The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


Don't Discard the Old Stuff

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, October 05, 2017

QuestionsRemember MySpace? Yeah, it's sort of lost the social media spotlight to Facebook, but it's not dead. 28 million users still use it. That's more than Pinterest (at 25 million users). Is it dead? Not quite. It's just not "cool" any longer.

The same can be said for other online marketing channels that a lot of people are writing off. However, there are still lots of businesses making lots of money using "old" techniques, so don't discard them yet. Here are a couple of thoughts to consider.

Email Marketing

With the rise of CASL and other anti-spam legislation around the world, marketers have to be more careful when it comes to marketing via email. While it's not new and shiny, email is still one of the most cost-effective ways marketers have to reach their prospects and customers. It's highly targeted, customizable, personalizable, and the tools to measure its success are easily available and understandable. You can also scale it up as needed. Email marketing's not dead. If you think it is, you should probably be asking yourself how you can use it more effectively.

Blogging

Content will always rule online. While social media is being used to get wider distribution, the content often still comes from blogs. It's just been re-posted to a social media channel. If you're going to participate at all in content marketing, you need to have content on your website. Guess what? It's probably going to wind up on your blog instead of on a static page of your website. Blogging is far from dead. If it hasn't worked for you, start asking yourself what you can do to improve your results.

Everyone has the potential to their own independent media company. Video blogs (vlogs), podcasts (audio blogging, so to speak) and other technologies are giving creators more choice on how to deliver their message. The challenge for you now is to create useful content that your audience will find helpful. That's the cornerstone of any online marketing campaign. Don't get seduced by the latest sexy technology when the old workhorses are still doing a great job. If they're not, then it behooves you to figure out how to do things better. Or, call a professional.


The Simple SEO Success Formula

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Most Valuable Real EstateIf you want to achieve your SEO dreams, my advice to you is to stop dreaming and get a grip on the reality of what SEO entails.

Top rankings in Google don't just happen. If you get them, you got them for a reason. Let's look at some of those reasons.

Valuable Content On Site

It is "common knowledge" that Google's algorithm prefers pages that have at least 300 written words. If you are in a market where there is more than one company like yours that offers the products or services you do, you need to go beyond the minimum requirements if you want to achieve top rankings. You need to offer valuable content.

I define valuable content as content which meets or exceeds the informational needs of visitors to your webpage. That will often take more than 300 words, which is absolutely fine. You don't achieve maximum results with minimum effort when it comes to SEO except in a few special situations which I'll talk about later.

Case Study: A customer of mine sells telecommunications products. So do thousands of other companies. A search for one particular model of headset showed that it was sitting at the 135th position in Google's search results. As a test, I added some valuable content answering common questions about the headset. 514 words, to be exact. That page jumped to the 2nd page of search results within two weeks and it has held that ranking since April 2016. I should also mention, the site is not responsive, doesn't have SSL, and doesn't meet a whole bunch of Google "best practices". That's okay, because the content about that headset is more valuable than the content on other websites that sell the same headset.

MARKET YOUR CONTENT Off Site

"Content Marketing" is a phrase being used a lot by people like me to explain why blogging is so important. A lot of people distill the idea of content marketing down to the notion that if you create great content, search engines will notice and then people will take notice. This is true, but it's not the whole story.

You will get more results for your great content if you proactively market it rather than passively hope the search engines will take notice. Marketing your content can take many forms, but it's relatively easy to do. It just takes time. Send a link to your customers and ask them to post it on their blog or link to it from their Facebook page. Link it from your own social media platforms. Ask people to talk about it. If you don't, chances are they won't. These mentions on other sites are all examples of inbound links, which Google's algorithm analyzes for quality and quantity. If you pay for thousands of links from link farms to your great content, you won't get great results. However, a few links to great content from credible websites like your Chamber of Commerce or customers' sites will be more likely to give your content a ranking boost. If you do that regularly, you'll eventually build hundreds of quality links to your website which will in turn, be picked up by Google's algorithm and will likely result in better search engine rankings for your site overall.

The Special Situations

I alluded to some situations where you can get top rankings in Google with minimum effort. Here they are.

  1. People search directly for your business by name. If someone does a search for your business name, they'll probably find you. If they narrow it down by city, (i.e. Joline's Hairstyling Niagara Falls), they'll probably find you at the top or in the top 10. Why not #1? Sometimes the folks at the Yellow Pages or other directory sites have done a better job at SEO than you.
  2. People search for your brand. The good people at Despair.com have trademarked the term "Demotivators". If you forget their website but remember their brand name, you'll find them in the #1 spot for that term. If other folks are outdoing you in the SERPs for your own brand, you have nobody to blame but yourself.
  3. You build a better resource before anyone else. I have a website that has a list of Niagara wineries. It has consistently been ranked in the top 10 Google results for over a decade. The page does not follow Google's best practices guidelines for SEO, but it was one of the first listings of Niagara wineries and it has a good number of inbound links. It may not stay in the top 10 forever, but it's done well over the years, even being the #1 result for a few years. It was built first, it was marketed, and it has remained. You could do the same with your content.

Synopsis

Successful SEO involves creating valuable, user-focused content on a regular basis which is then marketed through blogging, social media and other outreach methods to build inbound links. In other words, it is work. It's not hard work, compared to digging a ditch, but it takes effort. The steps I've outlined above aren't rocket science. Lots of other people have talked about them for years, as have I. What I hope you'll take away is that if you want your site to have great SEO, you have to be better than the other websites in your market at providing and marketing your valuable content and creating a great user experience.

Convincing People to Change

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Change is difficult. Just ask the Goldfish.Change is often needed, but feared at the same time. Change involves risk, and humans are naturally risk-averse. Marketing involves convincing prospects that a change of behaviour is beneficial and as risk-free as possible.

This is the challenge, whether you're operating a bed and breakfast, a restaurant, a retail store, a factory or a consulting firm. Potential customers want to be assured their needs will be met if they choose you. Fortunately, despite the challenges, there are opportunities, especially when marketing online.

One of the best things about marketing online is that you're not limited by space or time. If you have the time, you can write an essay about anything related to your business. As for space, how long is a webpage? Exactly. You can write for hours about the thread count of the sheets on your beds or the uniqueness of your family's secret souvlaki recipe. If you meet a prospect's needs by doing so, then you're on your way to gaining a customer.

This is why you've heard the phrase "content is king" since the dawn of the world wide web. Content is indeed king, and it's fundamental to your ability to market your business online. Feel free to write about anything that's related to your business. Moreover, do it often. If you can be creative about it, even better. 

Content is really important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I always remind customers that if they're not going to hire an SEO specialist, then they have to write content that addresses the needs and queries of their prospects. Creating content for your website gives you a new page for search engines to spider, something new to share on social media and more opportunities to get noticed. You can't expect Google or other search engines to send your small, static website loads of prospects, even if you're exceptionally well-known for something.

Part of the strategy involved in content marketing is to write about a broad range of topics related to your business so you demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and personality to your target audience. I think one's personality is just as important as one's expertise. By sharing your unique perspectives and insights with customers and prospects you educate, create rapport, and build trust. After all, people are going to have to deal with you - so giving them an idea what you are like to work with is important!

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that often, there is no "one thing" that will convince someone to change. You need to provide lots of reasons for people to change their existing behaviours, whether it's staying in hotels versus bed and breakfasts or buying from another supplier instead of you. Building a library of content on your website that is shared on your social media platforms is an approach that can help convince prospects to choose you the next time the opportunity arises. Without that content, you stand to miss a lot of opportunities for getting noticed and getting new customers through the door.

Can canned be better than fresh?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Yesterday was one of those days. I didn't spend much productive time near a computer. I think we've all had one of those days.

Most people in the world wouldn't have noticed, except for those who have been reading my blog of late. There's been a post every day for a couple of weeks. I'm not beating myself up that my "streak" has been broken, but by the same token, if your intent is to post every day it can be a challenge when you get a day that doesn't lend itself to blogging.

What to do?

Easy. Plan ahead.

I have advised my clients for years that they should have a week's worth of blog posts (or more) prepared in advance. This way they can schedule the release of new material using their blog software's built-in scheduling features. Doing this eliminates any pressure one might feel when working on a daily publishing schedule.

Some people might think of this as a "canned" response. To me, it's practical and worthwhile doing. There's no point castigating yourself for missing a day. Making yourself feel bad or unworthy over something as minor as a day not blogged isn't beneficial to anyone - but there are people who will do just that.

Take it easy. Be compassionate to yourself. Think ahead and plan for the possibilities that a day may go by where you don't blog. Be prepared. If you have a full week of posts scheduled to run, you can go without writing for several days if you want to. It's up to you.

Besides, your writing and ideas probably won't go stale in a week - and they'll be fresh for your readers. That's the wonderful thing about ideas. They don't spoil and have a wonderfully long shelf life : )

A tip: I took today's photo at a sushi restaurant a year or so ago. Sometimes you'll have photos that are perfect for use in social media settings. You can save time and money by using your own instead of purchasing stock images.

What time is it anyway?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, October 28, 2013

If you've been reading this blog for the past week, you may have noticed a similarity about them that has nothing to do with their themes, graphics etc. An astute observer might notice the time each blog entry was posted in the morning. There's a reason for this.

How well your posts are received depends on so many factors. Time of day is one of them. Some stats for you to ponder about blog posts:

  • The highest percentage of users read blogs in the morning.
  • A higher percentage of men read blogs in the evening and at night.
  • The average blog gets the most traffic on Monday.
  • The average blog gets the most traffic around 11 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The average blog gets the most comments on Saturday.
  • The average blog gets the most inbound links on Monday and Thursday.
  • The average blog gets the most inbound links at 7 a.m. Eastern time.

While we all hope to have a blog that is better than average, these numbers are interesting guidelines to follow.

Here's hoping you're having a great, active, online Monday!

Where to get ideas

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, October 24, 2013

Read - get enlightened - enlighten others. Repeat.So now that you've woken up early . . . (see previous blog post) . . . what are you going to write about?

This is where many people get stuck. Even after the morning coffee's kicked in it can be challenging to think of something worthwhile to say. What to do?

Thankfully, there are easy solutions. My tip: read something from someone else in your industry. Then write about a topic of interest you find there.

Are you "cheating" by doing this? By talking about a topic that's perhaps been widely discussed already, aren't you taking the "easy way out"? Will people think you're not a great thinker?

Frankly, I think the above statements are a wonderful form of self-sabotage.

Remember: You are an expert in your field. Your readers are not. It doesn't matter if you're in hospitality, retail or technology. The likelihood is your readers have not thought much about what you're writing about. Or, if they have, you're hopefully reinforcing beliefs and perspectives they already have, and you're doing it with your fresh perspective.

You don't have to be completely innovative and creative on your own to provide value to your readers. Take inspiration from others to keep yourself inspired and to inspire others. It's challenging enough to write. Finding ways to make the process easier on you is going to be beneficial to you and those you're writing for.

Turning the Online Monster into your Servant

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, July 25, 2013

Websites. 1000 social media websites. Blogs. YouTube. SEO. There are thousands of ways to market online. What's a business to do? Here are some tips on how to turn the online monster you've created (or are thinking of creating) into your servant.

Plan

When managing your online presence seems overwhelming, it's probably because you didn't plan. If you don't know where you're going, you'll have no idea if you're getting there or not. Fortunately, you can change this whenever you want.

Implement

This is where many people start - they start doing before planning. If this sounds like you, take a deep breath, back away from your monitor and take some time to plan your activities. Make a schedule. Define your goals. Then work on making them happen.

Social media sites make it easy to implement. Slap up a post or a picture or comment and voila! You're done! But how do you know it's what's most beneficial?

Websites or other corporate social media tools that are not current demonstrate a failure to implement. Most businesses can improve in this area. My business included.

Measure

Do you know how many people read your last Facebook post? Did anyone like them? Do you know who they were? How did that Facebook post compare to the previous one - and the one before it?

How about your site traffic? Is it up or down from last month? How about your search engine rankings?

Not measuring the results of online activities means you're shooting at targets without knowing you've hit them. This is why many business owners say marketing online doesn't work for them. They or their staff don't measure the results they get.

Analyze, Study & Plan Again

So you've planned, implemented and measured. Can things be improved? Of course they can. Take what you've done and build on it to make it better.

If you don't know HOW to make it better, you're in luck. There are at least a few million pages of online advice (including this one) on how to improve every aspect of your online presence.

If you've read my earlier blog posts, you'll know this stuff isn't rocket science. It's "common sense" - but we all know how prevalent that is these days. I came across a website just before writing this post that proudly exclaimed their latest news on the homepage - except it was from 2011. When the primary purpose of a website is to create confidence about doing business with you, how does something like that benefit your business?

Most "problems" with websites and online marketing are solved by following the steps above. If you don't have time or patience to follow the prescription, then feel free to call "Dr. Mark" at 905-227-6667. I'd be happy to help you manage your online marketing needs so you don't have to.

Did you miss me?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 12, 2012

Hopefully, but probably not.

Why would I think that?

I'm a realist.

There are thousands of demands on our attention every day.

Are you seriously going to miss a week of my blog?

Probably not, but that's not the point.

If I didn't blog regularly, you'd RARELY or NEVER notice me.

Blogging regularly gives me an opportunity to have your attention for a moment. Perhaps a little longer if you choose to read the full post.

Apply this idea to your own business. Would people miss you if they didn't hear from you?

Why? Why not? And what are you going to do about it?

My advice: if you're in business for the long haul, then start and keep at a blog or a Twitter feed or an e-mail newsletter or at least SOMETHING that keeps you in touch with your audience.

Gain people's attention by providing value over the long term. When they're interested in your services, they'll know who to call first.

Just my $0.02 for this gorgeous March Monday.

In the Quest for New . . .

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

. . . are you neglecting the "old"?

I'm not talking about the elderly here. I'm referring to your online marketing methods.

Is social media now the focus of your marketing efforts?

Great - but how's traffic to your website? Have you updated it recently?

Are you still thinking about your SEO?

Have you blogged lately?

How's your email list growing?

Social media is the latest way to get the word out about your business, but it's not the only way. Are you so busy trying to understand the newest platform (Pinster, at the moment, judging from the inquiries we're getting about it) that you're ignoring what you've been building elsewhere?

If every social media platform went offline tomorrow, how would your brand be positioned online? Would it have a robust online presence with good search engine positioning and quality content that attracts and converts qualified visitors to leads?

My suggestion: build your online assets first and foremost on platforms you control. That means your website, blog and email list. Once those are in tip-top shape, take those strengths and build on them with social media. You'll create a stronger online presence all-round.

The Importance of Regularity

Mark Kawabe - Friday, February 24, 2012

No, I'm not talking about bodily functions. Well, maybe not directly : )

Regularity online helps improve the health of your online presence. Makes it more effective. Makes it stand out. You become special by being regular when those around you are not.

Seth Godin's blog had its 4000th post back in November 2011. Seth posts every day. Now THAT'S regular. His blog has been rated the #1 blog in the world written by a single individual.

How's that for building credibility?

The better part of it - his ideas often go viral. That's probably because he has great ideas. Do you have great ideas to share? Then get them out there! That's what blogs are for!

Regular doesn't have to mean daily. It can be once a week or once a month. Whatever your schedule, define it and stick to it. I'm working on a schedule of posting on weekdays.

The nice thing about blog software is you can queue up posts and have them released on a regular basis. You could theoretically have a year or two's worth of posts ready to roll.

Whatever you do, be regular.

Have a happy Friday!

P.S. If you didn't know, I teach Kendo (Japanese Fencing). I'm doing a fundraiser tomorrow and I would appreciate your support. Here's the link with information. http://kendoniagara.com/1000-cut-challenge.asp