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Internet Marketing Blog

November 2010

Paid vs Organic Search

Both paid search and organic search are valuable tools to help your business get found online, and it’s important to understand the difference between the two.   
Paid search describes the ads that are displayed on the top and the right sidebar of the search engine results page. 
As indicated by its name, paid search is a service that you will pay for.  This is most commonly done on a CPC (cost per click) basis.  As the advertiser, you bid on the keywords that apply to your site, and you set your maximum willingness to spend per click, per day, and per month.  The search engine uses this information, along with the relevancy of your ad, to determine if and where you will be placed on the results page.  Obviously the more you’re willing to pay, the
higher you will be placed on relevant
To ensure relevancy, you need to make sure that your ad specifically applies to your landing page (your website).   In order to do this, the content (the written description) on your website should reflect the information that you’re calling out in your advertisement.   In conjunction to relevancy, you also need to make sure your ad is appealing and competitive.  It’s usually a good idea to check out your competitor’s ad copies (by searching for the keyword you’re interested in bidding on) to make sure your offers are competitive and compelling.  You always want to do some research before investing!  Paid search can become expensive if you’re bidding on high traffic keywords, so make sure you bid within your means. 
The organic listings are the main, larger listings that take up the remainder of the page.  These are the results that no one pays for, but are driven organically through the search engine.  You don’t pay to appear on this list, but there are a few tricks to making your site rank higher on specific keywords. 
Ultimately, search engines like to please the user, so they put the sites with the most relevance to the search query at the top.  In order to make your site more relevant to specific keywords, you’ll need to boost the content on your website to highlight and describe those keywords.  In addition to boosting the content, it’s important to keep the content up to date.  
Additionally, it will benefit your site’s rankings to have the title tags of your pages reflect the relevant and high search volume keywords.  You can use Google’s Keyword Tool to determine the most high volume keywords within your product/services scope. 
Another way to really improve your organic rankings is to acquire quality, natural links (when another website places a link to your site on their page).  This shows the search engine that your site is popular among the online community, and thus more likely to please the user.  You can build links by promoting your site and creating viral content that will naturally spread. 
Ultimately, your goal as an advertiser is to make your business visible in the top paid and organic spots for the keywords (search queries) that apply to the goods or services that your business provides.  This would put you at the top of the page in two different locations, giving you a greater share of the search engine results page.  Historical data has continually proven that it’s most advantageous for the advertiser to acquire these positions to increase their session count (clicks), and ultimately their exposure. 
You can learn more about search engine optimization by clicking on the category on the left or by clicking on the link here. Are you using paid search or an organic strategy? We wold love to hear from you.

Growing Your Customer List

Oftentimes we’re asked how small businesses can best gather email addresses and other personal information from customers if they have a physical storefront, or aren’t getting a lot of traffic yet to their website. 

The answer is simple, put out a sign-up sheet in your store or wherever you do business that will encourage customers to add their email and receive information from you.  A good way to get customers to sign up is to give them an incentive.  Call out that this email list will allow them to get special offers and deals, or offer them 5% off their immediate purchase (as they’re checking out) just by signing up. You worked hard to get people to come to your store and interact with you, make sure you’re able to continue to talk to and market to them in the future.  
Position the forms next to your register, place them on your counter, or hang them on the door- and they’re the lightest item you’ll bring with you to fairs or events.   Upload your new contacts into your Email Marketing list for templated emails to keep folks involved with what you’re doing and returning to your website for future business with updates, newsletters, and promotions. 

Look for the forms in your Email Marketing Dashboard, under Market Yourself or Build Your List.   Once you’ve created yours, save it to your dashboard for later use, print in PDF format, or download to save to your home computer.  Check out the one I started customizing below.  Also, try our web forms for your Vistaprint or non-Vistaprint website.  Enjoy the new FREE form feature!

Top Ten Mistakes People Make When Starting a Website

A website will almost always be a work in progress, launching one is not easy if you don't have the right tools and support. There are always tweaks to be made and changes that will affect the user experience, traffic and overall theme of the pages.  But there are also a few key mistakes that people typically make when it comes to starting from scratch. 
This morning Jeremy and I sat down to go through some of these key mistakes and while it was originally a large list we have refined it down to these 10.  If you can focus on getting these right, you’ll have greater success in launching your businesses website. 
1. Domain Names: Choosing a domain that is relevant, easy to remember and consistent with your brand.  Check out Ryan’s post on “Your perfect domain name”
2. Brand Consistency: Spend the time to make your site look and feel like the rest of your brand.  So if you have already designed a business card with certain design elements, make sure that you keep them consistent with your website.  Professionalism is what you are looking for and it gives your customers confidence shopping with you online or in your physical store when everything is the same.  This includes colors, tone of copy and including your company logo.
3. Consistent and concise information: Your customers are busy people these days and get bombarded with information all day. Having clear, consistent content which is easy to navigate is so important but too many people try to over communicate everything they do and how they do it to get their message across. Keep the format the same, shorter is better and above the fold is where your most important content should live. “Above the fold” is the term used for all the content you can see within the top part of the screen and it’s high value real estate. Check out Ryan’s post about content above the fold. 
4. Call to action: Micro businesses have a website for a reason, be it informing their customers of where they are and how to contact them, selling products, or putting out content around their industry or demographic.. But no matter what the reason, there should always be a clear call to action for the customer to act and take further steps to do business with you.  Giving the customer a clear direction gives you a better chance at a successful outcome. If you want them buy something think about the information they will need to know before buying.  Give it to them then provide them with an avenue to purchase. For example, a PayPal purchase button or large phone number call out for estimates.  Even a simple “contact us today!” can be effective in spurring action once people have landed on your site.
5. Investing time: Spend some time up front to make your site look professional and well presented. Check over your site design and content before making it live to the world. It doesn’t need to be perfect when you start, but having areas of your site looking sloppy does not make a good first impression.  You want it to be as close to perfect as possible before launching it.
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Think about search engine optimization while building your site and consistently after it has launched. Too many people think about it after the fact and being aware of good SEO practices from the start will put you in a much better position to maximize your online potential. The Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer is a great tool to be able to monitor your SEO.
7. Customer contact details: At every opportunity try to capture your customer contact details so that you have an avenue to contact them in the future.  Having a “Contact Us” page is a must, which will allows you to take your potential customer’s information in the process.  Be open about your contact details; put your contact information on every single page of your website to make it easy to find. This will help you build a database of your customers and allow you to use mediums such as Email Marketing in the future.
8. Announce your site: People are not going to just stumble upon your site; they need to know or hear about it. Create an email marketing campaign to announce the launch of a new site, share it with your friends on Facebook, reach out to your local Chamber of commerce and put a link to the site on your new business cards or other marketing materials. 
9. Understanding your data: Once you have your site set up and customers are coming to your site keep an eye on your website traffic.  Make sure you’re taking the right steps to boost that traffic and testing your efforts over time.  Again, your site won’t be stumbled upon, you need to be proactive about getting it found by search engines and customers.  Check out an article by Francine on “Understanding your website traffic.”
10. Don’t set it and forget it: Your business is growing and changing all the time. Your website should be too. Too often micro businesses think, “Oh I have a website now, I am all set there.” The actual answer is, “it takes time to grow your business online and requires continual improvement.” Consistently spend time each week to monitor and make updates to your website. Listen to customer feedback and make changes to improve. 
Hopefully these tips help you whether you are just getting started or are working on improving your site. Look forward to hearing the mistakes you made when starting out.

80% of the eye traffic is “Above the Fold”

Have you ever heard of the term “above the fold” when it comes to newspapers? Well it also refers to the area on websites.  “Above the fold” refers to the area of a computer screen a person can see without scrolling up, down, left, or right. 
Just the other day, a customer asked me where the best spot to put a PayPal button was on their site.  My answer was “above the fold.”  I began thinking about my answer and felt like this is a very common question.  Since “above the fold” is so important here’s a little background about this area of your website.
During the internet’s early years, many believed users would never scroll down a page.  Since then, there has been debate over the best use for above the fold space.  Usability expert Jakob Nielsen recently tested the notion of “above the fold” through his Eye-tracking Study.  Through this, he found users do scroll through web pages, but spend 80% of their time looking at information above the fold.  To further that, those users that scroll do so primarily when they feel information is important or valuable to them.          
This study can guide what kind of content to include above the fold.  Since users only spend 20% of their time on the bottom of web pages, the top area space is more important than ever.  Keep this idea in mind when you are selecting content to include and showcase on your own site.  The type of content will differ from business to business, but it’s important to be selective in choosing what information to put here. 
Try to incorporate important elements that will capture your audience.
Include things like specific calls to action, directions on use, or relevant imagery.  All of these can be considered quality pieces that will interest your customer to scroll through your webpage. ProBlogger does this extremely well.
While customers spend 80% of their time above the fold, don’t try to overwhelm them with content in this space.  Targeting those important elements of your business will interest customers to scroll and read your website.  It’ll be tough for a customer to focus with lots of content squeezed into a small area. With a simple design in mind, you want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find the information they need. Providing customers with a clearly defined path on you site is important.    
Surety Bonds uses a simple design to direct customers to a strong call to action.
Content above the fold is the first encounter between you and your customer.  Selecting the right content to show can make all the difference and allow customers to engage with your website.  Quality pieces of information will interest visitors and keep them coming back. 
Do you notice that you get more activity on information placed “above the fold?”

Strong Search Terms Using Google’s Insights for Search Tool

Choosing your website’s search terms is an important part of building your website and optimizing the content for search engines.  You want to be found and ultimately come up in searches for specific terms and
keywords, but what should you choose and how do you know what’s working?
There are many ways to determine what search terms you should use for your business, but one very powerful tool is Google’s Free Insights for Search tool. The Insights for Search tool helps you determine the most powerful search terms related to your business by looking at search volume across specific regions, categories, time frames and sites . Once you’ve chosen your search terms, don’t forget to use them in context of your location (if you are a local business). For example, don’t just write about “backyard landscaping”; write about “backyard landscaping in Lexington, MA”.
Setting up Insights for Search
Using Google’s Insights for Search tool is pretty straightforward. Once you go to, enter a search term related to your business. For example, if your business provides landscaping services, try “Landscaping”. If your business is a bakery, try “cupcakes” or “bakery.”  If you want to narrow your results to searches in your area, you can specify your location. If you want to narrow your results to searches in a specific time period, you can select a date. In my example, I used “Landscaping” as my search term, and filtered by results in the United States for the last 12 months.
Once you’ve specified your search terms and filters, click Search.  Your results should show you data on that search term over time. If you get the message “Not enough search volume to show results,” try expanding your filters to be less specific (for example, don’t specify region beyond country, and set your time filter to 12 months).
Interpreting your Results

Google will give you data on Interest over Time, Regional Interest, Top Searches, and Rising Searches. For the purposes of choosing search terms, focus on Top Searches and Rising Searches. 

Top Searches refers to the search terms with the most significant level of interest, related to the search term and filters you entered. In my example above, I used “landscaping” as my search term. The results tell me that “landscaping ideas,” “landscape,” “landscaping design” and “backyard landscaping” are common phrases that people search for most in Google (related to the term “landscaping”). For my landscaping website, I could now decide to have a page on my site all about “landscaping ideas” so people find my website in search listings. Once they got to my website to read about landscaping ideas, they could see the services I offer and decide to call me. Alternatively, I could make sure to include the phrase “backyard landscaping” quite a bit in the text of my site, because I now know that is a common phrase people are searching for.
Rising Searches are a little bit different from Top Searches. Rising Searches are searches that have experienced significant growth in a given time period. In my example, although “grasses for landscaping” is not always a very popular search term, recently a lot of people have been searching for that phrase. By incorporating Rising Searches into your website’s text, you have a unique opportunity to get ahead of your competition by using the most recent and accurate related search terms.
Wrap Up

Choosing your website’s search terms and incorporating them onto your site is an important part of marketing your business online with a website. Google’s free Insights for Search tool is a great way to help you determine the most powerful search terms for your business. And don’t forget – if you’re a local business, be sure to use your search terms in context of your location.

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