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Quick Introduction to Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
This is just a quick guide to online marketing and search engine optimization. It is intended to give you an idea of the things you need to consider in order to formulate a solid online marketing plan. To be successful, you will need a mixture of art and science. You have to be able to think creatively and understand the technical challenges involved. There is no magic bullet, if someone tells you that if you give them money that they will get your website listed first on google, just smile at them and say, “No thanks.”
Content Creation and Search Engine Optimization
What makes you so useful and significant?
What service or product do you offer that makes you standout from the competition? There are probably lots of companies out there that are your competitors. What makes you so special?
Who is Your Unique, Weird and Wonderful Audience?
Is your audience/customers everyone or a niche group? Going after everyone is very difficult. It is better to go after a targeted, niche audience. To do that, you have to figure out what makes your audience special, different or weird. Below are some potential questions to ask yourself about your audience:
Information or Entertainment
Are your customers looking for more information or to be entertained by your content? Do they want to see flashy animations or classy, well laid out content? Are they likely to spend a lot of time on your site or just be looking for your phone number or address? Do you want them to find the information they need on your site or had you rather then contact you immediately.
Are your customers from a specific country, state, city or zip code? What is unique about this geography?
Age & Gender & Education
Are they young, middle aged or older? Are they male or female? Would they more than likely need a specific level of education in order to become your customer?
Do your customers have a specific set of interests or hobbies? Do they all play the same sport or read the same magazines? Are they more professional or artistic? Would they be more outgoing or introverted?
Are your customers poor, middle class or wealthy? Do they live comfortably or struggle to make ends meet? Do they have disposable income? Will it be easy for them to afford your service/product or will they have to make a real commitment to become your customer?
What type of professional life would many of your customers have? Would they more than likely be blue collar or white collar? Do they work a lot or do they have free time?
Online & Mobile Habits
Would they spend a decent amount of their time online? Would they be the type to use their cellphones a lot? Would they be involved in social media or casual internet users? Are they older and perhaps not very technology savvy?
Politics & Religion
Conservative or Liberal? Christian, Jewish, Agnostic? Fundamental? Spiritual, but not religious?
Would your customers be more loud or quiet? Environmentally conscious? Like to read or watch tv? Be spontaneous or more likely to plan? Save money or spend frivolously? Hang out in a bar or an art museum? Watch sports or PBS?
Is there anything really weird about your potential customers? Are they super rich? Do they like to feed the ducks in the park on Monday’s from 8am to 10am? The weirder your customers are the easier they will be to market to. It is easier to find ways to communicate to people with specific needs than to the general public.
Create Compelling Content
Creating compelling content is vital to a successful online presence. When we examine all the information above we are looking for areas which overlap. This lets us narrow our audience and create compelling content for our website, Facebook page, twitter feed, etc.
For example, if you are creating a site for Tesla’s electric car then you would know that your customers are wealthy and environmentally conscious. So, you might create an article or video for your site which spotlights how environmentally friendly the car is. Then you might pay for ads to show up on Facebook for users who make over 200,000 per year and like articles about global warming.
Your site’s content should be relevant to the site visitors and use plenty of search keywords. What keywords and phrases do you think your customers will most likely use when searching for information about your goods or services? You need to start by making a master list of all the keywords and phrases that you can think of. You can also do a search of your competitors to see what keywords and phrases they are using.
Then you need to make sure that you use those keywords and derivatives or synonym of those words in your page content at least 2 or 3 times. This needs to be done naturally in your text and NOT just a bunch of keywords all grouped together at the bottom of your page. Search engines recognize this and it will negatively impact your ranking for that page.
You just need to mention your keywords 2 or 3 times. Also, make sure that your primary keyword shows up in the Title tag and in at least one image alt tag. Also, keep in mind that a title tag should only be about 65 to 75 characters long and try to use your keyword as close to the front of the title tag as you can.
One suggestion to find keywords: Go to Google and start typing in a question related to your field. You will see a string of “suggested” questions pop-up. Those may be some phrases that you want to work into your content.
Create Video Content
Today, most people had rather watch a video than read. So, if your site lends itself to the use of video and it is within your budget, use it. Some examples of video content:
- How-to / Training
If you have a product, you could create a training video on how to use your product or troubleshooting issues.
- Special Features
You could create short videos on your products special features.
- News and Product Updates
You could create videos that feature new services or products that you are offering.
- Industry News
It is always good to be considered an expert within your industry. You could create an industry news video podcast to keep people updated on your industry. This might keep them coming back to you week after week for your new podcast.
- Viral Videos
Viral videos are usually humorous and/or controversial. If your site lends itself to this, then by all means do it. If a video goes viral, it can attract a lot of attention to your site. Just make sure it is the right attention.
Even with videos, people don’t want to waste their time. So, don’t just produce fluff pieces. Give them some real information and keep it as short as possible. People might download your long podcast, but do they watch it all the way through?
Describe your video in text, so that search engines will know what the content of the video is. If you can, transcribe the entire content of the video.
Easy to Share
Make it easy for your visitors to share your content with their friends and colleagues. Make sure that each page has the ability for users to share that content which links back to your site. The more your content is shared, the more referring links get created.
A referring link is when someone links to your site from their site. This is a major factor in how google and other search engines rank your site. The search engines figure that if lots of people are sharing your content then it must be quality content and the search engines primary job is to display quality content in their results. So, the more people that link to you, the higher your site’s pages will display in search results.
When you post content to these services, ask people to share it with their friends. The more people sharing your content the better.
Make sure that your website is adapts to mobile devices. All websites can be viewed on mobile devices, but most make you zoom in and are difficult to navigate. You should have a mobile version of your site which will display on mobile devices. This mobile site should have easy navigation and a simple design without large graphics that take forever to download.
Entertain or Inform
This depends on your customer base and your product/service. In general, the more general your service the more entertainment oriented you can be. The more niche your service is, the more serious you will want to be. Niche products or services are usually narrowly defined and so most of your customer already know the basics and are visiting you for more detailed, specific information.
Of course, you can do both if you are very clever.
Don’t put important information and content into images without using the alt tag. Use the alt attributes tag to describe any information in an image. Search engine’s cannot read images, so they depend on the alt tags to tell them what information is located in an image.
Submitting to Your Website to Search Engines
Sign up for a Google Webmaster Tools (http://www.google.com/webmasters
) account and submit your sitemap to them. A sitemap is an XML file that tell google about every page of your site. This is the safest way to make sure that google knows about every page on your site. You can also give google special information about each page, such as:
- how important that page is to your site
- how often you want google to index that page
- if you want google to skip that page and not index it, etc.
to see what your site looks like to search engines. If you don’t see the information that you want to share, then neither will a search engine.
Make sure your site is posted to the 3 primary search engines: Google (80%), Yahoo! (9.5%) and Bing (8.5%).
Google Analytics - Learn About Your Customers
You will also want to sign up for a google analytics account. Google will then give you special code to insert into your website’s code. After a few days, you will be able to start seeing lots of great information about your site, such as:
- how many visitors came to your site
- what pages they visited
- what browsers they used
- if they used a mobile device and if so which one
- how old they are, where they live, etc.
This information should be reviewed on a regular basis and may help you determine changes to make in your content.
Online Marketing & Promotion
Build an Email Database
Do what you can to collect customer’s email addresses, so that you can contact them directly in the future with specials and product updates. Always ask permission before adding someone to your database and make sure that you provide a way for them to unsubscribe to your emails in each email you send out.
Create a Facebook Page, Twitter Feed and Yelp Listing
This is a perfect place to share your brilliantly conceived and executed content. But do not overwhelm your customers with needless information. Make sure that your posts are relevant and would be of interest to them. Some social media sites, you might want to list your site on:
- Google Business
- Google +
When you post content to these services, ask people to share it with their friends. The more people sharing your content the better.
Create a Free eBook
Yes, you can create a free eBook and post it on amazon.com
. This is a new and exciting way to set yourself up as an industry expert. You can also post the book on your website.
Create a Takeaway
It is great if you can provide something for your site visitors to take with them to remind them of you. Can you create a mobile app they could use? Wallpaper? Screensaver?
Or perhaps something that they could customize and share with friends. For example, you might create a “Create Your Own Story” online application. Remember ad libs. This would work very similarly. You have people fill out their favorite pet name, activity, desert, etc. Then you create a cute story using their information. Then you allow them to share that cute story with their friends.
Interact with Customer’s Online
Visit industry message boards and Facebook groups and post messages when appropriate.
Make sure there is a way for your customers to contact you and to ask you questions and provide you with feedback. Reply to any comments quickly. Also, assume that if someone makes a suggestion, positive or negative, that many others may feel the same way, but did not take the time to write you.
Monitor Your Brand
Periodically search for your company online and make sure that there is nothing negative being said about you. If there are questions or comments, then respond to them. You can do this the easy way by just doing a search on Google or if you are a larger company, then you might look into a service such as SproutSocial.
Interact with Customer’s in the Real World
Visit industry specific meetings and conventions.
Be careful. It is easy to spend more on advertising than it brings in. When paying for ads, track their success and make sure that they are generating sales.
Industry Specific Sites
Look for industry specific sites that have a lot of traffic. They usually have paid placements available. I would recommend pay-per-click rather than pay-per-view ads. With pay-per-click ads, you only pay if someone actually clicks on your link. Pay-per-view is when you pay just for people viewing your ad, but not clicking on it.
With Google adwords, you can bid on keywords and phrases. How high your ad shows up depends on how much you are willing to pay-per-click. The more competition there is for a keyword/phrase the higher to price.
Similar to Google Adwords. You create an ad and pick who will see it, based on keywords and user demographics.
For larger websites, Outbrain Amplify, links to your content which appears as recommendations on the web’s largest sites like CNN.com
, Slate and ESPN. The more interesting your content is, the more it will be recommended around the web.
Google Webmaster Tools
This site is sort of like Google Analytics for Twitter. It will give you a good idea of what your followers are interested, where they are located, compare twitter accounts, etc.
This site will allow you to ask questions and will suggest dozens of similar questions for you.
Create a free ebook and post it on amazon.com