1. Build credibility before you sell via social media
2. Allow open (but governed) access for employees to Twitter and blogging
3. Broadcast emails are not effective. Create relevancy and be helpful
4. Use your Facebook fan page to promote key content of your email newsletter
5. Join the right conversations and the right time
6. Think about your Web site’s “front page” as a collection of pages, not one home page
7. Improve search spending ROI by using down-funnel data
8. Invest in social media. It’s not free.
9. Test the unusual
10. Clean up your landing pages
11. Keep your troops informed
12. Insert retweet buttons into PDF files
13. Remove gates in front of your content
14. Use your brand community for market research
15. Engage in online communities as a person first, as a marketer second
16. Use Google keyword tool to learn how customers describe your products/services
17. Optimize all your content for search
18. Build relationships with fire starters
19. Build community first, monetize later
20. Offer value on Twitter, don’t self promote
21. Have passion and jump on every possible situation you can on the social Web
22. Build relationships with customers to create a memorable brand experience
23. Set goals, measure, and iterate
24. Social media guidelines for your company should be short and succinct
25. Be organized internally to effectively manage social media externally
26. Blog about how your products/services fit into your customer’s lives
27. Humanize your blog
28. Get your legal counsel talking to other companies that have successfully implemented social media
29. Have conversations with senior management to determine their appetite for social media
30. Provide your community something that is personally beneficial to them
31. Let your members decide how they want to use “their” community
32. In online video, be mindful of people’s time, attention and surroundings
33. Use trackable links to measure and analyze success
1. Build credibility before you sell via social media
Many small business owners struggle with the seemingly overwhelming task of managing their website. There always seems to be so much to do, yet no time to do it all (something we know all too well). This brief primer should help to highlight the key aspects of web site management that will help them gain the most from their website with the time that they have available.
The following 10 tips are key to maintaining a successful website. Follow these and your site will do better. Nothing will guarantee that a website will be successful as there are simply too many different factors that impact web success – but as a general rule these ten tips will always lead to better performance.
3. No Tricks
7. Quality Code
Content is key
All the search engines scan a sites content now – almost ignoring things like meta tags. The more content you have on your site the more the search engines can scan – but there is more to it then that: people like content too. Many people measure a website´s success by the number of visitors it gets – so ask yourself – why would people come to your website? do you offer them interesting and informative information that relates to your product or service? if not, why would they come?
Relevant content and lots of it is a key for a successful web site. There is always room for more content on a website, and you can never have too much. Take this article for example, while it´s fairly useful information for many of our visitors, it´s also additional content for our website – and will serve to help our site do better. Writing articles about aspects of your industry is a great way to generate content. Set aside an hour a day (or at least an hour a week) to devote to adding new content to your website.
Keep it Current
Having lots of content is great – but if it is all three years old it´s not going to look like your site is much of a priority. The search engines actually track this. They monitor how frequently your site changes as they visit it for indexing. The more often it changes the better your rank in the freshness category.
What constitutes change? pretty much anything – which is why keeping a BLOG or adding frequent news articles to your website usually produces such good results. It is also the reason why having something as simple as rotating content and the current date on every page has been shown to make a difference (although the search engines have been getting wise to this kind of tactic)
#3 No Tricks
Don´t try to outsmart the Search Engines – Eventually you´ll loose
Many design firms promise success through the use of tricks, backdoors, and special tactics designed to sneak a website into a top position rapidly. Something, of course, that the search engines are constantly battling to defeat. Why play the game? as the search engines find the cheaters they will plug the holes and a rank (that usually costs a pretty penny to achieve) will immediately be lost.
Rather, follow the recommendations of the search engines – most set out rules for webmasters that outline what they would like to see in a website (incidentally these rules are the main source of research for this document) By following the rules the engines are actually battling all the cheating websites and working to promote the sites that follow the rules – they are fighting FOR you!
Links both in and out must be relevant
There has been a lot of talk about link exchanges – people linking to others merely to gain a higher rank if you are going to link to someone and/or ask them to link to you – ask yourself: is it relevant? Any old link is not going to help you much – search engines will look at who is linking to you – they are also starting to pay very close attention to how many links you have off your website on a page. This is being done to try and drop sites with pages of links (do you have a links page on your web site?)
It is far better to have relevant links in various places throughout your website – on only those pages that specifically address the topic that relates to the page being linked. Unfortunately, you can´t exert too much control over the way that other sites link to yours but it is worth looking at how a site usually links to others before to specifically go requesting a link from them. For example: a link that is your logo isn´t very useful (search engines ignore images) whereas a link containing text, listing the topic of your website, from a related website would be of great value.
Organize your website and everyone will thank you.
Both the search engines and your web visitors prefer a website that is well structured. The search engines due to their very nature (being computer programs) must break down all websites into elements based on the structure of the pages. People, so frequently rushing to find the specific information they are looking for, rarely read through web pages but rather scan headings and bullied lists to find the detailed sections of interest. In both cases a well structured site will be far better received then one that is a mish-mash of information haphazardly thrown together.
This is simple to do – but all too often missed. Make headings, use the correct coding tags for them, organize sections of content into groups, and use bold and bullied lists to present key points. Keep in mind when writing paragraphs of text that most humans will not read them unless they are specifically titled with a headline that matches what they are looking for.
A website that speaks to all is better then a site that only speaks to some.
Tips #6 and #7 are closely related: The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides a list of guidelines for how to create websites that are accessible to as many people (and systems) as possible. Think about your website – can someone with a visual disability (perhaps even something as simple as color-blindness) still get information about your product or service? If not, how do you feel knowing that you have just excluded a vast segment of the population from accessing your website?
There are many simple ways that you can ensure your website is accessible to people with special needs. A group of simple tests for the sites content and design that ensure your product or service is presented to the widest possible audience. The specifics are beyond the scope of this document – but be sure that you check with your designer to ensure that your site design and code is following accessibility guidelines.
#7 Quality Code
Well coded websites perform better.
Many small business owners don´t have too much control over the code used to create their website – but it is still important to know how important it may be. Standard compliant code that has been checked for errors is easier for the search engines to assimilate. It is more widely visible across varied platforms (computer types) and in different browsers.
Ensure your web designer is writing standard compliant code that is validated for errors. You can also check your own website using free on-line tools from the W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium – the standards body that administers Internet technologies)
Prudent choice of URLs will impact your web site´s performance
Professional web designers should already know this – but if you are using a content management system to build your website, or portions of it, it is important to understand the significance of the URL used to access pages on your website.
Search engines look at the address of every page on your website and try to extract key-words from the content of the url. For example, you may have a page about “Widgets” on your website called “somewhere.com” creating the page with a filename of widgets.html will give a better keyword rank then page6.html this is also true of sub-directories on the site somewhere.com/widgets/… being better then somewhere.com/files/…
This is a fairly subtle point but makes a significant difference for most search engines. It can also make it much easier for people that are typing in a URL to access a specific page of your web site. If you really want to target a key phrase consider purchasing a microsite for that phrase. An inexpensive secondary web site that can be tailored to focus on a specific key phrase or concept.
Looks do matter – but perhaps not the way you think…
In the grand scheme of things the “looks” of a web site in the classic sense are not really that important – honestly! once people have looked at a website for a few minutes they will quickly discard their first impression (based on looks) and move immediately to asking – is this site giving me the information I need – and can I find it quickly (going back to tips #1 – content and #5 – structure)
So what are we on about with style? simple – ensure the style of your site makes it easy to read. Avoid things like black backgrounds with white text (inverse text is harder to read) ALL CAPS (humans read by identifying word shapes – writing in all caps forces people to read every letter and quickly becomes annoying – plus on the net it is used as an typographic method of indicating you are screaming) You should also check your website using a color blind test to ensure that visitors with the various types of color-blindness can still actually read your navigation.
Selling a product – better make sure it looks good
If you are selling something that has a visual representation – then professional looking photography is key. Even a multi-million dollar resort will not look good if the photographs are amateurish. If you care about what you have to sell, then it´s worth investing in some professional photographs to show people what you have. Remember, on-line people can´t get a hold of your product – so you need to give them some really good photographs so that they can feel confident that it meets their needs.
Keyword content articles, boy oh boy are they the latest rage on the Internet! Have keywords got you spinning? Stop flailing around for a minute and pay attention, keywords are really not the big idea and as soon as you learn that, you’ll be on your way to the top of the search engine. If you’re ready to leave your competition to eat dust, read on.
While we’re on the subject of SEO, it’s really kind of hard not to elaborate on domain names first. Let’s say that the name of your site is Cow Doodle, just an example. Should your site be cowdoodle.com or cow-doodle.com? There’s really a lot of debate about which would be best to use. Consider the hyphen because it may be easier for the bots to read, there’s really no evidence that supports this and you should use your own discretion but that’s my personal preference.
Having said that, let’s move on to the important topic and that’s keywords. Keywords are what people use to find you, when they type in a phrase like “western boots”, if you sell western boots or have any type of business relating to western boots then that means you want that person to find you. If it’s western boots potential clients are typing in to find you, then that should be your keywords to begin with. If your business has fifty different pages, that feature fifty different items then doesn’t it makes sense to dedicate your efforts unique to each page? Each page should be keyword rich keeping your products and searched terms in mind.
If your products are made by G.E., it’s best not to let the term “G.E.” overcast your pages and put a damper on your products. The best way to find out what the best keywords would be for your site would be to put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. Ask yourself a question.
If you were a potential client looking for a product you have, what kind of phrase would you look for to find it? Answer that question and get other people to answer it too. It doesn’t have to be a product; it can be services that you provide or anything for that matter.
After you settle the keyword debate, think about keyword density.
Keyword density is really a percentage. Let’s say you have 100 words, and your keywords are mentioned 5 times throughout your content article, then you have 5% keyword density in that content article. That’s seems simple enough right?
It really is but the mistake that most people make is going overboard with keywords. I think you know what I mean, just take a look below at this example to see what happens when someone goes overboard.
The norm would be:
Mary had a little lamb, his fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
Makes sense right?
Mary had a little lamb, Mary had a little lamb his fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary had a little lamb, Mary had a little lamb was sure to go.
That’s gone overboard and it’s everywhere!
That’s gone overboard, not going and it’s ridiculous to try to do that to draw in potential clients. Would you rather have quality or quantity? Most of us want quality and it’s no different for the potential clients you want to target. Not only should your content be keyword rich, it should be rich in context and that’s where a little skill comes in.
Don’t waste your money on those supposed keyword generators because you’ll end up editing the content and if you’re not a writer, you’ll be lost!
Hire a writer.
It may set you back a few bucks but in today’s Internet politics, there’s really no way around it. Top sites are paying freelance writers to develop keyword rich content everyday and why shouldn’t you? There are oodles of places on the Internet at this very moment with content writers waiting to write killer content for your site, most of them are experienced with SEO requests and you’ll notice a turn around by just viewing the stats of your website. The overall goal is to keep your clients coming back, grab their attention with useful information so that they can browse through your site to see what else you have to offer and that’s priceless.
Especially once you consider the money you are already losing.
Meta tags were once the rave and everyone jumbled every keyword possible into them, guess what…sites still have them stuffed into page titles-it’s useless. Meta tag days are over.
Links are in though! You can gain some rankings by linking to other top sites that hold them and if you can negotiate some reciprocal links back, it’s even better. This makes your site look important, if all of these sites want to link to you then that means your site should be easier to find. The search engines will reward you generously.
If you want to gain better rankings, these are the ABC’s of SEO and they should be followed with respect. A little patience and some hard targeted work we will put you closer to the top, where everyone wants to be.