Talk to some online marketers and SEO is everything. Talk to others and they know nothing about it. My philosophy is somewhere in the middle.
I think SEO is important. It isn't everything, but it is important.
Let's look at domain names, for instance. Many successful online companies have built solid brands without keyword-based domain names. Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, Bing, eBay, Facebook ... just to name a few. Have you noticed that all of these companies are in the top 10 most trafficked websites online? Facebook is No. 1 and Google is No. 2.
That's not to say that these websites aren't SEOd. They have certainly considered SEO in their overall marketing plan online, but they don't put SEO as the point to emphasize against all other points. There is something to be said for branding as well.
When you build your online presence, think about SEO, but don't think about just SEO. Think about your overall marketing goals and how SEO can fit into that.
Here in Adams County, there are still small business owners who think that Internet marketing doesn't apply to them. But there are a growing number of small business owners who are taking an interest in online marketing. And they're starting to ask questions.
Which is more important - blogs, e-mail marketing, or social media?
That's a good question, but the answer isn't so simple. All three have their places and to what degree you engage through each channel depends on your own marketing goals, the type of business you own, and where your audience is. In many cases, a good mix of all three is the best approach.
E-mail marketing is a mainstay of online marketing. It was an early channel and is still strong. I highly recommend an e-mail strategy for most businesses - especially retail businesses.
Blogs are good marketing tools for a number of reasons. First, the search engine optimization benefits are incredible. Secondly, there are the huge branding opportunities available for serious business bloggers. Then there are the social benefits involved in having a blog that is highly trafficked and elicits a lot of direct reader feedback.
Finally, social media is good for building relationships and driving traffic back to your own Web properties.
Which of these tools is right for you? Maybe we should talk about it. Give me a call and I'll consult with you on a strategy that makes sense for your business.
For all that we hear about online marketing - and I agree that it is becoming more and more essential every day - there is still a place for traditional marketing and high class print design.
Print design - what is it?
If you've ever used or have seen brochures, flyers, business cards, billboards, newsprint ads, etc., then you've seen print design in action. Someone had to design those marketing materials. Logos, which you use for your print marketing collateral as well as your online marketing materials, are usually created by a graphic design expert. Most graphic designers built their skills on print design projects and then later applied them to online marketing strategies.
The best marketing today is an effective integrated strategy involving online marketing tactics alongside print design and traditional marketing methods. That includes, but is not limited to, having a website, a set of business cards, brochures, letterhead and envelopes, online display ads and pay-per-click advertising, a newsletter (maybe a print edition as well as an e-mail edition), and more. When you incorporate print design into your overall marketing strategy, you are saying to the world, "I still operate in the real world; I'm as brick and mortar as you are."
When planning your next marketing strategy, don't leave out print design.
Website design is both an art and a science. There is something about a unique website design that keeps visitors returning and customers buying. No matter what type of business you are in, here are 5 practical web design tips that can help you as you build your first business site online.
Follow these 5 simple and practical tips the next time you design a website and you will improve your prospects for higher rankings, more visitors, and better results.
What's the most effective kind of marketing today? You can bet it's not the Yellow Pages. How about billboards? Newspaper ads? Television? Radio? The answer No, nope, nada, and nil.
The most effective marketing for a small business today is e-mail marketing. And there are several reasons why e-mail marketing takes the prize.
E-mail marketing is the most cost-effective marketing on the planet. Find out why you should have an e-mail newsletter.
With so many businesses interested in Internet marketing, is traditional marketing still effective? With so many consumers looking online for the services and products they are interested in, is traditional marketing still worth pursuing?
I wouldn't abandon traditional marketing just yet. There are some very good reasons to continue using the methods of reaching customers that you have always used. But in today's business climate, you must use some wisdom in determining which mix of traditional marketing tactics and Internet marketing tactics for your overall marketing strategy.
Yellow Pages - I'd say they're out. People use their cell phones and online sources to find phone numbers and addresses these days. Even in Adams County, Pa.
How about brochures and business cards? If you meet people face to face, then I'd say these are still useful.
Traditional marketing has not gone by the wayside. Just because you are now using a website doesn't mean that you should abandon every form of traditional marketing you have used. Radio and TV still have their places. In fact, if you have a traditional marketing method that is still effective for your business, then you should use it. But don't be afraid to replace the older methods that no longer work with more viable online strategies.
When it comes to promoting a website online, and that includes a blog, there are more than one way to skin a cat. In fact, there are more than a dozen ways.
For starters, you can add an RSS link to your blog, which encourages blog readers who know what that means to subscribe to your blog in their news reader. You can also add an e-mail subscription link, which does the same thing except that readers will receive updates by e-mail. You can promote your blog through various social media websites. Search engine optimization techniques are always nice. And the list goes on.
One of my favorite ways to promote a blog, however, is with a newsletter. If you start a new blog and post to your blog three days a week, you can promote your new blog to your existing clients through your newsletter. This works especially well if you have a loyal list of clients and a good list of their e-mail addresses. There is no substitute for a responsive list!
Blogging has become the 21st century promotional tool. E-mail marketing has become the new century's direct mail marketing. You can combine these two marketing tactics into one very powerful marketing strategy that not only drives traffic to your blog, but encourages interaction and closes sales. I highly recommend a blog promotion newsletter.
I'm not a lawyer so I can't give legal advice, but I will warn you against a practice that is easy to fall into if you don't watch yourself. Some people call it plagiarism, others call it content theft. It's all the same, if you ask me.
Website content, like any other kind of content, is subject to copyright laws. That means you can't take it without asking.
That's why you have to be careful when you write your own website content. Make it original.
If you're not a writer, then you might get the impression that anything that appears online is free for the taking. That's not the case. All website content is subject to copyright and fair use laws.
That's not to say that you can't ever use other people's content on your blog or website. There is public information online that is re-usable. Generally speaking, however, if you don't see an explicit statement of permission on a website that outlines under what conditions you can use content, then you should assume that you can't use it at all without permission.
When writing your own website content, make sure it is original, unique, and speaks to your target audience.
Now that summer is drawing to a close, it's time to start up on the speed networking again. York and Adams County business professionals can sign up now for the September event, and I recommend that you sign up sooner rather than later because seats are going fast. There is limited space available.
The next speed networking event is Monday, September 19, 2011. Time: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Location: RCS Financial Group Office at 55 Wetzel Drive, Suite #3, Hanover, Pa. 17331.
So what is speed networking and why should you do it?
That's a good question. Thanks for asking.
Speed networking is a take off of speed dating where participants rotate around a room and spend a short time span (usually 3-5 minutes) making a first impression with potential dates. At the end of the evening, speed daters pick the people they'd like to know more about and exchange contact information.
Speed networking operates in a similar fashion. You spend a short period (3 minutes) with each participant introducing yourself and making connections. During this time you should share your business card, brochures, and other promotional materials. When you get back to the office, you'll follow up with those people you'd like to get to know better and build a deeper relationship with. Just like in speed dating.
This is a fun and exciting way to meet new prospects for your business. Register today for the next speed networking event. Lunch included.
Social networking is all the rage. Even in Adams and York counties, Pennsylvania, you can benefit from promoting your business through social networks. You've probably heard of Facebook and Twitter, maybe even LinkedIn. But have you heard of Google+?
Yes, Google now has its own social network, and it's growing by one million new users per day. Industry experts are predicting that by next year it will have grown to be the second largest social network on line - larger even than LinkedIn and Twitter.
Facebook will likely hold the No. 1 spot for a long time, though some people are predicting that Google+ will continue to outpace Facebook.
There are good reasons to get on Google+ right now (but you have to be invited by someone).
One thing that makes Google+ more valuable than any of the other networks - including Facebook - is its Circles feature. This feature allows you to group your contacts according to your own definitions. Then, you can share information only with the circles you designate. This is in contrast to Facebook where you can group your friends, but you still share your links and status updates with all of them rather than pick and choose the groups you share with.
I think Google+ has hit upon the one feature that every social networker in the world appreciates more than anything. You can use it to share information with your family and closest friends while shielding that same information from your business contacts. You can then share business information with your business circles and shield it from your family. That's true social networking and Google+ is working on the future. That's where you want to be today.