Search engine optimization

Small business owners and search

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Like lots of other people, I bought a MegaMillion ticket last Friday, and spent hours deciding how I’d spend the $640 million. I wound up with a good mix of the charitable, the frivolous, and some sound investments to ensure that the money lasts.

It’s easy, I fantasized: “Spend a buck, win a gazillion dollars.”

Lots of small business owners view Google rankings in much the same way: “Pay someone to optimize my Web site, watch the rankings soar.” Or even better, “Slap up a Facebook page and watch the new orders pour in.”

This kind of stuff  is called “magical thinking.”

I just saw a pretty good reality check, from Carl Weiss in yesterday’s SiteProNews:

“While even the smallest of businesses can generate page 1 results on Google today, it is a far more complicated affair. And in the wired world, complicated translates into time and money. Whereas back in 2000, it was relatively simple to have an SEO expert tune up your homepage, in the modern world of Internet marketing, there are 31 points of light that every search engine spider alights on today, including such things as blogs, social networks, backlinks, and video. If your web presence is lacking in any of these, or you aren’t adding compelling content to them on at least a weekly basis, then your chances of achieving a page 1 result are slim at best…

“Not only are there far more stops on the technology train in 2012 then there were in 2000, but a number of the stops have siderails. Consider social networking. If you are serious about making the grade online, then being on Facebook (the second most visited destination online after Google) isn’t enough. You also need to Tweet. Not to mention the fact that back in November of 2011 Google launched its own social network Google+. So if you are looking to make the grade with Google, it’s probably a good idea to add this to your marketing mix as well.”

Ah, yes. Fantasies are fun….. I wonder how much I’ll win in this week’s lottery. As for the rest of it, I’d better get back to work.

To read the rest of the SiteProNews article, click here.

Image Credit: Pat’s Papers

SEO for small business: How hard is it?

Posted in Building customer loyalty, Marketing strategies, Search engine optimization, Social media Be the first to comment

We all want magic wands. To lose weight. Get strong. Become rich. Find the perfect mate. “Just do this or buy that and you dream will come true.”

As small business owners, we want magic wands, too.  “Just wave it and customers will find you and flock to your store, office, or Website and buy, buy, buy.”

Today’s marketing “magic wands” often involve social media and search engine optimization.  “Just put up a Facebook page. Just use certain keywords in your Website text. Or just buy “top-rated” links.” Or more likely, “Just pay us to do it, and you’ll have to beat the customers away.”

Uh, no.

Like most of our other instant-success fantasies, social media success involves many tasks. It takes lots of planning, time, and hard work.

SEO success is also complex and requires hard work on many fronts. Take a look at the chart above, created by Marketing Sherpa. It’s based on the experiences of more than 1,500 search marketers.

Remember this chart the next time someone promises you that their magic wand is all you need.

How to attract customers: The best way

Posted in Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Marketing strategies, Print materials, Search engine optimization, Social media, Web design Be the first to comment

I get lots of e-mails–as we all do. Most of mine contain information I’ve requested from expert resources in all areas of marketing. Hey, ‘ya gotta keep up!

Just saw a simple explanation of today’s marketing landscape. It was in a white paper on Twitter as a business tool that I downloaded from Hubspot, a company that sells marketing automation software. This paragraph summed up today’s marketing landscape clearly and succinctly:

“Th[e] changing nature of consumers‘ shopping habits means that instead of continuing to push marketing messages out, effective marketers must adapt to consumers‘ new behavior by creating marketing campaigns that pull people in to their business. This strategy is called inbound marketing. Inbound marketers offer useful information, tools, and resources to attract people to their business and its website, while also interacting and developing relationships with consumers on the web…”

Put more simply: Offer information that customers will find interesting and helpful. That way, they’ll see you as a great resource, someone they can trust.  And they’ll want to come to you–to learn more about you and your business.

The bottom line: Don’t waste your money on marketing that focuses on you.  Think about what your customers want and give it to them.

You really can be a customer magnet. Easily and affordably.

To download the Hubspot whitepaper (registration required) click here.

Small business marketing plans encouraging

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Search engine optimization, Web design Be the first to comment

Finally, some good news about small business owners’ outlook for the future. Signs of increasing optimism have finally shown up as concrete numbers.

A study by MerchantCircle during the first quarter of 2011 shows positive expectations on all fronts.

The numbers certainly aren’t of the pop-the-cork variety. But as most of us know–for better or worse–when companies fear for the future, the first budget item to go is marketing.

At long last, small business owners are planning to spend more on marketing in the next few months. That  means they’re encouraged that their revenue will grow in 2011.

Of course, we’re happy to see the study. But that kind of optimism benefits everyone.

Tech news for small business marketers

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, E-mail marketing, Search engine optimization, Selling tips, Social media 2 Comments

Many of us struggle to keep up with the tech trend du jour. However, an interesting tech news item suggests we might want to slow down. Or maybe even re-think that strategy.

A major trend for 2011 is that many people are actually trying to “de-tech” their lives, according to a new study by ad agency JWT. While we’re all super-connected, some of us apparently are tired of depending on the computer or smartphone as our lifeline.

Ann Mack, JWT’s director of trendspotting, notes, “Two or three years ago, a major trend was mobile media as the ‘everything’ hub where all digital activity — communications, entertainment, gaming, our personal schedules — will reside. Last year, it was location-based technology.”

This year, as reported in today’s Marketing Daily, “there’s also a counter trend resisting that “everything” tendency of mobile digital technology to keep people connected. ‘There have been lots of studies on the effects of technology, how it leads to attention span problems and lack of creativity, and weaker language skills. People are becoming more aware of that and want to re-engage in the world. It’s not about being a Luddite, but more logging off or mono-tasking,’ she says.”

Despite this bit of tech news, there’s still encouragement for those who crave even more tech-connectedness in their lives.

Another 2011 trend noted in the study is “gamification,” or marketing via all types of games, in an effort to better engage customers.

To read the entire article, click here.