If we’re marketing online, then I think the goal should be simple. We should strive to always be proud to be googled. After awhile of building an online presence, we have bios and profiles posted all over the web.
Not only that, somewhere our tweets live on – even if Google isn’t indexing them anymore. Wherever we’ve commented on blogs, it’s there to be served up in response to simple queries that include our names, our urls, our companies and any other identifiers or keywords that pull up something we’ve posted or contributed to online.
The fun of marketing online – and what keeps me writing blog posts at the end of the work-a-day – is that you never know where what you put into the cyber world will end up. It’s exciting!
The whole history of my career in PR and online marketing is on the Web. Press releases for clients. Milestones in my agency. Columns I write. Blog posts. Comments here and there. Guest posts. Media coverage.
It doesn’t matter one iota what I say about myself. Everything I’ve done is there to be found, there to be seen by anyone who types my name or company name into a search field. It provides credibility. She says she writes columns? Oh yes. There’s her column.
Whenever I post something online, I say to myself, “If I tell someone to google me and this comes up in the SERPs, how will I feel about it? What will it say about me to someone who doesn’t know me and is thinking of hiring me?”
My clients and I are building our businesses on the web. None of us is perfect and we may all exercise an occasional lack of judgment about something we post. It can happen.
But why not build our online personae in a way that is both authentic and that we can be proud of…that we can say, “Here’s my bio, but if you want the bigger picture, google me!”
By the way…follow the link if you’re interested in how Inbound Marketing can generate online leads.
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In the past, if you wanted a new website – or to redesign an existing one – the first step was to find a web design firm. This was fine when your website was an online brochure.
Today, if you make your first concern the design and look/feel of your site, you’re missing valuable opportunities to use the web project to refine or redefine your business focus, to add new business lines – and to get found.
A marketing/business consultant is well suited to help you in this effort and is a prudent first stop. Getting an outside eye on your business and online marketing can yield fresh ideas about how you can use your web presence to grow.
Then find a good design/web development firm capable of implementing your brand identity and web strategy, offering technical advice, and organizing your content for usability. Your marketing consultant will undoubtedly be able to help you source the right partner.
Here are 20 steps to structuring a website project to maximize business growth:
1. Review and audit your current marketing, as well as new marketing approaches you’d like to add.
2. Be able to articulate, “What’s our business?”
3. Do a lot of competitive research. Look at other sites. See what your competitors are doing or not doing. A good consultant will come up with ways that you can leap-frog them with your expanded web presence. (Tip: SEO utilizing current best practices provides fertile soil for growth. Most businesses simply aren’t doing it, or doing it right.)
4. Be sure to answer the question: “Are there any new products, services or offerings related to our core business that we can and should add?”
5. Make sure you’re focused on the right customer.
6. Identify your market positioning.
7. Think out of the box to identify all stakeholders and key influencers.
8. Interview a few of them
9. Develop your key messages – the most important ideas you want to convey consistently to your audiences.
10. Do your keyword research – identify the words/phrases people are actually using to search on line for products/services like yours. (Hint: Not necessarily the words you’d use to search for them).
11. Organize your site by developing a sample navigation. Be sure to include a blog if you want to drive maximum traffic to your site. Have your consultant recommend internal linking strategies to help users work efficiently through your site.
12. Decide: What existing content can be re-used? What content should be scrapped? What new pages do you need to develop?
13. Determine the level of control you want or need to have over your website. What edits do you want to be able to make in-house without tech assistance. We recommend having as much control as possible if you want to use your website to help grow your business.
14. Source a web designer/developer who works in technology platforms that will accommodate the level of control you desire.
15. Provide the navigation and all the guidance you’ve developed in completing the steps above to your web developer. It will help them prepare a realistic budget.
16. Write/develop the content for all of your pages – including all SEO information for each page, any photos, videos and other media you’ll want to use – and provide the content to the web developer.
17. Get into the design process and have fun with the visual.
18. Code the site in accordance with the provided SEO, content and linking strategies. In the case of website re-do’s, make sure to properly re-direct existing pages and to retain important backlinks to the site.
19. Test and tweak for usability.
Emphasizing business and marketing strategy first in the web development process has never failed to yield new directions for our clients’ businesses.
The illustration “Dollar Sign in Space” is by DonkeyHotey under Creative Commons license.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Dow fell more than 500 points today. Bad news was exuding from every media outlet. I had an opportunity to get some perspective on it in my weekly networking group meeting from members who are highly sophisticated financial experts.
Then I came home, shared some conversation with my neighbor on her garden swing, pulled a bunch of weeds that have been bothering me while thinkingabout what my blog topic would be for today. Relaxing and getting still allowed me to realize what was concerning me – and probably you, too.
When markets go crazy and economies are shaky and there’s less business to go around, we can’t help but think about how we’ll compete for what business there is. This has been on my mind for some time and brought to the forefront by today’s events.
Bottom line, I’ve decided not to worry about who else is competing for a piece of the online/inbound marketing pie. Instead, I’m working on my own story. Thinking harder about what I bring to the table that will have value for my clients and that I can speak powerfully about to prospects. I’m thinking about my strengths – what I really do better than anyone I’ve encountered.
Then I’m evaluating my lighter abilities — what I fully understand but need partners to execute well.
And I’m working on my messaging so that I can communicate clearly and effectively. That includes listening and testing… talking to as many people as I can find who are willing to offer feedback as I hone my messages.
I’m asking myself:
- Are my offerings aligned with the needs of my client/prospect?
- Is my language completely understandable, or too jargon-y?
- Am I creating enough curiosity that people will be willing to stick around and learn more?
- Am I explaining my services so that the benefits and value come through loud and clear?
- Am I being human enough to connect and credible enough to build trust?
I believe that refocusing my energies on being as meaningful as possible to my market is my competitive edge.
How are you dealing with the competitive and business realities of the current economic environment?
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I’ve been thinking about the learning and teaching cycle.
When I first started this blog, I was an inbound marketing neophyte, just starting to transition my communications practice from traditional PR to an array of online services. At the time I was acutely aware of being a student and sought teachers and mentors.
Ironically, I was moving from a place where I was highly competent and knowledgeable and where I was teacher and mentor to interns who sought me out and went on to make it in the business. Stepping into their shoes turned out to be an exciting and energizing experience.
Today, I’m still a student because there’s always something new to learn. And I love being engaged in learning. It’s stimulating. But almost three years into this transition, with a body of good work to point to in my new service areas, I’ve begun to feel credible as a teacher again – even moreso with my new knowledge and skills integrated into my earlier experience.
It’s a good thing, too, because businesses still need a great deal of education in order to begin taking advantage of the powerful marketing tools available to them. Teaching is so gratifying because it reveals to us just how much we’ve learned and can apply to helping our clients. It also clearly points the direction to our next student stint.
The cycle of knowing and needing to learn keeps us moving productively into the future. What are you learning and teaching?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Yesterday and today many of my fellow bloggers in the social media/online marketing space were abuzz about Google+. I was contemplating whether to add my slightly informed two cents to the discussion when I opened my browser. The home page is the New York Times and there, in a banner ad, one day after Google+ launched, was an invitation to demo the also new Google Voice for the desktop.
I was so excited! Google Voice on my Droid is a great fave. It’s so much easier to speak my queries than to try to type them into the tiny browser pane on a phone – especially sitting at red lights. Granted voice search on mobile can be tricky at times, but what the mike hears – compared to what you’re actually searching for can be amusing – if not downright laugh-worthy.
Thinking about it for a moment, I wasn’t sure that voice search would be as valuable at my desk, since the typing thing isn’t as challenging as on mobile. It probably won’t help in multi-tasking as I can’t interrupt a phone call to speak search terms into a mike, but nonetheless I decided to give it a try right away.
All I needed for my demo was the latest version of the Google Chrome browser, which I already have downloaded and which I use sometimes – not always. When I do use it, I’m always bemused by the fact that the Start Internet button on Chrome has the MSN butterfly logo and when you click it, it brings up a big Bing search window. Is this Google generosity? I don’t know.
Anyhow, the instructions for demo-ing Google Voice were to go to Google.com, make sure your microphone is on and click on the microphone icon in the search pane.
I decided to test drive voice search with a search for the restaurant where I’m meeting a friend later. I didn’t remember the full name but we call it by the abbreviation, Sails. It’s named for the boating community of RowaytonConnecticutwhere it’s located. Can you see what’s coming??
After I clicked the mike icon, the ‘Speak Now’ thingy (the high tech name for it of course) activated and I said “Sails Rowayton.”
The results came up with variations on: Sales in Rowayton andNorwalk.
OK. Time to adjust. So I tried again with ‘Sails Restaurant Rowayton.”
Again I got a lot of stuff around Sales and some restaurant related results.
Then I thought that maybe it’s ‘Sails Grille’ so I tried that and Bingo! (not Bing Oh) I got results for “Sails American Grille Rowayton CT”
How funny that my first experience with Google Voice involved homonyms – sound alike/different meanings for the non-English majors. That’s trial by fire in my book. So I decided to try a less challenging search: “Norwalk Movies.”
A second after the sounds left my throat, there were the times of all the movies we might want to see after dinner at Sails. My typing-weary fingers said ‘Thank You” and fortunately Google Voice didn’t hear them and start a new search.
I don’t how useful it will ultimately be, but I kind of like speaking to the voice searcher at my desk – more than I like speaking to the devil women in voicemail menu hell. I have to admit that I actually yell at them sometimes.
I experience the voice searcher as a more generous entity, trying to help me find what I want without controlling me. We’ll get to know each other better and I’ll get better at figuring out how to get what I need from our ‘conversation.’ Maybe I’ll stick a note in Google’s suggestion box that they should hire Watson for the job. He’ll get the context and nuance. That’ll probably be the new Google launch next week.
Stay tuned. What’s your favorite new Google release?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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