Most small businesses that run a websitetoday don’t have the insider knowledge to optimise their content and overallvisibility online. I handle internet marketing issues – SEO, PPC, emailmarketing, copy writing, -every day, and I’m always surprised to see how manybusinesses have no understanding of what SEO means, let alone how to approachit.
In the vast sea of websites – frome-commerce, media and informational websites to blogs and wikis – most siteowners use a basic approach to search engine optimisation. They submit theirsite to more than 200 search engines and blast these with some domains andkeywords that may be related to the site. Some go to blogs and forums – relatedor not – and start “fishing” for links (making random,non-intelligent forum comments and submitting links back to their site). Evenworse, they’ll pay companies to undertake this useless exercise.
Next, if that doesn’t work, they willpurchase a marketing book, apply all the techniques and sit back, hoping thatsomething will take. Often this will be done by an IT person who has been toldto optimise the company website, which isn’t part of their daily routine orknowledge space.
Rather than these slapdash attempts, youneed a strong, long-term commitment to SEO and must always stay on top of thesearch engines and their ever-changing, underlying landscape.
Google, the top search engine – and the oneto optimise – handles more than 50% of search traffic and utilises more than100 algorithms to track and manage HTML content (“on-page factors”),external profiles (“off-page factors”), link architectures,popularity and reputation, as well as PageRank calculation (a complex sitevoting system) and web bots. The content gathered from spideringsearch-friendly sites gets stored into huge databases (called the”index”) on a powerful grid of network computers.
Google weighs all of these elements into anoverall score, and if you have optimised well in all areas and have reviewedyour competition and their strategy, you can and will rank well for fairlycompetitive key terms. You must realise, though, that the more competitive yourterm is, the longer it will take – but you can get there.
Here’s a 10-step plan to improve sitevisibility and increase search-friendliness. The first five steps address partsof your website’s HTML code, while the final five are more abstract. Together,they add up to a “must do” SEO list.
Step1: Title tag
(<title>SEO Gone Wild –microsaw.com</title>)This is most important of all. If you have the titletag set up right, and it’s a unique enough phrase, you could rank on page onefor this alone.
Write your keywords early in the title, andplace your company name last – unless you are Coca-Cola, or have a huge brand.
Step2: Meta tags
Description – <metaname=”description” content=””/>. Place your page contentdescription between the blank quotes with a call to action statement like,”Sign up here,” or “Call us at 800 XXX-XXXX.”
Keywords – <metaname=”keywords” content=””/>. Place keywords between thequotation marks after “content,” separated by commas. Google ignoresthis, but it appears that other search engines still review it.
Step3: Header tags
H1 – This HTML tag should contain your corekeywords, one per page. H2 – This HTML tag should contain derivatives of thekeywords.
Pay careful attention to the following:
- Content. Use content that matchesthe keywords on your site. You should ideally have 400 to 800 words on a page.
- Bolding. Include boldedkeywords that match your topic/theme on the page.
- Create a blog. WordPress is anamazing blog that is free and can easily be optimised via plug-ins. Then, writeentries twice a week.
Use links and anchor text to createpopularity and reputation around keywords. (Example: don’t link to just”click here,” but create a better link like, “download thedigital camera white paper”).
- Internal links (link to other pages on your site)
- Outbound links (you link to another authority site on your topic)
- Reciprocal links (join link exchanges and contact partners to exchange links)
- One-way links (when other sites link to your blog, press releases or articles) are typically more effective than outbound and reciprocal ones.
- URLs. If starting a new site, try to get an established URL (purchase it if you have to).
- Use keywords in an easy-to-remember domain. Google recognises domains that have been around and establishes credibility; you can avoid the Google Sandbox (where you don’t show up in the index for months, potentially).
Step7: Users first, then search engine
Step8: Keyword research
Keyword development is one of the firstplaces to start. Two to three keywords per page is possible. Combined with theitems listed in the first five steps above, you will have a high success score.
Use tools like Yahoo! SearchMarketing/Overture, Google’s Keyword Tool and SEOBook keywords tool.
Try to shoot for keywords that have highersearch counts; over 20 000 searches for your keyword are good, but it alldepends on your industry.
Find out what the competition is doing.Type your search term into a search engine and locate three to five of the topresults. Look at these sites and see what they are doing in the HTML (on-page)and linking (off-page) areas. To find out how many sites are linking to yourcompetition, type “link:http://www.competitorname.com” into Google.Do the same in Yahoo!, and you’ll see a higher count because Yahoo! is moreall-inclusive.
Step10: Keep your cool
Don’t let this business get to you; it’sfrustrating at times. SEO is a long-term commitment. Some weeks are great,others are not.
It’s a serious investment of time, sweatand staying the course. The best success factors I’ve seen: Approach contentand website design in a natural way; be ethical (don’t spam); and keep it real– it’s a business, and nothing comes for free.
Don’t forget that search/internet marketingis multi-faceted. Traditional Marketing 101 teachers would suggest building acomprehensive plan for marketing. Don’t just work the online factors, butcreate a sound strategy around offline marketing, using ideas like postcards,trade magazines ads, phone/sales work, word of mouth and additional tacticsthat can help create a “buzz” around your products and services.Search engine optimisation applied correctly will create better visibilityonline, but it’s just one part of your overall marketing strategy.
Henrico Hanekom – Discover Your Inner Marketing Genius
Like most Leaders whom firmly believe in positive transformation, Henrico Hanekom has created “new blue waters” in the form of a niche service which he calls “Neuro-marketing”.
Henrico Hanekom describes himself as a “street wise marketer”. After attending to hundreds of clients’ individual marketing needs he has defined an unique approach that veers away from the traditional marketing agency methodology.
Like most Leaders whom firmly believe in positive transformation he has created “new blue waters” in the form of a niche service which he calls “Neuro-marketing”. Initially Henrico honed his skills as a founder and CEO of Megaphone Media, a company whom has served companies such as ABSA, Toyota McCarthy, AGSA (Auditor General of South-Africa), NRF (National Research Foundation)” by getting their message across utilising mainly digital visual media.
Roughly five years ago Henrico became a qualified Neuro-coach to empower him to answer a critical question: What can we learn from Neuroscience to improve marketing strategies in general? Henrico explained to me that normally all marketing campaigns aim to create a strong perception that will drive the consumers’ behaviour in a way that justifies the campaign spend, therefore at the root of an increased understanding of perpetual marketing principles lies behavioural sciences.
It is common knowledge that the average consumer faces severe cognitive overload considering the overwhelming amount of information available to us and the staggering amount of advertisements and marketing delivery mechanisms that people are exposed to in the modern world.
Increasingly marketing agencies are scratching their heads considering the complex question of: How do I make my clients stand out? A past reliable staple to secure results was to ensure high quality ad design underpinned by a very good offer to the public. That however might have worked occasionally during times when the market was not as saturated as it currently is.
Henrico passionately elaborated on his well-tested strategy to ensure that his clients are not only standing out but elevate their status to a market leader. He starts with a clean slate and encourages his clients to stop considering the competition. He refrains from giving advice and instead coaches within an environment where his clients can “discover their own genius”.
Through experience Henrico has discovered that it is common for companies to struggle with firstly defining their message clearly and secondly to clearly communicate their message to their audience. In general, a clearly communicated message that resonates with prospective client’s emotions and their personal values multiplies positive results, he shared.
Henrico further shared his experience to say that marketing and sales must be in alignment and that marketing is the DNA of the business, or put in another way, “Marketing is the communication of what is already within”. He has further found a general phenomenon amongst his clients in that their aspirations do not usually match their faith in their abilities to achieve. As a Neuro- coach Henrico then utilises Neuroscience and Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to align his clients’ aspirations and belief in their abilities to powerful effect.
As a “Neuro- marketer” he assists his clients to rise to a high level of awareness so eloquently encapsulated by Albert Einsteins’ words of: “We cannot find a solution to a problem with the same level of awareness that created the problem. “
Henrico firmly believes in the Leadership principle of Authenticity and coaches his clients to authentically advertise the truth. Through all his expert efforts he aims to position each company that he works with as a “magnet” that strongly attracts clients as opposed to “pushing” and aggressively acquire each client.
The author ended this inspiring interview by asking Henrico what he is passionate about in life. Henricos’ sincere intent was tangible as his lips formed a smile from which his answer emenated: “Life was meant to be lived abundantly.” He also added that because life was meant to be lived without limits he is driven towards helping people to “get unstuck”. This man invests heavily into his own personal growth knowing that this long-term investment constantly empowers him to give the highest of himself to his clients.
Practical proof of Henricos’ commitment to personal growth was abundantly clear during and after the interview. The interview was done directly after Henricos’ workout and we drank (I will admit it was delicious) organic smoothies during it, and after the interview, we had a long and interesting discussion on personal development and servant leadership.
4 Ways To Reach A New Target Audience Without Abandoning Your Old One
Four strategies to reach a new demographic without changing what current customers already love about your company.
For 56 years, Häagen-Dazs had a consistent message: high-quality, old-fashioned ice cream for sale. But that’s changed: Thanks largely to millennials, the company recently refreshed its brand with a revised logo, more vibrant packaging, new flavors and a global advertising campaign.
This younger generation of consumers is continuing to cause a massive shift in the market across all industries and sectors. That’s why this ice cream company wanted to cast off its stuffy, traditional image and connect with millennials over craftsmanship and storytelling.
There’s a lesson to be learned here: To stay competitive, any entrepreneur or business leader has to consider the many challenges of a constantly evolving business landscape, including his or her company’s demographics and consumer trends.
If you wait to consider how your audiences have changed and will continue to change, you’ll risk far more than will your competitors already investing in brand analysis and audience outreach.
Expanding your tent
Business leaders may be aware of the changing marketplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re eager to change. For many companies, a major brand overhaul often meets with internal resistance; and to be fair, such an overhaul is not always the right answer. For some companies, it’s better to maintain a consistent brand message amidst rapid change. It’s the discovery that’s important, the self-assessment, the long view.
Because we live in an experience-based economy, whether you’re designing your customer experience intentionally or not doesn’t matter: You’re still delivering one. Messaging plays a major role in reinforcing or diluting that experience.
Here are four steps you can take to help your business appeal to new demographics.
1. Develop robust personas
Every landing page, blog post or article you put out there should align with a distinct persona to effectively connect with a desired target audience. A CEO, a parent and a college student all require different messaging to inspire a response.
A seemingly obvious but often overlooked way to gain a better understanding of your current or potential customers’ needs is to ask them directly. Surveys can be effective, but personal, one-on-one interviews are better, even if you can only conduct a handful. Offer a small incentive to gather eager participants, and ask questions designed to reveal what motivates them and why they chose your product or service.
At Pharos, we need to shift our messaging to highlight the parts of our business that are relevant to each specific persona we target. We use three aspects of our value proposition to position ourselves in a way that aligns with what our audience cares about most. Print management solutions lower expenses (business owners love that), improve security (CIOs and IT directors love that) and boost sustainability (which should resonate with everyone). All three messages mutually reinforce one other and are consistent across experiences.
For example, we worked with one university’s leadership who wanted to reduce and manage back-office printing costs. To help get employees on board with secure print workflows, its leaders promoted the sustainability aspect of print management’s value proposition and subsequently were able to save $3,000 a month while significantly reducing the university’s carbon footprint.
Related: How Do I Create A Content Strategy?
2. Ask what your CRM data is trying to tell you
If your data collection process includes a wide range of questions to qualify leads, you should be able to find customer information such as company type and size, contact job titles and the types of content most often consumed.
Your sales team should then be able to help translate those numbers into concrete characteristics and create a more complete understanding of your customers. As you find common trends, you can combine those tendencies into a general view of each customer type, and use it to fill out your personas. This will help diversify your buyer personas and, consequently, your brand’s ability to connect with an expanding range of consumers.
Evaluating your data can also help you recognise surprising audiences that like your brand. When the small business software company Hatchbuck was launched, its founders tried to reach as many segments as possible, from salespeople to business owners, to pitch its platform.
To zero in on its ideal customer, Hatchbuck gathered survey responses, crunched the numbers and conducted customer interviews, seeking to define its buyers’ behaviours and beliefs.
The company was surprised to learn that, even though it had been attracting larger companies looking for an affordable software with lots of features, smaller companies were its biggest supporters. Hatchbuck decided to focus its efforts on these small business owners – its ideal customer. Discoveries like this can be enlightening and critical to success.
3. Showcase how your brand delivers what people want
Proving your product’s relevance to a different demographic doesn’t mean abandoning the things that make it valuable to current buyers. It means adjusting your messaging to highlight the benefits that are more aligned with the new audience.
For example, Vera Bradley bags and luggage have been a popular choice for baby boomer women since the 1980s. When the brand decided to expand its target audience and appeal to younger women, it tapped into social media to gain insights into the demographic and observed a trend of complaints among millennials about the shortcomings of smartphone battery life and the annoyance of awkward battery cases.
So Vera Bradley created a bag with a built-in smartphone charger. This helped to improve its offerings and reach a new audience without introducing change that might alienate its faithful, long-time customers.
4. Leverage the granularity of marketing automation
Many businesses see demographics as an aggregate average, but this perspective can destroy any chance of recognising the need to change. You don’t target youth through the same channels used to reach company decision-makers.
Approaching demographics using too broad of a viewpoint ignores the micro-targeting capability afforded by many marketing-automation systems today. Granular, personalised messaging is becoming the norm, not the exception.
To reach younger demographics with precision, take advantage of automation tools such as HubSpot, Marketo or Hatchbuck, proven technologies that can drastically improve the reach of your digital marketing ads and provide you with valuable analytics on your consumers.
These automation technologies have a long track record of producing a positive return on your investment. They can also help to improve various aspects of your digital marketing strategy. According to research by Regalix, 64 percent of marketers surveyed said they saw benefits within six months by using automation software.
The millennials in today’s workforce will be the decision-makers of tomorrow – and I mean tomorrow, not five years from now.
Organisations that fail to recognise this shift, or delay the process of discovering how best to change along with new demographic opportunities, can end up fueling internal resistance to such change and, ultimately, lose their opportunity to stay relevant.
Don’t be one of them.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Really Works
Stand out. Get noticed. Six reasons why influencer marketing really works.
In today’s day and age you need to ensure your marketing spend is going to the right places and most importantly, that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Influencer marketing is a strategy that offers one of the highest returns on investment. Basically, influencer marketing is the process of identifying strategic individuals within your target market, and partnering with them to create advertising that is genuine and more palatable to the audience.
Google Trends show that the interest in influencer marketing is at an all-time high, and further studies demonstrate that personalised, word-of-mouth marketing is more than twice as effective as the alternatives.
Good customer reviews make the best marketing
The idea is pretty simple — instead of a brand telling you why their new product is so amazing, the good review comes from a popular and trusted individual. When an influencer or thought leader promotes your product or service to their audience, they’re essentially telling their audience “You trust me, and I trust this company.”
This form of advertising is becoming increasingly popular since audiences have already opted to receive this particular person’s opinions. It also puts a human touch to your marketing effort. Partnering with influencers makes your service more trustworthy and allows you to effortlessly reach a wider audience.
Influencer marketing has been identified as the most effective method of customer acquisition in 2016 and 2017, ahead of the likes of display advertising, email marketing, paid social media and traditional media.
92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source.
Here are six reasons why influencer marketing works:
1It really does work
There are few things that drive a sale more effectively than word-of-mouth recommendations.
Studies show that trusted word-of-mouth recommendations generate more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate.
2It’s social media friendly
The world and marketing have shifted to social media. 70% of brands are increasing their social media marketing spend in 2017.
Today, it’s easier to connect with other consumers via social media and make better purchasing decisions by learning about their experiences with a product or service.
Influencers are a force to be reckoned with; brands can strategically partner with the right personalities to spark organic conversations and seduce their followers.
3Cut through the clutter
According to research, the average social media user is exposed to 5 000 advertisements a day. Whether or not that number is scientifically proven, it gets the point across: We are exposed to a lot of ads.
Influencers are able to cut your brand through the clutter and get it straight to your target market’s eyes.
4It’s native advertising
Traditional advertising interrupts the consumer experience (think TV commercials during your favourite series).
Native advertising places brands and products within the organic content, creating a more pleasurable experience for consumers and a more powerful marketing solution for brands.
5Your SEO will strengthen
On top of building your brand and improving your sales numbers, influencer marketing also helps your search engine ranking.
User-generated social posts account for 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands. The more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google.
Probably the most important thing of all is that marketers and brand owners can actually track the success of their influencer marketing campaigns, unlike expensive TV, print and radio campaigns.
The digital world is different. Every website visit, social like, and picture posted online can be stored and analysed, giving you tons of data that turns into valuable insights about your target market and your advertising performance.
Influencer marketing presents a massive opportunity for brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire. The possibilities are endless, you’ll actually save marketing spend and guess what…? You can finally measure your results.
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