Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Careful, You May Have More Social Media Influence Than You Think

If you’ve just started out on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or another social media site as part of your internet marketing, you’re probably comparing yourself to your more established connections. You have 4 connections – but they have 681!! Wow – will you ever get to 681?!

It’s natural to compare yourself to others. Don’t fret; you can achieve as well as anyone else on social media has achieved. They did it, why can’t you?

But don’t assume that, because you have only a relatively small number of followers right now, no one’s listening. Unless you choose the privacy settings for your social media site, anyone can see everything you say or do.

Still, with so few “followers”, who would be interested?

Maybe a customer. Or supplier; or your Uncle Rex. Without getting into the consequences of anyone viewing your social media content unknown to you, a good practice is to never do or say anything on a social media site that you wouldn’t mind a customer, or Uncle Rex, seeing.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, December 14, 2009

Should You Tweet, Link or Connect?

Short Answer: It doesn’t really matter. If you’re getting into social media, it isn’ t too important whether you choose Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or any one of the hundreds of other social media channels. It’s better to pick one, any one, and start participating, than to be overwhelmed by trying to take in the whole daunting social media scene at once.

Perhaps the biggest secret to getting successfully engaged in social media is time management. Take an hour one evening and poke around some sites. If one looks appealing, take an hour in the next day or two to get more in-depth, open an account, maybe even contribute. There’s no hurry.

If you still can’t manage to find focus, talk to friends, family or, even better, your customers and suppliers. Don’t be discouraged if you hear stories similar to yours. But look for something in common. Check the Google Alerts we mentioned in our last post. Find a reason to pick a channel.

Why is it not important which channel you pick? They are increasingly connected to each other. For example, your tweets can automatically appear on LinkedIn. In other words, if you open an account on LinkedIn and Twitter, one tweet gives you content on both channels.

As you become more familiar with your chosen channel, the others don’t seem as daunting and joining them is easier. But don’t forget the (perhaps) biggest secret about engaging in social media. You will find more and less value from channel to channel – choose the ones from which you get the most value.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Secret to Choosing the Right Web Site Images

Yeah, yeah, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, yadda, yadda. The problem is, if an image isn’t right, your web site could have a thousand words against it before it even starts.

You need the right image. The one that gives you the most bang for your thousand words.

The first rule is: there are no rules. Unless you are a rock star designer, it’s difficult to say whether your snazzy shot of grapes will properly convey your toxic chemical manufacturing company’s green initiative.

For most of us, it’s best to choose an image that complements the web copy. If yours is a residential roofing company, a beauty shot of a home with a nice roof is a good, safe choice.

If you want to get creative, go ahead, but make sure the creativity enhances the connection to the content. For the roofing company, maybe a shot of a few homes in the rain, but one of them is glowingly dry (I don’t know – you get the idea).

Here’s the (not so) Secret Bit: Your copy should be about your customers; providing answers to what they seek on the internet. If your image is supposed to relate to your copy, and your copy should be about your customers, then… BINGO – make the image about your customers too.

What about a shot of a couple happily entertaining friends in the backyard of their stunningly roofed home?

By Stephen Da Cambra

Friday, October 30, 2009

Web Copy Migration - Expensive Cost Cutting

Eye candy is seductive. Web visitors who stumble upon a site with innovative design will stop to take in the eye-catching treat. That they have a creative design is a unique selling feature of many sites.

It’s the reason many small businesses put a strong emphasis on having a creative, “leading edge” design. There is nothing wrong with emphasising design creativity when it fits with the goals of your web site.

Problems arise when you sacrifice other important elements of your site for the sake of an off-the-chart design. Your web site’s copy and structure are just as important to your overall web design as colour, layout and effects (easy on the effects – remember the goal of your site).

As it is an important design element, you should create copy specifically for your web design, just as you do with other elements. Migrated web copy, copy taken from your brochures, sell-sheets or old web site, doesn’t fit. Not only will it make your web copy less effective, it could ruin your snazzy design and chase away your web visitors. Saving money by migrating copy can be very expensive.  

Happy Halloween, and go easy on the candy!

By Stephen Da Cambra
with thanks to New Thinking

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Write for Everyman - & Every Person in Your Target Market

We recently read an interesting blog post that talks about engaging “everyman” with your web copy. The author is absolutely right; your copy needs to reach the masses and too many big words or industry jargon tends to drive the masses away.

You can also take the concept beyond your copy and use it across your entire internet marketing program. But be warned, while you have help for creating copy in layman’s terms, like keyword tools, there’s nothing similar to help you decide what web design, social media profile or viral message will work for the masses.

Beginning with your web design, you must appeal to the broadest range of potential customers. Not everyone arrives at your site looking for the same thing and they may not be at the same stage in the buying cycle. For example, if you develop a new High Tech Doodad and introduce it on your web site, you will attract a lot of traffic looking for basic information, like a product description. If you have competition for the Doodad, others will arrive at your site looking for more advanced information that will help them decide which HT Doodad is best. Fortunately, when it comes to high tech items, there’s a large contingent who simply must have the latest Doodad and they will come to your site looking to buy.

See what’s happening? Your site needs to appeal to visitors who are in search of a broad range of useful information. From looking for basic information to ready to buy, they all will arrive at your site and if you don’t give them what they’re looking for fast, you risk losing them, perhaps forever.

The same is true for all your other internet marketing initiatives. You should give the masses what they seek from you.

Get your message across to the everyman – and every person, or at least as many as you can, regardless of where they are in their search for information or products.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time for Internet Marketing

Internet marketing takes time. Let’s say you started a new site today, including getting a new URL. It will be some time - weeks or months - before Google even indexes your site. It could be the greatest web site in cyber history - no matter, it will take time for the search engines to check out your site, make sure it’s legit and start presenting it in search results.

Your next step should be SEO and PPC. They take time. Many regard PPC as instant gratification internet marketing; it can get you on the front page of search results in no time. While that is true, only between 20% and 30% of surfers choose from paid search results. You need SEO and SEO takes time.

Other internet marketing methods take time too. Have you heard a lot about social media marketing? It takes time. Blogging? More time. Researching ways to optimize your social media and blogging campaigns? Full time.

Who has time for internet marketing? You do. Time is money. The more time you spend on your internet marketing – all of it, from SEO to participating in forums – the better the payoff will be.

You can hire others to do it, but that costs money. Get through the mystique of internet marketing, and you’ll find it’s DIY friendly. Indeed, you’re probably the best person to do it. If you have the time.

Where will you find the time? You’ll make time. Set it aside; regularly; daily; without fail. Do so, give your internet marketing enough time and you’ll start to be found, make contacts and generate business.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Friday, September 11, 2009

Content is King on the Internet

There is little else to say - on the web, content is king. In the interests of not leaving you with a blog entry of 10 words, let’s look at why.

Before we begin, for the purposes of this article, content means well researched, well-written and identifiable web copy and images.
Web content is a commodity. It is the main ingredient of the product offered by a growing number of companies. Search engines, social media sites and web directories that is, all of which need content to survive.

Pretend you started a search engine. As with any other business, the first task is to determine your product. That’s easy: search results. Step one done. Your products are the search results that your engine produces when a surfer enters a keyword.

Step two is to identify your market, or potential customers. Easy again: web surfers. Step two done. (This is so easy. I wonder why everyone doesn’t start a search engine or social media site – or did I speak too soon?) Your customers are internet searchers and you want as many of them as possible to use your search engine.

If your engine produces pertinent, high quality results for your customers, they will be happy and more likely to use your engine again; and maybe they will tweet about it.

If your engine produces poor search results, your customers may be confused or frustrated. When that happens, not only will they tweet about it, they will devote entire entries about it in their blogs and start a “Hate Your Search Engine” community on Facebook. The bad vibe will go viral and you will be out of business by teatime.

That’s why content is king on the web.

(Well, it's one reason anyway.)
By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, August 31, 2009

Keyword Wars - Episode 2

If you joined us late, in Keyword Wars - Episode 1 we learned that keywords are the words and terms potential customers use to search for your company on the internet. But there is sometimes costly competition for the best keywords and you need to know how to put keywords to work for you without blowing your internet marketing budget.

In Episode 1 and a previous instalment of this blog, we spoke about the advantages of long tail keywords; those keywords that are not necessarily the most popular terms, but, collectively, form a significant proportion of the keywords for your product or business. It’s considerably less expensive to get search engine rankings for long tail keywords.

A large and growing portion of internet searches are local – that is, the searcher is looking for a product or service in their geographic area. About half of local searches include a place name to narrow the search. In other words, a large portion of web searches are for a product or service in a specific location – for example, auto repair in Springfield.

If you were in the auto repair business and wanted to get good rankings for the search term “auto repair”, you would need lot of time and effort (translation: money) because you would be competing with every other auto repair shop in the English speaking world. Unless you had garages in every major market, most of your effort would be wasted because you’d be listed in markets you didn’t service.

By including a location in your search term, you reduce your competition to the local market and reduce your chances of being listed in areas you don’t serve. Best of all, with only local competition to deal with, it’s much less expensive to get ranked for “auto repair Springfield” than simply “auto repair”. A side bonus is, by going for the local keyword term, you improve your ranking for the main keyword term too – “auto repair Springfield” improves your “auto repair” ranking.

Volumes can be written on keywords and putting them to work for your search engine optimization (SEO) and internet marketing efforts. We have touched on a couple ways here, but, if you expect to get business from the web, or to get more business from the web, you will do well to learn more.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Business Networking on the Net

Business networking is as old as business itself. It used to be called “rubbing elbows” or “working the room”, but it was all networking before the term became common.

Being a network, the internet is an great place for business networking – but you wouldn’t know it by how long it’s taken many of us to come to the realization. While LinkedIn, a business-oriented networking site, beat Facebook to the web by almost a year, it never had a chance against its more “social” rival and others, including MySpace and Twitter, which blew by LinkedIn in popularity after only two years.

Online networking is an important part of any business's internet marketing and LinkedIn is as good a place as any to start. A good example is Charlotte Business Professionals. In June, 2008, Jason McKinstry opened a LinkedIn account from his office in Charlotte, NC. While things were slow in the beginning, he began receiving messages from other LinkedIn members in town. Jason decided to start a LinkedIn group to bring together all of his Charlotte business contacts. One year later, the Charlotte Business Professionals LinkedIn group has over 4,000 members, monthly face-to-face meetings and has just launched their own website www.charlottebp.com.

Fortunately, if you prefer to Tweet rather than link, social networking sites are not just for finding out your mother is getting her hair styled right now. Business groups and networks – and opportunities – exist on every major networking site. There might even be a networking site devoted to your industry or interests.

For most users, online networking success doesn’t just happen by joining a site. Networking requires action. In fact, it usually requires two actions: a) finding contacts, and b) being found by contacts.

When you join a network, you should actively search out those with whom you are most likely to make a connection. If you’re a real estate agent, you might want to search for mortgage brokers or lawyers. When you spot them, make contact.

Being found means developing a web profile that makes it easy for other searchers to find you and know what you are about. That way you are more likely to attract the sorts of contacts you want to pursue.

Finding and being found – that’s networking on the ‘net.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, July 20, 2009

Keyword Wars - Episode 1

Keywords deserve more attention than the brief discussion on the long and short tail in our last post. If you do any business on the internet, or believe any of your customers use the internet to find your company, the more you know about keywords the more you will be able to take advantage of their power to attract customers.

Keywords are the words and terms web surfers use to find information on the internet. Studies indicate that surfers respond better to information that repeats the keywords they used to find it. In other words, if someone enters the term “red tissue paper kites” into a search engine, he or she will be more likely to choose a result that delivers exactly that keyword term.In addition, search engines will present results that most closely fit the search term. So, if you sold kites and created content and link information for your web site using the term “red tissue paper kites”, and your competition didn’t, your site would be listed at or near the top of the results – and the customer would be more likely to choose your link because it’s near the top of the rankings and it reflects exactly what he is looking for.

The big question is – what are the words and terms that potential customers use to find companies and products like yours on the internet? Search engines want you to succeed on the internet because, if you do, you will likely spend more on internet marketing. To help you get started, there are a number of free keyword search tools, such as Google Adwords Keyword Search Tool, that you can use to find the search terms that relate to your company, product and market segment.

That’s the start. Keywords are very powerful tools and your competition has the same access and ability to use them as you do. Depending on your business segment, keyword competition can be fierce – and costly. Fortunately, there are ways to put keywords to work for your internet marketing without necessarily breaking the bank. Using the long tail keywords we discussed in the last post is one of them.

In Our Next Episode:

Luke finds Leia in grave danger – what keywords will he use on his PDA to find a solution?!

By Stephen Da Cambra

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Long & Short Tail Tales

Search keywords are hot commodities.
As we all learn more about how our customers shop on the internet, keywords open a link between seller and buyer.

Keywords take the guesswork out of your internet marketing. Enter the name of your product or industry into a keyword search tool and ~ * poof * ~ you have all the words and terms your potential customers use to find your business or product on the internet. Use those words and terms in your internet marketing and watch your conversion rates go up.

That’s the good news. The bad news is: you are not alone in knowing the good news. Every day, more businesses learn more about how their prospects use the internet and the value of keywords. Depending on your industry, countless other companies could be creating web content using exactly the same keywords as you. Pity the poor shoe store trying to get noticed by internet customers for terms like “shoes” and “footwear” – imagine the number of other companies trying to get ranked on search engines for the same keywords. Loyal readers of this blog will know that if you are not on the first page of search results – a total of 10 spots – you are as good as invisible on the internet.

The Long and Short of It

Luckily, there’s more good news. While there might be lots of competition for rankings on the most popular keywords in your market segment, there are many other keywords that, while not as popular, still produce results. Their lack of popularity makes it easier to get good rankings for them.

In our shoe store example, while a Google search for “shoes” produced 302,000,000 results, a search for “leather sandals” got only 10,000,000 results.

If the keyword popularity for any given industry is graphed, it would probably look a little like the image above.

Tale of The Short Tail – Relatively few keywords enjoying lots of search popularity. Getting a good ranking when your customers use these keywords will get results, but it will cost more and take more time.

Tale of The Long Tail – Lots of keywords with fewer searches. In some cases, ranking can be had for long tail keywords without too much effort – and for a lower cost.

The Moral of the Story

Chasing short tail keywords can have a huge payoff, but they carry a heavy price tag. Similar results can be had by ranking for a number of different long tail keywords – for less cost and less effort.

The End

(Not really "The End", keyword marketing is, so far, a never ending story about finding out as much as you can about your customers’ internet shopping habits.)
By Stephen Da Cambra

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Get Committed (Before Starting a Blog)

Straight up: blogging requires a lot of time. If you cannot devote time daily to writing and maintaining a blog, you should rethink the tactic.

However, if you make the time commitment, the rewards can include becoming an authority in your industry, influencing buying decisions and - let’s not lose sight of why we do anything in business - an improved bottom line.

So, before you move forward on a blog, you need to know how much time it will take. Different industries and niches will require different commitments. If you want a real estate blog to be noticed, prepare for a significant daily grind for a couple years because of high internet competition.

Fortunately, most business sectors aren’t as competitive as real estate. Many SMEs do business locally and can tailor their blog to their geographic market to help cut down the blogging competition – and the amount of time needed to be noticed.

In other words, a blog about “real estate in Toronto” will get noticed locally in Toronto long before a blog about “real estate” will get noticed anywhere. If your business deals only locally, your blog doesn’t need to compete with one in Brazil. (If you are in Brazil, why haven’t you subscribed?!)

If your blog gets noticed sooner, it means you will have a smaller time commitment. But don’t think that focusing your blog locally, or otherwise, is an easy way out of a time commitment. The best blogs, regardless of industry, subject or purpose, are tended to daily.

In addition to actually writing the blog, you need to budget time for research. Sure, the first few entries might roll off the keyboard easily because you know your stuff and there’s a lot to tell. But, while everything you know about your business can be written up in your blog, it is the low hanging fruit of blogging. Sooner or later you’ll need to spend more time researching your posts, reading other blogs and corresponding with bloggers, customers and colleagues to get the fuel you need to keep your blog burning brightly - and getting attention.

Not only will a blog help you become an influential authority and improve your bottom line – it will probably help you learn a lot more about your business.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, June 08, 2009

An Internet Search Story

When did TV remote units start controlling functions on your set that you can’t do without the remote? Lose the original and you will need a universal remote that costs more than the TV is worth – and pray that one of the programming codes works for your TV brand and model - to get all your functionality back.

Or, even better (and cheaper), you can search the internet for a replacement of the original remote. How clever I am is that? Find the model number (how do they come up with those – TVR45620pdq8pie4U?), enter it into Google and go get the remote.

We’re not sure if there is a strange trend rippling through the TV remote control corner of the web, but they could use a few lessons in web design. It makes the problem of choosing from unknown online suppliers much worse.

Credibility symbols - BBB, Verisign, etc., - are scarce, they only want online orders, so you won’t find phone numbers, and addresses are hard to come by too. Faced with an absence of the usual measures of trust, you need to find other means of choosing the right online supplier - even if it means checking out the dreaded “About Us” or “FAQ” page.

Sometimes “About Us” and “FAQs” are a waste of your time. Will “About Us” ever say anything other than how incredibly customer driven the company is? FAQs are hard to wade through, even with search functions, and are often filled with trite bits like “Do You Sell Remotes for TVs?”.

However, in situations where customers are unsure of what they are buying, or with whom they are dealing, “About Us” and “FAQs” can win them over.

Check out the “FAQ” at newremotecontrol.com. The plain straightforward language (no marketing speak), in response to exactly the sorts of questions a user might have, shows that this company probably does what it says. Newremotecontrols.com won the purchase, even though their remote was more expensive.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Friday, May 29, 2009

Insulate Your Home, Not Your Web Site

We recently finished developing a web site for a customer who, long after he approved designs and layouts, would still point out other sites that he thought had some redeeming feature.

Without fail, within seconds of seeing the other sites, we were able to point out why his site design will be far better at generating business. 

Fortunately, the customer understands that generating new business on the internet means driving traffic to his web site.  He has contracted us to carry out SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click advertising) campaigns, both of which will get him lots of traffic.

So, how can we tell, from only a quick glance at a homepage, that another site will probably not generate as much business as his?  (Even if they do lots of SEO and PPC.)

Our customer’s product helps to insulate homes and that’s what the other sites were doing – OK, they didn’t increase the R-value in anyone’s house - but they insulated their web visitors from a call to action.

None of the other sites had a contact telephone number, or even an email address, plainly visible on the homepage.  There were a few nice designs (some almost as good as ours!), but still, web visitors would have to click on the “Contact Us” page, or scroll deeper in the homepage, to find a number to call or some other way of converting.

These extra steps are like layers of insulation between your customer and the most important information on your site.

The more “insulation” on your site, the less chance you have of converting your hard-earned visitors.

Driving traffic to your site isn’t an end, it’s a beginning.  Once you get them there, you should make it as easy as possible for web site visitors to become customers.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Shocking Truth About Google Ranking

If you have any interest in internet marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and/or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), you know how important it is to get a high ranking in search results when customers search the net for companies and products like yours.

An examination of the exact numbers, as published by SEOBook.com, really drives home the point.  Without further delay….

The Distribution Of Clicks According to Search Ranking

          Rank Position      % of Clicks         

1                                                  42.13%                

2                                                        11.9

3                                                     8.5

4                                                         6.06

5                                                        4.92

6                                                        4.05

7                                                       3.41

8                                                         3.01

9                                                       2.85

10                                                     2.9

2nd page +                10.18


While the bare numbers are incredible, a closer look really shows what the difference in moving a single position can mean for your web results.

Right off the top, there is an almost 400% increase in clicks between second and top spot.  Imagine getting four times the web results you get now.

On first glance, the difference between subsequent ranking positions does not seem very profound.  However, when you consider that you would get an immediate 19% increase in clicks if you managed to move your site from seventh to sixth – and a 33% increase from fourth to third, all of a sudden you realize there’s a lot at stake between almost every rank position.

There are two important points to be taken from this information. 

First, if you are not on the first page of search results, you are invisible to 90% of your potential customers (and probably more, because a large percentage of those going to the second page and lower are conducting non-business related research.) 

Second, if you’ve managed to get your site onto the first page that’s good, but you shouldn't stop trying for a higher rank.  You can increase your business exponentially each step you take up the ladder to number one. 

So start climbing!

By Stephen Da Cambra

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Web Copy - You Have One Shot

Let’s talk about something that is close to your humble author’s heart - if only because I am doing it right now and will continue to do it until this article is complete.  The thing I am doing right now is … writing, a complex and ancient form of communication that new communication technologies can’t do without. 

Especially the web.  Check out the fanciest, most advanced web site or internet application and you will find writing.  (If not, the site will probably be useless.)  

As with most new forms of communication, web copy evolved from previous forms of writing.  Early web sites featured content copied from brochures, flyers and other printed pieces. 

It worked.  The novelty of the new medium, the lack of search engines and the inability to interact with the content meant that surfers were quite happy to sit and read web copy, just as they would a printed piece. 

As always, things have changed.  Multi-tasking operating systems, Web 2.0 and increasing user sophistication has created a way of consuming information that is unique to the web.  The short version is that web users are able to tailor the information they receive.  

For example, if you were interested in becoming an internet marketing guru, you may have begun by entering that term in a search engine.  The results might have brought you to this informative blog and directly to an entry about internet marketing – no table of contents, no extraneous information, just what you need

Another way of looking at it is, instead of having to sort through information that is “pushed” to you, you now “pull” the information you need. 

The ability to pull information means that your customers are now very selective about the information they consume on the web.  If the message before them does not appeal directly to a need or want, they click it into the history folder. 

To determine if a web page has the information they seek, surfers scan it looking for clues.  No clues and off they go.

Enter web copy.  Web copy must provide the clues that assure surfers they have found the stuff they need, and it must do so quickly.  Many surfers give a page mere seconds to prove it has what it takes.  If not, there will be no second chance.

What does this all mean for your web copy? Simple, your web copy must appeal directly to the needs/wants of your potential customers and it must do so quickly.  Because you only have one shot to prove to them that yours is their best option.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Story of SEO & PPC

You may wonder whether SEO or PPC is better for achieving your business goals.  Their purposes are the same – to get your site listed on the top pages of search results.

As with most internet marketing, there are few rules to follow in making a choice.  Many companies rely on the “quick to the top” guaranteed rankings that come with PPC advertising.  Others prefer to avoid the click charges and concentrate on the “natural” rankings that SEO produces.

As with most internet marketing, you go with what works for you.  But don’t let what works for you blind you to what can work better. 

As with most internet marketing, there are downsides to individual tactics.  PPC ads will get your site listed on top search results pages almost instantly, but most surfers are aware that PPC ads are paid advertising and prefer to choose from the natural rankings. 

SEO will get you those coveted natural rankings, but it will take a long time and concerted effort to do so.

To avoid the downsides of SEO and PPC, and take advantage of the upsides, use them together.

If you have a long-term internet marketing plan, and you should, make sure it includes a concerted SEO and PPC strategy. 

The real beauty of a combined SEO/PPC strategy is that the advantages of one counteract the disadvantages of the other.

If a first page natural search ranking is your goal, there is little chance of getting there quickly.  Especially with a new web site, the search engines have to find the site, register it and then monitor it for legitimacy and relevance.  Unless you use buckets of cash, it can take many months or more than a year to get a decent natural search ranking. 

That’s where PPC comes in.  PPC immediately puts your site on the first page of search results, so it get’s exposure while you build the site’s reputation naturally with SEO.

When you start seeing decent rankings from your SEO efforts, you can start reducing your PPC spend until the natural rankings are where you want them to be.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, April 27, 2009

Search Engine Optimization - The Sooner the Better

Yes, the authors of this blog offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services.

No, the title is not a “sense of urgency” marketing tactic to get you to use our services.

Well, actually it is, but even so, it’s important for you to consider the title’s advice, regardless of how you practice SEO - or with whom.
SEO means conducting your internet business in a way that search engines (Google’s share of the search engine market in March 2009 was over 80% - up from 75% a year ago) find appealing.  

Search engines, like the rest of us, are in business to make money.  Like the rest of us, they have customers and competition and they must constantly strive to make sure their product is the best option for their target markets.  

Their product is search results, and to provide the best product, they spend incredible amounts of time and money devising formulae to determine the most relevant results for any term an internet searcher might use.

Being the key to their operation, search engines diligently guard their formulae.  Internet marketing companies spend incredible amounts of time and money trying to determine what are the formulae so they can offer their clients a quicker route to the top of search results.

There are a few basic criteria that are not too difficult to figure out.  

If you use search engine marketing tactics to make your landing page or site more relevant to the search terms used by potential customers, it will rank higher in search results.

There is only one thing that can defeat relevancy.   If your web site, particularly its URL, is new, the search engines must first find and register the site’s existence.  In an increasingly competitive and crowded webosphere, that sometimes takes a month or more.  Then the engine will “watch” your site to see who visits, who links to it and how relevant is the content.  That monitoring takes another couple months, or more.  

In other words, if its new, the most relevant web site in internet history, with answers to life, the universe and everything (thank you Douglas Adams), will probably not get search engine rankings for at least five or six months and a decent ranking won't happen for about a year.

The bottom line is, the sooner you get your new site up and running, the sooner you will be able to start developing the sort of content and track record the search engines look for to determine relevancy and rank your site
By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, April 20, 2009

The M.O. of PPC

Let’s say you woke up this morning with a sure-fire idea for a new product or business.  How long do you think it will take to generate sales?

A year?  6 months?  1 month?

How about this morning?  Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisements are those links that appear along the top and right side of your Google results page, under a “Sponsored Links” heading.  PPC advertisers pay for the ads according to the number of times the ads are clicked.

In the time it takes to set up a Google Adwords account, PPC ads put your message in front of web surfers who are looking for products and services like yours.

(Actually, you’ll also need some kind of web presence, even a single page, for people to land on when they click your PPC ad, but, if you don’t sleep-in too long, you should still be able to have lunch while selling your new product online.)

Admittedly, this is not a typical scenario, but it is quite possible and anyone can do it from the comfort of his or her nearest computer.

Whether you take the quickie route, or execute a more planned PPC campaign, much of its success depends on one thing:


There is only one measure of success for a PPC campaign. (yes, it’s another acronym)  CTR, or Click Through Rate, is the number of times your ad is clicked versus the number of times it appears in search results.  The higher your CTR, the more successful your PPC campaign.

In the absence of graphics and any real design, the only way a surfer can judge a PPC ad is by its words – and how they are written.

As the PPC marketing world becomes more crowded, PPC ad writing becomes more important.  There is perhaps no other part of internet marketing where so much depends on so few words.  (For the record, the title, or first line of your PPC ad must be 25 characters or less and the subsequent two lines must each be 35 characters or less – and you thought Twitter was stingy! – try selling a car in that time!)

For a quick lesson in good and bad PPC ad writing, think of something you would like to buy, be as specific as possible, and search for it on Google.  You might have to try a couple times, but pay attention to those PPC ads you find most appealing – then pay attention to why.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just the FAQs

Quick show of hands: how many readers have visited a web site that sports a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page? 

How often have you found the information you needed in an FAQ page?

For various reasons of physics, time and distance, there is no tallying this poll.  So we’ll have to venture guesses on the results, which are:  

a) Most, if not all, have visited web sites that have FAQ pages.

b) Rarely, if ever, have you found the information you needed in an FAQ page.

FAQ pages sprang from well-intentioned efforts to create a unique identity for web sites, which began life as little more than online brochures.  Easily edited and updated, the FAQ page is a way to keep sites up-to-date and give them more currency.

In some cases, like government sites, technical applications and procedural information, FAQ pages can be very useful because the alternative means travelling through a maze of sources to find answers.   

However, for many SMEs, FAQs can do more harm than good. 

It’s not that FAQ pages can’t be a source of useful information, but they are a victim of circumstance.  If an FAQ page has too many questions, visitors do not want to spend time hunting for one that relates to theirs.  Too few questions and the information is too sparse or general to be of real value.  (While FAQ search functions sometimes help to find the right information, they are also the source of the dreaded “No Results Found for ‘widgets’ ” sort of message – remember, customers love to bail from your site if they get frustrated.)

The content of your web site should answer anything that prospective customers ask repeatedly.  Strategic calls to action will encourage those with exceptional questions to contact you for answers - and become qualified as customers.

By Stephen Da Cambra

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Recession is Over, Happy Days are Here Again!

Remember, you read it here first.  But, be warned, the title of this post may or may not be true.

Using catchy headlines that really don’t have anything to do with your real message is a way of getting people to click through to your web site.  But does it work?

Every web searcher is looking for a solution to a want or need.  One is looking for sports scores, another for new tires and another for information on the lifecycle of newts.  But, they have a problem with the sheer number of results they receive when they conduct a search.  From the multitude, which search result is going to give them the right solution fastest? 

It’s like choosing a path through a forest.  You want to get to the other side as fast as possible, but you must choose from countless trails and you are not sure which one is the shortest.

It’s why web searchers, once they click on a search result, will probably scan the resulting page instead of reading all the content.  They are looking for confirmation that they are on the right path to a solution.

But how do they determine they are on track?  They scan for the term they searched.  From the search results for the “life cycle of newts”, you would probably choose from those that repeat your complete search phrase.

It’s why catchy headlines don’t always work.  It might get people to your web page, but for the wrong reasons.  Their frustration at not finding what they expected could reflect badly on your company.

You need to build clear paths to your web site that potential customers can find when they search for companies and products like yours.

Anyone arriving at this page because they read the headline and were searching for good economic news probably clicked away in disgust when they realized this was not the path they wanted.

But you still read about the end of the recession here first!

By Stephen Da Cambra

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Web 2.0 - The End of Surfing

“Web surfing” is one of those early internet terms, like “information superhighway”, that now seem so anachronistic; so five years ago.  Web 2.0 has changed the way people use the internet. 

Instead of surfing, where web users went where the wave took them, they are more like web jet skiers, going where they want to go and using an accelerator to get there.   

What is Web 2.0?

It’s the second generation of the internet. The web’s coming of age as a collaborative communications medium where the message isn’t “pushed” to web users, but “pulled”, authored and edited by them. 

So what?

Web 2.0 means doing business differently on the web. 

Web 2.0 users want what they seek and nothing else. 

For example, before Web 2.0, if you wanted a pair of red leather gloves, you probably used the following process to find them on the web:

  1. Think of all the stores in the area that might carry gloves.
  2. Enter the name of the first store followed by “.com” into your net browser.
  3. Hope the store has a web site. 
  4. If it did, you would go through pages of merchandise, looking for gloves
    1. then leather ones
    2. then red, etc..
  5. You would repeat steps 1 to 4 for the next store.
  6. And the next store.
  7. Then you would call the winning store, hoping they have the right size.
  8. Put on a jacket and drive to the store.

For Web 2.0 users, the process is:

  1. Google “red leather gloves”. (Go ahead, click it, but be sure to come back!)
  2. Choose the most appealing results until you find something you like.
  3. Ask your friends on Facebook what they think.
  4. Order online.

Web 2.0 users are savvy and they know they can find what they want and avoid everything else.  They don’t want to go through your web site looking for what they need.  They don’t have to surf your wave.   

Fortunately, Web 2.0 means you can know precisely what your customers are looking for on the internet and, even better, you can give it to them in a number of ways.  When you do, get ready for the jet skis.

By Stephen Da Cambra