SEO and Online Marketing Trends 2012 by Precision-Websites.com

I had the opportunity to speak about what’s going on now in the world of online marketing and generating traffic from search engines to the Cape Cod Hospitality Marketing Association. Thank you to Becky Fischer for coordinating with me and to Lorraine Janusas and all the attendees for the warm reception.

Here is a link to the Powerpoint slideshow, with links to the resources I mentioned:

I chose to just lightly touch on basic SEO as we had an experienced group. If you have any questions about general SEO and online marketing, please send me an email. My goal was to highlight what’s in the news and on the horizon, with specific actions you can take now to help drive leads and sales online. Believe me, there’s a whole lot more! Enjoy and I look forward to any comments and questions.

Lead Generation with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) complement each other well. I recommend you don’t choose one over the other. Instead, use PPC to get data right away, which helps you grow your longer-term SEO campaign. Then use your SEO data to improve your PPC results.

While search engine optimization is an ongoing marathon to grow your authority over time, Pay-Per-Click advertising is a great way to start lead generation right away.

Lead generation with PPC is attractive to people working in sales, marketing and finance, because it is directly measurable, unlike SEO which has many factors to take into account. If you are the one responsible for the website, generating leads is one of the biggest metrics you’ll be judged on. So it’s natural to want to skimp on SEO and instead pour money into PPC.

Keep in mind that PPC is a one-time event: when the budget runs out, leads stop coming in. But when you invest the time to make your website great for search engines with SEO, it will continue to pay off in months and years to come.

Smart marketers focus on lead generation for the success of the business, as well as justifying marketing budgets. Just having a website that looks good won’t meet your business goals. You are looking for leads and sales.

The first basic mistake marketers make in PPC advertising is to direct the prospect to the home page. The purpose of the home page is to provide an overview of the company or store, but the prospect is trying to solve a certain problem. And we know what the problem is, because we know what they were searching for. So don’t dump them at a general page. Show them a “landing page” primed to motivate them to become a customer or client. They’ll be happier too.

Some elements of a successful lead generation landing page:

Connect the Dots for the Prospect

Tie the message and content of the page directly to the keyword, ad group or ad copy that the prospect clicked on. Don’t leave the prospect wondering if they are in the right place or whether you have the solution to what they are looking for. Say it up front. With some search engines such as Google, you can dynamically insert the term they ACTUALLY searched on (not just the base keyword) into the URL. Then code your landing page to take that term and serve the content customized for that search, perhaps even putting their search term directly on the page, which will inspire confidence in the prospect.

Great Lead Generation Form

Are you making the user click to another page to get to a lead generation form? That is guaranteed to make your campaign less successful. Put it right up front, not down below the bottom of the first screen they get to.

Make it obvious what will happen or what they will get when they submit the form. Customize the “submit” button to say what their action is: “Get my free white paper” or “Contact me” for example. Can you show an example of what they will get? Can you tell them how long it will take for them to get a response?

Also test a landing page design with an arrow or similar object pointing to the form or submit button. This will lead the prospect’s eye to the most important action on the page that you want them to take.

Offer a Reward

Offers are an effective incentive to improve your PPC lead generation results.

Provide a truly useful resource that helps the prospect solve their problem, and they’ll be more likely to trade their contact info with you for it. It’s important to make it high quality, not just fluff, to enhance the feeling of trust.

To get the prospect to take out their wallet, an enticing offer or discount gets results. Do your finance people tell you it’s not fiscally viable? Figure out the life-time value (LTV) of a prospect. Then you can justify offering a product or package at a discount, because you know that over time you’ll reap greater rewards.

One example is a company who sells guitars. They offered a package of guitar strings for a ridiculously low amount, because starting that relationship was the true goal–not making a few pennies off a small item. Then they began their lead nurturing campaign, knowing that a segment of the prospects on the list will end up buying a $500-$1000 guitar!

Make it Easy to Contact You

Don’t hide your phone number just because the least-fun part of your job is dealing with customers! Remember, prospects are the life-blood of the company. Train yourself to think of every call as an opportunity. Even if the person on the other end of the line is a poor prospect, now you have an incentive to go tweak your PPC lead generation campaign to pre-qualify better, which also saves you money in unproductive payperclick ads. Even better, now you know what information is missing from the landing page, helping you convert more truly qualified prospects who were just abandoning your site without bothering to call and ask!

Is your website ready for Internet Explorer 8? Tips to tell your webmaster.

It’s a shock to discover that your web forms aren’t submitting leads, or that your ecommerce site can’t take orders in a new version of a web browser. But believe me, these surprises happen. Any website developer or agency worth their salt will continually test that your website is working well across different browsers. Check that your web provider is up to speed.

To help, here are some excerpts from Microsoft’s tips on how to be compatible with IE 8 that you can forward along.

Developer Checklist:

For compatibility:

  1. Navigate to your website in Internet Explorer 8.
  2. If pages look different from how they did in Internet Explorer 7 or don’t work the same way, enable Compatibility View. See Compatibility for more information.
  3. If turning on Compatibility View makes your pages render and function as they do in Internet Explorer 7, then add the Emulate IE7 meta tag.
  4. Otherwise, verify that your User Agent String detection recognizes Internet Explorer 8 by using the procedure outlined in the Versioning and Internet Explorer Modes.
  5. If your pages are still broken, debug your Web site by using our testing tools.

For ActiveX developers and WebOC hosts:

  1. Read about our new feature, Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer (LCIE).

For AJAX developers:

  1. Read Better AJAX Development.
  2. Read Native JSON Support.

For toolbar developers:

  1. Read about our New Toolbar Features.
  2. Check your add-ons and extensions against Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer (LCIE) and DEP/NX Memory Protection. In addition to these, test with 120 DPI to ensure your toolbars look good.
  3. Protected Mode (Vista Only)—Read Understanding and Working in Protected Mode Internet Explorer and test your extensions or application on Windows Vista to ensure they install and work properly. Review the MSDN article Developer Best Practices and Guidelines for Applications in a Least Privileged Environment to understand User Account Control in Windows Vista.

For layout developers:

  1. Test your site in 120 dpi layout mode.
  2. Test your site with 24×24 icons.

In addition to these steps, read how you can protect your site with our new security updates including:

Features that change how sites and add-ons work

This section describes a number of changes in security and architecture that could affect the way your site or add-ons function in Internet Explorer 8. Included in this section are details about user agent changes, accessibility improvements (including zoom), non-admin and per-site ActiveX, Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer, DEP/NX memory protection and Manage Add-ons.

Click here to continue.

Powerful new developer features

This section describes the new features that developers can exploit to make Internet Explorer 8 “light up”. These features include Accelerators, Web Slices, improvements in CSS support, accessibility (including W3C’s ARIA Support and UI Automation Support) innovations in AJAX functionality, improvements in DOM L2 Core support, and integrated Developer Tools.

Click here to continue.

Link-Building: How does social bookmarking help in B2B/B2C online marketing?

Social bookmarking is a way to get others to discover your pages of good content.

What is bookmarking and what is “social” about bookmarking?

When you bookmark a page at Delicious.com, others can see that the page has been noted as interesting. Add tags, and a good description, and in searches like-minded people may stumble onto your page. It’s bookmarking, it’s social… social bookmarking.

Speaking of “stumbling”… StumbleUpon is a service to help Web surfers find other websites they might enjoy, and it’s effective for getting new traffic. It’s in my top 10 list for where to add your pages. You register, so they can keep down the spam, and add the toolbar to your browser. When you find a page that you like, you can rate it thumbs up or thumbs down, and add a description (if you’re the first) or personal review of that page. Great place to add keywords!

I recommend “stumbling” your best pages that you want to rank for keywords, and asking friends to do so.

So why don’t I add 500 pages? No, just keep it natural.

The pages you’ve created are useful and informative, so add the good ones and don’t spam the system. I also recommend adding related pages that you find. It shows that you are a participant in voting for good information, not just out for self-promotion. And it looks more “natural” to search engines.

NOTE: Work on adding links from authority sites in your area of interest before the social bookmarking. Relationships give better results than anonymous bookmarking. Bookmarking doesn’t take a lot of resources and you can get the advantage by enlisting co-workers and friends, or getting an outsourcer to handle it.

Social bookmarks generally add less traffic and authority to your pages than building relationships. But it does ensure you have a presence and can be found if someone is searching for your topic.

Start at:

http://www.socialmarker.com

Top sites for social bookmarking:
- delicious.com
- stumbleupon.com
- propeller.net
- technorati.com
- blinklist

Then there are a myriad of other bookmarking sites.

Do you have a social bookmarking process or strategy? Let us know in the comments…

Feeds and Social Marketing: Fun Icon that Adds Personality

Create a connection with your clients and prospects online–that’s the mantra for growing your coaching business to the next level. I encourage clients to set up a blog and let someone read–or listen to–or watch (video)–when it’s comfortable for her or him.

On a blog, you need to link to your feed–prominently. Just browsing around and something actually surprised me today!

This icon of someone reading their feed and relaxing is a great way to show a person what that funky “RSS FEED” icon really means.

So have a think about how you can customize your site to give the new visitor a little surprise.