People use the internet to find goods and services they want. They search by using words or phrases that they think will give them the results they want. If they are hungry they may type “best burritos near me.” Near me is a common phrase used in searching. Or if they want to renovate their kitchen they might type “best kitchen contractor in (name of their city)”. It is common for people to specify their city as well.
On-page SEO is the practice of using the common keywords and phrases for your products and services in your website. The fewer number of keywords you have on a page, the faster it will rank highly. A modern website has very specific pages for each product or service, these are designed to convert leads into customers. When done properly, this will help your pages be found when people perform searches on search engines like Google. Bing, Yahoo, YouTube.
How is it done is:
Keyword research is part science, part art and part experience - first you need to find the keyword/phrases that people are actually searching with on Google for the product/service you offer.
The Google AdWords Keyword research tool is one of the best tools to use. Professional consultants have many other more sophisticated tools at their disposal but I like to always check with the Google tool to validate my research.
Once you decide on your keywords you can search on the search engines using these keywords. Companies that show up in the search results are your competitors. Professionals also have tools to see what other keywords your competitors are using. They can even show you how you and each of your competitors rank for each keyword.
Now that you have your keywords you need to write/rewrite your website content ensuring that these keywords are in the content in a natural way. Once the keywords
are in the content at a particular keyword density, the page is more likely to be found for those keywords. Generally, 1 keyword/page is the target. You should also add images with names/titles matching those keywords.
Many of the factors that determine how pages are shown in search engine results are unseen. I have seen many beautiful web pages that did not show very well in search results and thus didn’t receive as many visits as they could. Now that you have taken care of your website content it is time to add the secret sauce.
This involves setting up “metadata” (behind the scenes information that people do not see when viewing the page). Only the search engines look at this information. Typically this is a summary of the content of the page, again keyword focused.
This also involves optimizing how links are posted on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn. Any good report will tell you the secret to successful writing is “don’t bury the lead.” The “lead” is the hook, it tells in very few words what the content is about. “Man runs into burning house to save a baby” Without this work, google and social media sites will show the first few sentences (usually truncated mid-sentence) of content... not ideal (...and usually with no image or a random image from the page). You can and should setup your web pages so they show up how you intended, not with random, unoptimized text/images.
The first rule to remember is “it’s not about you.” In the 70s and 80s advertising was all about what we wanted our customers to know. People had no choice - they had to listen. With the advent of the internet and PVR’s, advertising became voluntary... people can choose not to listen. Today advertising and content needs to be written based on what customers want to know, or what they are interested in. Content now is all about benefits not features. Also, split testing is critical, if you have sufficient traffic volume you need to try different versions of content to test which content works best. By applying what you learn, redesigned content helps ensure maximum a visitor -> conversion ratio (from a lead to a client).
Note that SEO and PPC Pay-Per-Click are not the same thing... many companies claim that they can get your on page 1 of google super-fast... they are using PPC, they are not using SEO. Problem here is - as soon as the PPC campaign ends, everything stops.
Do you have 20 minutes to work ON your business instead of IN your business?
If so, reading this article will give you hands on tips to double your sales.
In his fantastic book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, Chet Holmes (the late Marketing Guru), wrote about a strategy called Best Buyer, which he calls the “fastest, least expensive way for doubling sales.” This article is an adaptation of that strategy for small-medium sized businesses (SMBs) that serve their local community.
Before we get into the meat of it, lets quickly review the market for your product/service at any given time (see image to the right).
These numbers have been proven many times over. That means your direct sales efforts are only addressing that top 3% that are ready to buy now. Consider the immense amount of money and energy that is spent weeding out the 97% that aren't ready to buy now. There is a better way.
Here's the Best Buyer strategy in a nutshell: There is always a smaller number of ideal buyers (clients) vs all buyers. Most of your efforts should be directed towards going after your Dream 10 clients in a direct, hard way.
Who are your Dream 10 clients? These are the top 10 (or 20 or 30) potential clients in your area that would bring you enough business to keep you happily operating with no other clientèle. These are the big players that, individually, will bring you a lot of business.
A few examples of Dream 10 clients:Pest Control: Hotel, restaurant chain, or condo/apartment complex owners/landlords Physiotherapist: Workers union, hospital or a retirement home Driving School: College, high school or YMCA Travel Clinic: Travel agency, airline, passport photo shop Countertop Refinishing: Apartment Landlord, landlord association
Take a few minutes and consider who are your ideal clients, your Dream 10 that could bring you the most business.
First, you’ll need to develop a Core Story for your business. In our online course, Local Marketing Using the Internet and Social Media, we've created an 8 minute video outlining how to create a Core Story. That particular video from the course is free, so you don’t need to buy the course to watch it. Just click on it and learn how to prepare your own Core Story. This is *key* because your Core Story will appeal to 100% of your target audience, not just the 3% ready to buy now.
Once you have your Core Story, you'll want to create an “Executive Briefing” based on it, which is education-based marketing teaching valuable information to your Dream 10, which you will then advertise it as a "Free Report" to your Dream 10 clients. This advertising will be a combination of physical mailings, PPC advertising, email and phone calls. You are targeting your report to the owner/top person at your Dream 10 company, not an operations manager, or other middle management that won’t be able to pull the trigger on your proposal. You want to get the decision maker that doesn't need to ask someone else to make a decision on the phone. Either they call you responding to an ad, mailing or email about the free report or you call them to offer it. Some examples:
How to get the decision maker on the phone:
Using pay-per-click ads you advertise the free report resulting in one of your dream 10 calling
You call your Dream 10 top-level person and say something like, “Hi, Jer here from Coutts Pest Control. We've recently commissioned a fantastic free report on the Top 5 Reasons Hotels in Oshawa Are Under-Occupied. Are you interested in decreasing your vacancy rate? (of course). Well, that’s where we can help.”
You eMail or snail mail (physical mail) a short letter saying something like:
RE: Hotels in Oshawa Are Under-Performing
It’s a fact that hotels in Oshawa are performing much poorer than they should be. Here are the facts:
- there are 5% fewer occupants year over year
- the average hotel has a vacancy of 25% of all of it’s rooms on any given day
We've put together a fantastic Executive Briefing on the Top 5 Reasons Hotels in Oshawa Are Under-Occupied. Call us at 905-444-4444 to receive this report (note - these facts would need to be accurate and pulled from part of your core story).
Now you may need to follow up many times to get the decision maker on the phone and get them to receive the report. It may take months to get to actually talk with your Dream 10 contact. Be persistent and don’t give up. Some marketers have called every week for 6 months or longer before finally getting the Dream 10 person on the phone. Get creative and alternate phone, email, physical mailing. Mailing them trinkets so you stand out, or various techniques that can get you noticed.
For example, you could send the following letter to a Dream 10 client along with a dollar-store stop-watch:
Every second that you do not get our free Executive Briefing, The Top 5 Reasons Hotels in Oshawa Are Under-Occupied”, you are losing money.
This Executive Briefing has more than $3 million in research; boiled down to a bullet style, fast-paced fantastic education on how to increase business in this scary period of rising competition and decreasing tourism.
Call for your free Executive Briefing today.
The clock is ticking and you’re losing money."
Call, mail, email that same person something different again and again and again (every other week) until you get their business. The Digital Marketing People can work with you to brainstorm ideas on your local marketing efforts and help strategize with you about how to reach your Dream 10.
The idea with the multiple calls, emails and mailings is to get your Dream 10 client to go from:
I never heard of this company, to:
Who’s this company I've been hearing about, to:
I think I've heard of that company, to:
Yes, I've heard of that company, to, ultimately:
Yes, I do business with that company.
You should plan this campaign strategy of mailing and calling about 6 months in advance so you have everything you need calendared and ready to go. (You don’t want to get stuck 3 months down the road and give up and/or run out of inexpensive trinkets to send as part of your creative mailing.
You can apply this same Best Buyer/Dream 10 strategy to affiliates. An affiliate is a business that is not competitive that has the same clientèle as you'd like that you have also sell your products/services for you. The business could be complementary or completely unrelated. For example:A Pest Control company might develop an affiliate relationship with a local Hone Hardware store that sells mouse traps and other pest control products. When someone buys that product, they could include a brochure of the local Pest Control company - and perhaps get 5% of sales. A Physiotherapist might create a relationship with a sporting good store or pharmacy who sells braces and exercise equipment and partner with them to offer free in-store clinics which will bring more customers to both the sporting goods store and result in new long-term clients for the Physiotherapist A Driving School may establish a relationship with a video game store and offer a 5% discount to anyone who buys a car racing game.
So, you're Dream 10 may be affiliates and you'll want to use these strategies to get in contact with them and develop a Core Story around how, say, braces can cause further injury if used incorrectly.
Once you actually get your Dream 10 contact on the phone, say something like this:
"Hi, so you’re looking for the free report? Let me tell you how we deliver the report. It’s got $3 million worth of research in it and its over 700 pages of data. We know you’re not going to read 700 pages of research, so we've reduced this down to a fast-paced, stream-lined, graphically illustrated, fantastic Executive Briefing that we can deliver to you in just 32 minutes right in the comfort of your own office. As a matter of fact, I am on a tour right now, I'm going to be seeing all the other Hotel Owners just like you in the area and so, we’d like to get you set you up with that."
Note that at no time have you mentioned anything about what your business is about. This is a strategy about educating them, not a sales tactic. If they ask what business you are from, be completely honest and say something like "I'm from Oshawa Pest Control. We've found it’s in our best interest to make sure that hotel owners such as yourself are maximizing their business because we end up getting a lot of preventative maintenance business when your hotel is running full-steam, so we've taken the time to compile this information and deliver it for free to help ensure you're operating at full-capacity."
Keep in mind that the numbers used in this example ($3 million dollars and 700 pages of data) are based on the research used to create your Core Story. For example, when you pull together your Core Story, you may use information gathered from a statistics agency that may have spent $400,000 to gather information on hotel occupancy in general, which you can then apply to your city. All in all, once you've gathered all of the data for your Core Story, it likely adds up to millions of $$$ worth of data, and the raw stats would be easily 700 pages.
Make sure your Core Story is ready to go. You can give a brochure and go through it with them, deliver a webinar, or simply present the information live. Make sure you are WELL PRACTISED at delivering the Executive Briefing. Role-play and practise until you deliver it VERY well.
Remember you are not selling a product in this strategy, you are delivering education that establishes you as an expert.
The Executive Briefing will touch on 1 or 2 of the points that cover your product/service. When the briefing is over and you have established yourself as an expert, having driven home the need for what you offer, ask for their business and handle any objections at that point.
The Digital Marketing People can help you with this process as we specialize in helping you market your local business to your community.
At the beginning of every month I take a full day away from hands-on web marketing, SEO and advertising to create client reports. The reporting is mostly automated and it certainly doesn't take a whole day to simply create a PDF for my clients, but giving the right information that helps them judge my efficacy makes all the difference... and it keep my accountable.
Having heard of many web marketing agencies who are not so transparent, we decided that the only way to properly serve our clients and keep them loyal is to be actually helping them grow their business. That means we are very clear about what we're doing on their behalf including the money being spent on advertising and our overhead. While most of our clients don't have access to Google AdWords (because they just want us to handle it - they don't want to navigate the interface) I send them monthly screenshots of their ad behaviour and spending. They know exactly how much was spent and what we charge for managing that spending.
We also offer insights into the analytics. We present the raw numbers, including charts, but then we help interpret them so they have meaning and suggest next steps to improve conversion, click through and overall business growth.
In some ways I dread the client report day - because its somewhat tedious and sometimes I discover that I'm not performing as well as I plan to -- that that motivates me to take quick action to improve. What I really love is when I discover that I'm doing WAY better than I expected and the numbers show it.
In the end, a client who knows what I'm doing is a happier client because at the end of the day, I don't want them to question whether the money they spend for my services is worth it. They know it's worth it because these reports show them the facts... and this allows them to make better business decisions, including if they should increase spending on the web channel, which always has such growth potential!
And there are many great articles about it. The only way to consistently improve a website (as defined by having visitors complete some kind of goal, such as filling out a form, purchasing, etc.) is to split test.
Split testing is where you have your existing webpage, then you take your knowledge and experience and change something in hope that it will convert better. Then you setup an experiment or test where some visitors see the original page and some see the new variation, and you gather statistics about how many people complete the goal your set. When you figure out which variation works best you drop the loser and use only the winning page. Then you set up a new test. This way you are constantly improving things with real data.
There's no good way to predict what will work and what won't without testing. Every audience and website are different. Data driving decision making is the only true way to consistently make conversion improvements.
Here's a video I made for my clients showing how a split test works.
I love this quote because it show how when we stop thinking about and talking about ourselves, and looking at other people and how we can better serve them, only then are we able to take ourselves to the next level. We've been using that phrase a lot recently... "Take your business to the next level." I think in order to do that it requires a new stage of understand - of how to position your business and yourself in a way that is not coming across as "markety" or pushy or all about you. When you truly look at other with a genuine interest in improving their lives with your products and services, your business will succeed like never before.
This is just common sense, but often just a platitude... something we all recognize as true and say, but few actually do it. It's time we started actually doing it.
I've been experimenting with one of the Facebook pages I run, Best In Oshawa.
Everyday, I aggregate what's going on in the city and post a summary of what's happening to keep locals informed about local events/activities. Those regularly get a reach of about 600-700. They are just text with links to the event details - nothing fancy. That happens 3 times/day, one in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and one in the evening (that summarizes what happening the next day).
From time to time, I also post a short status about my clients' products/services so those of the 3% looking for that particular thing will have top-of-mind-awareness (TOMA). Those posts get maybe 200+ reach.
Also, from time to time, I'll post a funny picture - just a random funny picture, not even from the Oshawa. Although those get liked and shared more often than the event/activity statuses, they usually only get 400-500 reach. Seems Facebook has been bumping up the reach of just plain text posts.
Here's the interesting part. I've been experimenting with posting "True Oshawa Facts"... images from the local area with simple text on them (create using memegenerator.net). These status have been getting HUGE likes and shares... and reach. For example, this post (shown on the right), has reached more than 23,000 people (and comments and like are still trickling in weeks later)! Other local "True Oshawa Facts" are regularly getting 2000+ reach.
When people can really relate/resonate with a post, be it text or image, the interaction and reach goes way up. If you're looking to boost the reach of your posts, try something local and something people can identify with. It's been working great for us.
It's entitled: 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook
Wow - sooo many people do these things, me included I'm sure. We all hate it when other people do these things, but at the same time we are guilty of doing of them ourselves.
If you want to be a good citizen on Facebook, *ESPECIALLY* as you are acting on behalf of your business, be sure to always have your friends/public/clients in mind when you post and don't post for self-gratification. Often, that simply means conveying the same idea with slightly different words.
Instead of: "I had a wonderful day today - made $500!", try "We gained SO many great new clients today - awesome". That makes it about them instead of you.
I think you get the idea... always make it about the other person, not you. Then you'll have much better interaction and success online!
As this image illustrates... product engineers tend to communicate about their products from the eyes of a designer, scientist. They want to tell you all of the features, specific points that you need to know about to convince you how great the product is intrinsically. The problem is... no one cares how great the product is... people care about themselves and how a product benefits them
Business owners view the product from the perspective of how their company can serve you and why you'd want to do business with them. They tend to talk about their product and their company and how great it is. The problem is... no one cares about the company... people care about themselves and how a product benefits them.
Marketers understand that people care about how a product will benefit them. The message is not about product features or about the company, its about how it makes people feel and what needs/urges the product will satisfy. Its all about how the product/service will benefit the person.
Marketers think about communication differently and getting into that mindset is very challenging for business owners and product engineers. You should ALWAYS have a marketer develop the communication about your product/service. If you are an engineer or business owner, no matter how skilled you are at speaking, persuading, English, etc., you won't think like a marketer - and it's that thinking that sells your product/service.
For more information on creating a communicating from the perspective of customer benefits, see our course on Udemy.
Most web sites are not set up for conversion. They give information, and talk a lot about how great their company is, but that's not what a potential customer want to see. All buying decisions are emotional - even those who pour through statistics and features still, in the end, make their decision based on a gut feel. Your job as a business is to convince potential customers (and existing customers) that you are "THE" business to go with. You do that by talking about benefits to the user, not features or your product. Make it all about the customer, not your business. You develop a core story that uses compelling information and sets you up as an expert. This builds trust and makes the emotional decision to go with you much simpler.
When people search for information, it is usually in the form of a specific query, not a generic one. When users search for something specific or click on an ad for a specific product they land on your website. That means you need a large number of "landing pages" that are targeted to convert that user searching for that product/service. Don't have them land on your more generic home page. Create specific landing pages that are designed to convert. Make it easy for them to contact you. Yes, you'll end up with a bunch of specific pages, but in the end, those individual pages will be more targeted, specific and conversion oriented, whereas your home page is usually not.
For more information on creating a core story and landing pages, see our course on Udemy.
You can imagine my surprise so I quickly took action and updated the sitemap URL. Since nothing else had really changed, I decided to track the Alexa rank as Google picked up the sitemap. The graph to the right shows the progress over 30 days. The change was HUGE! Clearly, sitemaps sitemaps make a very big difference to how a website is reached.
Make sure you have a proper sitemap in place. If you are using a CMS (Content Management System) like Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal there are plugins that automate the sitemap generation. The plugins are easy to use will really help your website's exposure.
424 pages. Exam was 91 questions and 120 minute time limit.
I took the test in the afternoon - used 1 hour of the 2 hour time limit and got 93%. Not bad... and by the end of the exam realized which questions I had made mistakes on. Afterwards I realized that there are 2 other exams to take.Google Display Network Advanced Google Search Network Advanced
So, I'll slowly work my way through those too.
More importantly, had a team meeting today and decided how we're going to add PPC spending to our existing clients without increasing their current payments - a great resolution for our clients! Both of the directors (myself (Eric) and Kevin) already had the same numbers in mind, so the decision was easy.
Since a large part of our service is promoting our clients via social media, we also formalized a budget for growing our Facebook fan base that will grow with our clients.
Feeling optimistic about being able to drive more traffic to our clients - starting on Monday I'll be contacting each client to inform them of the change, get their goals and setup Adwords campaigns for them. Since they are all new Adwords users, they all get a bonus of $300 of spend for only $100 using Google Partner coupons (thanks Google!).
We've been focusing mainly on social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) for our clients. In the end, it results in being found easily in searches and leads from social media... just not enough.
Although we are charging less than any competitor for what we are doing, we are working mainly with small businesses who watch their spending very closely - every dollar counts. The work we've been doing, while extremely valuable, is more along the lines of brand management, but our clients want ore direct sales techniques. That's where pay-per-click (PPC) advertising comes in. PPC is a direct advertising technique with a better chance of delivering a sale. As you can see from this heat map image, most of the click happen at the top of the page where the ads are. I want to believe that people don't pay attention to ads so much, but the reality is different.
I've been experimenting with our own local PPC campaign while studying the Adwords Fundamentals Certification guide. There's a lot to it. I know it will deliver better results for our clients if we add this to the mix, I'm just worried that it will take much longer to setup/monitor the PPC campaigns (in addition to what we are already doing) and thus we won't be able to do it all for a low price that's attractive for small businesses. Time to experiment with a pricing model that works for both us and our clients!
Plus I need to finish that certification guide and take the test... but the manual is so boring :)