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The Ten Commandments of Online Marketing for Small & Local Businesses

Posted by Steve Steurer on March 23, 2010

Step-by-step instructions for the small business just trying to get a handle on this whole internet marketing thing.

Louisville Kentucky SEO for Small Business

 

 

 

 

 

 

I. Research your keywords before building or re-building your website.

Ascertaining your most lucrative set of keywords is the foundation upon which your website can be built–that’s why it’s the First Commandment!

  • If you have the budget (and the time), running a Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign (called “Adwords” at Google) for a couple of months is a great testing ground. You get actual data on how many people are searching for exactly what keywords you think they’ll search for.
  • But even if you don’t run a Pay-Per-Click campaign, you can still use Google’s Keyword Research Tool and see what people are searching for. Plug in a few keywords that you think people will use to find your business. Google will show you data for those keywords, and suggest several others that seem similar in concept.
  • Look at the size of the bar in the righthand column (average search volume) and compare it to the size of the bar in the lefthand column (advertiser competition). Usually if there are a bunch of advertisers, it means it’s a pretty hard keyword to rank for. If there aren’t many advertisers, but it looks like there are a fair number of monthly searches…well, that’s your sweetspot.

II. Create compelling content that targets your keywords.

Your content should

  • Look good visually
  • Be written in a tone that you’re comfortable portraying your business with
  • Be formatted in a way that’s easy for visitors to scan

Each website page should ideally be 0.5 to 1.5 pages long in Microsoft Word. Shorter than that, and the search engines won’t get a good enough “scent” of the page to know what it’s about. Longer than that, and your visitors might be intimidated or lose interest.

Target a different keyword set on each page of your website. You’ll capture a much wider range of search traffic this way. Be sure to use geographic modifiers with your keywords if geography is important to your business.

Don’t stop writing content once your website launches. New, compelling content is critical to developing links to your website, which help your search engine rankings dramatically.

III. Build your website in simple HTML. Or at least most of it.

HTML is the favorite language of search engines. A quality website designer should know how to make even basic HTML look pretty using CSS and even a little Flash or AJAX where appropriate.

  • No fancy PHP, ASP or Javascripts (some uses of PHP / ASP are perfectly fine). Search engines have a tough time with pages that have too much dynamic content.
  • Dropdown forms only where absolutely necessary. For the most part, search engines still can’t navigate through these forms.
  • Flash embedded only WITHIN a page, with other HTML content surrounding it. For the most part, search engines still can’t index Flash very well.

I almost feel like I should start a separate “Ten Commandments of Coding for Search Engines” !

IV. Link freely and openly within your own website.

Links are the major way that search engines find new pages to index. But their spiders don’t have unlimited time to hunt around your website, so you want to make sure that you:

  • Link to your most important pages directly from your homepage.
  • Link to your most important pages from as many pages of your website as is practical or reasonable.
  • Link pages together in a way that makes sense to both visitors and search engines–if you’ve got pages with similar content, cross-link them. For example, your “antique chairs” page should be linked to your “vintage tables” page, etc.
  • Make sure that you include a sitemap to every page of your website, and link to your sitemap FROM every page of your website (usually in the footer).

The text that you link with is an INCREDIBLY important signal for search engines. It helps tell them what that destination page is about. So instead of linking to your Products page with just “products,” link instead with “vintage tables” or “antique chairs.”

V. List your contact information in HTML on every page of your website.

Your contact information should be placed consistently across your website. This is good for visitors, as it gives them a way to contact you and reassures them that you are indeed a business in their area. It also gives search engines a strong local “scent” as to where your site is located, and can help boost your rankings in the Local algorithm.

  • Include your full address and phone number with local area code
  • Use both geographic AND product/service keywords in your business title. For example, if your real business name is “Foster’s Supply,” adjust it on your website to read “Foster’s Office Supplies – Salem, OR.”
  • Images won’t work as well because they can’t be read by search engines (yet).
  • When coding your address, use the hCard Microformat if possible.

VI. Submit your website to respected directories in your industry and geography.

Very few people actually use directories anymore (back in the early days of the internet, when there were no search engines, directories were really the only way to find anything), but their main value today lies in the link back to your website. Search engines count links as “votes” for a website, and the more votes your site has, the higher it’s going to rank.

  • Dmoz — It’s free, although increasingly difficult to get a listing in Dmoz because there aren’t enough editors to review your listing.
  • Best of the Web — In my opinion the most cost-effective, potent directory link you can buy. BoTW is exceptionally well-reviewed and you can get a permanent link to your website for around $200.
  • Yahoo — The Yahoo Directory is expensive ($299 a year) but if you have the money, it’s worth it because one link actually counts as several due to Yahoo’s international syndication of its directory results.
  • Business.com — Expensive (~$200/yr.) but well-indexed by the search engines.
  • JoeAnt — Less expensive (~$40/yr.) but not as well-indexed by the search engines.

Other directories depend on your industry and geography. Do a search for “my-business-keyword directory” or “my-location directory.” See what websites show up near the top. Chances are, those are good places to get a listing.

You can also search for neighborhood organizations or promotion entities like Chambers of Commerce or Convention & Visitors’ Bureaux. It never hurts to ask for a link from anyone.

VII. Submit your website to Local Search Engines.

As I mention on my SEO Consulting page, the Local search engines’ algorithms are, for the most part, independent of the main ranking algorithm. Thus, it’s essential to get your business listed and ranked in both, if you are even partially-dependent on local search traffic. At a bare minimum, you should submit your business to the following:

You might also consider:

You should submit your website using the same contact information list on your website. Remember to use both product/service AND geographic keywords in your business title.

Note that many or all of these companies will try to sell you something as you input your business information. My advice: decline anything you have to pay for, but make sure that you get a confirmation that your FREE listing has been entered into their database.

VIII. Add or verify your business information with data providers for the Local Search Engines.

Again, be consistent and submit your website using the same contact information list on your website. Remember to use both product/service AND geographic keywords in your business title.

IX. Don’t neglect your offline marketing.

As print subscribership and traditional newspaper revenues drop, offline and online PR efforts are merging at a rapid rate. Print content is increasingly being syndicated across multiple web properties online, and often includes links to companies that are quoted or featured in articles. Additionally, print outlets are now starting to hire bloggers, who routinely link out to content that interests them. Remember that links coming into your website have a direct impact on your search engine rankings.

Additionally, sponsoring non-profit events or making donations to charitable organizations in your area may lead not only to positive associations by your customers, but to links from these organizations’ websites to your own.

X. Engage your community.

Stemming off of Commandment IX, it’s critical for long-term online success that you are an active member of your community, both locally and in your industry worldwide.

  • Read industry or geo-focused blogs. Make insightful comments on blogs you enjoy reading. If you make enough of them (or even one or two good ones), the author is bound to take note and you can begin to develop a relationship with him / her.
  • Write blog articles about emerging or un-publicized topics in your industry or region. Either syndicate them on other popular blogs and content sites (with a byline that includes a link to your website, of course) or publish them on your own blog.
  • Don’t forget about capturing customer email addresses and marketing to your subscriber list.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for customers to review your business on the Local search engines and other sites like CitySearch and InsiderPages

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Building a Hugely Profitable Blog

Posted by Steve Steurer on January 18, 2010

Three years ago, Fred Mwangaguhunga launched MediaTakeOut.com, a blog focusing on urban gossip that is beating similar sites run by much larger companies.

Read More…

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Happy New Year! Do you have a Marketing Plan?

Posted by Steve Steurer on January 6, 2010

 

Tried-and-true plus shiny-and-new

Business executives around the world are optimistic about next year, according to the “2010 Marketing Trends Survey” from StrongMail. Nearly nine in 10 plan to increase or maintain their marketing budgets, and one-half expect their customers to be spending more in the coming year.

Read More…

Louisville Web Designers

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The New Basics of Marketing

Posted by Steve Steurer on December 9, 2009

What you need to know about: websites, email, mobile phones, social networks, viral video, blogging.

The world of marketing is radically different than it was only a few short years ago. From viral video to text-message campaigns and avatar sales reps, marketing tools that only recently seemed rare and futuristic are quickly becoming commonplace.

They’re the New Basics.

Mainstream marketing was invented by big companies to convey simple messages to the masses. New marketing, in contrast, is about complexity and individuality. There are, for example, 100 million blogs worldwide. No matter how small the market for your products or services, one of those blogs probably serves it.

But though today’s marketers have more choices in terms of the tools they use to reach customers, their jobs aren’t getting any easier. With an explosion of new offerings, it’s hard to know when and how best to spend your marketing dollars. In compiling this report, Inc. looked for developments that are new and creative but also effective and affordable–and, of course, well suited to nimble, entrepreneurial companies. Use them creatively, and you just might transform your business

Read more at INC.com

Get started at Louisville Web Designers

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How to Jazz Up Your Website

Posted by Steve Steurer on December 4, 2009

By now, most companies have a website. But most companies probably aren’t making the most of it. Indeed, according to a survey of Inc. readers, most companies–some 29 percent–update their sites very infrequently, on a quarterly basis if at all.

If your company is typical, then, you probably see your website as a nice profit center–a tributary of additional sales that requires relatively low upkeep. Reid Carr would view that as a failure. Carr, founder of Red Door Interactive, a San Diego firm that advises companies, including Intuit and Buck Knives, on their online initiatives, says his clients are frequently hamstrung by low (or no) expectations. “Companies don’t see the Web as a true aspect of their business,” he says. “They aren’t benchmarking. They don’t try to drive more revenue.”

So how do you make sure your site is more than merely adequate? That can be tricky. Different website strategies are right for different kinds of companies, and a lot of buzzed-about applications are of dubious value. The good news is that you don’t have to be a technologist to make smart decisions. But you do have to ask the right questions, including:

Read more at INC.com

Contact Louisville Web Designers for help with your webste.

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Personal Branding – Sell Yourself the Steve Jobs Way

Posted by Steve Steurer on October 21, 2009

The Apple CEO is a master of marketing. Use his techniques to polish your personal brand.

By Carmine Gallo

FILED UNDER: Personal branding, Presenting, Value, Steve Jobs, Communications.

At your level, people expect a good presentation — including the interview.

Effective presentation skills will not only help you sell your ideas and products, but it will elevate your personal brand. Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “As you move one step up from the bottom, your effectiveness depends on your ability to reach others through the spoken and written word.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is considered one of the best presenters in the corporate world today. In my previous article on his lecturing skills and my new book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I reveal the tactics behind his famed “reality distortion field,” outlining the exact techniques that Jobs uses to engage his audience.

Whether you’re a CEO, manager, consultant, entrepreneur, business owner, professional – or especially, a job seeker – Steve Jobs has something to teach you.

Here are five ways to sell yourself or your brand the Steve Jobs Way.

Sell dreams.

Steve Jobs doesn’t sell computers. He sells “tools to unleash your creativity.” You see, nobody cares about your job search (product ); they care about themselves, their problems and their dreams. Tell them how you can help them reach their dreams, and you’ll have won a customer (or fan) for life.

When Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, he said that music transforms people’s lives and that in its own small way, Apple would be changing the world. Where most people saw an MP3 player, Jobs saw a better world.

How do you make the world a better place? How do you improve the lives of your customers? How will hiring you help a manager fulfill her dreams?

Don’t leave your listeners guessing.

Create Twitter-friendly headlines.

Steve Jobs has a one-sentence description — or vision — for every product he introduces.

  • What’s the MacBook Air? “It’s the world’s thinnest notebook.”
  • What’s an iPod? “It’s one thousand songs in your pocket.”

If you can’t explain yourself in 140 characters or fewer (a Twitter post), go back to the drawing board.

How would you describe the vision behind your personal brand? Long before I had Fortune 5 clients, I saw myself as “The communications coach for the world’s most admired brands.” In 61 characters, it gave my clients a reference point and gave me a vision to attain. Every product needs a vision — and so does every business professional.

Stick to the rule of three.

Most Steve Jobs presentations are divided into three parts. Neuroscientists are finding that humans think in “chunks” of three or four. Great presenters like Jobs don’t overload the brain with too many points. In media training, we coach executives to do the same: Stick to three main points they want to deliver in the course of an interview.

The same holds true for job interviews — stick to three main points that you want the recruiter to know about you and your experience.

  1. Introduce the three points early in the interview.
  2. Expand the points as the discussion unfolds.
  3. Summarize them at the end.

Strive for simplicity.

According to Steve Jobs, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Not only are Apple’s products simple, so is the way the CEO articulates the vision behind those products. For example, Steve Jobs’ presentation slides are remarkably free from clutter.

Your resume should be as well.

Strive for simplicity in oral communications and in presentation design.

Practice like crazy.

Steve Jobs makes presentations look effortless because he works at it. He spends hours and hours over many, many weeks rehearsing every segment of his keynote presentations. Jobs takes nothing for granted, and neither should you. Practice presentations out loud. Practice for job interviews as well. Have a friend sit across from you and ask you tough questions. Rehearse your responses.

Better yet, record yourself and watch it back. It might a painful exercise but well worth it!

One more thing … Do what you love.

 Steve Jobs revealed the secret to career success in a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. He said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” In this global economic crisis, many people are facing setbacks in their careers. Steve Jobs also faced setbacks but was convinced that the only thing which kept him going was the fact he had found his passion. Jobs once said his goal wasn’t to be the richest man in the cemetery; it was going to bed at night thinking he had done something wonderful.

Do something wonderful, and you’ll know real career success and satisfaction. And that’s the kind of manager employers would die for

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Getting Started with Disruptive Business Design

Posted by Steve Steurer on October 21, 2009

10:20 AM Monday October 19, 2009

John Sviokla The Near Futurist – Harvard Business Review

Oliver Yeh, a first-year Mechanical Engineering student at MIT, just successfully designed, launched and retrieved a camera 17.5 miles into the atmosphere and took 4,000 photos — at a cost of just $150.00! That’s probably less money than he will spend on his celebratory dinner.

Not only is this story inspirational to someone like me, who after millions and millions of miles in the air (no exaggeration) still sits glued to the window when I fly over Manhattan or the Grand Canyon, but it points out how the minimum efficient scale of doing fantastic things is getting orders of magnitude lower in some industries. This lower cost of entry can be magnified and accelerated when you have someone come to the design problem with an entirely new set of expectations.

Craig Newmark’s Craig’s List is estimated to have about $100,000,000 in revenue — with 30 employees. That’s $3.3 million per employee, and even if it costs $70,000,000 to run it (which it can’t), that’s a profit-per-employee of $1,000,000. (Compare that with Amazon’s profit-per-employee of approximately $30,000.) His model is so disruptive because he gives away all the ads except those for jobs, thereby turning what was once newspaper profits into what economists know as consumer surplus.

Now, there’s been a lot of interest in “disruption” ever since Clay Christensen did his pathbreaking work on The Innovator’s Dilemma, which chronicled how incumbent companies were upended by competitors or substitutes who arose from “lower” markets to create a new cost and demand base. Southwest Airlines did it in air travel, and Wal-Mart in retail. You know the story.

So what is the toolkit to create a disruptive design? Here are some ideas:

1. Simultaneously simplify a number of advantages together to create a new cost base.
When Southwest Airlines launched they flew only one aircraft — the Boeing 737. Today, they still have one aircraft. They have one class of service. They have simple fare strucutures. They sell direct to end customers. They go to the less frequented, second-tier airports. They have broad job descriptions and cross-train so that one person can do many jobs — including pilots handling luggage. The created radical simplicity by simplifying many dimensions. They are not the only business where complexity has stopped adding value. New, radically simple business models can be created in everything from financial services to healthcare.

2. Give away the other guy’s razor! Craig Newmark garnered dominant market share by giving away almost all the blades. Put more formally, every “two-sided market” has a vulnerability — and if you can enter by aiming at that vulnerability, you can win. In China, Google is now giving away MP3’s and sharing the ad revenue with the artists. Paid music is now all marketing promotion. In addition, at Wired magazine’s Disruptive by Design conference, a featured book was Chris Anderson’s Free.

3. Look for new, radically cheaper ways to do the job. Yeh used run-of-the-mill technology — cell phones, video cameras, and even a styrofoam cooler — to create a much cheaper design. Consumer technologies and on-demand services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk enable new business designs that could have a fraction of the cost to deliver the same services. Imagine a security company that was truly designed around the inexpensive, internet connected, monitoring equipment available today.

4. Think about leveraging a very few individuals with extraordinary talent. It is possible today for a small group of people to make a spectacular movie (think Pixar) or to manage billions in capital (think hedge-funds). Is there a way to create incredible value for your organization by leveraging the power of a small group across millions of consumers or billions of dollars?

One good way to get at these disruptive designs is to do what we at my firm call a “Fiercest Competitor Workshop,” which starts with the premise that you have been fired from your old organization but you have access to ample capital and talent. Your task is to design the fiercest competitor that could take the market from your old firm. In my experience when running these workshops, it takes people about an hour to get out of their old mindset — but when they do, they often design the most wonderfully dangerous potential competitors. No one knows their company’s vulnerability to a disruptive design better than their own employees.

It is the leader’s job to unlock this disruptive design potential so that it can be harnessed to help the incumbent make more money for its current shareholders, employees, and provide better surplus value to customers.

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Ways to use Facebook for business

Posted by Steve Steurer on October 15, 2009

Facebook’s not just for keeping tabs on friends and filling out quizzes — it can also be used as a highly effective business tool. It’s great for marketing your products, landing gigs and connecting with your customers.

Here are 32 ways to use Facebook in your business.

    Manage Your Profile
  1. Fill out your profile completely to earn trust.
  2. Establish a business account if you don’t already have one.
  3. Stay out of trouble by reading the Facebook rules regarding business accounts.
  4. Install appropriate applications to integrate feeds from your blog and other social media accounts into your Facebook profile. (Although you should be careful before integrating your Twitter feed into your Faceboook profile, as a stream of tweets can seem overwhelming to your contacts.)
  5. Keep any personal parts of your profile private through Settings

more…

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Help Wanted, Social Media Style

Posted by Steve Steurer on September 9, 2009

From: CNNMoney
Smaller-sized companies have turned to social media as a means of recruiting candidates for job openings. Social media tools offer less expensive, more efficient ways for these companies to find ideal applicants. However, there is still some disagreement over whether social media can supply all that face-to-face communication provides.

Read More…

Contact me at steve@smallbusinesslouisville.com for more ways to use technology to grow your small business.

Posted in Online Marketing, Social Networking, Web Design | Leave a Comment »

Reduce your travel budget with our new web event and online meeting tool

Posted by Steve Steurer on July 10, 2009

Interactive Media Lab a progressive multimedia laboratory in Louisville Kentucky specializing in the design and development of interactive, video and online solutions for businesses introduces a custom tool for streaming online meetings and web events. Increase your audience size while reducing your overall presentation costs. Make presentations in real time to unlimited customers, prospects and employees – wherever they are.

  • Set up Webinars quickly and easily with full support
  • Present anything from one locations to unlimited viewers
  • Present live with PowerPoint and Video
  • Integrated tools for remote audience response and questions

  For a demonstration click here http://demos.interactivemedialab.com/imlspc

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