Online Marketing Secrets: Driving Traffic to Your Website is Only the Beginning

Recently I received a question about driving traffic to a website in order to increase sales. Specifically, the question was, what do the “big boys” use to generate sales and leads on their sites? The big boys (and girls) like to use big advertising budgets of anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000 or more per month.

Like Online Marketing - Girl Studying Piano Learns Best with Instructor

Want to learn to play the piano? You'll be more successful with an instructor. Online marketing is the same. Hire a consultant if you want to do it right.

They spend this on traditional advertising, of course, like TV, magazines and newspaper ads. Online they spend their budgets on Google AdWords and other pay-per-click advertising, display advertising (graphical ads), search engine optimization, and professional graphic designers and “user experience” designers. They also spend good money on web analytics packages like Omniture, Webtrends, and the new Google Analytics Premium. In addition to their giant advertising budgets, they pay salaried employees and independent consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to plan, implement, manage and…  [ read more ]

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Using Footer Links for Search Engine Optimization

Footer Links on McBuzz.com - an easy way to boost Search Engine Opimization

Example of Footer Links on McBuzz.com: an easy way to boost Search Engine Opimization

Can you use links in the footer of your website to improve search engine rankings? If those footer links go to internal pages on your own website, the answer is absolutely yes.

I have read on some SEO sites that footer links are not as helpful to SEO as they once were. [ read more ]

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SEO Success with WordPress Presentation/Workshop in Seattle, July 7th

Google Analytics - Actionable Information and Results“SEO Success with WordPress: How to Use a Few Great Plugins and Tools to Make Money with Your WordPress Site” will be the topic of my free, live presentation & workshop at the July Seattle WordPress Meetup on Thursday evening, July 7th at TechStars in South Lake Union, Seattle at 6:30 PM.

UPDATE: July 8, 2011 – The slides for this SEO presentation are embedded below.

Here are the slides from the SEO presentation & workshop.

If you are a WordPress user – or even if not – you’ll learn how to set up your website to collect the essential information you need to find out whether your search engine optimization efforts are paying off.

For more information – including map and directions to TechStars – and to RSVP, visit the SEO Success with WordPress Presentation page on the Seattle WordPress Meetup site.

Here’s a summary of the presentation and workshop, which also appears on our Meetup.com website (link above). You do not need to be a Meetup.com user to attend, but do sign up if you would like to learn more about our very active and growing WordPress group for developers, designers, and users of every stripe, including great support for newbies. […] [ read more ]

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What is a Pingback and Why Should I Care? (Search Marketing 101)

What’s the definition of a pingback? Pingbacks are notifications you get from WordPress (and other similar blogging platforms) when someone links to a post on your blog.

Pingbacks and trackbacks (another form of linking between blogs) are important to search marketing because although many businesses use, or want to use, their blog for online marketing purposes, they usually have no [ read more ]

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Search Engine Optimization 101 – How to Choose Keywords: A Lesson from the Bayer Aspirin Marketing Team

Successful online marketers understand the need to talk about their products in terms customers recognize and respond to.

Search Engine Optimization 101 - Choosing Good Keywords - Low Dose Aspirin PackagingChoosing good keywords is hard – no matter what size your business is. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get my clients to see the importance of using language in their marketing materials – including their website – that they themselves wouldn’t necessarily use to talk about their products or services.

Sometimes C-level executives don’t like using words they feel have [ read more ]

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Search Engine Optimization for WordPress Tutorial Presentation

WordPress SEO – WordCamp Portland 2010 – Full-Length Video [ read more ]

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Link Building Strategy: Quality Over Quantity Every Time

Today Nichola Stott posted an excellent article on Link Building and Search Engine Optimization, When Link Loss Ain’t No Bad Thing, on Search Engine Watch.

I’m buying. Along with work by Eric Ward it’s one of the best posts I have read on link building in some time. The article is well-documented (at least I take the author at her word) and well-written.

The author recommends a strategy of developing quality links from legitimate sites rather than a large volume of links from sites that are much less obviously related to the focus of the site you are trying to optimize.

It’s particularly interesting that Stott says “Anchor text [in inbound links] isn’t the signal it once was.” I still think we should always try for good anchor text, but the point of the article is that engineered links are more obvious today than they once were, and that probably includes anchor text in inbound links.

Today Google has much more information at its disposal when it determines what a web page is about, so it doesn’t need to rely on anchor text as much, just as directories like Yahoo! and DMOZ used to have much more significance for search engine optimization. Still, all other things being equal, better anchor text is better SEO.

Here’s Google’s Maile Ohye saying very recently that anchor text in internal links will influence sitelinks.

So clearly Google still looks at anchor text for important clues about a page’s content.

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Search Engine Optimization and WordPress: Mark McLaren Speaking at WordCamp Portland 2010

Search Engine Optimization - Speaker WordCamp PortlandLast year’s WordCamp Portland was two full days of WordPress joy, and this year’s is going to be even better. Sure, Matt Mullenweg and Jane Wells were there – two people who are shaping the future of WordPress. And this year not only are they are coming back, but WordPress lead developer Mark Jaquith is coming along, too. So if you have a question or a request related to WordPress, there’s pretty much no doubt you’ll be able to have it addressed right there on the spot.

I will be speaking, as well. The topic is Search Engine Optimization and WordPress. This will not be the same SEO and WordPress presentation I gave at WordCamp Vancouver. The focus will be on keywords and the importance of links for search engine optimization.

Did I mention that WordCamp Portland also features awesome food – and BEER?! How many conferences, un- or otherwise, have you been to that have kegs of killer microbrew at the snack table? Right.

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Great Home Pages that Drive You to Take Action

NOTE: If you like this post, check out the follow-up: More Great Home Pages that Drive You to Take Action

Your website’s home page is the center of your online sales and marketing universe. Design your home page so that it compels users to take action – action that is perfectly aligned with your key business goals: Buy Now, Learn More, Subscribe, Follow, Like, Share.

Here are a few examples of home pages that do this well. If you know of others, share them here!

PipelineDeals

The PipelineDeals home page tells you everything you need to know about the service at a glance. There are no blocks of text for you to get hung up on, only links that act like headlines, actual headlines (“Simple & Powerful Tools for Your Sales Team”), bullets, key info and eye-catching stuff like “iPhone Edition” and “$15/mo.” . Blocks of text aren’t bad, necessarily, but if you are going to have them, optimize them for search engines and put them below the fold.

There’s an important relationship between a web page and the way that it’s listed in search results. For search engine optimization, you want to be sure to have a compelling “HTML page title tag”. The title tag should use keywords people actually use to search and that describe what the web page is about. On the PipelineDeals home page, the title tag looks like this:

<title>Sales Tracking and Online CRM Software – PipelineDeals is Simple CRM</title>

This is an excellent title tag. Great keywords at the beginning of the title tag, and a branding statement that contains the name of the business and a keyword (“Simple CRM”). PipelineDeals ranks well in Google for “sales tracking software” and it’s on page 2 of Google for “online crm software”, which is a competitive keyword. With a little more SEO work, they can get to page 1 for this keyword. Getting from page 2 to page 1 can be HUGE in terms of the amount of traffic: at least a 10-fold increase or more in some cases. Given that PipelineDeals is very near the top of page 2, this is a perfect example of low hanging fruit.

simple CRM - Google SearchSomething else to look for is the meta description tag, which, like the title tag, is not visible on the web page when viewed in a browser. It’s an important part of the HTML, though, and you can see it if you View > Source Code in your browser while you are on the page. The meta description is what shows under the HTML page title on search engine results pages. It has little to no impact on your search ranking. Instead, it’s an opportunity to use a pitch that reads like ad copy to get people to click and go to your site. If a page doesn’t have a description, Google makes one for you using text it finds on the page. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not. Here’s the PipelineDeals description.

<meta name=”description” content=”Sell more today with PipelineDeals. Organize, track and manage your deals, leads and contacts in our affordable online CRM, sales tracking and lead organization software. (866) 702-7303″ />

This description is cut off at 151 characters when shown in Google SERPs. So it looks like:

“Sell more today with PipelineDeals. Organize, track and manage your deals, leads and contacts in our affordable online CRM, sales tracking and lead …”

This is pretty good “ad-like” copy, but it would be more effective if it were cut to 160 characters or less. Finish that thought!

jobfully search marketingJobfully
This home page sports a great headline: “Jobfully. A Revolutionary Job Site for Today’s Job Seekers.”

Nice look and feel, too. Video is front and center. Do you think the video does what it should to compel users to action?

Here’s the HTML title tag for the home page: <title>Jobfully</title>
This title tag is good for one thing: people searching for the word “Jobfully”, otherwise it’s useless, a major missed opportunity. Compare it to the PipelineDeals title tag.

Room for improvement:
In terms of SEO, there is a lot of room for improvement on the home page, and throughout the site. HTML title tags on every page all nearly as weak as that on the home page, and every page on the site lacks a meta description tag, including the home page.

If users want more information about the three parts of the Jobfully value proposition (productivity suite, coaching and community) they should be able to click the eye-catching icons to read more. The testimonials are intended to be read as more information about each of these areas, but no one reads testimonials when they are this long and dense. Instead of long testimonials, the home page needs short, compelling “ad-copy”-style text. Not only that, real testimonials lack the keyword focus that is needed on a home page.

Another SEO principle that could be put to use here is to link from the home page to internal pages on the site. These internal pages should focus on – and be search engine optimized for – each of the three parts of the value proposition.

It’s also vital to use actual HTML text in the three boxes, with words like “job search productivity suite” being used as “anchor text” in links to their respective internal pages. Right now that “text” is literally a part of the image that’s used for the box. It’s essentially invisible to search engines. Even if the boxes themselves were  links, this would not be nearly as effective for SEO as actual text links.

gist search marketingGist
Great look and feel. Love the giant yellow “Sign Up” button.

<title>Gist – Connected People Change History</title>
Catchy HTML title tag, but there are no keywords in it, nor does it say what Gist does. Missed opportunity here on several counts.

<meta name=”Description” content=”Gist provides the only full view of the contacts in your professional network by creating a rich business profile for each one that includes the most news, status updates, and work details.”/>
This description is better than the old completely generic description that was there a few months ago: “A startup focused on delivering real user value and rapidly iterating based on customer input.”
However, the new one is 188 characters. It will be cut off at 160 or less. It needs to be succinct and compelling.

If you have ideas about what makes an effective home page, or you agree or disagree with any of this, I’d love to hear it.

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5 Tips for Better Search Engine Optimization with WordPress

On June 12, I had the great pleasure of presenting at WordCamp Vancouver. Duane Storey and the rest of the organizers did an awesome job. The conference was a big hit. If you get the chance, definitely check it out next year.

My presentation was called “Get Found Easier and Grow Your Business: 5 Tips for Better Search Engine Optimization with WordPress”. Thirty minutes is just about enough time to get through the essentials of SEO for WordPress, although I’m sure it could be a two-hour presentation without too much trouble.

Half of the time does not involve using WordPress! I do a quick overview of what a keyword is, how to pick a good keyword, how to check your initial search ranking, and, after optimizing, how to see if your optimization efforts had any effect!

Understanding keywords is absolutely critical to search optimization, but it’s not often talked about in a way that most people can get. This is going to have to change as more businesses use WordPress and other CMS solutions for websites and then decide that they need to do their own SEO.

The 5 Tips for Better SEO are spelled out in the presentation slide deck below. They are also available in PDF form here (right click and select “Save Target As…” or “Save Link As…” to download).

5 Tips for Better Search Engine Optimization with WordPress (PDF)

At the end of the slides and the PDF, there are links to SEO Plugins, Tools and Resources. If you would like the .pptx file of  the presentation – including the Notes – contact me.

Here are the 5 Tips for Better Search Engine Optimization with WordPress in case you want a quick overview:

Tip #1 : Use keywords in your HTML page title

Tip #2 : Write a page description that makes people want to read more (include keywords)

Tip #3: Customize permalinks

Tip #4 : Use keywords in the visible page

Tip #4 continued: Make content “sticky”, useful, a resource

Tip #5: Links

•Inbound Links are the Number One Search Ranking Factor
(and #2, #3, #5)  according to seomoz.org
•External Links
•Internal Links
•Use keywords in link text
•Use inbound link tools

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