March 27, 2014
by otoole
0 comments

How to Do Your Marketing for the Rest of 2014 in a Weekend

If you’re a little overwhelmed with trying to make sales for your business, follow up with fulfillment of those sales, and then, do a little something they call “marketing” as you go, I can understand why you’re overwhelmed!

You’re doing a lot. And if you’re a sole proprietor, you’re wearing even MORE hats than sales, marketing, and customer service. You’re also performing accounting duties and, well, the list continues according to your particular business.

So let me tell you how you can make the marketing piece oh-so-much simpler.

Step # 1 – Sign up for an Email Newsletter Service

There are many services out there. I’m obviously going to tell you to signup for the one I think is the best – EmailWerks. It’s the easiest to use, and by that I mean that you don’t have to re-learn it every time you log in. It’s also visually oriented, so if you’re a visual learner/thinker, it’s perfect. There are many other great features but the point is, sign up for an email service.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to suggest you write a newsletter, so don’t sweat that.

Step # 2 – Get a Calendar

Sit down with a Girl Scout calendar or a freebie you got in the mail.  Which annual holidays and events are significant to your business, if any? For example, do you always have a “school’s out” or “summer vacation” type of special?

Or, have you always wanted to have a summer special, but by the time you got around to it, summer was halfway over?

Write one thing, per month, that you could feature or offer a “special” around. Highlight the standard recognized holidays, such as, July 4th, memorial Day, to jump start the ideas if you need help. For the recognized holidays, it will make sense to make your offer before the actual holiday.

Step # 3 – Schedule Your Emails from Now ‘Til The End of the Year

Now that you’ve scoped the holidays and you have an idea of the special offers you want to make throughout the rest of the year, you’re almost finished. This is what to do next:

  • log in to your email account
  • type up your first month’s message with your special offer
  • add your call to action (what you want people to do when they read your offer) and a photo
  • include a link – to your website, your special offer webpage, or your email address
  • save, add a subject line, and schedule it

(in EmailWerks, you can specify a heads-up email sent out to you when the scheduled emails start rolling out!)

Proceed doing the same for the remaining months of this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 14, 2014
by otoole
0 comments

How Trainers, Speakers, Coaches, and Consultants are Earning Monthly $ on Facebook

Care to find out how solo-preneurs are earning an extra monthly revenue stream by using Facebook every weekday?

Two words: “secret groups.”

The beautiful thing is, these groups are fairly easy to set up, and free, courtesy of Facebook.

How a Paid Coaching Group Works

The typical scenario looks like this:

  • offer a group coaching or group training with one goal or an ongoing educational or motivational mission
  • charge a recurring monthly fee (a Paypal subscription handles this, charging your client automatically each month) for as little as $5 – $10 or as much $100 – $500
  • deliver the coaching in a secret Facebook group where all posts and comments are seen only by the members
  • set your own hours/days of the week to moderate the group

You can set sharing parameters within your group. You may want to approve all the comments of group members before they become public to the rest of the group, for example.

As stated above, all comments made in the group will be seen only by other members of the group.

In fact, when you create a “secret” group, no one will even be able to find it when they search in Facebook. You’ll provide a link to those participants you want to invite, presumably once they’ve paid.

Use a Paid Group for One-on-One Delivery

Here’s a bonus you may not have expected. Perhaps you want to offer a more expensive recurring one-on-one coaching or training?

You can set up a secret group and specify that just one person is the other member. Conduct all of your sessions via text, in Facebook, and take advantage of being able to share links to outside articles, photos, and videos.

A Facebook secret group is a great virtual space to conduct a one-on-one-training, coaching, or consulting, where you and your clients’ comments are all in one place for easy reference.

Set Paid Groups to Deliver Auto-Buy, Auto-Access Training

Now join me as I think a little strategically here. Here’s a scenario I could live with (in grand style!):

  • offer a group coaching or group training with one goal or an ongoing educational or motivational mission with a landing page(presenting the offer) and online buy-button
  • charge a recurring monthly fee (a Paypal subscription handles this, charging your client automatically each month) for as little as $5 – $10 or as much $100 – $500
  • have a welcome email greet new members once payment is received and include the link to request access to the secret group
  • pin a welcome post at the top of the group page, with instructions on where to go, what to do to begin participating
  • have all the training materials pre-set in the “Files” section
  • pop into the group occasionally to see how things are progressing
  • count your new cash stream monthly

See a Secret Facebook Group in Action

To learn about my upcoming month-long challenge, “12-in-24 Kindle ‘How-to’ Book Challenge,” where you can learn at your own pace and create one, six, or twelve Kindle books in just one month, go here to sign up for early-bird notifications of when the next challenge opens:

Notify me when the early-bird opens for your next challenge

 

 

 

May 8, 2013
by otoole
0 comments

Overcoming Free WordPress Theme Limitations

I am fairly new to WordPress. By “new,” I mean I’ve gotten on board only in the last two years or so.

In general, I’ve found the provided “free” themes (at wordpress.org) somewhat lacking for sales and marketing efforts.

This is what I have learned about educating myself, developing, and investing (money and time) in WordPress over the past 18 – 24 months:

1. It’s okay to use one of the standard free WordPress.org themes if you see that the developer has received good ratings for it AND that the developer is actively engaged in his business of developing themes. You can usually check out a demo of the theme and usually there is a link to the developer’s site or blog where you can check out how up to date his posts are. Send an email inquiry to see how long it takes for a response.

What you don’t want to happen is that:

  •  you set up a website using a theme you invest a lot of time in
  •  you tweak it, taking a little more time to make it perfect
  • you upgrade WordPress three versions later and the site “breaks” because the developer doesn’t update the theme to match WP version updates

2. It basically comes down to finding a theme with good support.

Common sense tells you that as time goes along, technology makes the online marketplace more complex. There are so many new devices being introduced to interact with new browsers, all communicating with new coding structures (PHP, Java, XML, HTML5, Flash, and etc.). Whereas online communication used to be primarily HTML-based, there multiple “mainstream” coding options now, modified daily.

So, the reason you WANT to purchase a good theme is because it is well supported and updated regularly to successfully interact with all the other ongoing technological developments.

3. Keep an eye out for a theme you like.

When you land on a squeeze page you really like, or a theme that is perfect for what you want to do, you can check the online page source code and find out which theme is being used.

When you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll find several themes that keep popping up, like Optimize Press, for one. I invested in the Premise theme a while back. It is one of the Copyblogger products and, although I’m still learning it, I have been glad I invested when I did.

Premise allows a membership configuration, it has a sample salesletter template, and it has tons of training audio and video. It is also well-supported by the Copyblogger organization.

So the next time WordPress does a major version update, if I have a problem with one of my Premise-themed sites, I can submit a support ticket and be confident I’ll have help.

If WordPress is going to be one of your main site tools, you definitely need to get familiar with it. Then, when you’re ready to hand off the set-up tasks to someone else, you’ll know what to ask for, what to expect, and best of all, you’ll be ready to receive all the new info you’ll learn from that adventure!

November 28, 2012
by otoole
1 Comment

5-Point Checklist to Advance/Improve your Facebook Marketing

Facebook was the first really big behemoth of online social marketing. It’s been around for over five years. Intended as a purely fun, social “network” on college campuses, it has evolved into an effective marketing channel.

So, if you haven’t started using it yet, get on with it! Consider your wrist slapped, your shoulders shaken and your eyes (hopefully) opened!

Kudos to those who have dived in, ignorant and willing to explore. If you are one of those, I applaud you and ask you to please answer the following questions and make appropriate adjustments so you can benefit from your early adoption of Facebook as a marketing tool:

1. Are you using the correct page type? Personal or Business… or Both?  

There are two types of Facebook pages – a) personal profile pages and b) business pages. They look very much alike. You can tell the difference because personal pages collect “Friends” and business pages collect “Likes.”

Many businesses are using a personal profile page to try to do business and become confused when none of the directions they find online are operable.  Seek help if you are unsure what type of page you are currently using, and ask questions to get a correct type of business page set up. There are multiple types, providing slightly different options, limitations, and advantages.

Strategy tip: By the way (BTW), you can have an unlimited number of Facebook business pages! That’s right, one for each: product, service, event, contest, etc.

A Facebook business page is a necessity, not an option. Using a personal profile for business purposes is not only bad form in the marketplace, it is actually a violation of the Facebook terms of service.

2. Do you know what your Facebook Username/Id is and why it’s Important to Know?

One of the main benefits to using Facebook is that you can promote your Facebook entities in your printed materials as well as your online materials.

When we sit down at our computer to type in a web address from a business card, flyer or other ad materials, we actually speak the phrase to ourselves.

For example, this is what I say silently to read my business page address: “facebook-dot-com-foward-slash-Barbara-Ann-Otoole.”  That makes it quick to type in. This is what that looks like on my business card or in any printed materials I use:

facebook.com/BarbaraAnnOtoole

Now, when I use this in my email signature, post it online on my website, or other entity, I use it with a hyperlink:

http://facebook.com/BarbaraAnnOtoole

Now, glance at those two addresses and take note of how easy they are to remember, to type, to use.  Do you think more people will connect with you when you make it easy for them?

If I didn’t have a username/ID, I would have to include this in print marketing materials:

facebook.com/pages/BarbaraAnnOtoole/202819419776726?ref=ts&fref=ts ( or something close)

Your Facebook username/ID is managed under “Account Settings.”

3. Are you Using Cover and Profile Images to Your Advantage? 

Facebook is definitely a visual medium, isn’t it? And yet, many businesses are not using the valuable real estate that comes with their business “timeline” page.

The first image people will see is the “cover” image on your business page or “timeline.” The smaller, inserted image is referred to as a “profile” image. There are specific size requirements available for each. Facebook does allow you to “adjust” sizing and positioning of a cover or profile once they are uploaded. So you could select a photo from your phone, for example, and maneuver it to make it work.

The smaller “profile” image represents your business as your comments and engagement trickle down through other peoples’ newsfeeds. This profile image works well as a logo or “icon” that becomes easily identifiable with your business, your product, services, contest, events, etc. (See strategy tip referenced in number 1 above)

Facebook has set specific criteria for cover images, which include not using the cover for calls to action, specific business info, and advertising claims, etc. Seek the help of a professional if you are unsure what to include in your cover image. (Or search on Facebook or Google for more info)

4. Have you Completely Filled Out Basic Information on Your Business Page?

This question is self-explanatory, but it is a good idea to review the information periodically and update it. Make sure everything is exactly what you want people to see and use to contact you.

Don’t forget to include your website address in your description! Use the full address with the “http://” so it will hyperlink.

You may not realize it, but not too long ago Facebook made a global change to everyone’s email addresses. It inserted a Facebook email address. You can change it back to what you started out with, but you do have to make that change manually.

5. Do You Know Your Way Around Facebook?

The “milestone” for me in using Facebook came when I learned to navigate a business page.  My greatest frustration had always been that Facebook was configured differently every time I logged in. It seemed as if I had to “start over” every time I signed on.

Facebook is still evolving and changing. Here are two very basic functionalities that you must know:

a.) When you are logged in to your page, and you are looking at your timeline(cover and profile image, etc.) look at the very top blue menu bar and you can tell if you are sitting on one of your business pages or your personal profile. The tiny picture and name at the very top will identify it for you.

It’s important to know where you are because when you set about the work of commenting and liking other pages, you must now how your actions are being “read” by other pages. If you comment as you personally you won’t have the same impact as when you comment as your business.

b.) Click on the “Facebook” logo on the upper left hand side and you will find your page newsfeed. The newsfeed is very important because it lets you see, at a glance, all the activity of your “Friends,” if you’re logged in as your personal profile, or all the activity of your “Likes,” the businesses, events, products, services, etc. (see strategy tip referenced in number 1 above), if you’re logged in as your business page.

That’s a lot of information and these are just the very basics! Get these questions answered satisfactorily and you’ll be ready for all the articles out there that want to tell you how to position, engage, and yes, sell, from Facebook!

 

 

October 31, 2012
by otoole
0 comments

How to Read Kindle Books if You Don’t Have a Kindle

How to Read a Kindle Book if You Don't Have a Kindle

There are now over 1 million Kindle eBooks on Amazon! Many are offered free or at far below prices for their hardback counterparts.

How to Get a Free Kindle App for Your Tablet, Smartphone, or Computer

It couldn’t be easier to get a free app for turning your smartphone, tablet, and PC into a Kindle Fire. Here’s how to do it:

Kindle for Smartphones

Download the Smartphone App from your Phone or Tablet. Look for this icon:

Kindle Icon

You can easily find the Kindle for iPhone or iPod Touch App in the iTunes store or the Kindle for Android App in the Google Play Marketplace.

Search for “Kindle” in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Visit http://amazon.com/kindlebb in your BlackBerry browser to download.

Three Great eBooks to Start Your New Kindle Library

Here are a few of our eBooks you will want to check out:

Spirit of New Orleans Kindle Ebook - Digital Paintings of Ken O'Toole

Spirit of New Orleans: Digital Paintings by Ken O’Toole

$2.99

 

 

 

 

Strings to Bones - Digital Paintings of Ernesto Rodriguez

Strings to Bones and Other Theories by Ernesto Rodriguez

$0.99

 

 

 

 

Flash Cards: Subtraction for Kids

Flash Cards for Subtraction with BONUS: Spell Your Numbers 1- 15

$2.99

 

Download the Kindle for PC or MAC

You can also download a Kindle for PC or MAC and sync your computer with your smartphone and Kindle devices.

When you make a purchase, you will be able to select which device you want to send the new book to first. Moving your Kindle book from device to device is simple.

 

 

 

 

 

Click the link below to select the type of App you wish to download:

Free Kindle Reading Apps

Of course, if you’re interested in a “real” Kindle, you’re advised to go the “Kindle Fire” route. Color makes it the handiest for browsing, watching, listening, AND, reading.

The newest edition to the Kindle family is the Kindle Fire. Here are a few details about it:

Kindle Fire (in color)
  • A Kindle for movies, music, apps, games, reading & more, with Amazon’s cloud-accelerated web browser
  • Light enough to be held in one hand, small enough to fit in a purse.
  • Read bestsellers, children’s books, comic books, and cookbooks on vibrant 7″ IPS touchscreen showing 16 million colors.
  • 1GHz processor; built-in Wi-Fi

Kindle Fire

There are no special charges to access the web on a Kindle or Kindle Fire. All you need is access to your regular internet Wi-Fi account, or any Wi-Fi Hotspot and you can surf the web, check email and Facebook, and even watch videos.

 

 

August 26, 2012
by otoole
0 comments

What to Post on Facebook? These Questions are Good

Here are a few great questions offered by by colleague, Amy Porterfield, recently, that you can use “as is” or tweak for your own purposes:

Yes/no: These questions often get the most responses because they take just seconds to answer.

Fill in the blank: “When traveling, I can’t live without my __________.”

Tip: These questions often get the most responses because they take just seconds to answer and are often entertaining for others to read.

Feedback: “I need a flyer designed for our next event. Think I should run a design contest on Facebook? If I get 25 YES responses, I’ll announce details next week!”

Tip: Your audience is involved in the outcome, which means they’ll care more about the finished product.

Emotional/Provocative: “Who here feels like they’re fulfilling their LIFE’s PURPOSE right now, and how do you know?”

Tip: Provocative questions work best when you know the topics and themes most likely to ignite a reaction from your audience.

Value add: “I just finished my new e-book and I’ll release it next week. Who wants a free copy of chapter 1? Say YES and hit ‘like’!”

Tip: This is a great way to get momentum before a product launch.

Fun and fast: “Quick: ‘Hunger Games’ or ‘Avengers’?”

Tip: It’s nice to mix in entertaining questions to keep things interesting.

BONUS TIP! Add images to all your questions so they will stand out in the news feed. Images always make your posts more engaging.

Thanks again to Amy Porterfield for sharing these tips!

February 15, 2012
by otoole
0 comments

ONE EMAIL CAMPAIGN. FIVE DAYS. $390 in REVENUE.

 by Barbara O’Toole

With an initial mailing of 62 emails, an artist tests his audience, his offering, and his price-point, and nets $455 in non-refundable income in just five days.

 

THE CAMPAIGN IDEA

After helping my husband, artist, Ken O’Toole, come up with a marketing plan for his art business, we wondered if he could help reach his income goals by simply teaching a two hour workshop once or twice a month, then targeting his email list of artists to promote the event.

After doing some market research, we came up with a workshop offering and created a landing page on Ken’s website for the event, along with a PayPal “click-here-to-pay” button for $65, just 10 days before the date of the first workshop (Saturday, January 30, 2012).
 

TEST – FIRST EMAIL (Jan 18)

For the first campaign email, he hand-picked 62 email contacts from his artist group to test the idea and gauge whether his topic and price-point were viable, etc. The email went out Wednesday afternoon, January 18 at around 3:00pm.
 
Multiple links in the email sent click-ers to the landing page. Here are details:
 
Emails Received: 62
Opened: 21 (34%)
Clicked-thru: 9 (43%)
Direct Feedback: 2 people emailed to say they would rather take a weekday evening class.
Results: 4 workshop purchases for $260 (19% conversion) 1 from a forwarded email 
 
 

SECOND EMAIL (Jan 23)

For the final email notice before his first workshop, we resent to the first group of 62 and added Ken’s friends, family, and patrons segment of his list. We also added a sign-up to his website homepage specifically for future workshop interest and added 2 more workshop dates. (see #1 take-away below)
 
Emails Received: 383
Opened: 96 (26%)
Clicked-thru: 12 (12.5%)
Results: 2 workshop purchase $130 (16% conversion)
 
Social share features were added on this e-mailing, accidentally omitted from the first. Ken netted one sign-up for future workshop interest.
 

BIG TAKE-AWAYS

After reviewing the statistics provided in his EmailWerks account, we determined the following, which will help Ken market more successfully in the future:
    1. The workshop purchase is definitely an “impulse buy.”  Having multiple choices for dates and times available for buyers when they first come to the “landing page” will yield better results in future campaigns.
    2. In doing the market research, we did not see any workshops with testimonials or comments from attendees, but we believe it may have helped our conversion rate to include them on the landing page.
    3. Two of the five purchases were the result of forwardsso including a specific written call to action for “forwarding to a friend” in future campaigns will be included.
    4. Ken has begun collecting a list of online art workshop posting locationsso he can share his future workshops with those entities. Likewise, by planning further ahead next time, he can prepare and distribute printed flyers for those locations in his area that will accept them.
    5. Although the “no refunds, no cancellations”policy may have deterred some, Ken has decided to keep it as a best practice because setting that boundary beforehand makes for an extremely smooth administrative experience.
    6. A sales promotion is as good as it’s offer, so attention was paid to the copywriting and composition of the landing page, as well as the composition of the outgoing emails. Ken is requesting a short written evaluation from his students and may add a follow-up email survey to future workshops. 
Barbara O’Toole is a published author and founder/owner of Emailwerks.
 
EmailWerks provides a professional marketing email interface for advertising, marketing, and PR-savvy businesses who recognize the value and steadfastness of email in the marketplace. Powered by EMMA, a world-class email messaging platform, EmailWerks is owned and operated by O’Toole Marketing since 2006.

Permission to Reprint:

You may reprint this article in your print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

Reprinted from the blog of Barbara O”Toole, http://barbaraotoole.com/,  featuring opinion, speculation, strategy, and creativity in the realm of marketing.

If you like what you read, please pass it along to your friends, clients and colleagues.

February 6, 2012
by otoole
1 Comment

Number One Mistake in Managing Your Business Website

There is one comment that I hear often from small business owners. It is a comment based on an assumption. The assumption is as follows:

“I don’t have a lot of people telling me they found my website online so I must not have very much website traffic.”

When I ask the business owner how much website traffic they are getting, they cannot tell me, except to say they “don’t have time to look at website traffic reports.”

Imagine their surprise when they do examine their website statistics and find that they had 200 website visitors the month before. Only about 3 out of those 200 contacted them.

If I have 200 website visitors and I hear from only three of them, I have to wonder one of two things, 1. “Why is my website not converting better than that?” and 2. “What can I do to take advantage of the 200 visitors, possibly turning them into customers in the future?”

Let’s address each question separately:

1. Why is my website not converting better? In other words, why is my phone not ringing more?

This is a question worth examining, obviously. If you’ve gone to the expense of developing and maintaining a website, you might as well have one that works for you. There is not always one simple answer, however.

If this is a question that you believe is worth pursuing, here are some recommendations:

a. Re-examine the same issues you addressed when you first established your website. A lot has changed in the last two months, let alone the last two years. Has your website kept pace? For example, have you integrated the latest social media tools into your site? Facebook Fanpage? Video?

Your website visitor’s take – “Oh, this is a cool website. They’re using Facebook and looks like they’ll encourage good communication with their customers. Maybe I should try them out. Oh, great, and here’s a video that let’s me find out more about this business – almost like I’m meeting them in person!”

b. Generally speaking, how easy do you make it for people to do business with you? What calls to action does your website employ? What testimonials (social proof it is now called) are displayed and easy to find?  How many steps do they have to go through before a sale is made? Is there more information you can give them to help them make a buying decision with you more quickly?

Your website visitor’s take should be – “Perfect. All the info I need is right here. I know exactly what to expect before I make a call or send an email to hire this company.”

2. What can I do to better take advantage of the people that ARE coming to my website monthly?

This is where so many businesses are missing out on potential new business. They do not have a “lead capture system” in place. They do not have a basic “sales funnel” set up to handle prospects.  These terms are easy to search in Google for complete definitions, but suffice it to say that a lead capture system is being used by many, many successful online businesses.

The basic idea of the “lead capture system” is this: a desirable information package is offered to the site visitor as a “thank you” for finding the business online. This is often done in the form of an e-book or white paper or free report, which is delivered to the email inbox of the visitor when they supply their name and email address. Hence, their lead information is “captured” and can be used in future marketing campaigns.

Variations on a standard lead capture (as mentioned above) might be a free product or sample, a limited trial service offering, or some other way for a customer to “try out” your business.

Your website visitor’s take should be, ” This is great! This is information I can really use. If they give me this kind of great info before I even hire them, they’ll probably give me even better information when I’m paying for it! I’m confident my money will be well spent.”

 The number one mistake in managing your business website is the assumption that you don’t have enough – don’t have enough traffic, don’t have enough time, and don’t have enough ideas. The truth is that you have everything you need.  ~ Barbara O’Toole

——

Permission to Reprint:

You may reprint this article in your print or electronic newsletter. But please include
the following paragraph:

Reprinted from the blog of Barbara O”Toole,
http://barbaraotoole.com/,  featuring opinion, speculation, and strategy in the realm of marketing.

If you like what you read, please pass it along to your friends,
clients and colleagues.

January 2, 2012
by otoole
0 comments

Taking the Mystery Out of SEO: Top 3 Myths

I was shocked and surprised recently to learn that 90% of business owners polled by Forrester Research will include search engine optimization (SEO) in their 2012 marketing efforts.

My first reaction was, “Whoa! Really?”

Whenever I am approached by someone new about doing SEO work, I am regarded warily. My remarks are carefully scrutinized. Invariably, these questions are posed, “Do I offer a guarantee?  How long will it take? How much will it cost and is a discount available?”   

It dawned on me the other day. SEO vendors have become the used car salesmen of the internet. Nobody wants to deal with them, but everyone knows they have to at some point. 

If you’re considering adding SEO to your marketing to-do list, here are the top 3 myths about SEO that may be erroneously guiding you. The tip that follows each may save you some “tire-kicking.” Following this article is a brief mini-glossary of terms covered(in italics).

Top 3 SEO Myths

1.  I can do SEO once and it’s done. (Just like I did my website.)

This myth is, no doubt,  perpetuated by the same folks who put up their websites in 2005 and have never looked back.  Google’s number one mission is about delivering a quality user/customer experience. Your next website visitor is also Google’s customer.  How will a website qualify for a ”top-three” spot on Google if Google does not see your website continually improved and updated?

Have you noticed how quickly the online landscape changes these days? Many people still are not aware that Google purchased YouTube several years ago.  Naturally that purchase has impacted how videos come into search play online.

Google’s response to Facebook’s take on a great user experience has been their “Plus One” initiative, tested and launched in September of 2011. Google’s purchase of Android was their mobile response to Apple’s iPhone.  In November of 2011, they launched “GoMo” to help ensure their Android mobile users (and all their customers) will have a great user experience. 

Common sense: Way too many changes happen daily to assume that a one-time SEO fix will get the job done. So, if you have a limited marketing budget, is SEO really your best option? Would it make more sense to keep your current site updated with relevant content and/or make your site mobile friendly?

2. I need lots of keywords, lots of links, and I better have a guarantee from whomever I hire for SEO. 

Keywords.

It’s been a year or two since keywords came into play in a major way in search parameters. ”Keyword” is still a valid term. Keywords are still used. Keywords are just one type of meta tags used in the source code of your webpages. They no longer figure very strongly in the search algorithms used in the major search engines. 

There are differences of opinion on what meta tags, if any, do matter. Most recently, I’ve heard the “title tag” is given the most weight of the tags.

Common sense: Regardless of which meta tag is most impactful today, all of the other criteria combined far outweighs the significance of any one type of tag.

Links. 

Another holdover from several years ago is links. First they were called reciprocal links, then called backlinks, and now we hear of the importance of on-page  or internal links

For more information, you can Google “Google’s Panda Update” and read up on how it is no longer the best idea to have a pageful of links, no matter how relevant, without accompanying descriptive text to validate relevance of the content to your reader, who, never forget, is also Google’s user.   

Common sense: Regardless of which link type is most impactful, all of the other criteria combined far outweighs the significance of any one type of link.

Guarantee.

Common sense: Unless your SEO provider has inside information on upcoming changes from major online players like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, and knows what your competitors are going to do next, how can you expect a valid guarantee of results in your online space?

What you should expect is reaching a realistic goal that you and your provider agree is possible. A goal is different than a guarantee. Goals are typically achieved by employing best practices.

3. I’m not getting traffic to my website ’cause I don’t get inquiries about my products and services. I need SEO to generate traffic.

We see the logic here. Realistically, though, more traffic does not always translate into more customers. Does your website have at least one major call to action? How effective is that call to action? Do you know what your current average monthly traffic statistics are?  How much of that traffic is converted into customers currently?

How do you invite prospects to interact with you? Do you give multiple communication options? In other words, do you make it easy for prospects to connect with you?

Common sense: If you’re going to spend big bucks on SEO services, wouldn’t it be good to know how well your current website is converting prospects into customers FIRST? 

And speaking of your customers, one quick way to increase sales by 20% and more – start sending a regular branded email or monthly ezine to them. Offer them a VIP first-look at your newest product, ask them for referrals, and thank them. Do it regularly and consistently and your bottom line will improve in like manner.

MINI SEO GLOSSARY 

backlink: a link out on another website or other web property (like a link on a blog post or your Facebook fanpage), other than your website, that links back to your website to lend it authority and validate the content on your website

call to action: a common term that means to tell your reader/prospect/customer what you want them to do

converting prospects into customers: process of moving a possible customer into your sales pipeline to turn them, ultimately, into a paying customer

internal link: refers to a link within your webpage, website or web property that links to somewhere else within that same webpage, website or web property

make it easy: the act of making it as simple as possible for prospects to become customers and for customers to refer others to you; i.e., a “no-brainer”; what you want your website and all marketing efforts to do

meta tags: what a keyword is; other meta tags include title, description

on-page: refers to the landscape of text and content within your webpage or website

reciprocal links: links coming from other websites and web properties to your website that you should link to only if very relevant to your web visitors

relevant content: the text, tables, images, links and code that make up your website, giving and showing your visitors valuable information about your products and services; what Google likes to serve up to all its users/customers

search algorithms: the fancy math formulas that search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Firefox, and Chrome use to display pages and pages of search results to you

source code: goobledygook that your webpages are filled with behind the scenes; HTML, JavaScript, XML, PHP, Perl, CSS to name a few of the more common codes

title tag: the meta tag that contains the title of your webpage

—–

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Google local search "blended result"

June 14, 2011
by otoole
0 comments

10 Factors to Focus on to Improve Google Local Search

Subtitle: Even the Experts Say, “Digital Marketplace is Overwhelming!”

This morning I was directed to an article by SEO and web design expert, David Mihm, in Portland, Oregon.  When I got to the following statement, I was so relieved! It was like getting a doctor’s diagnosis when you finally have confirmation for what you suspected all along:

“And boy, did Google’s Local results get complex this year– specifically in October 2010 with the launch of “Blended” Place Search, which shows a hybrid of Place-related and website-related snippets on the search engine result page.”

So, it wasn’t just me! Google’s Local Search results have become more complex!  The image shows what we would typically see from a local search result, BEFORE the “blended searches” were rolled out by Google last fall.

The article goes on to describe how the author conducted a survey of 33 experts, asking how to improve one’s ranking in Google Places. It explains the ranking methodology used and how results were tabulated, etc. The following is a compilation of the top 10 recommended factors to focus on to improve rankings in Google’s local search:

  • Physical Address in City of Search  (PLACE PAGE)
  • Manually Owner-verified Place Page  (PLACE PAGE)
  • Proper Category Associations  (PLACE PAGE)
  • Volume of Traditional Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)*  (OFF-PLACE/OFF-SITE)
  • Crawlable Address Matching Place Page Address  (WEBSITE)
  • PageRank / Authority of Website Homepage / Highest Ranked Page  (WEBSITE)
  • Quality of Inbound Links to Website  (OFF-PLACE/OFF-SITE)
  • Crawlable Phone Number Matching Place Page Phone Number  (WEBSITE)
  • Local Area Code on Place Page  (PLACE PAGE)
  • City, State in Places Landing Page Title  (PLACE PAGE)
  •  

    *IYP’s  refers to “Internet Yellow Pages”  -   Note: This is more so an issue with Drs., lawyers and other professionals who often have multiple variations of their name on YPs and directories or heavy marketers that have lots of different phone #s all over the web.

    Of course, you are welcome to explore th full article at your own risk. :-)    I caution you, it may be a little overwhelming!   http://www.davidmihm.com/local-search-ranking-factors.shtml