When trying to build an online relationship with prospective customers or clients, overcoming the distant, impersonal nature of internet communication is a daunting challenge. However, when you make your content personal you go a long way to overcoming this challenge. In other words, if you wish to achieve your online marketing goals, you must Share Yourself; Show Yourself; and Shed Your Fear of doing so.
Category Archives: Online Marketing Tips
Everyone thinks they know what “branding” is, but do they really? It’s not just a cute logo or cool emblem design. It’s not even a specific product or service. Your Brand is your unique, recognizable identity. It is Who You Are to your customer–as a business or a company–even as an individual.
If you are just entering the world of online marketing, or even if you’ve already been online for years, you likely find yourself in a very competitive marketplace. Becoming successful in such an environment is a daunting task at best, and overwhelmingly impossible at worst. While it is impossible to guarantee success in online marketing, these Online Marketing Tips should be helpful to you in promoting your site, your product or service, even yourself.
While creating a successful marketing campaign has never been easy, the advent of online marketing has simplified the process somewhat, while at the same time putting it directly into the hands of the online marketer. It is our hope that by following these Online Marketing Tips we can simplify the process further, allowing you and your marketing campaign to benefit from these 7 Steps to Success.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not dead, though it is certainly changing; as it has done for decades. As the search engines, lead by Google of course, have become more adept at picking out websites that are gaming the system for increased traffic, it makes sense that they should change their standards, and their algorithms. In essence, they are working to keep a level playing field for all, while trying to improve the search experience as well. Makes sense, when you think about it.
The changing face of SEO
In the wake of the Panda and Penguin updates, and all the changes we’ve been forced to accept because of them, Google has also begun to take a more focused look at how websites are using keywords; the most important tool a site owner can use to optimize their site for improved search results. This too makes sense, since every time Google makes an effort to improve the search experience for all; unscrupulous “SEO experts” work hard to discover ever more creative ways to game them. It’s become a never-ending cycle, forcing the rest of us to work harder than ever to keep up with the changing rules of the game.
By now, virtually everyone has heard of keyword stuffing. Most site owners and admins have worked hard to guarantee that they do not stuff their sites. However, the definition of stuffing has undergone a transformation, requiring all of us to reassess our use of keywords. Things which were accepted in the past will no longer pass muster with Google.
Improving the search experience for all
Google’s stated goal for making these changes to the search process is an effort to enhance the search experience for their customer. Their customer is the searcher of course, not those of us who would like the searcher to find us. As a result, the focus of search has become the quality of the content provided; a standard which they dictate, not us. Only by adhering to their standards for searches can we remain in their good graces, enabling them to bring searchers to our sites.
- 3% is no longer the magic number. In the past, keyword density received a great deal of attention, with a 3% density becoming the safe standard. This is no longer the case. In fact, 3% can get you punished these days. The best current advice available is 3 times; use your targeted keyword 3 times in your text, at the beginning, middle, and end, and no more. Also, make sure they are used naturally, within the flow of the text, or you will be punished for keyword stuffing.
- Use multiple targeted keywords. The current best practices to avoid being labeled a keyword stuffer are to use multiple targeted keywords sparingly, rather than one keyword frequently. As mentioned above, rather than 3% density, a single phrase should be used 3 times. Doing this with 2-3 targeted phrases is much safer than the overuse of just one phrase.
- Use your image “alt tag” wisely. In the past, placing a targeted phrase “behind” and image was easy. Since search engines are unable to “crawl” images, all you had to do was type your keyword into the HTML code for the image and you were golden. Today, using the same keyword in the alt tag and the text may get you labeled as a stuffer. The solution? Use a targeted phrase that you have not placed within your text.
- Craft your Meta Description carefully. Most people ignore this important area of SEO, because it can be difficult to summarize a post in a mere 160 characters. However, if you leave it up to the search engines to provide this summary for you, it will likely look disjointed and unprofessional. A well crafted, complete statement of the text you have provided will appeal to the reader – and to the search engines.
- Highlighting is now a no-no. Google used to appreciate the way we provided help to them by highlighted the targeted keywords we were using, making it easier for them to find relevant content. To accomplish this, we were told we should use bold, underline, and italics in our text. This is now a No-no for Google, and can actually get your site flagged for further study. Instead, use your targeted phrases within the flow of your text and let the search engines find them on their own.
- Paragraph headers have become a bad place for keywords. Headers are no longer the place to use your targeted keywords. Keep them descriptive of the text, rather than using them as a trap for the search engines. It’s not that you can’t use a targeted phrase here; just don’t use the same phrase you are using in your text, as we had been told to use them in the past.
Quality content leads to quality visits
In short, the overuse of a single targeted keyword phrase will lead to problems in the search results. You may even be banned from Google entirely for particularly egregious overuse. The best advice is to back off a bit on the use of your targeted phrases and see what happens. If your placing in the search results remains constant, you’re doing fine. If your ranking changes, beef it up a bit and see what happens. As always, there is no magic pill for the optimization of your website and improvement in the search results does not happen overnight. Remember this – SEO and patience go hand-in-hand.
The good news is this; while SEO has become more difficult with the emphasis on the quality of the content we provide our visitors, in most cases the quality of the visitor has also improved. By focusing on a quality search experience for their client, Google is forcing us to focus on providing quality content for our clients as well. In the long run, this is a good thing for everyone involved.
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Well, we are right in the middle of another eBook marketing experiment – literally right in the middle, since the Free eBook Promotion runs from January 2nd – 4th. We are once again promoting the Cycling eBook I wrote, titled, “Rediscover your Joy with Bicycles and Cycling.” The book is available as a free download from the Kindle Store during those three days.
We figure it’s a great way to help folks who received a new bike for Christmas, and to also a way to get our name out there again during a slow time of year for cycling products. it also helps us to promote our cycling website, Mile-Hi Cycle Guy.
Kindle eBook Promotion Case Study
The last time we did this Promotion, during a large professional bicycle race in Colorado last August, we gave away nearly 500 eBooks. Better than that however; we also proceeded to sell about 100 of the books following the promotion!
Here are a couple of things we learned from the first promotion, things I’m working to improve for this one …
- Giving stuff away takes work – Just making something free is not enough. You have to let people know that you have something they may be interested in using. In fact, I am/will be spending about 2-3 hours a day during the 3-day promo just letting people know the eBook is available at no charge.
- Post to your website or blog every day of the promotion – To remind everyone your eBook is available for FREE, and to notify new visitors to your website or blog. You really can’t expect your entire audience to see it the first time.
- Post a teaser to your blog or website – At least two days in advance of the promotion. Don’t give away too much information, just let your readers know that something cool is on the way and ask them to check back to find out what it is.
- Post to Social Media 2-3 times a day – each day – of the promotion – To engage interest and promote sharing of the information. Your Facebook friends, as well as fans of your page, are the most effective way to get the word out.
- Use Press Releases daily – We are using a free PR service, PRLog. Why? Because we are cheap that’s why. Hey, I’m giving stuff away here. I don’t want to have to pay for the privilege too.
- Follow up on any complaints about problems downloading the eBook – We actually had a problem this morning, the very first day of the promotion. A gentleman posted to our Facebook page that he was unable to download the eBook and, after trying for 15 minutes, he quit trying. I advised him to close and reopen his browser and try again and – it worked! He is now a happy camper.
- Update the text, if applicable – Which is something we did a while ago by adding a couple of Bonus Chapters, essentially links to important cycling information. But, just before the promotion, I also went in and reworked a few chapters, adding information and editing out of date info. Everything changes, right? Just because you’re giving it away doesn’t mean you can’t offer value by keeping the text up to date.
The most important thing I learned from the first free eBook promotion was this – COMMIT TO IT! if you’re going to do it anyway, go ahead and do it right. Spend the time each day of the promotion to keep interest high among potential readers. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
Recently, my friend and online business mentor Andrea Kalli and I began an experiment in eBook marketing. We chose to use an existing eBook, one which I had written about a year-and-a-half ago about bicycles and cycling. The book was written to help folks overcome the fear and confusion that many experience when buying a bicycle these days. My ultimate goal however, was to help new and returning cyclists to get over their resistance and rediscover the joy of cycling that all of us experienced as children.
Originally, I had placed the book for sale on my bicycle rebuilding website, Mile-Hi Cycle Guy, as well as on my Mile-Hi Cycle Guy Facebook Page where, if you “Liked” the page, you received a free excerpt from the book. We even went so far as to create a Facebook Page for the book itself. The end result of all this creative thinking and hard work was – nothing! We gave away about 100 excerpts and sold not a single eBook!
Two recent articles found online question the validity of blogging, and blog writing, as part of a successful online marketing strategy. Both articles, posted at business2community.com and b2bmarketing.net, begin by asking the question, “Is blogging dead, or outdated, as a marketing tool?” Both go on to answer this question with a resounding, “NO!”
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