Put Your Website to Work

Your website is just as important as your social media and mobile marketing.

Quick service restaurants online presence extends beyond just social media.
THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM

Q:I’m thinking about updating my website soon. Anything I should know for that process?

A:With social media and mobile being so prominent in the marketing landscape these days, many people have stopped tending to their websites. But your website can continue to play a critical role in your company’s marketing and communications strategies. The way it plays that role, however, needs to change.

To best understand your website’s new role, consider the following contrasts between what a website might have been in the past and what a site is when it’s at its best today. Here are six comparisons between what a great website is and is not today:

1. Your website is not just another marketing and communications tactic—it is the hub of all those activities. With a growing mix of earned or paid media in your marketing toolbox, it’s important to maximize the value of owned media like your website.

Consider your site as the clearinghouse for all other online activity. Design your site so that people can use it to access your social media accounts, apps, newsletters, ads, pages on review sites, deals, and other content that may be on other channels. And to the extent you are able, use URLs, QR codes, and links on those other media and channels to direct users to your site so they can access more information and engage in different ways. By integrating all your efforts, you provide people more options to learn about and engage with your brand, which, in turn, produces greater reach and relevance.

2. Your website is not an ad—it is a vehicle for two-way communications. If you are using your website simply to push outbound messages, you are only utilizing half of its capabilities. Your site can be used to collect valuable information about your customers. By using cookies and analytics, which are readily available through Google Analytics, you can glean data that can be used to develop useful customer profiles. You can identify customers’ interests, the other brands and products they buy, where they are and where they’re going, etc. Of course, this information must be collected with people’s permission, and it must be used and stored responsibly.

You can also solicit information directly from visitors by asking them to complete a user profile, participate in a survey, vote on a desired outcome, or simply give feedback. And definitely invite people to sign up for ongoing communication with you, whether it’s a newsletter, text messages, or other channels. A well-designed site encourages interaction and makes people feel they are integral, valued members of your brand community.

3. Your website is not an artifact—it is a media channel. Time was, you could design and publish a website and then pretty much forget about it. Today, people’s expectations for fresh content and new experiences are at an all-time high, so a static website just won’t cut it anymore.

Think about your site less as a brochure and more as a magazine or a news site. These media publish a steady stream of content that regularly draw people in. Just as you have developed a supply chain for your products, you need to develop a supply chain for your website content. Invest in the production and coordination of stories, news, interviews, recipes, etc.; develop systems to ensure content quality and consistency; and create processes to produce content efficiently.

Thinking about your site as a magazine also shapes the kind of content you provide on it. The best magazines provide entertaining and useful information. They tell stories, feature people, and relate to readers’ interests and activities. Your website should do the same, publishing content that is fun, timely, and relevant to your target customers. Remember that people use your site with a “what’s in it for me?” mentality.

4. Your website is not an initial destination—it is a found discovery. Some customers may go online with the express purpose of going to your website, but most are more likely to start with a search. With thousands of websites for restaurants in your area out there, it’s unlikely that your website will be found unless it’s Web-search friendly. Ensure that you have strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and implementation. Identify the keywords you should use and integrate them into your site properly so that your site can be found easily by your target.

5. Your website is not a document—it is a digital platform. According to Statista, 17.4 percent of Web traffic now comes through mobile devices, so ensure you use a responsive design to make your website mobile friendly. Using PDFs to make your menus, nutritional information, and locations downloadable is helpful, but don’t use them exclusively. For mobile users, downloadable documents eat up bandwidth and can be difficult to view. Plus, HTML content is more search-friendly than that found in PDFs or other file formats. Incorporate video and audio to take advantage of your site’s digital capabilities.

6. Your website is not a crapshoot—it is a measurable, adaptable tool. Web analytics can tell you how much traffic your website generated in a given time period, which pages are getting the most visits, what content is driving people to sign up for your newsletter, and much more. Don’t just launch your site and hope for the best. Use the data to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and to optimize your site on a regular basis.

Recent developments in media and technology don’t decrease the need for a great website—they increase the potential for creating one.

How to connect your WordPress Blog to FaceBook notes

Author: ; Published: Jul 25, 2011; Category: Managed Hosting, WordPress; Tags: , , , ; No Comments

More and more companies are told you should have a blog as part of your web site.  But only if you are going to be keeping the blog up to date on a regular basis.

In addition to having a blog, a lot of marketing experts will share with you that you should consider having a FaceBook account, a twitter account, and so on as the push towards being part of social media networks continues to increase.

A WordPress enthusiast and teacher, Bob Dunn, shared in a video of his I watched last week — Bob Dunn’s WordCamp Seattle Presentation — that if you are going to have social networking buttons or links on your site, it would be good that you use them.

To me, that translates that if you are going to link to Facebook, you should have a Facebook account, and try to keep your FaceBook account up to date as well as your blog.

If you are like most of our customers — small to medium businesses, you don’t need another thing added to your to do list.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just update your WordPress blog, and have the entries automatically feed into your Facebook account?  If you are like me, you love killing two or more birds with the same stone.

Hooking your WordPress blog section to your Facebook account is easy; let me walk you through the steps:

  1. Log into your WordPress administrator area as the administrator user.
  2. Click on Settings, Reading.
  3. Make sure the radio button for “For each article in a feed, show” is set to “Full text” and click “Save Changes.”     The reason for this is that when FaceBook links to your blog, if you just show the summary, that’s all Facebook will bring in (not even linking to the rest of the story).  In settings, reading, where it states “Syndication feeds show the most recent” the number present is the number of blog entries Facebook.com will import.  You can temporarily increase it before the import, and then when FaceBook is done importing, change it back.
  4. Open up your blog home page in your browser so you can easily copy and paste the blog home page URL.
  5. In a separate browser tab or window, browse your Facebook.com page.
  6. If you do not see “Notes” on the left (for Facebook.com notes), then click on the “Edit Page” icon / button.
  7. To add notes, on the left click on Apps, then Notes, and add it, and then click on “Go to App.”
  8. While on the Notes page, on the left, click on “Edit import settings
  9. Put in the web page address (URL) of your blog, and follow the prompts to submit it.

Facebook.com will now import your blog entries.

Please note that if you have FaceBook tied to Twitter, that you will have to do a one time clean up of your Twitter account for any duplicates that FaceBook posted to twitter.com (if you were posting them manually or through a WordPress plugin).

It is ok to experiment.  If you don’t like how the import went, delete the FaceBook notes, tell FaceBook to stop importing (that’s in the “Edit import settings” area), and then start over.

Once the import is done to your satisfaction, any new blog entries will show up in your FaceBook notes area once you publish them.

Now by keeping your blog up to date, you are also being more active on your FaceBook account as well.  Two birds, one stone.

Had to share this – 11 Most Hated American Companies

A company’s reputation is formed not only by the products it sells, but by the decisions it makes in times of crises. For some, that’s a good thing. For others, some present on this list, not so much.

Using survey results, market research firm Harris Interactive has compiled a list of the U.S. companies with the best and worst reputations. For the 12th Annual Harris Interactive U.S. Reputation Quotient Survey roughly 30,000 Americans were asked to rate the 60 most visible companies in the United States based on six factors: financial performance, products and services, workplace environment, vision and leadership, social responsibility, and emotional appeal. Combining these factors, Harris tallied a total RQ Score. Scoring above 80, for reference, indicates a company’s reputation is “excellent.”

Overall, companies in this year’s survey ranked higher than the previous year, with 16 companies rated as “excellent” compared to only six last year. Tech companies, in general, seem to have the best reputations, while financial and oil companies have the worst. Notorious scandals like the BP Gulf Oil Spill and Goldman Sachs’s role in the subprime crisis seem to have lingered in American minds, and companies with the worst reputations scored especially poorly when rated on whether they have “high ethical standards” and could be “trusted to do the right thing.”

Car companies largely fell somewhere in the middle, but that could change in the coming years. General Motors and Chrysler, while stuck in the bottom 11 this year, did make the third and fourth highest gains on the list, respectively, of any company.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/03/the-11-most-hated-american-companies_n_856471.html#s272707&title=11_Comcast

Crazy Day – Obama

The White House posted several images of President Obama and staffers planning and reviewing updates from the military raid that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden.

The White House Flickr account has been used extensively during the Obama administration, showing us candid and behind-the-scenes images from the First Family’s daily lives as well as President Obama’s diplomatic work. In fact, the administration’s overall use of social media has been impressive.

However, few pics from the account will ever get the attention garnered by this historic string of photos. These images show the palpable tension in the Situation Room the night of bin Laden’s death.

UPDATE: Flickr tells us the world’s response to these pictures is “skyrocketing … some [have] over 600,000 views already.” And some of these images are also seeing as many as 13,000 views per minute.

In these photos, we see Obama and other high-ranking U.S. government and security officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in one of a series of meetings. In these talks, the President and advisors planned and saw executed a successful raid on the bin Laden compound, a high-walled mansion in the northern Pakistani town of Abbottabad.

SEO to Pay or Not to Pay

Organic Search Engine Optimization — To Pay or Not to Pay?

Organic search engine optimization is actually a redundant term. Search engine optimization naturally brings about organic, natural traffic. Beyond that you often hear the question of organic versus paid traffic. Understanding the difference between the two of these will help you in your Internet marketing career, and in deciding what to focus on as you promote your website.

The organic search results are those that are naturally found in search engines listings like Google. They appear there because the search engine found your site good enough to include and relevant enough to related terms that people are searching for.

Paid traffic is just that — traffic you pay for. This is usually in the form of pay per click, which can also be found on search engines like Google. Have you ever done a search and found advertisements down the right hand side of the search results? The chances are probably good that you have — and if you haven’t you can go ahead and check it now. People bid on search terms with the hopes that people will click their ads to get to their website.

There are pros and cons to both methods. Organic methods can take quite a long time to show results. On the flipside, paid traffic can start coming within just a few minutes. Many people pay for traffic at first to see if it is traffic that converts (or, brings in money). When they are sure it will, they use search engine optimization techniques to increase their profits.

Deciding whether you want to go with organic SEO techniques first or not can be a difficult decision. This will depend on if you have the funds for paid traffic or if you’d rather start out more slowly with your marketing. On the other hand, if you have the investment capital to get started, you can easily find out if it is worth going for organic traffic or if the search term you are considering targeting is not going to be worth it.

When you are ready to focus on organic methods, here are some tips you’ll want to follow through with:

Make use of your meta tags, including keywords and description areas. There is some debate on the effectiveness of these tags, but they can certainly help your rankings and do not hurt them, according to many experts.

Use quality content that focuses on one keyword and includes related keywords for semantic latent indexing reasons as well. This will tell the search engines what your content is about so they can more easily rank you for that term.

Focus on getting backlinks. While many issues regarding search engine optimization are fuzzy, experts agree that the more backlinks you have (that are high quality) the more highly you tend to rank.

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Natural Search Engine Optimization

Believe it or not, there is a lot of manipulation that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to ranking highly for desired search terms. Despite the trickery, natural search engine optimization is a much better route to take as the results will likely be longer lasting. Before we delve into the great ways to increase your rankings, it’s important to discuss the less than desirable methods that can lead you astray.

The first thing you want to stay away from is much of the automated software. While it certainly is the Internet marketing dream to make money without having to lift a finger, many of the automated techniques are simply spam and clutter and are quickly discovered by the search engines. This includes auto scraped content that doesn’t even make sense much less draw readership to it! You can find yourself dropped out of the search rankings faster than you probably thought possible by using such junk content. Hands-off is not always the best way!

Another thing to stay away from is automated blog commenting. There is the caveat that some people find this useful to quickly find the latest blog posts to comment on. There are some uses that are probably okay (like that one), but for the most part you should steer clear of it. Blog owners can tell when the content is not related and will not allow your comments to begin with. Even though this is a hands-off effort, it is completely wasted.

Now for the methods you SHOULD use! The absolute best way to make use of natural search engine optimization is to create quality content. That way you will become well known within the niche and people will naturally link to you. This is what Google and other search engines want to see!

They want to see consistent readership by way of quality content. Every time another website links to you, it is considered to be a vote for your website. If you consistently have good content that gets linked to, it will be clear that you have a lot of votes and you’ll start to rank highly. This is where the true hands-off earning comes in!

There are other methods that are considered to be more natural and are okay in the eyes of many marketers. These are not completely natural as there is some manipulation of the rankings according to the most “pure” marketers. This includes exchanging links with other people, writing articles for more backlinks, and submission to directories. You’d be hard-pressed to find a popular site that doesn’t utilize a least some of these techniques.

Natural search engine optimization techniques can get you a lot further than manipulative and automated testing. You’ll get longer lasting results, which is worth your time and can bring you have a lot more money in the long run.

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Search Engine Optimization — Google Knows Best

Many people agree that if you want to make it online with your website, you need to understand search engine optimization “Google style.” The fact is that Google is the top search engine and controls most of the market share among all the search engines. The problem is that they do not disclose how their algorithm ranks websites, so it takes expert testing as well as your own trial and error to figure it out.

If you are just starting out marketing your website, it is important to focus on the things that we know to be true about ranking highly in Google. These are time-tested tips and techniques that people have discovered.

The honest truth is that there is no magic bullet that will make you rank highly for incredibly competitive terms. Factors that seem to be prevalent for websites that rank highly for those kinds of terms almost always have:

Quality content
Consistent content
A lot of backlinks and quality websites
An “aged” domain

Any newbie marketer might be intimidated by this list. At the same time, all you have to realize is that Google’s main goal is to provide the best search engine experience to their visitors as they possibly can. It starts with quality content! Even if you are the newest of the new, this is something you can do. Make it your mission to create a website that will stand the test of time.

Google also tries to present up-to-the-minute information. You will get extra “points” from the algorithm if you update your site consistently. There is no known time that you need to update by — this is something you’ll need to test for yourself. Many popular bloggers, for instance, blog every day, or at least several times per week. There are other static or product-based websites that update less frequently and still rank highly. This may be specific to the type of website.

The other things are features that build up over time. Take a little time each day, or each week, to get as many back links to your website as possible. This will naturally occur if you have quality content, but you can also take steps to ensure backlinks come through. Comment on blogs, submit articles to article directories, and utilize other linking strategies to ensure these come in consistently.

Google also enjoys aged domains. This means domains that have been around for a few years or more. This might be because there is more chance of there being a lot of content there, but it also has to do with the fact that many people start and abandon websites within a short amount of time. If your website is still up and running, it shows authority in Google’s eyes and you’ll likely get a boost in the rankings because of that.

Following these search engine optimization Google to will certainly help you get started right with your site. Focus on quality and the rewards will come.

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