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Internet Marketing Blog

Building Links

Digital Marketing Dictionary

We get it — when it comes to getting listed online, the process can be overwhelming. The first step is understanding what terms such as “local search” and “organic search” mean, and how they relate to your site.

Key Terms

Local Search
: The basic definition revolves around geography. Results are displayed when a potential customer searches online for a product or service within a specific geographic location. For example, if you type “landscaping, Boston” into Google, Yahoo orYelp, it will return Local Search results for landscaping businesses in Boston.

Social Media: According to Merriam-Webster, Social Media includes “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” Whether or not you use Social Media in your personal life, utilizing it as a marketing tool for your business can have big benefits. Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to engage with existing customers and connect with new ones.

Organic Search: The original type of results in a search engine that include a list of websites. Major search engines such as Google evaluate websites based on credibility and relevancy so that searchers find the best matches for their search.

Search Engine Optimization: Otherwise known as SEO, it is the process of optimizing your website so it shows up in organic search. One specific way to do this is to think about various keywords that you use within your content.

Keywords: Think for a moment about what words you type in to your preferred search engine when you’re looking for something specific. For instance, if you were searching online for a restaurant that served a particular dish, but you couldn’t recall the name of the restaurant, you would likely type in keywords such as your location, the dish’s name, or perhaps even the main elements of the dish.

Paid Search: Results are advertisements or "sponsored links" in search engines that businesses can purchase from sites such as Google. Paid Search is a useful form of online marketing for some businesses because one can see results immediately, however, unlike other more gradual types of online marketing, it does cost money.
Over the next few months, we’ll be posting specific content about how you can utilize these key digital marketing terms. Can’t wait for the post? Keep in mind that we have an extensive Online Guide that can be found on your dashboard!

Secrets of Organic Search

Showing up as the number one position for a search term is a potential gold mine for micro businesses.  More than likely the user that performed that search is going to click on the number one listing. Why? Because it’s the first listing they see and they know the search engine believes it to be the most relevant site for their search. Based on leaked AOL data a few years ago the first listing is likely to have 3.5 times more clicks that the No. 2 position, and being No. 2  isn’t bad!

So what’s the secret to ranking number one? You can’t just pay to have your site show up, even in the paid listings search engines need to deem your site relevant and worthy before they will serve it. We know “content is king” and that optimizing your title and URL are important parts of organic search, but everyone can create a URL that’s at least somewhat relevant and optimize their title tags for searches. You want to know the trick, the secret, the special combination that will boost your site to the top?

Make your site for the user and the rest will follow, it’s that simple. It’s a broad answer you’ve probably heard before from Google’s head of Webspam Matt Cutts. We tend to think of this answer as a copout, expecting insight to the Google algorithm or specific details on how we can alter our code to improve rankings, but one should really heed Matt Cutts’ advice. Google and other search engines will always try and do what’s best for the user. So if your site is optimized for the user, chances are that your site will eventually rank well for your targeted keywords.

Yes there are certain structural improvements you can perform allowing spiders to crawl your site with more ease, but when it comes down to it there is still no better form of marketing than word of “web”.  If people enjoy your site they will share it with others and so on and so forth.  A webmaster shouldn’t be too concerned about building their site around spiders. By building a site around the user you’re also building the site around the spider.

Yes, I understand that in the end it might not be the answer you’re looking for, but in the end, it’s the most effective one.
What do yo think about organic search? Looking forward to recieving your comments.  

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.

Building Inbound Links Guide For Small Businesses

Recently, I wrote an article on the best practices for Search Engine Optimization in Search Engine Optimization Guide for Small Businesses. The article talked about 4 important aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’ve already covered the first 3 components: Spider Friendly Sites, Search Terms, and Content. Today, I’ll discuss the last SEO component: Building Inbound Links. 
What is Link Building?
Link building is a very important part of Search Engine Optimization, and is a great way for Small Businesses to get ahead in search engines like Google. Link building is the process of getting other websites on the internet to add links to your website (also known as Inbound Links). Search Engines like Google use the quantity and quality of inbound links to determine how important your website is. These inbound links can be considered “votes,” indicating that your website is credible and highly regarded. As you receive more “votes,” search engines will identify your website as a significant resource in the online community and feature it more prominently in their search results.
How Can I Build Inbound Links?
One of the best ways to start building inbound links is the old-fashioned way: using the people and places you know. When building links, it’s best to start with what I like to call the low hanging fruit. Consider anyone in your social and professional circles that has a website, then send them a friendly note and ask if they’d mind adding a link to your website onto their site (maybe offer to host their website link in exchange!). When considering who to ask, consider your customers, clients, key suppliers, partners, colleagues, relatives and friends that run businesses, professional groups, community projects, and other local businesses.

Another great way for local businesses to build links is to contact your Chamber of Commerce and ask them to add a link to your website on their site. Although this is just one link, many other websites will often link to small businesses listed on the Chamber of Commerce, so this can be a great way to get more links. You can also use social media to build more links to your site. Share links to your site on Facebook and Twitter, and add a Facebook and Twitter widgets to your site so customers can promote your business for you. 
To Summarize…
Building links is a great way to boost your organic ranking in search engines. The people you already know can be one of your best assets when trying to build links to your site- so use them! Don’t be shy to ask, and be sure to offer to post one of their links on your site in exchange.
Look forward to hearing from you, feel free to share your experinece with buidling and sharing links.

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