

A mobile website solution is a great idea to enhance your website for 2013 and Mobile SEOshould be a natural extension.  However, taking further content marketing steps to enhance your Mobile website solution with Social Media and YouTube videos will leave your competition wondering what happened to their website. And don’t forget to follow SEO best practices for each enhancement.

  1. Have a Basic Mobile Device website Strategy – enhanced with Mobile SEO 
  2. Add YouTube Videos to your website solution- enhanced with Video SEO
  3. Build a linking Social Media footprint- also enhanced with Social Media SEO best practices

Mark Colestock, a digital marketing strategist at WSI DigNet, helping businesses with their online marketing needs. 

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When Google sneezes…I catch a cold

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On December - 12 - 2012

There’s probably about a dozen other clichés marketing agencies can use to describe how the search engine giant plays the tune and we just dance to it (see, there’s another one).

For years digital marketing firms have been playing cat and mouse games with Google. The factors that the search engines use to determine where a website should be ranked in the search results were just too easy to be manipulated by those of us who made a career of it. Some of us played by the rules (white hat SEO) and some of us “bent” the rules (black hate SEO).

Search engine marketing is no longer about Websites; it’s about “Web Presence”. Search engines have decentralized the criterion they use to decide which Web pages rank where for what keywords.

In my opinion you can no longer rely on classic SEO techniques alone to get your Google love. I recommend a total 360° multi-dimensional approach that addresses all of the elements that the search engines currently factor into their algorithms. Below is an overview of the various components that typically go into our strategy:

 

Components:

Content:
At the end of the day, search engines look for the same thing that people look for…content that is related to what people are searching for at any given time. You have to optimize, produce and manage content that is not only designed for search engines, but is relevant to your target market.

Keywords:
You will have to do extensive keyword analysis to determine the optimum keywords to ensure success. The most popular keywords are not necessarily the best. We prefer to target “niche” keyword phrases that relate directly to your target market. Targeting multiple highly relevant phrases will allow you a better opportunity to obtain higher rankings across more keywords that are directed to people farther down the buying cycle. (As opposed to targeting fewer harder to obtain “general” phrases).

HTML:
The output of almost all Website platforms is HTML code. It is the basic building block of the Internet. Other code such as Java script or Flash is a barrier to search engines indexing your Website. You will need to ensure that your Website is built on a search engine friendly platform. Adobe’s Business Catalyst platform, WordPress, and basic HTML are always good choices. There are plenty of others as well.

Usability:
A search engines’ goal is to display the best “user experience” they can find. That means that the actual structure of the website is a major factor in determining where your website will be placed on the search result pages. Also consider how many clicks it takes for a visitor to get to any of your pages on your site. If it is more than 3…it’s too many. It’s annoying to your visitors, and search engines recognize that.

Speed:
People don’t wait more than a few seconds for your Website to render before leaving, and neither do search engines. Make sure that you use high-speed hosting and a site design that is not heavy with extraneous code which slows down the Website.

Links:
Search engines factor both internal and external links. Each Website, directory or social property that links to your site is considered a “vote” for your Website. Why else would someone link to your site unless you provided valuable information?  It is important to note, that not all links are created equal. Some incoming links are more valuable than others.

Search engines also factor “Internal Linking Structure’ (pages on your site that link to each other). Linking unrelated pages can be detrimental to your efforts. However linking relevant pages strategically in a “silo” structure will increase what we call “link juice” and consolidate the relevancy of your keyword themes.

Blog:
Search engines love blogs because by their very nature blogs are updated frequently…and search engines like fresh relevant and original content. Blog posts are indexed relatively quickly and are treated as a Web page of information by the search engines. Search engines rank Web pages… not Websites. You will want to ensure that your blog posts are designed to rank for specific keywords, but not at the expense of your human visitors.

Social Media:
No longer just a buzzword, search engines factor what they call “Social Signals” that indicate that you are interacting with your target market (thus indicating that you are relevant). Aside from the obvious advantages of interacting directly with your consumers and driving traffic back to Your Website, best industry estimates are that Google factors between 9% – 14% of their search ranking algorithm based on social signals.

Analytics:
In order to make incremental improvements we must monitor and make incremental adjustments to certain KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Average Time on site
  • Top entry pages
  • Top exit pages
  • Traffic by keyword
  • Etc.

Reporting:
Analytics must be distilled into a meaningful report that can be analyzed to show trends and progress without all the noise of the raw data.

Design:
Search engines are concerned with the structural aspect of design, not necessary the aesthetic aspect. It is imperative to design the website around both usability standards and search engine preferences (which typically mimic human usability factors). Remember usability…

These 11 factors are just the main ingredients that go into search engine optimization. They don’t even address other aspects of an entire Web Presence Optimization program that includes profiles and pages from LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, and reviews on Google+, and Yelp and Citysearch, etc….

At the end of the day, its Google’s world, I just live in it.

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