04.22.12

SEO: How to Make Your Website “Google-friendly”

Almost 75% of all search engine traffic comes from Google. It’s important that you play by their SEO rules to get your website ranked and indexed properly. Google looks for two important things to qualify a site: content and relevance.

We’d all be richer than Bill Gates if we could figure out how to make a website appear number one in Google, but there are several basic SEO rules that that give your website a fighting chance.

Searchable and Unique Page Titles

The page title is the first thing Google reads. Make sure each of your pages has a different title that begins with a keyword related to your business. For example, a website for a home staging consultant with a homepage title of “Susan’s Designs in Tampa” tells Google nothing about what the business does. A good title would read, “Real estate staging in Tampa with Susan’s Interior Designs.”

HINT: Put yourself in the mind of a customer that might be looking for you. What words would they type into Google to find the services you provide? Write down 5 or 10 of these search terms or phrases and use them throughout different titles and pages in your site. They are your KEYWORDS.

Keyword-Rich Headings

After the page title, the next bit of web page text Google typically reads is the heading of the first paragraph. Most inexperienced web writers would write something like “About Susan’s Designs” as the first paragraph or topic heading. The more Google Friendly text should read “Real estate staging in Tampa for more than 15 years.” This way Google is beginning to understand that this page must be all about real-estate staging in Tampa (after reading the page title and first paragraph).

Good Keywords in the Copy

Google reads your page looking for validation of the first two instances of your keywords (Page Title and Heading). Make sure you include the same keyword or key phrase a couple of more times in the page especially in the first paragraph. Try, “I have been doing real estate staging in Tampa since 1995.” Bingo… Now Google correctly assumes what this page is about and is more likely to index it properly.

Be sure to create a different page title on every page. The easiest way is to pull from your list of keywords and use a different one to start the title of each page. If you can’t control your page title, be sure to ask your Webmaster to do it for you.

Links

Equally important as titles and keywords are the relevant “inbound links” (other websites that link to yours). The more relevant inbound links that point to your site, the better your site will get indexed by Google. For example, you can create a separate blog that talks about trends in your industry and links to your website. Another good source of an inbound link can come from a listing in a directory or through membership in a professional association.

So that’s a basic overview on how to make your site Google-compliant. Keep in mind that Organic SEO takes some work, and more importantly, some time to work. If you want to pay your way to the top, you might think about Paid Search Advertising.


For a free SEO review of your website, contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

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04.21.11

Email Marketing: How to Add Value for Customers & Clients

Email MarketingEmail marketing is an extremely effective CRM strategy to communicate and build relationships with a diverse database of contacts. It is the most efficient way to push out targeted, timely and impactful messages to your customers and consumers on a regular basis.

Here’s how your business can derive benefits from developing permission-based and measurable email campaigns:

  • Increase top-of-mind brand awareness with consistent  targeted email campaigns
  • Promote new services,  products, news
  • Drive traffic with  and and encourage trial sales with coupons or special seasonal offers
  • Promote your next meeting or sales event
  • Promote social media channels
  • Promote thought leadership with added value content and trends
  • Remind your customers, members, and clients of the value your business provides
  • Measure ROI with strong metrics

Some SimpleAdvantages of email marketing in your marketing mix include:

  • A refined mailing list distributes information to a wide range of specific, potential customers at a relatively low cost.
  • Compared to other media investments such as direct mail or printed newsletters, it is less expensive.
  • An exact ROI can be tracked (“track to basket”) and has proven to be high when done properly.
  • Email marketing is often reported as second only to Search Marketing as the most effective online marketing tactic.
  • It’s instant. As opposed to a mailed advertisement, an email arrives in a few seconds or minutes.
  • It “pushes” the message to its audience, as opposed to a website that waits for customers to come in.
  • These can be used to measure open rates, positive or negative responses, correlate sales with marketing.
  • Generate repeat business affordably and automatically.
  • Over half of Internet users check or send email on a typical day.
  • Specific types of interaction with messages can trigger subsequent messages to be automatically delivered.
  • Specific types of interaction with messages can trigger other events such as updating the profile of the recipient to indicate a specific interest

To learn more about effective email marketing campaigns contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

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04.18.11

9 Reasons to do Online Video Marketing

1

Memorable

Compelling content combined with a powerful story telling medium can create a memorable experience for your potential and current customers 

According to Nielson, overall recall of online video runs high at 69%

2

Engaging

A web video with emotionally compelling content can keep your viewer engaged longer. 

56% of online videos are watched for over a minute

3

Share Success

Bring your case studies, testimonials, and success stories to life with video

4

Demonstratable

Demonstrate how your products and services work,  solve problems or deliver results

5

Educational

Share your knowledge and know how to educate your customers and clients with timely or insightful information

6

Viral

Social media and smart technology makes web video content easy to share and spread like wildfire

7

Searchable

Videos account for 38% of all Google searches and 50% of all searches list a video.  A properly optimized video can produce great results in search engines and drive traffic, interest and awareness across the web

8

Credibile

You’re the expert… demonstrate your thought leadership or know how to earn trust with your prospects by providing timely, relevant information.  63% of business professionals access an online video once a week

9

Multi-purpose

Video can be multi-purposed across various channels including your brand website, email marketing campaigns, custom video channels, e-commerce and social media

For more information on video marketing, contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

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04.18.11

Why People Use Twitter

Twitter MarketingUpdating status = self-promotion?

What drives people to tweet?

According to the “Consumer Internet Barometer” from TNS and The Conference Board, 41.6% percent of Internet users who used Twitter did so to keep in touch with their friends.

In addition, 29.1% used it to update their status, 25.8% to find news and stay updated, 21.7% for work purposes and 9.4% for research.

Men and women both used Twitter primarily to keep in touch with friends. Secondarily, men were interested in finding news and women in updating their status.

Users under age 35 were more interested in broadcasting their status than their senior counterparts. Older users were more likely to use the service for work-related purposes.

The average Twitter user interacted primarily with friends and family

The next most popular tweeters were celebrities, bloggers, TV shows, co-workers, brands and journalists.

More women interacted with friends, family and celebrities than men, but men were more likely to follow bloggers.

Older users trailed younger ones in interaction with every Twitter user type except journalists and brands.

Who can Twitter users blame for their addiction? One-half of tweeters said a friend or family member introduced them to the site and 33% were hooked by a co-worker.


For more information on online marketing, contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

This article was posted on e-marketer.

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04.18.11

How to Optimize Your Business Online

Simplified SEO MarketingMaybe your key business objectives read something like this…

  • Increase new business traffic, inquiries, or sales by X%
  • Reinforce position as the premier provider of (put your service or product here)
  • Introduce new products or services

Maybe your web marketing strategy should be this simple…

  • Create a comprehensive Online Business Optimization Program to increase higher traffic and awareness via searches, links and target engagement.

So where do you start?

Create an Online Marketing Plan

Most companies have a website. It’s table stakes. But in today’s competitive business climate, you have to ask yourself, is that enough? Are you getting all the traffic your need? What about the abundance of new web channels and media that are now part of everyone’s everyday experience? Should you pay for website clicks or attract them naturally? Is something missing or are you spending too much in one area? What works with your clients and customers? What makes sense for your business?

These are the questions a sound online strategic plan will answer and help you decide which online marketing tactics make sense for your business.

Here are just few ideas for you to consider.

Organic Optimization

Good SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, starts organically with your own website. This means you have to correctly align your page titles, headlines and copy on each page using relevant keywords. Understanding keywords relevant to your business in searches and how to use them correctly is table stakes to online marketing. We call it “Getting Google-friendly.”

If done right, organic optimization will help increase the number of times your site appears via search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Organic SEO is an ongoing process that can take more than six months to yield increased traffic to your site, but in the long run it can be the most effective.

Online PR Program

How do you fill the pipeline with great news about your company or brands? Maybe it’s time to supplement your traditional PR efforts with digital or online PR strategies. With online PR you can shape public perception of your company with potential customers. It’s just the beginning of managing your company’s reputation online. We distribute keyword-targeted news articles and information, including images and video, through syndication channels for many of our clients. These appear on relevant media websites, industry blogs/newsletters, and other content sources, to help increase links to your website and find good news surrounding your good name.

Here are a couple of Online PR examples we created for a clients that got picked up.

Linking Strategies

Linking your website via directories, blogs or other relevant websites is key to driving your organic search rankings. It takes a bit of work. Search for directories or business listings within your industry. Some are free. Some are fee-based. Some are junk. Join them all if you can. Google favors links on external sites back to your site. Just make sure it’s relevant.

You can also trade links with business partners, share blogs you like, or provide a link from your blog to your web site. Send them an email and ask for a trade in kind. Just make sure it’s not competitive or irrelevant.

Warning: Be careful of site-paid links or companies that try to sell you a linking list. You may get blacklisted if you don’t do it the old fashioned way.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the most cost-effective way of engaging and activating your existing customers and clients. Read more about Email Marketing for Brand and Customer Loyalty here.

Blog Marketing

Blog Marketing can reinforce your position as an expert in your field while increasing links and raising your visibility in organic searches. You can create a blog for maximum exposure and impact, adding features like RSS channel news feeds, email sign-ups, links to your business website or social networking communities.

Keywords and interesting topics are the key to any successful blog. All you have to do is write about what you know on a regular basis and promote it a little.

Read our blog on why your business should do blog marketing.

Social Networks

Are social networking sites the business tools of the future? Yes, if you know how to work them. If you run a small business in these changing times, ignore them at your own risk. Your competitors may already be networking and micro blogging their way to a stronger Web presence, enhanced credibility, and more customers.

The most popular sites for business are LinkedIn, Plaxo and Xing. Everyone knows about Twitter by now. StartUpSpace.com is for new and growing businesses. Small businesses are finding value on Facebook’s Visa Business Network, a small business-only social network. The whole concept of social media is a lot like birds of a feather flocking together — in other words, people with a common interest or objective interacting online. Social networks enable that interaction, in professional but also fun and interesting ways.

While there aren’t many strict rules about using social networks, there are do’s and don’ts, as well as strategies to employ to get ahead.

To start, read our blog on How to Engage on Social Networks

Here’ a handy guide for How to “Tweet” for Business

Pay-Per-Click Programs

Need a sugar buzz for your business? During key sales periods, or for breaking news events, a PPC program can drive substantial qualified traffic using specific search terms. Pay Per Click requires you to bid on keywords you anticipate a target market would use when searching for a product or service. Basically, you pay to have your site appear in the “sponsored listings” section of search engines like Google or Yahoo. You’ll pay for each click that you get through these ads.

PPC programs can also target other relevant content sites and social networks. This offers you several micro opportunities to target customers with specific niche interests. We recently implemented a Facebook PPC program targeting students at the top small universities around the county, with school-specific messages. It was a huge success!

So if your small business is looking to grow by stealing market share or protecting what you have, optimize your business online. It may just be the answer you are looking for as you think about your marketing plan this year.

Bookmark this blog now or sign up for our RSS feed, as we will be doing deeper dives on each subject later this month.

Learn more about how web marketing can help optimize your business online.


For more information on website optimization, contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

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04.18.11

Social Media Marketing: How to Get Started

Simplified Solutions - Social MarketingNow that things like Facebook and Tweets are household words the question is how to make it work for your business or company.  As you know, Social Media consists of network-based websites and technologies that support and encourage user-generated content and conversation through blogs, photos, videos, discussion forums, reviews, and more.

By effectively engaging your audiences within these communities you can increase dialogue and participation with your brand and company significantly impacting your business.

The first thing you need to know is that Social Media takes some work and it takes time. You have to be committed. But the ability to influence discussions, manage your online reputation and spread the word virally, and even generate leads, can return rich rewards. You just have to be patient and gain an acute understanding how to make it work for your business.

So how do you get started?

Set Objectives

What do you want to accomplish? Build your reputation in the marketplace? Generate traffic to your website? Create awareness within a select community? Promote an event? Build some brand ambassadors to evangelize about your product? There are many goals that social networks and media can help you achieve. Create a list of objectives and then decide what is the best social media strategy for your small business.

Search

The first thing you can do is search for Social Networks that your customer may belong to. Some may blog on professional networks. Some may participate in conversations on industry forums. Others may be on Facebook or Twitter. Yelp, a peer-to-peer review site, has become a very popular site for folks to weigh in on everything from companies to their favorite places. Even your local newspaper is now online and offers blogs on every subject.

You can search for your name or by topics that you think your customers may be involved with.

Listen

The first thing to do is to listen. Spend some time understanding the audience and conversation. It’s important to know the rules of the road. Don’t just jump in and start talking. You want to learn who the big influencers are and to get a sense of the tone and tenor of the dialogue. Must importantly, you want to understand how you fit in.

Engage

Take your first step. If we are talking about a blog or a forum, maybe you can offer expertise or comment on a subject you are passionate about. Your advice could lead to further conversations.

If you hear someone comment negatively on your business, you have a chance to dig further and maybe resolve the issue. On a site like Yelp you might even want to thank customers for their favorable comments with a free offer.

Start a Facebook page or LinkedIn group around your company’s passions and those of your employees, clients, or customers. Promote your events. Share your stories. Post photos and videos.

Rinse and Repeat

Now that you have taken your first step, wait and see what happens. Then try it again. It’s important that you experiment. Engaging in Social Media is more of an art than a science. Be prepared to make mistakes (one to avoid is being too self-promoting vs. organically engaging). Just remember, it takes time, work and a lot of typing.


For more information on social network marketing, contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

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03.24.11

SMS Text Marketing Goes Mainstream

This year we’ll see continued explosive growth in sms marketing. Like email was to communication a decade ago, texting (personal and promotional) is quickly becoming the primary tool for fast business communication. Its impact is already undeniable:

  • In 2011 the volume of mobile text messages exceeded the number of phone calls made for the first time ever.
  • More than 1.8 trillion sms messages were sent in 2010. That’s nearly double the amount of texts sent in 2008.
  • 94% of text messages are opened in 9 minutes or less with a 15% average response rate.
  • 82% of people aged 18-49 use text messaging.
  • 33% of people change their emails annually; only 5% change their cell phone number each year.
  • More than a third of respondents in 2010 said they prefer text marketing over direct mail, radio and TV ads.

The world of mobile is finally being accepted into the mainstream and businesses are noticing. Coupons, alerts and infoblurbs are all received with a chirp on a cell phone instead of opening an email at your desk. As users get more accustomed to this stream the opportunities for business abound. Sure, email marketing must remain a staple of your marketing budget but sms marketing must earn a piece of the pie as well.

Getting started is easy. For as little as $.05 / message you can run advanced opt-in campaigns with tracking coupons that connect directly to websites for redemption, send videos and run contests. Not to mention the power of appointment reminders, voting and keyword branding. For less than that we like sms messaging simply for getting a basic info alert into somebody’s hand for something as simple as a kids baseball game cancellation or updates from your local school.

Think of SMS messaging when you need quick activation and response without graphic branding. On the other hand think of email marketing as the supportive and long-term branding vehicle. The tow together create a great 1-2 messaging punch for any business or organization.


To learn more about our very own SMS management system contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at info@simplifiedsolutions.biz or call 312-886-7669.

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