Archives for August 2009

The Twitter Phenomena

We should have seen it coming. As texting became a major league means of communication, voyeuristic and exhibitionist texting took hold in the form of social media web sites. Just when businesses were beginning to scratch their heads and throw up their arms with frustration on how to connect with potential customers, the customers came rushing to them in a stream of perfect demography…well almost…

Tweet You Say?Like anything, “if it were that easy, everybody would be doing it.” And like most everything on the internet, it appears everybody is doing it. But like most things in life, some are actually working at it, while others really are only dabbling.

In the last year, we have begun tweeting for clients as a part of a complete internet marketing strategy that has grown out of our core SEO service. At the same time, several of our clients have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon and are doing it themselves.

Here are some observations we’ve made about the “Twitter Phenomena”:

1) It’s All About the Audience – If you have no audience (followers) then you might as well go down to the street corner and just start shouting. With no audience you are like the proverbial tree in the forest. Nobody hears you. Your primary concern at Twitter should be building an audience of followers. Preferably, these should be people who are in a position to buy whatever it is you offer. Therefor, the majority of your time allotted to your Twitter effort should be spent seeking out the right audience for your tweets.

2) Consistency – I’ve got a bone to pick with 95% of all Tweetheads; You lack consistency in your messaging. One moment you are on subject and then next you have gone into left field. It’s fine for a teenager to pronounce they are tired and didn’t get enough sleep. But is that really the message you want to be putting out to the audience you have built for your business? One moment you are completely rational and the next moment you are tweeting off about getting 1000 followers for $9.99. I mean…really!

3) Welcome to the Neighborhood – Twitter, like all other social media is actually a community with protocol. If you don’t understand or don’t feel the need to participate in the community, your time spent on Twitter is essentially a waste of time. In real life, nobody likes a blowhard. It’s no different here. If all you do is shout out advertising babel, your marketing effort will fall far short.

4) Active Response – Whether you are tweeting to build your business or to put a customer service oriented platform in place, how and when you respond to inquiry and comment will shape your success or failure. Several times a day you should be checking out what others are saying about you and responding swiftly and accordingly.

5) No Specific Strategy
– You need to have a plan for the use of Twitter. While this might vary from business to business, we have found that for business building on Twitter it is important to have several pieces in place before the tweeting begins. It makes sense to have a FaceBook and/or MySpace business page in place to send your Twitter followers to. These Social sites make a nice intermediary stop for prospective customers to continue “checking you out”. I firmly believe that you need to have a blog in place on your web site for several reasons. For Twitter, having a blog means you have new stories and posts to send your Twitter followers to. After all, the main intent of all things related to internet marketing is to get the person to visit your site and then visit your site again…and again! At least 30% of your tweets should link people back to your web site. 50% is probably better.

Why would business owners tweet for themselves? Because they can! Why would they hire an outside service like ours to do it for them? Because there isn’t enough time in the day to “do it all”.

Helping Your Site Fight Link Spam

Fight Link Spam

We have recently encountered several client sites that have fallen victim to hackers and link spammers. The hackers gain access to the site, and drop links into key pages that point back to drug, adult, gambling and pirated software web site. The links are inserted in a way that make them impossible to see them when looking at the site, but the search engines see them just fine. This is sometimes referred to as “Spamdexing.”

The motivation for the hackers is to gain better search engine position for key search terms that relate to their chosen enterprise. If the hacker is successful this will reduce your sites ability to perform in the search engines, and may even get your site removed completely.

Cost? FREE!

Netrafic is implementing a monitoring system that silently watches for these types of links. If a hacker gains access to your site and plants links that could negatively impact your web marketing effort we will immediately be notified and manually check your site. If there is an actual problem we will contact you. This service is being added at no charge to clients that are participating in the the Link Building Strategy service.

If you have question or concerns please feel free to contact us.

Read More: Search Spammers Hacking More Websites

SEO Success Comes From a Group Effort

Our efforts for clients always provide some level of success. But the projects that really “take off” are the ones where the client is more involved than not. We are always hired by clients as a resource because the expertise is not found in-house. Secondly, we are hired because nobody in-house has the time to address the needs of an SEO effort. The client projects that produce the least success come from those relationships where the client has virtually no understanding of SEO and aren’t particularly interested in learning about it.

So what does a “group effort” look like and how much does a client have to put into a project for it to succeed?

1) A basic understanding of SEO best practices is very helpful. Wikipedia is not a bad place to start. Google itself has reams of information. With a little knowledge you can then query prospective SEO consultants to find a good fit for your business. A good fit is someone you think you can work with that others recommend,  who charges a fee you can afford and takes the time to set expectations with you that are reasonable.

2) At the onset of the relationship find out how much input the consultant is going to need from you. We want to have a short conference call each month with our clients. This lets them know what we have been doing and lets us know what they plan to be doing in the coming month. This way our efforts are meshed.

3) Too many web site owners treat their sites like a brochure project. Once it has been built and deployed, they feel the job is done. Actually, this is when the job has just begun. After the initial deployment it is time to refine and clarify the information, add more and better graphical communication (pictures/videos/graphs/maps/etc) and most importantly, create a plan to grow the site with additional information pages. After the site is built is also the time when we can begin to gauge its effectiveness. Are we creating interest, inquiries, orders, leads ? How can we create more ? Brainstorming sessions in this vein can produce new ideas to test.

4) The biggest mistake we see web site owners make is a disconnect that occurs when a regular conference call is not employed in the process. Soon, the web site owner is making changes and adding pages to their site without notifying us. Before long, the site is “out of optimization” and after a while it requires a complete SEO audit to uncover incomplete or ineffective work.

Collaborating in a “group think” atmosphere helps keep everyone shooting for the goal. Everyone is kept in the loop and an effective project continues to march forward rewarding the web site owner with the “best bang for the buck”.

Create a Flood of Internet Traffic in Ten Easy Steps

Grabby headlines like that require substance, don’t they? More often than not, I am left scratching my head. So I present to you, a list (top 10 no less) of what it takes to create “a flood” of traffic to your web site. After all, it’s not smoke and mirrors. Never was. It’s just good old fashioned work. People – we are dealing with machines here. So, if you can think “machine-like”, chances are you will do better than the next guy. Many clients of ours enjoy all of these processes in our work for them. They are busy people and realize their time can be spent better doing things they are good at. They elect to outsource their online marketing to us. Regardless, you can have us do it, or you can do it. The important part is that it gets done.

Create a Flood of Internet Traffic

You have high expectations for this world wide web and here is the reality of what it really takes to make it happen.

1) Start by building a search engine friendly web site. For all practical purposes, search engines read plain old typewritten text aka html. Sure, there are advances being made in technology. But like anything, applying the KISS principle to web site development is a good idea. Spend the money on a robust, scalable database instead of a bunch of flashy flash-o-rama pages. Spend the money on the best website management console you can. These are tools that will help you build out your site as time goes by. By all means build the site to be mobile ready.  Once you have built a site it must have SEO principles applied to the pages to aid the search engines in indexing your information so it shows up when people search for what it is you offer.

2) Going in to the project, web site owners tend to treat a web site like a brochure project. I’ll give you the bad news upfront. It’s not. A web site “project” is never completed. The good news? You know that typo you found on your brochure project? You can fix it on the web site! Step 2 is the never ending story. You must be willing to commit to adding more pages with deeper and deeper information, year in and year out. As well, you must commit to revisiting every page of your site at the very least, annually, with the intent to adjust, tweak and clarify your message with each pass. You must “re-apply” SEO to old pages changed and new pages added or you miss the bottom line reason why you are doing this…remember…the flood?

3) Embark on a long term, long view linking strategy to create a dominating association with the rest of the web. Your on-page SEO is only going to take you so far. And if you are in a highly competitive channel of business on the web, chances are, on-page SEO will not be enough to carve out a top ranking. This oh-so important step is fraught with pitfalls, misconceptions, liars and thiefs. There are also some people who really know whats what and can provide a huge difference in your long term outcome. I’m happy to know one of these people. I don’t even attempt to understand any more than 25% of what Dave is up to!

4) Create and execute a blog that will contribute to the page count of your site (as opposed to off-site blog services). With SEO in mind, blogging can be an incredibly powerful tool and will pull every bit its weight solely based on what you put into it. Ouch! Blogging about your business is a complex issue. You have to be prepared to give rather than receive. The nice thing about blogging is that we are talking a paragraph or two. Not a book. The key to blogging is consistent fresh posts. 3-4 a week is excellent. 4-6 a month is a bare minimum. You mix your posting up with contributions to your community, industry and others. Every third or fourth should be used to drive readers to a specific page/offer of your site that contains more information about a subject. A blog is the perfect place to announce a new page or feature has gone live on your site. This long term project has two goals; to create hundreds of potential search landing pages and to drive blog readers to get into “the meat” of your site.

5) Create press releases to be released through the various online PR systems. A good goal is to deliver 4-6 awesome head turning releases a year. When you apply an SEO strategy to these releases they can provide a variety of potential traffic sources. Who knows, you might even become a cyber-celebrity! Of course you blog these releases as well.

6) Create business pages at social networking sites. Who and what sites you choose to do this action with is up to you. The more you sign up for the more time commitment you are making to this part of your “flood” funnel. The work here is in building an audience(s). Otherwise there is no reason to be here. The goal here is to build an “insiders” group that is going to get notified by you with information before anyone else will. Now, when you blog, you go to your social network(s) and you post a link and a snippet to your blog, drawing the people back to your site from the networks. I wish it were that easy. Social networks require that you be an active participant and not just for the sake of selling your stuff. Its where you also build customer awareness, customer service, customer loyalty. We call it brand management in today’s world.

7) Create a YouTube account. Sure you can also choose another service. But you’ve got to post your videos at YT also. If you wanna know why then become an SEO “expert”, ok? Maybe you’ve noticed YT videos showing up in search, right? As long as you keep that “machine-like” thinking cap on the SEO target throughout all of these steps you’ll do just fine. You are going to have to create videos or attain and edit others you have permission for. The good news is small business marketing in a YT world really only takes a digital camera and, yup – some creativity and time to put it all together. But, when you have created your video you get to spin it through your blog and social network during its “opening days” and then reside it on your site where it can help explain or sell or compare – whatever it might be doing…Here again, this step provides important tools; new content for your site in a format people like and another potential search result point of light.

8) Whew – we are almost caught up to 2009 – But Wait! There’s More! Twitter’s fast moving “news feed” style community can build and support a steady flow of traffic just like all the rest of these tools. First though, you’ve got to build an audience. You are going to need to be known as a contributor not a shouter. This is where most people stumble and fall. They cant put in the effort to build their social network audiences. It takes time and nurturing. With Twitter in place you have the perfect online funnel poised to participate in the flood. As your news breaks you tweet about it and link the message to your FaceBook page. This helps build your FB fan base. At the Facebook page, visitors read a snippet and are linked to your blog to finish the whole story. The story takes them to a new page on your web site. Is this a sale? Or a lead form filled out? Or just another positive impression on the road to acceptance? It’s all good!

9) Everything above is “free” in that you dont pay for anything more than the effort it takes to make it all happen. After you have all of that in place, you can afford to work some pay-per-click advertising. Because you are getting new traffic from so many other sources, you arent as desperate as those who’s only traffic is PPC. So you go for the “long tail” ie. less expensive terms and positions and use the traffic as good targeted whipped cream on your traffic sundae.

10) Analyze your traffic data to help make better business decisions the information uncovers.

It won’t happen overnight. Or in a few months. But as you build, refine and grow, so will your traffic, till one day it is in fact a daily flood you are capable of welcoming in.