The Web For Business.com Blog

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


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.

Where are you putting your efforts?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, May 21, 2015

When you create good content, where should it go?

From my perspective, it should go on your website first. Once it's there, you can then work on marketing it further. This approach makes sense for many reasons.

CONTROL

Let's face it: you don't control Facebook. Google doesn't owe you anything. Putting your useful, pertinent, relevant content on your site is the easiest, surest way to build your online foundation. If Facebook shuts down your profile (either on purpose or by accident), your "satellite" content will take a hit, but your foundation will remain strong.

RELEVANCE & FRESHNESS

I'm sure you've heard that search engines value sites with good content. If you're putting your good content elsewhere, you're building someone else's website and not your own. Don't complain about your search engine positioning if you're not adding new, relevant content to your site.

EMPIRE BUILDING STARTS AT HOME

I've said it before but it's worth saying again: For most people, the value of social media is to amplify what you already have. There are companies that get the majority of their business on Facebook. That's great - for them. If you're not in that situation, I suggest it is more important to craft a compelling website that showcases your knowledge and builds your credibility. Your website should be the single source of all great information about you and your business so when people come calling from wherever they hail from online, they'll get a complete picture of what your company's all about and not a pale reflection of your social media presence.

It's really that "simple". Post useful content on your site as part of your blog. Then market the heck out of that content so lots of people learn about you. When they come to your site, have it be a good mix of design and content and calls to action. Keep at it consistently to generate leads and make sales.

If you have any questions or want to know more about any of the topics I've discussed here, please feel free to contact me. I promise to answer all pertinent questions!

 

 

Engagement - without rings

Mark Kawabe - Monday, November 25, 2013

Social media iconsCustomer engagement is a lovely buzzword that marketers like to toss around. It sounds good, but what are we talking about when we refer to "engagement"? Is it something that can be measured or is it just a fluff term?

Right now, you are reading this blog post. You are interacting with content that I have provided online. At its base, this is engagement. The interaction with online content is the key. HOW visitors interact with your online content can also be measured (somewhat imprecisely), so it's not fluff.

Here are a few ways you can measure engagement on your website or social media platforms.

Amount of time spent on website and pages

Knowing how long people are spending on your site and on individual pages you can better understand how interested people are in your content. It's relatively easy to get people to visit your site. Keeping them there and getting them to take action is a challenge.

Subscriptions to newsletters or blogs

If you're not getting many subscriptions on either, your content may not be compelling enough for people to want to receive it regularly. If you're not providing content relevant to your visitor's needs, they won't see the value in subscribing. Consider putting out questions to your audience asking what topics they would like to see covered. Knowing what your audience wants will make it easier to tailor your content to them, increasing engagement.

Follows / Likes / Shares / Comments / Pins etc. on social media platforms

Getting visitors to "like" you on social media isn't all that hard. Keeping them as followers and getting them to share or comment on your content is more challenging. With every post, tweet etc., you have the opportunity to measure how engaging your content is. There are also degrees of engagement. On Facebook, for example, a "share" is more valuable than a "like", and a comment is more valuable than a share.

Contacts and sales opportunities

This is really the "ultimate" measure of engagement. If your website and/or social media campaigns are consistently creating contacts and generating sales opportunities, it's reasonable to assume that you are doing pretty well at customer engagement.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good place to get started in understanding how to improve the overall engagement of your website and social media campaigns. Have a great time implementing on this chilly Monday!