Category Archives: marketing

SEO On A Budget Presentation – Jenny Munn – Digital Atlanta 2011

SEO on a budget

SEO seminar with Jenny Munn.

I recently attended Jenny Munn’s “SEO On A Budget” presentation during Digital Atlanta last week. Munn gave an informative talk, chock full of tips and techniques for those new to the world of SEO.

What is SEO? Search engine optimization is a way to make sure your web site appears in search engines when people are looking for your type of business or service. There are no guarantees with SEO and algorithms are always changing with search engines, but there are some basic ways to improve your web site search ranking.

Munn was right on when she said “there is so much information out there about SEO, that people can get paralysis with analysis.” I was pleased to learn many things about the SEO and am ready to further optimize my site and those of my clients.

Munn offers a three-phase approach to get started with SEO. Her bite-sized tips are great for small businesses who want to improve their web site search appearance without being overwhelmed with data.

Phase 1
– keyword research – a keyword is usually a key phrase of 2-3 words that people search to find your type of product or service
– competitor research
– title tags and descriptions

Phase 2
– on-page optimization
– understand anchor text
– Google Analytics
– commit to blogging

Phase 3
– create content pages
– backlinking strategy
– advanced social media strategy & execution
– creating linkbait

Keyword Research

Brainstorm a list of keyword prospects. NOTE: keywords are not your company name or name (unless you are a brand or celebrity.)

Google has a free keyword tool – look for keywords with low competition and high searches.

Create an Excel spreadsheet with your keywords. The order of the words is important as well as using singular and plural keywords. Log out of Google for an objective search result.

If you are a small business, utilize location as part of your keywords. IT is impossible to compete with large corporations on common keywords. They have entire departments staffed in IT, marketing, blogging, social media, content creation and pay-per-click advertising. You can stand out locally.

Keyword Research Mistakes

– Trying to rank for 100 keywords (pick 5 – 15)
– Selecting many keywords per page (no more than 2 keywords per page)
– Not knowing keyword competition
– Choosing keywords that have no relevance to web site.

1) Write down all of the web site pages that you have.
2) Pick 1-2 keywords for each page.
3) Map out pages/keyword strategy.
4) Any other popular keywords – optimize blog posts for specific topics.

Title Tages and Descriptions

Is your web site current in design and navigation? Or is it five years old and has no social buttons or updated material? Make sure your web site is presentable before you optimize with SEO.

Once your web site is updated, fill out title tags and descriptions first. You have 60-70 characters in the title tag. If you are using WordPress (which is recommended for ease of use) get the All in One SEO plug-in to easily add Title and Description tags to pages/posts.

Optimize Web Pages

Focus on 1-2 keywords (key phrases) per page.
Start with your home page.
If you have a blog, this gives you additional opportunities to talk about specific topics/keywords.
Prioritize and assign keywords to specific web site pages.
You optimize web pages, not web sites. Search engines examine each page – which is why blogs are extremely helpful with SEO.

Place keywords in the Headline (first), once or twice per paragraph in the body. Write for the reader and try to keep the keywords naturally flowing in the text. It is tough to balance the creative message with the keywords. Include keywords in image ALT tags and anchor text. Use anchor text in a call to action. Google likes anchor text links.

Link Building

Half of SEO = your efforts to optimize your site and content. The other half? Links that point to your site. Google sees credibility in people linking back to your site. Build links where you can – in directories, press release sites, etc. Guest blogging can link back to your site as well as anytime someone else references your site.

Key Takeaway

Just get started. A halfway optimized page is better than a non-optimized page! Learn as you go, check YouTube for how-to videos and Google for SEO articles.

Great Marketing Ideas Can Come From Anywhere.

I learned the interesting story of the creation of Disney’s Fast Pass while speaking with a customer service rep. for AT&T, of all things. He was an intern at Disney at the time. An engaging fellow, he proceeded to tell me that the Fast Pass came about because of a fire code.

The Indiana Jones ride in CA had a queue about a mile long. One day there was a fire drill and it took about 25 minutes to get the people out. That was not acceptable and the firefighters told Disney that they needed to shorten response times. When they asked “how?” a firefighter said “how about tickets that save people’s place in line?” And the rest is history.

Disney thought about monetizing Fast Pass but later decided the system was acceptable the way it was. A firefighter. An AT&T customer service rep. Creativity can be anywhere!

By the way, Disney gave credit to the firefighter. And the rep? He wrote the Backlot Tour script and is still credited on the script. That is the sign of a great company that recognizes creativity.

There’s Something Happening Here.

Something big is happening. In marketing, business and our culture. We are witnessing a time where technology is growing exponentially right before our eyes.

The internet has become our culture’s favorite hobby, surpassing television. Mobile devices and smartphones are giving consumers instant access to their friends, family, colleagues and even brands.

Checking in on social networks and location-based marketing services are becoming the norm. Updating statuses and sharing knowledge through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn has made the world a smaller place, connecting like-minded folks that may have only had a chance meeting in our previous world at a trade show or association meeting.

It is an exhilarating and anxious time to be a marketer. Buyers have changed the playing field and are now in control, finding the products and services that they want and need online at their fingertips through recommendations, ratings and search. Companies are scrambling to adapt to customer demand. If you aren’t paying attention to what is going on, your business is in danger of not being around to see what happens next.

This fundamental shift in communication is well-represented in this slideshare presentation from Hubspot. There is a transformation going on. Pay attention, take notes, talk to your customers, don’t be afraid to try new things and enjoy the ride!

B2B Marketing – The State of its Union

Michael Brenner recently posted The State of the Union in B2B Marketing that there has been a fundamental shift in B2B marketing. I agree that the old way of doing things (cold calls, email spam, short term thinking) are no longer relevant in gaining customers. Some companies are marketing the same way they did a decade ago, which is alarming.

The landscape has changed and customers are now finding products and solutions on their own, online and through word of mouth recommendations from their peers. Companies need to examine the buying process for their prospects and be sure that they offer relevant, helpful information along the way that will lead the future customer to them.

The roles have reversed with buyer and seller and some old school companies will diminish unless they make a change. The internet has created an intimate community in which people worldwide can converse and exchange ideas and information. Companies that are not taking part in this community will simply not be around in the next decade.

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B2B Social Media Success Secrets – Jay Baer Webinar Notes

Yesterday I listened to Jay Baer‘s free 30-minute Webinar on B2B Social Media Success Secrets and wanted to share some of his presentation on social media. If you aren’t familiar with Jay’s work, check out his blog Convince and Convert.

Thirty minutes is not a long time to cover what is obviously a complex topic, but Jay highlighted some key points that any business needs to know when considering adding social media to their marketing mix.

When starting out, define why social media is valuable to your business. Also define success metrics ahead of time as part of your strategy.

Create a Brand Community – get those customers who like you to love you. Your customers are your strongest advocates. Focus on them first. Managing a brand community is a great way to get customer feedback and learn about social media along the way.

Building Outposts – Chris Brogan was one of the first people to describe outposts and home base. You have a company web site and you might have a blog, Linkedin page, Twitter page and/or Facebook page among other pages (home bases). These are all places that prospects go to actively find you.

But they have to already be looking for you and in many cases, they aren’t. These prospects are seeking information in your industry at other web sites – outposts. You need to be sure that you appear in these outposts as an expert and provide valuable content.

Content marketing – create FAQs and share the same content in different ways. Take a presentation and make a series of blog posts, publish it on Slideshare.net, create an ebook – there are many options. Baer listed a few places that are great for content sharing:

Knol.google.com
Slideshare.net
Scribd
Squidoo

Build social profiles of customers and prospects with social media tools.

Flowtown
Gmail
Gist

The social media success equation:

Know why you need to be there.
Create a brand community.
Find and participate in relevant outposts. (participate, not sell)
Create social FAQ to convert sales.
Measure success that works for you.

Jay uses blog stats such as how long someone was at his site, if they visited his speaking and consulting pages, tracks referrers and is always looking at the search terms that people are using to find his site.

Some great dashboard management tools for social media:

Tweetdeck
Hootsuite
Seesmic
CoTweet

Free social media listening tools:

Social Mention
Addictomatic

There are also a few paid services such as Radian6 and a new company, RowFeeder.

It was a quick and informative webinar and I wish there was more time to hear Baer’s advice on social media. I recommend checking out his book that will be coming out in February 2011.

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B2B Marketers Need to Integrate Social Media into Existing Plans

A new study indicates that 15% of traffic to B2B websites is generated from social media. For many businesses, this means that they need to take a harder look at their marketing plan and identify areas where social media could be integrated.

Where to start? My post the 30 Day Social Media Challenge for Businesses Looking to Make the Plunge can point you in the right direction. Identify where your customers go when they are online. Then go there!

At the very least, set up a listening post. Create a free company page in LinkedIn. If you have a blog and great content, set up a Twitter account and join the community. Share information that your customers find valuable. Don’t sell – that is a big turnoff. Find and follow people in your industry. Check message boards and forums for your industry. See what’s out there.

I have a feeling that this is just the beginning. The internet is changing the way we communicate personally and professionally. Be sure that your company is there and know what is being said about you, your industry, and your competitors before anyone else does.

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Remember to Say Thank You.

Always remember to say thank you. After Christmas, I had my daughter create a picture and I scanned it and made a thank you card with a picture of the girls as well as the crayon drawing. The family loved it and commented about it.

A few years ago I was working for an online ecommerce company and was struggling with getting some graphics created. A colleague stepped in to help me out and he created the graphic. I sent him a Hallmark ecard as a thank you. He later told me that no one had ever thanked him like that and he was so happy. I had thought about not sending one – thinking it might seem hokey to him, but after hearing that I was glad that I did.

In business, you can simply verbally thank an employee for a job well done, send an ecard to a vendor or partner or run a campaign and thank your customers. It is a simple thing that you can do for a cheap price and believe it or not, makes a world of difference!

How to Use Social Media for Research

I recently tapped into my social network to research a topic for a blog post. Specifically, I asked marketers how their paid search agency could better serve their clients. I received some great feedback and wanted to share how you can use your network for research.

First, I posted a question on LinkedIn Answers. This is one of the most useful features of LinkedIn and if you are not familiar with it, start reading answers in your industry and try to answer a few. Also you can ask members in LinkedIn groups questions in the discussion boards if you are also a member. Two great starting points for your research.

I also found some industry-specific forums and posted questions there (see Google groups, Yahoo groups, search industry keyword + group or forum) and on Business.com. There are many relevant sites for every industry and it is amazing how people are so open to giving advice and sharing knowledge. Once you find these forums, get involved and participate in helping others. It can be rewarding and helps build your network.

Then I went to my network on *Twitter and asked the question with the link to the LinkedIn questions. I also sent direct messages to some folks who were active in the industry to try and get their feedback. I also searched industry terms on Tweetgrid to see if anyone was having a discussion about the topic.

*I have been building a network on Twitter for personal and professional development. One group that I interact with is marketing professionals in the US. I started talking to people on Twitter when I was at my last job and was a one person marketing department. I discovered that Twitter was a great resource to share ideas and information. The feedback I received when I posed questions was valuable and in real time. I could have conversations with other professionals in my industry and I didn’t feel alone. Having built this network, I was able to ask questions and get some great answers. Building a network on Twitter (and on all social media sites) takes time. People should build their networks a little bit every week. Participate and share and be sure not to just sell – that is a huge turnoff. Twitter is a place where people can learn from one another.

Using social media, I was able to get great insights and feedback from a group of talented people in only a few days.

Our society is more plugged in than it has ever been and people are looking to make a connection online and offline. Social media can serve as an extension of your research efforts – it’s like an instant focus group.

My blog post  – How to Be a Better PPC Search Marketing Agency.

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Paid Search Partners Launches in Atlanta

PPC Experts Pair to Provide Result-Driven Search Marketing Consultancy

03.18.2010 – Atlanta, GA – Announcing Paid Search Partners, a boutique search marketing firm. Formed by search industry experts Todd Miechiels and Charles Lumpkin, Paid Search Partners offers online advertisers a personal approach with measurable pay per click results.

“Working with a lot of agencies and corporations that struggle to make paid search marketing work made me very aware how much opportunity there out there to be of service to the marketplace in an advisory capacity. Everyone is rushing to figure out how to shift dollars from offline to online and in that rush a lot of mistakes are being made that turn out to be very costly. Paid Search Partners will help executive teams and marketing stakeholders navigate the rough waters of paid search marketing.” states Todd Miechiels, Partner.

“By working on a pay-for-performance basis it forces us to truly ‘count the costs’ of entering into a relationship that won’t produce great results for our clients. We will not grow this business through volume of clients or dollars spent on media. We will only grow as our clients become more profitable, period.”

Paid Search Partners provides counsel and advisory services in the area of pay-per-click advertising and search engine marketing. PSP helps clients and agencies improve the ROI of their campaigns through campaign optimization, landing page testing, and by improving website conversion rates.

“Todd and his team offer a high level of specialized expertise and service in the paid search arena.” says Kenny Ferguson, one of the partners at Armchair Media in Atlanta. “They’ve helped one of our most important accounts make paid search work in very quantifiable ways. They are razor focused on helping continually bring down our cost per action which is refreshing among the many agencies that seem to be satisfied with driving traffic.”


Best Strategies for Using Social Media at Events

Someone recently posted this question on Linkedin today. I thought that I would share my response and some helpful industry links.

Think of social media as an extension of your networking – you plan to meet people in person at the event, but there are many people interested in the event who cannot attend. Part of the appeal of social media is the knowledge sharing and the personal/professional development involved. You will meet people on and offline and everyone benefits with new resources, contacts and knowledge.

Preparing for the event with your network should be as easy and regimented as packing your luggage. Let people know you are going, discover who else will be there, share information about the event and reap the rewards of community.

Here are some tips as well as some relevant industry links.

  1. Prepare for the event by creating a Twitter list of people that will be attending.
  2. Use Tripit and Foursquare on your trip to find fellow colleagues.
  3. Create an RSS feed with the hashtag of the event to find and follow people attending.
  4. Look for tweetups through the event hashtag and post messages to meet up on other social media sites/forums like Ning if there is an association or other type of group involved.
  5. Blog summaries of the sessions that you attend for people who aren’t able to make the event.
  6. Create an event in Linkedin to alert others about it.
  7. If you are presenting, be sure to share your presentation in Slideshare and tag with keywords about the event.
  8. Link your blog, Tripit and Slideshare to Linkedin so updates are automated.
  9. Bring a flip video or camera and document your trip for a blog entry.
  10. Make a badge with your photo and social media contact info. (link below)
  11. Create business cards with your social media contact information to hand out at the event.

For more info about preparing for an event, check out Chris Brogan’s blog post – 27 Things to Do Before a Conference. (link below)

Links:
27 Things to Do Before a Conference
Make a Free Name Tag or Badge
Social Media Business Cards
10 Things You Can Do Preparing for the Conference
Specific Event example of Preparing for a Conference – ASAE09