To Function Well, We Need to Be Part of a Network

You probably know the old adage that word of mouth advertising is the best, and I wonder if we can equate social media to simply being a new form of this method. How can our websites be structured to function in this social network?

I do not think that any social networking site provides the best option for any small business when it comes to marketing. These networking sites are only a piece in the puzzle. When you step back a moment, you will readily know that fact, but we seem to become overly enticed (excited) by the idea of finding or expanding our customer base on these sites.  Somehow we believe that the internet is different. We can make connections easily, which in turn we feel may lead to new opportunities. We know if we walk into a room of five hundred people and we begin to deliver our elevator pitch that few of those people will become customers. It takes more work than that, yet we seem to feel that this will happen on Facebook or Twitter.  I am being slightly negative here, because I do not want you to think that this post is a secrets of social networking revealed. Anyway, those posts never tell you anything that you do not know already. What I would like to do is discuss how you might connect your business site into this network.
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Of Sitemaps, Advertising, Links, and the User

Do you watch websites as they change? To keep the interest of our visitors, we engage in a process of trying to make our sites better, while also attempting to have our content found in search engines, but I wonder if we hold onto forms, because we think that the user will find them appropriate.

I notice that quite a few websites have been changing. Other websites seem old and stale. Do our customers notice? I ask this because I often go directly to the content of sites that I am familiar with. Most of us do not explore new sites, but rather visit a certain set of sites. We need the familiarity to navigate through easily, but change in the site keeps our interest.  We have the forces pulling at our site; moreover, small business sites have to catch the eye of the new user (customer) on a budget.  When looking at my own site, I questioned the usefulness of every element, which led me to a change in the design.
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Should I Delete Content or Should I Revise My Posts?

There has been the suggestion made that under performing content should be deleted from a site. This may be hard to do if you have been posting often to your blog, so what strategy should you follow?

I have been working on a website audit for a blog that has been running for three years now. When I began that blog, I was writing for many different sites, and I wanted a home for all of my posts. I did not really want to always be posting on sites that were not my domain. I started pulling posts from other places, and I included articles from ebooks that I had written, but I had not posted on the web. I think that a few business owners may be in a similar position to what I faced: no organic traffic, and you need posts to help generate that traffic.  We begin posting items to have something there. I knew one blogger who was writing about fifty posts a week. Each post was about three hundred words at most, and he did not really say anything significant with any particular post. He claimed he could be writing two hundred a week if he desired. There was a belief that quantity equated quality, but we know better.
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Content that Converts to Content that Drives Potential Clients Away

Is marketing on the internet any different from your other marketing? We do have to jump through a few different loops, but marketing remains the same, so what are you doing with your content?

There seems to be buzz around the concept of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), but I wonder why now. My point is: have we not always tried to convert potential clients into clients? Maybe we arebetter understanding the tools that will help us achieve this goal. I set up various goals for my website that I found to be pretty standardfor many sites. If someone is reading more than four pages, I know that they are engaged, and they could be a potential client (or they may be searching for a certain article with better information). If they stay on the site for more than thirty minutes, I may have a client (or did they walk away from the computer to deal with the children while leaving my site open). If they follow a certain path, ending up on the page to contact me for my services, they could become a client (or is that a competitor scoping out what I have done). As you can see, there may be a flip side to the metric that you are studying, but we have to discover how a user is moving through our site, and can we determine behavior that is indicative to a user becoming a client. I am speaking of a service site, but we could transfer the service request page for a checkout page. What we need to be sure of is our content working?
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What Should We Do with Dead Content

Should you dump pages that are not performing? Maybe they should be rewritten? How do you choose?

I remember being told that you never know what twists and turns your business can take. You may find yourself with an opportunity that will completely change your job, but it can be more lucrative, so you have to develop the ability to notice these chances. We could view our websites through this perspective. We create content that we think is relevant to our clients or potential consumers. The problem is that they may not feel the need to know. We may place some content up on the site that is helpful to our clients, but these pages or posts have nothing to do with our core business. For example, let us say that I am a doctor, a heart specialist, and I have found that there is a certain type of amaranth grain when eaten on a regular basis is the perfect food for heart health. I write about this on my blog. Problem is that this grain is not readily available, so my readers contact me for this grain. I could refer them to my supplier, or I could set up a business to sell this grain. We all have this kind of content on our sites, and we may be presented with this opportunity.
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What Does Your Email Address Says About You and Other Thoughts

Hello, the world of business has changed. Have you changed with it? How professional do you appear?  It might be time for a website.

I open my mail, mainly bills. I see a letter that looks like it might be from my credit card company. Opening it up, I discover the invoice that is not really an invoice, but rather an advertisement for a phone book. This comes a day after a marketer was cagily skirting the topic that he wanted me to advertise in a guide geared to a specific community. Consider for your own actions. When was the last time you pulled out the phone book to find a number? How often do you pick up a guide at your local club or church to find someone to hire? You are probably like me; you go to a search engine to find out the information that you need.
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Advertising and Other Thoughts on User Experience

You are a small business hoping for an additional income stream, so you turn to placing ads on your site. Did you just loose a client? Are you loosing authority?

Have you seen a good website go bad? Or have you lost respect for a site, which makes you wonder about the business behind it? These and other thoughts popped into my head this week while I was negotiating an ad for one of my sites and while looking at other sites. I think that there is nothing wrong with modeling your site after a successful web page, so why not look at what they have done to discover how it can be used in your own pages. I study. Typically, I do not look at the advertising placed on a site, because I am there for the content, yet those bits of marketing may have something useful for me. Like most people surfing the web, I have mixed reactions to someone trying to sell me more stuff, but this week I encountered a couple of badly handled sites that left them looking a bit less trustworthy in my eyes.
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How Unique Is Your Unique Selling Position?

We all know that we need our own call to action. We know that we have to distinguish ourselves from our competitors, but did we really accomplish a separation?

I had an epiphany when going over the copy of the tenth website that I was studying on that day. There was not really much that would tell me how the service provided was going to be different from the service offered by any other company in that field. I then asked myself why that could be. Were the companies trying to differentiate themselves? Yes. In fact, these service providers did make remarks about their experience, and they all had a different experience set. Some touted being Christians. Some touted belonging to a specific industry association. There was also different educational backgrounds. However, when it came to the service provided, all were stating similar facts about their service. Do our potential clients see this as well?
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Did You See Your Site Drop in the Search Result Rankings Last Week?

Many site owners are complaining of lost business through loss of traffic. Do you have a strategy in place for your web marketing when you have lost your rank? Maybe rethinking your content can help.

On each Monday, I study my analytics. I look at my analytics more often than that, but I do a more in depth analysis to guide my plans for the week on that day. Last Monday, I saw one of my sites drop significantly for keywords that I was targeting, while new sites popped up on my radar. By now everyone is aware that Google changed the method for how they obtain their search results, and you may see many sites upset about their loss of traffic. I had a different experience.Although my rank went way down, my traffic soared up. This is due to a strategy that I have maintained for a while, which I will describe below, but the real story may be a bit bigger: we cannot rely on a search engine to help our business grow, and I want to deal with that idea first.
    When you first publish your first web page, you will not be finding massive traffic from a search engine right away. We have to work towards that goal. Most industries tracking consumer behavior will inform you of a survey that states that our clients are going on line first before buying a product. They do their research, and then they may go onto buy on line, but they may not. The take away for a small business is that we have to be on line. To be noticed on line, we have to be ranking well, so we become fixated on a set of keywords and our position on the list of results for that keyword.  That is not a problem; the problem is that we do not look beyond that results page rank. The change in rankings last week in the Google search pages was done to improve the quality of the results for the end user; however, have you conducted a few searches lately? I am assaulted with more advertisements than results, and sometimes those ads do me no good. Furthermore, I am now being given results based upon my own social network, as well as results that are personalized to my own history. This leaves me wondering what is the significance of a ranking for a particular keyword. Many of us have a bad experience with a pay per click campaign, so we drop it. We also fail to understand where our potential clients may be lurking on the internet, so we miss opportunities. We are forgetting that marketing on the web is like any other marketing, we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket.
    How did my traffic go up when my rankings went down? The answer is simple: quality content that is focused on providing the best information related to my business geared towards my local region.  Let us forget about rules of how often you have to post- a good article will always bring in traffic. We should consider how to obtain local readers. I still see advocates stating that you need to discuss local events, no matter what the event is. For example, you are a plumber writing about the latest Spanish restaurant opening near your home on your blog. Hey the food was great, but what does it have to do with plumbing? A visitor coming to your blog will not return for plumbing advice; they will likely not return at all. If a new water feature opened at a park, like a new fountain, as a plumber I may write about this fountain, and I would mention how you could have a similar feature in your yard. If the event does not tie into your business, then you should not be in a rush to write about it. Many people conducting searches will want to know why something is happening to something they own in their area. Back to the plumber: why do my cold water pipes have hot water in them in Miami? (People do type in search queries like that one).  The plumber could write a post about how the heat from the sun heats the ground and the attic, and this is where water pipe are located in certain houses. This Miami plumber may not have a top site for plumbing in that city, but he was discovered by the searcher who wanted to know what is effecting his water in that city. People looking for answers will type longer queries to their search input, and they often include location, since many people feel that location could play a part in their problem. Once your collection of articles dealing with specific concerns increases, and you have effectively placed references to your own community into the articles, you will find that locals will perceive your site as a resource. Hopefully, they will then use your service, but that gets into conversion optimization. I want to deal with the content that brings in traffic here.
    Do not post just to be posting. I have heard rules that you should be posting once a day, four times a week, or three times a day. Nonsense. I will say that if you wish to build up an audience, you do have to post consistently. You cannot post five articles in one month, then go six months before posting another article (and the person who really did that is wondering why her site does not have more visitors). Consistency in marketing pays off. Of course, you want to go after that top position in Google for your keyword; I am not saying that you should stop trying on that front, but your site can still do well in bringing your message to your potential clients. My blog is my base. My print ads lead back to the site. I have a ppc campaign that drives traffic to that site. I advertise on different sites, which have users that could be good for my potential client base. I do email marketing, and I participate in social media. I do not try to spend too much effort on any one idea, because then I could be wasting an opportunity to gain clients. This is the easiest trap to fall into: focusing on the one big thing. For example, Twitter is big, so I need to work on building up a follower base, but really, are your clients on Twitter? The same could be said about Facebook.
    Focus on quality. Quality content, or maybe I should say content that answers the query of a search, will continue to drive visitors to your site. I need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the keywords that I want to hit. It is a shame that so much effort seems to be wasted. On the other hand, Google is sending more traffic to my site for many related topics, and that helps to build my brand. Think about it: did someone just hand you a Kleenex or a tissue paper? There are people who still hoover instead of vacuum. So maybe you are not the top result for plumbers in Miami, but you are the plumber everyone goes to have their questions answered, and when they cannot do the job, they call you.

The Free WordPress Theme and Your Business

Are free themes scams? Do designers use them to trick you into giving them a link? Does it matter?

A professional designer in my circle of contacts declared that those of us giving away free themes were scamming the public. In fact, I saw a few articles dismissing free themes. One argument was that if you wish a truly professional theme that you had to pay for it. Another argument was that free themes are only hiding links to a site that you may not approve. Both arguments are justified. I do not think that this tells the entire story though.
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