Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Search Engine Marketing 5 Simple Strategies

In the age of the Internet, where most people do their readings and research in the World Wide Web, the search engines play a major role in helping people find what they are looking for. This makes the search engine results a place for website owners to compete as to whose website will land on the first page of the search engine results page. Search engine marketing helps get the job done for them.

Search engine marketing is a marketing strategy which is much like marketing products but this one involves marketing websites through the search engines. Simply stated, it is a process of improving the possibility of having your website land one the first page of search engine results page and it can be achieved through search engine optimization and search engine advertising.

It is but natural that web masters would want to see their websites land in the first page of search engine results, and this cannot be done without any marketing strategies. Here are 5 easy ways to do it:

  • First, make a plan for your marketing strategy. It must be something that is effective and guaranteed to give positive results in search engine results. You need to be aware what SEO is and know the basics. Without a knowledge on SEO, you would find it difficult to cope with competitors. Once you know the basics of SEO, apply all that you know to your website.
  • Second, design your website according to search engine requirements. Building a site which is search engine friendly makes it easier to have it indexed by the spiders, and in return gives it a higher rank in search engine results.
  • Third, know your keywords and have it placed in your website. Keyword placement is one aspect of search engine optimization that is very important. Keywords are carefully studied to that the right keywords are used for a website. There are also methods for keywords analysis which can be a big help. Once you know your keywords, use it to benefit your website. Use it for the content of your site so search engine users can find you easily.
  • Fourth, be aware that nothing in this world is constant but change. Keep yourself updated and review your marketing strategies and apply changes if needed.
  • Fifth, if you see the need to hire a professional on SEO, do not hesitate to do so. It may cost you some amount, but the services that a professional can do for you would be a good investment in the long run.

Because those who use the Internet makes use of the search engine to help them find the site that they need, it would be clever to utilize search engine marketing, to take chances of promoting the services and products of your website.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Improving Conversion Rates: The Best Investment You Can Make In Your Web Site.

Possibly the most misunderstood part of online marketing is improving conversion rates...

Improving conversion rates produces some of the greatest returns on investment of any activity you can engage in while trying to improve the sales of your web site.

Maximizing your web sites conversion rates can produce a tremendous competitive advantage.

Niche after niche and industry after industry have proven that once a marketer with an obsession for maximizing traffic conversion enters the niche, its “game over” for the existing websites in that market that don’t adapt and begin improving their own conversion rates.

Customers and affiliates seem to almost magically gravitate towards the websites that have the highest conversion rates. And high converting websites can afford to far out spend the competition on marketing and advertising.

When it comes to increasing the sales of your online business, the basics are actually quite simple... There are only three things you need to focus on to improve your overall sales volume.

Those 3 things are:

1. Increasing the traffic to your website.
2. Increasing the average amount customers spend per visit.
3. Improving your visitor to sales conversion rates.

That’s it... Every revenue generating activity you can engage in to maximize your online profits falls under one of those three areas.

Unfortunately the vast majority of online businesses and internet marketers spend most of their time focusing on only one of those three critical areas. (And it’s often the least effective area.)

Increasing the average amount customers spend per visit and improving conversion rates have a far greater impact on your long term profitability than focusing exclusively on increasing the traffic to your web site.

Your web sites conversion rates are impacted by four main areas.

1. Usability.
2. Persuasion.
3. Trust.
4. Testing.

Usability is simply how easy it is for visitors to navigate your web site and how easy it is for them to accomplish whatever their particular goal is on your web site.

Persuasion is a measure of how effective your web sites copy, calls to action and other elements are at convincing visitors to purchase from you (or take the specific actions that you want them to take.)

Trust is an essential yet often overlooked element of the conversion process. Even if your web site is highly usable and persuasive, if your visitors do not trust you they will not buy from you.

Testing and tracking is where the big gains in conversion rate improvement come from. By focusing long-term on continually testing and improving your sales process on your web site you can increase conversion rates incrementally over time. These small improvements will compound to produce very large gains in conversion rates, sales and overall profitability.

The bottom line is this...

Developing a long term commitment to improving and maximizing your conversion rates will result in a devastating competitive advantage that will guarantee you dominance in any niche you decide to enter.

Because so few online businesses understand the tremendous power of maximizing conversion rates, even gaining a slight advantage will allow you to blast past your competition.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dangerous Marketing Campaigns

Targeting your key demographic online is getting harder and harder. While new portals that offer information to niche markets spring up like summer weeds, it is hard to decipher the legitimacy of not only their readership, but the depth and significance of their content, the source of their traffic, and the accuracy of their traffic reporting. The reasons for this lie in not only the increasing popularity of the internet for all ages, but the costs and low expected results now associated with "targeted" marketing campaigns.

Initially, the online marketing boom mainly changed the daily habits of adolescents, college kids, and young entrepreneurs. Now, Grandparents look forward to e-mails with fresh picture attachments, and more people meet their significant others on the web than they do at speed-dating convention. If there is an interest, someone has created a way to profit from it online. While the readiness of information is a convenience, it has led to a whole new set of concerns for small business owners.

Who can you trust to get your message across to the professionals who need your services? I am sure that there are many websites that consider themselves home to the community that can jump start your business. Claiming to be fueled by expert credentials, with an "opt-in" readership of people waiting to be sold on your breakthrough methods or product, these websites seem to be the answer to marketing prayers. For the small fee of $30,000+, you too can speak to these managers and share your wisdom.

How is this possible for the small business owner to justify? How can you trust that the website is representing their credentials appropriately, and that investing with them will be safe and, most importantly, productive? It is an excellent possibility their compiled "subscriber" lists come from others' saleable data. There's also the chance that many of those e-mail addresses will prove to be invalid.

Unless the World Wide Web takes measures to institute standards and credential guidelines for information portals, here are a few tips to help evaluate a site before you invest in their sales and marketing packages:

How did they compile their subscriber list? How do they maintain that list to minimize the number of invalid e-mail accounts that it contains?

Where do they get their content? From other site's feeds, or do they create it in house? How often do they update this information (weekly, monthly, never)? Always ask this question, and then complete due diligence to confirm that the information portal does post in this time frame, and that articles are not reposted or recycled articles from another online portal.

How often do they send out mass e-mails to their subscriber list? If the website sends out new information more than two times a week, there is a lower chance that their messages will be highly regarded or even noticed.

Who are their key authors and senior management? What are their credentials? Make sure that those writers and managers have a thorough understanding of the topic they sell, as well as commensurate credentials.

How long has the information portal been operating under that domain name and in that in capacity? My "rule of thumb" is to beware of any site that has more then 8k subscribers per year in operation.

Survey your clients and prospective clients. See where they actually call home on the web. If a significant percentage (40%-50%) of these clients are at least somewhat familiar with the information portal you are considering investing with, it is probably a safe investment.

Spend some time looking at the ads that are currently on the site you are interested in. Are you impressed with the amount of visibility they receive? Are the posted ads from quality companies that you feel are in keeping with the message of the site?

Are their a lot of ads for one of your larger competitors the may dwarf your message? What ideas do the sales and marketing team at the information portal have to keep that from happening?

Call some of the other companies that are advertising on the site. A call may come out of the blue to them, but this element of surprise may create more honest answers, as pre-qualified references are often a waste of time. Find the decision maker at the establishment that is currently advertising on the site and ask them questions like: "What kind of return are you seeing?" "How quickly do they respond to your issues or questions?" "Do they seek your approval before issuing statements on your behalf?" Try to ask these types of questions as many times as you can without completely agitating the person on the other end of the phone. It may seem annoying to the person on the other end, but it ends up being an effective tool for seeking information.

By performing this kind of due diligence, you will be able to more easily identify and evaluate information portals that will help you maximize your marketing investment. Many marketing firms have already performed comprehensive evaluations of information portals, so they may be able to relay this kind of information to you more quickly than performing investigative work on you own.

Also, if you do not have the staff to accomplish this, many online marketing firms would be happy to perform this service for you. Hiring an experienced firm to help your company evaluate your options for allocation of marketing funds may prove to be a wise investment. This is especially true when you consider what can be gained through an effective and targeted online marketing campaign, as well as what can be lost by choosing an ill equipped, poorly managed, or over-hyped portal.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Online Marketing Hierarchy and Definitions

I read an article the other day that took great pains to illustrate how search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) were different. While they both offer different functions, SEO is a distinct subset of SEM. To go out of the way to say they are different in the way this particular author did was like trying to equate a difference between filling cavities and performing dentistry. It is different, but filling cavities is also function of dentistry.

Several years ago when the term “Search engine optimization” was coined, I had my reservations, only because I thought it represented only a limited portion of what many “SEO” companies did. Optimization was one, or for many even the primary function, but not the complete picture. Now a new term is blazing it’s way to the forefront, that is “search engine marketing”. While again, it represents a portion of what many companies do, I still believe it is still a too narrow representation of the whole.

I’ve argued for many years that SEO/SEM companies should more rightfully be called “Internet marketing” or “web site marketing” companies. I’m not trying to start a new trend her, but I do think it is important to have some stronger, more accurately defining terms.

Here is a short list of common terms with my version of their definitions and in their hierarchical structure.

Online (or Web Site) Marketing: I think a case can be made that online marketing and website marketing are two different functions, but only slightly. However with the advent of pay-per-call it will be entirely possible to market your online without even having a website. Not sure if that would be advantageous or not, but possible. I place a distinction here between online marketing and search engine marketing because the functions of online marketing , while including search engine marketing, may bypass the search engines altogether.

Examples: email marketing, link buying, renting or exchanging (when done for exposure, not search engine relevance), online ad placement, website design, usability, conversions, etc.

> Search Engine Marketing: SEM is the primary subset of online marketing and focuses its marketing efforts primarily to gain additional web-site exposure via the search engines.

Examples: SEO, Pay-per-click, press release distribution, link building (all forms), keyword research, traffic analysis, etc.

> > Search Engine Optimization: SEO is the act of manipulating a website’s on and off-page factors causing the search engines to recognize the site as relevant for specific keyword phrases. The primary function of search engine optimization is get a website ranked, drawing new traffic to the website. What happens once they get there is, by the strictest definition (and one employed by most “SEO” companies) is not under the purview of the SEO company. Usability and conversions are both functions higher up the chain.

Examples: code and text optimization, keyword research, link building, ranking reports, etc.

Many of the jobs that need to be performed can cross each into other categories. For example, keyword research is the function of SEO and SEM, same with link building. It is important, however, to recognize the distinctions in each of these categories. While everything an SEO does is considered a function of “online marketing”, if you hire an SEO or purchase an SEO only service, don’t expect to receive search engine marketing or online marketing service with that. And if you do want those services included, be ready to pay substantially more for the service.