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Monday, January 31, 2011

       

To increase traffic to your website.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little here, but there are a ton of reasons for companies to Blog; one of them being that they increase organic traffic to your business website.

Blogs are naturally search-engine friendly. They are content-rich and relevant, which attract in-bound links that raise your search visibility. And if they are updated frequently, they are crawled more frequently by search engines. When search engine crawlers find that you are regularly updating content of your Blog, they return just as often to re-index your page to make sure the search listing always has the most recent content. Blogs also give your audience a reason to visit your Website often. Finally, they encourage interaction. Readers are able to voice their opinions and create discussions with others. In a sense, they are creating content for you.

For some reason, business owners always have a good explanation for not Blogging. "I don't know what to write about" or "I don't have time."

Well, I have a simple answer for your first excuse - write about your business and your industry. Here at E-Power Marketing, we Blog about search engine optimization, PPC advertising and social media marketing; topics that we know a lot about. You can do the same for your industry. You can answer your audience's questions, discuss current industry trends, share ideas or interview leaders in your field. There are numerous possibilities out there.

As for time, I wrote this post in five minutes (there I go exaggerating again.) Yes, it does take time, but it will be time well spent. By Blogging, you become a leader in your industry. And your audience will remember that the next time they are in need of your services.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

       

If someone were to ask you the average age of a Facebook user, what would you say? 18, 19, 20?

Five years ago, you wouldn't be too far off. In 2005, you had to belong to an academic institution in the United States, Canada or other English-speaking country to have access to a Facebook account. Today, Facebook has over 500 million active users and is translated in over 70 languages.

According to 2010 data, the average age of a Facebook user is 38 years old. They have approximately 130 friends and "like" nine different brands. Good news for your company? It certainly could be.

ExactTarget recently conducted a study which asked users why they "liked" a company. Consumers had many motives, a few are listed as follows:


  • 40% to receive discounts and promotions

  • 39% to show my support for the company to others

  • 36% to get a "freebie"

  • 34% to stay informed about the activities of the company

  • 33% to get updates on future products

  • 30% to get updates on upcoming sales

  • 29% for fun or entertainment

  • 25% to get access to exclusive content

  • 22% someone recommended it to me

  • 21% to learn more about the company

  • 13% for education about company topics

  • 13% to interact


Having these insights could potentially benefit both you as a small business owner and marketer. You can use ExactTarget's findings to create your own online strategy.

If you have a new product, you could reward your fans with a free trial. Or if you are a business with active developments, you can keep your consumers up-to-date with frequent status updates. There are many ways to interact directly with your consumer. Use your imagination; get creative. The opportunities are endless.

If your company is not on Facebook, now may be the time.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

       

More often than you'd expect, we see Websites using the same meta-description for all pages on their Website. When meta-descriptions are utilized in Google and search engine result listings, they allow you to entice searchers to click through to your Website. Those 15 - 25 words can persuade Web users to visit your site instead of your competitors. So why would you put the same meta-description on all your pages of the Website? That would be like running the same Pay Per Click ad on every key phrase targeted. Though it won't necessarily hurt you, you're missing out on an opportunity to drive traffic to your Website if you don't create page specific meta-descriptions.

The meta-description tag provides search engines with a description or summary about a particular Web page for them to list in their results as well as to consider when determining where to rank that Web Page for various key phrase results. Gone are the days where you can simply stuff a bunch of keywords in that tag. Sure, you can still try it, but you won't see any increase in organic visibility. Take the time to create page specific meta-descriptions for each page of your Website that will draw customers to your company, you'll be glad you did!

Below are a couple tips for creating an optimized meta-description tag:

  • Be accurate and specific. Describe the content of that particular page.

  • Use target key phrases, used within visible content on the page.

  • Be creative! This is your one line sales pitch to get the user to click through to your page.

  • Each page should have a unique, relevant meta-description.

  • Avoid dull and boring.

  • Keep your meta-description between 15 and 25 words.

  • Utilize target key phrases towards the beginning of the description.

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Recently, we discussed the importance of Local Search listings as they rise to the top of Organic Search Results. While creating basic, optimized Local Search listings are important, there are options for upgrading. Google Places has unveiled the Google Tags advertising option. Your customers are using the Internet to find the businesses in their area and Local Directory listings are an important way to make sure your business is being found. Google Tags allows your company to take your Local Listing on Google one step further by providing even more information to your customers. You can decide what information is most important to your customers and highlight it on your Google Places listing.

Google Tags has a flat, $25 monthly fee. Unlike Google AdWords, Tags are presented when your Google Places listing appears, with no need for keyword targeting or bid adjustments. Your Google Places dashboard gives you access to in-depth information on how your Tag is performing online. Though you can only run one Google Tag at a time, it can be altered or removed whenever you want. If you have a sale running for a week, create a Tag for it and you're free to remove or change the information when the sale is over. Google Tags allows businesses a flexible way to advertise different aspects of their business within Google's Local Search results.

Below, please find an example of a Lake Tahoe conference center who has implemented Google Tags. As you can see, within Google Maps, the listing has more information, highlighted in both the list of results as well as in the map's pop up.


Click image to enlarge

There is some misinformation about Google Tags that does need to be cleared up: Google Tags does not impact the order a Google Places listing appears. This program simply allows companies to add more information to their existing Google Places listing. Before a Google Tag can be implemented, a company must have an existing, verified Google Places listing and a valid credit card. To make the most of Google Tags, businesses should first establish an optimized listing through Google Places before Google Tags are implemented. Without a strong Google Places listing, your Google Tag will be lost in the crowd.

There are currently six options for types of Google Tags available. Businesses can choose from these Tags to highlight the information they believe most important. Again, a business can change between these Tags at their convenience for the single $25 monthly fee. The following Google Tags are currently available:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Coupons
  • Menus
  • Reservations Page
  • Posts

Again, Google Tags can only be added to verified Google Places listings and they will not affect the search position of your Google Places listing. First creating and verifying an optimized Google Places listing is necessary before Google Tags can be implemented. Once Google Tags is implemented, businesses have new opportunities to showcase information within their Google Places listing and can change their Tags whenever necessary. As Local Search Marketing continues to become more and more important, opportunities like Google Tags should be considered by businesses. Growing a Local Search presence is becoming more and more important, don't get left behind!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

       

Local Directory listings are becoming more and more important to Organic Search. As we've documented over time, Google and Bing have revamped how they present organic search results. Local listings are being incorporated into first page results, making them even more important to businesses. The power of Local Search Marketing is being harnessed by businesses of all sizes. Below is a screen shot of how local listings are being presented within Google's organic results:


Click image to enlarge

As you can see, in some cases Local Listings are being presented even before Organic Search Results. Businesses previously in the top 5 results for a certain key phrase are being pushed below the fold by Local Listings. This makes it just as important to focus on your companies Local Listings as on your position within Organic Search Results.

Too often we speak with clients who believe they have taken care of their company's Local Listings. When our Local Search team looks at a company's listing on Google Places, Yahoo Local or Bing Local, we look to make sure the listing is as complete as possible. From contact information, optimized company descriptions and specialties to photos, supplemental Web pages and more, there is a lot of ground to cover. Investing in an optimized Local Search presence is a good idea. The E-Power Local Search team understands not only what the search engines are looking for, but also what your customers are looking for in these listings. Customers are using Local Search more than ever from their Smartphones when they are on the go, help them find you online first!

Whether your company needs to create a listing from scratch, claim a listing that's already online or make recommendations for optimizing your existing listing, now is the time to make those changes. As Local Listings rise to the top of Search Results, make sure your company is rising to the top as well.

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During the holiday season I went online to buy a gift basket of Wisconsin's finest cheddar cheese as a Christmas present for my godfather. I knew where I wanted to buy, so I chose search keywords specific to that particular store, However, Google did not provide the URL to this cheese store until I searched its exact name. That was because the Website was not optimized for search engines.

After finally locating the site's Web address, I went through the cheese store's Shopping Cart and was one click away from completing the purchase. However, I could not complete the buy because Firefox, my browser, did not display the Buy button. Being Web savvy, I knew I could resolve the problem by repeating the purchasing process on Internet Explorer. Too often Shopping Carts only work on Internet Explorer, but not on other browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome.

My wife went to the same store to send a gift basket. She had the same problem while using Firefox. However, she did not think to try another browser. Instead she used a search engine to find another online store that sells Wisconsin cheese baskets. There are plenty of them

I suspect most online shoppers do not have the persistence that I have to complete an online purchase. My favorite cheese store hired a Web developer that created a nicely designed Website. Nonetheless, no one checked that the Shopping Cart works on other browsers beside Internet Explorer. As a result, that cheese store lost at least one sale. Probably many more.

Start Today for Successful 2011 Holiday Online Sales

Right now is the time to start planning for a successful 2011 Holiday Season. That is because the reasons that held back 2010 sales may take until the next Holiday Season to fix.

Natural search visibility does not appear over night. It takes months after search engine optimization and Social Media Marketing strategies are implemented to build top search visibility. Plus, you must grow your Website by regularly adding informative, original content and engage in an active Social Media Marketing campaign to earn top search visibility.

If your Shopping Cart has technical problems, you want to waste no time fixing them. A Shopping Cart that does not work in all browsers is losing you sales 365 days a year.

Online sales during the 2010 Holidays grew to over $30 billion. (Source comScore) Online sales opportunities will only continue to increase.

Did you take in your share of Holiday online sales? If not, start taking actions today for a more profitable 2011.

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