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The competition is fierce when it comes to the world of online marketing and web design,and I’m sure it is very easy for a consumer like yourself to feel confused and overwhelmed with all the information out there.What’s good? What’s not so good? What’s old school or what’s going to work now and for the foreseeable future?
What’s honest advice and what’s misleading advice?
I wrote this short eBook with you, the recipient in mind. You might be an operations manager with a small telecommunications company, you might be a health & wellness practitioner, or you might be an entrepreneur building your new business.
Whatever your position, chances are good that you spend your days serving your customers (as you should be) and not online trying to figure out how you can leverage the power of the Internet to attract new clients and expand your business.
As a person who practically lives online I have often come across ideas and techniques that are great for setting up your online presence and promoting your business online, and ones that are not so great.Have you heard the online terms “white hat” and “black hat” techniques?
If not, can you guess what they mean?
White hat can also be defined as “best practices”. Black hat can also be defined as “manipulative practices”.
People who know me, know I am a “white hat” kind of gal. While working in the corporate world for over 16 years (did I just say that out loud?), I often heard the term “best practices”, and that worked well for me because it truly aligned with my way of doing business then, and now.
Being online on a daily basis has taught me a lot about the best practices to use when you want to use the Internet to build a winning website for your business, as well as other popular online marketing ideas that you can and should be using.
The intention of this guide is to share with you, in a simplified, easy to read format, the best practices for you to follow, as well as what practices to avoid as you use the Internet to expand the online presence of your business and win new customers that are already online looking for your products or services.Before we move on let’s start with a quick online test. You can consider this a bonus tip.
What is your business area of expertise? Dentist? Naturopath? Optometrist, etc.?
What will other people type into Google when they search for your business?
For example, if you are a dentist let’s say in Calgary, someone in Calgary looking for a new dentist may go to Google and type: Calgary dentist. This is known as a keyword phrase.A keyword phrase, for those that are unfamiliar, are the words that a person may use to find your business online.
Okay... you give it a try.
Open your Internet Browser and go to Google.
Type in a phrase that applies to your business and see where your website shows up in the list of results.
If you do not currently have a website for your business, use a phrase that applies to a business that you know, and see if their site comes up.
Please note, if you use your company name as your search phrase your website will typically show up on the first page of results.
But if I am new to Calgary for example, and don’t know your company name, I will be using a phrase such as “Calgary dentist” to find you.
Therefore, it is more important that your website is designed around the keyword search phrases that potential customers would use, and not simply around your business name.Now, let’s move on to your 10 Strategies to Online Success!
Why? Because sites utilizing frames typically separate the content of the page from the frameset, making it virtually impossible for search engines to find, let alone index and produce, the content of the framed pages in their results.
In the online test you did several minutes ago we briefly talked about how important it is for search engines to be able to find your website when someone is looking for your business online.If you have framed pages that search engines can’t see then they will simply skip over your website and read and list your competitor’s site instead.
Even if you only spend a small amount of time online you have probably come across websites that open with “Click Here to Enter” or “Loading, please wait”. While it may have some visual appeal to some people, using this technique actually slows down access to the website when the site is designed with an “Enter Now” page.
Visitors have to wait for the Enter page to load and then click again to access the site. Consider this -- the average person spends approximately 30 - 60 seconds per website unless they find something they really like. Why waste that 30 - 60 seconds of their time with an Enter page?
Also, in 2010 Google added a new feature to their list of indexed websites. It is knownas Google’s Instant Preview. When someone does a search for something in Google, the results will appear and they will see a very small magnifying glass icon (as shown in the red circle below) beside the title of the website. Clicking on the icon allows people to quickly take a peek at a website before they decide if they want to actually visit that site or not.
Okay, so why is that important?
Because a site with an Enter Now page loses the advantage of the Instant Preview because Google can’t pick up their page. Their instant display ends up looking like a big grey square.Which preview do you think will encourage more people to click on and visit your website?
After spending and time and resources to have a great website built you want to use every available opportunity online to encourage people to visit your site.
Unless you are an extremely large business, the grey icon probably isn’t going to win you too many visitors, which simply defeats the point of having an online presence in the first place.
We’ve all seen them. You launch a website and images start dancing all over the screen. As one guy recently said online “do you start to dance when I walk into your office?”. “So why are you dancing on your website?”
There are several ways that designers use flash when developing a website. One is to develop the entire site in flash. The second is to incorporate elements of flash design within a website.While flash may be good for some creative type websites, like entertainment sites, fashion design sites, etc., it isn't appropriate for most business websites.
Business websites appeal to a broader audience when they have a modern, clean and easy to view design.
Also, in recent months Flash has quickly begun to lose its appeal due to the fact that:
It won't be mobile friendly.
It isn't search engine friendly.
And it doesn't look good in Google Instant Preview. Remember the grey icon?I do agree that some animation or sliding images look great on a web design.
If you want to have images moving on your site consider replacing flash with an excellent alternative such as jQuery (www.jquery.com).
Because chances are good that your competition has not yet done that, and even if they have, you can compete with them for that top listing on Google.
Listing your business website on Google Places is:
Free, unlike PPC ads.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to show up on the first page of Google.
Offers your customers quick access to your business location, hours of operation and phone number. This eliminates them having to spend time looking for you in a big old clunky phone book.
Also extremely handy when someone is new in town and uses their cell phone to locate you.
Keep your website navigation simple. While multiple menus may appeal to you, your viewers may find it confusing.
Create one menu bar and keep it consistent and prominently displayed throughout your entire website.
Your main menu bar can either be at the top of your site, or in the right or left hand column. Whichever spot you decide on, keep your menu at eye level so that people will see it without any effort.
I know that may sound boring, but people tend to be in a mad rush when they are online, and if they can't find what they are looking for on your site within a few clicks they will go to your competition, and that's not what you want.Also, every page within your site should never be more than 2 clicks away.
The footer is of course the information at the bottom of each page of your site.
Some sites are developed with a simple footer menu that typically includes links to their home page, about page, privacy page, etc. Others have chosen to design their footers to be about 1 to 2 inches high and contain a menu of links to everything on their site, as well as other information they feel is important. Is one way right and another way wrong? That all depends on who you talk to. In this particular case, my view is do what works best as part of your overall design.
Everyone you speak with has a different point of view on what is more important on a website - great images or great content? My view point is great content supported by interesting images that relate to the content.
Others feel differently, as shown in this story - The other day I was speaking with someone at a networking event and he was telling me that his office was in the midst of redesigning their website for his business.
He said that they were just putting the final touches on their content before they add it to their new site. I thought that was great until he went on to say that he didn't feel that his content was all that important to people because his belief is that people will primarily go to his website to look at pictures of his work, not to read his content. Perhaps he is more of a visual type of person, so that is what he would look at.
However the search engines are not visual. They want to scan your content, and if they think that their clients would benefit from your content then they will index your web pages.
The more relevant your content is the higher your pages will rank in their listings, above your competition. And that is the ultimate goal - to have your business website listed at the top of the search engine results so that your site stands out when someone is looking for your business online.How do you know what to write about?
You decide what to write about for each page of your website based on the keyword phrases that are relevant to your business. Remember we talked about keyword phrases at the beginning of this book when we did the online test.
You can ensure that your content is relevant by writing in a way that demonstrates the benefits that people will experience by using your products or services. For example, a gardener could write about 3 easy ways to keep your grass green and weed free without the use of harsh chemicals.
Creating content for your website that talks about the benefits your services or products offer is known as “writing for your audience”.
How ever, when you create content for your website you also need to “write for the search engines”, because if the search engines do not like your content, then your website will not show up in their indexed listings, meaning no one will find your website.So how do you write for the search engines but still appeal to and motivate people to do business with you?
This again is linked to your list of keyword phrases that apply to your business. First you identify the keyword phrases that are relevant to your business. I talk about this a bit more in the upcoming points.
As you write your content you try to naturally include your keyword phrases within your paragraphs, where they fit and sound right. This will attract the search engines to your web page, which in turn will attract new potential customers.
Or to find a solution to a problem they have.
As a business you can use your website to win new customers by telling them what they want to hear. For example, if you sell products online you need to provide excellent product descriptions and easy shopping methods.
Or, if you provide services that fulfill a need, such as a massage therapist that helps relieve neck and back pain, then talk on your website about how your clients will benefit from a great relaxing 1 hour massage in your beautiful spa.
Remember at the beginning of this book we did an online test to search for a phrase that applies to your business? There are many phrases that apply to your business. These phrases are known as keyword phrases.
The keyword phrases that are relevant to your business are used throughout your website so that the search engines find and index your business when someone is online looking for your business.
The better you are at including the right keyword phrases into your website, in all the essential spots, the better chance you have of new customers finding your business online.One thing to point out here is that each individual page of your website is as important as the entire site itself.
This means that as your site is developed it is critical that all of the necessary details on each page are addressed and completed because you want each page of your site to work together to attract new clients for you.
Many online experts say to write your website for your reader, but in order for your readers to find your site you need to complete the items that the search engines are looking for as well. Once this is done correctly the search engines will capture and index your web pages and show them in their search results when the information on your web page meets the criteria of the keyword phrase that a person has typed into their web browser.Page Title
One of the first items you want to be concerned about is known as the title of the page. This is not the same as the title of an article, although it may contain the same words.
Before your website is developed it is important to make a list of the keyword phrases that people would use if they were looking for your business. For example: “massage therapist Calgary”.
There are many popular online tools that one can use to find out what the most popular phrases are, but to keep this book simple, we will start with the keyword phrases that you feel are appropriate for your business.Each page of your website should include some content about your business. Approximately 450 to 500 words works well.
And each page should focus on one or two relevant keyword phrases.
Those keyword phrases are then emphasized in your Page Title. Your Page Title is part of the coding of your website. Your website designer can and should be adding your page titles in as they develop your website.
Because each page of your website is focused on different keyword phrases, it makes sense that each page title is unique and relevant for each page on your site.Your page titles show up in 2 locations that you can easily view right now if you already have a website.
First, launch your website in Internet Explorer and look up at the top left hand corner of your screen. You should see your page title.
A second way to check is to type the name of your business into Google search and look at the results as shown in the picture below. Your title should be your keyword phrases.
If instead it says, Home, Welcome, Services, About, etc. you are losing a lot of potential customers because those words are very generic and not directly applicable to your business.
An example of a perfect title to use is “Calgary Dentists” if you are in fact a Calgary dentist.
Review your current site to see if each page has a unique and relevant title or if it could be better. While you are online take a look at your competition as well.Description
Every day I see websites that have the same title and description on each page. Many web designers skip this very important step when designing their client's websites.
Why? It could be because it can be very time consuming to write unique descriptions and appropriate keyword related titles for each page, or perhaps it is because they don't yet understand how critical it is to the success of a website.
Your description for each web page is where you really get to sell your business. It is part of the coding of your website and you do not actually see your description on your site, but you will see it in the search engine results as shown in the above picture.
You have about 150 characters in which you can write a captivating description that calls attention to your site and entices online viewers to click on your website listing. This description should include your keyword phrases as well. If this step is skipped then the search engines will either read through the content on your page and grab a sentence that they think works, or they will leave the description blank when they list your website in their results.Why waste this valuable marketing opportunity? Or, why leave it up to the search engines to make random decisions for your business?
It is not as easy for you to verify if each page has a unique description or not, as it is to verify the page title, because as I mentioned above, the search engines will most likely create one if your website code does not include one.
You can always check with your web designer to confirm if this was done or not, or I can take a peak for you and let you know. Just send me an email with a link to your website.
I'm not saying to scream at your readers. I am talking about how you can emphasize key points (keyword phrases) about your business by taking advantage of headings <H1>, <H2>, <H3> and by using them in a way that makes your website even more appealing to the search engines and your visitors.
Each content page on your website should have a main heading that grabs the attention of your online audience. Your main heading should include your most important keyword phrase for that page.For example: 5 Steps to Relieving Lower Back Pain
You also want this heading to grab the attention of the search engines. To do that you need to ensure that when your web designer codes your website, they code your heading to look like this:<h1>5 Steps to Relieving Lower Back Pain</h1>
This is an important factor to your online success because it aligns with the rules that the search engines have put in place, and when done right, helps your website rise to the top of the indexed lists.Another important factor is that the search engines only want to see one <H1> heading per web page.
You can include additional keyword phrases and add additional emphasis to your content by breaking up your page with what is known as <H2> and <H3> subheadings. Use these to highlight what you are talking about in regards to your business, and to guide both your readers and the search engines through your site.
The words that you put in each URL are as important as your page titles and descriptions.
Your URL should include your main keyword phrase for that page (minus words such as “a, the, that, is) with each word separated by a dash (-).
A good example is:
This makes it extremely easy for the search engines to figure out what your web pages are talking about, which in turn makes it easier for them to index your web pages.
Your website provides fuel for your social media campaigns. Use your website to provide relevant and important content that you can share on Twitter, your Facebook Business Page and LinkedIn!
Social media is an excellent cost-saving alternative to traditional marketing and advertising methods. It allows your business to instantly create a special campaign that promotes a product or service that you provide.For example, every Thursday at 1 PM WestJet promotes special airfare prices to all of their Twitter and Facebook Fans. People look forward to it and love it.
I know what you are thinking– they are already a well known organization, of course people flock to them.
Okay, well then here is an example of a 3 person operation that no one knew about until they went online. It is a mobile cupcake bakery that opened for business in Chicago in 2010. They drive around the city all day in a decked out van selling cupcakes on major streets and intersections in Chicago. The owner said that simply by setting up a website and creating a Twitter and Facebook account her business took off and grew so quickly she could barely keep up. That’s because she uses those three online marketing tools to tell her customers when and where she will be selling cupcakes throughout Chicago every day. You can tell by the responses that she receives on Twitter and Facebook that her business is a huge hit.
When it comes to customer service, many companies are using social media to provide constant, up to the minute support and customer service to their current clients. This is an invaluable service that will make your clients happy and ensure their satisfaction.Your business can duplicate this success too simply by having an up-to-date website combined with social media tools.
Your website can be integrated into your social networks, your email marketing list and more– it's the foundation for a strong Internet marketing plan, and with it your business is going to beat out your competition over and over again.
Now if you already have all the business you can handle and your website is simply meant to be an online reference for your current customers to go to, then focusing on any of the above is probably unnecessary.
But if you are a business that desperately wants and needs more customers, and your current website isn't search engine friendly, you probably want to consider updating or redesigning your business website and online marketing plan with all of the items outlined above.After all, is there really anyone out there who doesn't need more customers?
Work with you and become very familiar with your business so that you actually enjoy the website design process which will be based on a plan that is specific to your business, and will include all of the above mentioned winning strategies and many more.This will be done by:
Helping you discover what your target market is looking for when they go online.
Designing an affordable website that appeals to both you and your online audience.
Helping you write content that draws in your a