Native Advertising Predicted to Be Big in 2014

In 2014, Content Marketing is still the key to a powerful SEO campaign and an active, engaging social media presence. The opportunities for content placement are growing because online publishers need to make money!

The banner ads on newspaper and magazine websites are not doing the job; the average click-through rate is about .1 percent. (Source: DoubleClick). Online publishers, including such big names as The New York Times, Buzzfeed and Vanity Fair, are hoping Native Advertising will boost click through rates and increase revenue.

The objective of Native Advertising is to supplement an article with helpful information from a paid sponsor. Like other forms of content marketing, native ads do not directly promote the sponsor’s product or service. The expectation is that a reader will want to engage with the sponsored content because, unlike a banner ad, a native ad contains information that is relevant to the article that has already attracted the reader’s attention.

While a small business probably can’t afford a native ad placement on The New York Times website, there are affordable options—73 percent of online publishers and media companies offer some kind of native advertising program. (Source: eMarketer)

**Examples of native advertising include Promoted Tweets on Twitter, Sponsored Stories on Facebook and TrueView Video Ads on YouTube.

4 reasons why content marketing is vital to growing your business

We’ve all heard the phrase “Cash is King”.

In the online marketing world, Content isn’t far behind…

Last year, as many of you know, there were many updates to Google’s algorithm with strange names assigned to these updates such as “Penguin” and “Panda”.

For those of you who are not familiar with this, the short and quick of it is that these updates were put in place to eliminate the “tricks” and “shortcuts” that some web
site owners use to get rankings and, instead, give better rankings to web sites who actually provide the best content for those doing a search.

This is determined by a number of factors including the actual content on your web site (text, videos, etc), the links from other web sites back to your web site (backlinks), and other offsite content either mentioning you or linking back to your web site (articles, blogs, social media).

If you want to be one of Google’s top ranked web sites in your respective industry and/or field, you need to develop a content marketing program.

This is THE KEY to getting better rankings on Google.

Better Rankings = More Traffic to your web site.

More Traffic to your web site = More sales.

With big, well known brands, such as Apple or Google, their job in content marketing is simple because they own a large piece of the web sphere and have many people looking for their content.

Most people (us included) are not so lucky…

So, what can you do?

1. The first step in content marketing is to make sure you do your research.

Whomever you appoint inside or outside your company to handle your content marketing, make sure that they look at what your business does and what kind of keywords and topics are relevant to your business. Make sure they then create interesting angles and facts to include in your content. Just going on and on about why you’ve been in business 30 years in your particular category isn’t terribly interesting.

2. Next, make sure that the company or individuals you appoint to handle this are GOOD WRITERS!

There’s a lot of different kinds of writers out there. There are people that are great at writing press releases and people that are great at writing research reports. You want to find someone who knows how to take these interesting facts and angles and put them into interesting content that the audience is going to enjoy when they read. Because ultimately, you’re trying to get someone to engage with your content and then come back to your website.

3. Once that content is created, it needs to be syndicated.

There is an exact process and methodology for syndicating content. The main component to that syndication is earning links back to your website. So there needs to be a plan for what you do with it when it’s done.

4. The final component is using social media to share and spread that content virally.

You want to tap as many other influencers out there as you can so that they might be willing to share or spread the news of your online marketing content that you’ve syndicated.

Not a one and done approach….

Content marketing is something that your company needs to do OFTEN and on an ongoing basis. This is not something you do for two weeks and then assume that you’ve done enough. You need to continuously build links and credibility for your company by publishing as much relevant content as possible.

This is your competitive edge.

And, in the long run, this approach pays huge dividends.

Whether you decide to take this on yourself or hire a website designer or web site developer, we’re here to help you.

Call us today at 1.877.490.8324 for some new ideas and a free, no-hassle consultation.

You may also Click here to schedule a confidential consultation.

If you enjoyed this article, would you mind sharing it with others who might benefit as well? Please click any of the icons below and spread the word! :)

To your success!

Ben Vaughn
Sr. Online Business Strategist
AutoWeb Technologies

“If you’re not first, you’re last” – Ricky Bobby (from the movie Talladega Nights)

I love Will Ferrell.

I remember the first time I saw him on Saturday Night Live (I think it was the Spartan Cheerleader Skit). I laughed for 10 minutes straight. I knew that he was a special talent. I’m an SNL buff all the way back into 1980’s when I was in high school (showing my age a bit here).

Anyway, so as his fame has grown, I’ve seen nearly all his films and to be honest, I’ve never seen a Will Ferrell film that I didn’t like.

Talledega Nights is a classic. After he wins a race, he’s being interviewed and responds to a question with: “If you’re not first, you’re last”. It’s funny, in it’s context, and is also on point with our topic today…

Is there a significant advantage to being the FIRST listing on a search engine results page?

New research just released from Compete.com is pretty telling in regards to the importance of the difference between a first and second place listing.

Their recent analysis of several million consumer generated search results from this last past quarter of 2012 tell us (first graphic above):

  • 85% of listings shown on the major search engines are “organic”. What this means is that the free listings still dominate search results. In order to get your fair share, you need to be committed to an effective off-site search engine optimization campaign so that you can get in the top organic results.
  • 15% of the listings shown on the major search engines are paid. These are the “pay-per-click” type of listings we’ve all seen and participate in.

Additionally, they also report that when in comes to actual clicks on those organic listings:

  • 53% of clicks are done on the very FIRST search result.
  • 15% of clicks are done on the second search result.
  • 9% of clicks are done on the third search result.
  • 6% of clicks are done on the 4th search result.
  • 4% of clicks are done on the 5th search result.

Since the vast majority of listings on a search engine results page are organic AND the majority of clicks are on the FIRST listing, it’s very important to monitor your organic rankings are have an effective strategy in place to get you to #1 or as close as possible. It’s that important…

What about paid listings? (Pay-Per-Click)

This same pattern repeats itself with paid listings.

The data demonstrates that the even though only 24% of paid ads appear at the top “block” of the typical search page, they garnish 85% of the clicks! 85%!!

The remaining listings on the side and bottom, even though they command their fair share of exposure, only get 15% of the clicks.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re participating in a paid listing campaign, you’d better make sure that it is properly setup and managed, so that you get maximum exposure for your ad dollar. Otherwise, you could be wasting your money.

Personally, I believe the first graphic at the top is the most telling. To repeat here: 85% of all search engine results displayed are ORGANIC! No cost for clicks. 1 click or 1000, your price per click is always ZERO.

SEO is alive and well.

Make sure you have a solid plan in place to get your company’s web site the rankings it deserves and your fair share of the HUGE AMOUNT of search traffic out there for the taking.

Traffic (properly captured)  = Leads (that are valuable assets) = Future Sales (that you can sell to OVER and OVER again).

Am I saying if you’re not in the top results you wont see traffic? Absolutely not. I’m just saying even the driver in last place gets a check… It’s just not as big as the guy in 1st… (see that, I tied it all together!)

Still a little hazy about the details? We’re here to help you.

Call us today at 1.877.490.8324 for some new ideas and a free, no-hassle consultation.

You may also Click here to schedule a confidential consultation.

If you enjoyed this article, would you mind sharing it with others who might benefit as well? Please click any of the icons below and spread the word! :)

To your success!

Ben Vaughn
Sr. Online Business Strategist
AutoWeb Technologies

How Google’s new rules might affect your web site.

Cute, isn’t he?

What I want to talk about this week is a different type of “Panda”, however.

Last year, Google launched a series of updates to their search algorithm (their “RULES”) with a code name “Panda”

Yes, they think they’re the CIA now…

They recently (last week) announced that a new Panda update is forthcoming.

These series of updates have had some serious ramifications on millions of web sites world-wide such as Andrew Strauss, owner of Oh My Dog Supplies LLC who received 70% of his customers through Google searches. After the changes, he lost 96% of his Google traffic and his sales plummeted from $68,000 a month to $25,000 a month.

Google’s main priority is to provide the highest quality, most accurate and relevant content possible. Their other priority (which by the way keeps them in business) is to sell Google Adwords. But that’s for another discussion.

The main focus of these Panda updates are to eliminate low quality content from their system. They know that page 1 is the only page that people look at, generally, and they are dead set on making page 1 extremely accurate in relation to the searches being made.

So, if someone does a search for “umbrella stores in Sioux City, Iowa”, you can bet your last dollar that the search results returned for this search are going to be extremely accurate.

How does google define “relevant” and “quality” in regards to content and what can you do to make sure you score high enough?

Google considers relevant and quality content to be directly in relation to two factors:

  • On Site Content
  • Off Site Content

On Site content is the actual “stuff” that you have coded into and placed on your site such as text, videos, images, meta tags (keywords, page titles, page descriptions), and your actual domain name (having a keyword in your domain name is helpful). Make sure you keep your content fresh as well, as Google spiders your web site frequently.

Off Site content refers to any articles, blogs, social media mentions, backlinks from other web sites, reviews, and other content that is on other web pages, directories, etc.

It is rumored that Google gives Off Site Content a weight of as much as 70% of your total page ranking!! That’s a very serious statistic and what that means for you is that you can do all of the right things with your On Site Content and still only impact your total score 30% or so.

If your On Site content and Off Site content are good quality, abundant, and closely related to each other in terms of keywords and scope, Google will give you a high ranking and you’ll be considered “relevant”.

“But I’m already submitting my site to the search engines on a regular basis. Isn’t that good enough??”

It depends….

If you are in “niche” industry with very little competition, this might not be a problem. After all, if there’s no one else to compare your site to in regards to keywords and what is “relevant”, than you become “RELEVANT”. However,  if you are competing against a larger pool of other businesses like your own, it probably won’t be enough…especially, if they’re Off Site content is more numerous that yours.

What to do next?

  • First, make sure that your On site content is updated, fresh and useful for your focus audience.
  • Second, make sure that your site is tagged properly with the correct meta tags and it helps to have a good keyword rich domain name as your primary domain.
  • Third, get working on Off Site Content! Get out there and try to get articles and reports published on other web sites, blogs, and other locations. Use social media to your advantage, get backlinks from other web sites, and try to garner good reviews from your clients that can be verified through Google + Local.

It’s a lot of work, but the payoff can be tremendous. Some see the Panda updates as an obstacle that is tough to overcome. I happen to see it as an opportunity to do the right things and get a “leg up” on competitors.

For the astute marketer with a well-rounded, diversified SEO plan, built on a foundation of quality content, this can be your opportunity to grow your business and pull ahead of your competitors in the battle for online exposure.

Need help in this area? We’re rolling out a completely new Premium Search Engine Marketing Platform very soon that focuses on the requirements of the new Panda updates and maximizing Off Site Content.

Call us today at 1.877.490.8324 for some new ideas and a free, no-hassle consultation.

You may also Click here to schedule a confidential consultation.

If you enjoyed this article, would you mind sharing it with others who might benefit as well? Please click any of the icons below and spread the word! 🙂

To your success!

Ben Vaughn
Sr. Online Business Strategist
AutoWeb Technologies

How to use landing sites and pages to grow your business.

Some of you might have heard of landing pages. They are sometimes referred to as a “Splash Pages” or “Lead Capture Pages” or “Landing Sites”.

Traditionally, these are used very specifically in marketing (search engine, email, direct mail, etc) as a way to direct a prospect or customer response to a very specific web page or web site. These web pages/sites usually display specific sales copy built around a specific product, service or keyword. The main goal of these landing pages/sites is to create a “conversion” which is simply having a visitor complete a form, make a purchase, make a phone call, or do something else desired.

There are different variations of the “how” and the “why” behind landing pages and landing sites. Many times, these landing pages are just sub-pages of the main web site.

What I want to talk about today, however, is a variation of this concept.

Several years ago, it was easy to optimize your main web site for all the keyword phrases you could think of related to your business. That, along with proper meta tag coding on your web site, good content, regular submission, and some luck gave your site a decent chance at good rankings on the major search engines without spending too much money.

The problem is that in the last 12-18 months it has become harder and harder to get high rankings for a diverse set of keyword phrases. The search engines, especially Google™, are penalizing sites that appear too “Broad” with the number of keyword phrases. They want their search results to be as exact as possible.

Here’s the problem for us…

If you own a business that has a lot of different products or services, you might only be getting rankings for certain keyword phrases, which can omit areas of your business that are important.

For example, if you own an automotive repair business and your list of services is related to “repair” and also “maintenance” and the brands that you service cover all of the domestic and imports, that’s a lot of keyword phrases to cover. There’s a huge list of keyword phrases related to auto repair, engine repair, brake repair, transmission repair, etc. coupled with “Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, etc”. Conversely, the list of keywords related to automotive maintenance, engine maintenance, brake system maintenance, transmission service, routine maintenance, etc. coupled with these same car brands is also very long!

Same business, but a different set of services altogether.

Same thing goes for lawyers, insurance companies, dentists, doctors, contractors, etc… If you have a diverse set of service offerings and specializations, this can be a nightmare trying to get high rankings for all of them.

What can be done to help combat this broad list of services and still remain high in your site’s rankings?

Create landing pages or landing sites for your business.

When you create these “standalone” web sites/pages, you “segment” out a particular product or service from your business into a space all it’s own. This allows you to create focus and a directed “CALL TO ACTION” around a product or service that you want to sell a lot of. The landing page can include sales specific copy about that product or service or service group along with something that converts a visitor into something that is measurable.

Generally, this “CALL TO ACTION” can be several things:

  • Getting a visitor make an immediate purchase.
  • Getting a visitor to schedule an appointment or consultation using a form.
  • Getting a visitor to pick up the phone and call you.
  • Getting a visitor to sign up for a monthly newsletter or register for a free report about a that particular keyword/area of your business that interests them.  This then allows you to market to them on a regular basis. This is very powerful because we know that it takes several exposures to a product or service before a purchase is generated. We’ve written about this many times before. Newsletters and regular email communications that are informative, but not too “sales oriented” allow you to build trust and a “fence” around your herd of prospects and clients.
  • The list can go on and on and is only limited by your creativity.

Keep in mind!!! This doesn’t mean we remove these products and services from our main web site.

We want to make sure that our company’s main web site still covers everything that we do.

Other tricks of the “landing page/site” trade include:

  • Setting up these sites/pages with their very own URL (domain name). So, if you are a dentist and have a growing dental practice with good rankings for your traditional dental services, but poor rankings for your “cosmetic dental services” and you live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you might want to setup a separate landing site with a domain name “www.siouxfallscosmeticdentists.com”. Yes, it’s a long domain. It doesn’t matter. You won’t be advertising this domain (unless you want to, which is fine). This is mainly for the search engines to know what the site’s focus is (along with some other clever keyword phrase meta tags you’ll include).
  • Another strategy is to post videos related to this specific product or service/service group on the landing site.

Combine this strategy with GOOD CONTENT (a must) and you can watch your business search engine footprint grow exponentially.

Like to learn more? We’re always here to help. Call us today at 1.877.490.8324 for a free, no-hassle consultation.

You may also Click here to schedule a confidential consultation.

If you enjoyed this article, would you mind sharing it with others who might benefit as well? Please click any of the icons below and spread the word! 🙂

To your success!

Ben Vaughn
Sr. Online Business Strategist
AutoWeb Technologies

How high is the fence around your “herd” of customers?

What is the most valuable asset that your business owns?

Your building? Your equipment? Your inventory? Your intellectual property?

ALL WRONG.

Not even the operating capital that you have in the bank is as valuable as this one asset that most business owners overlook….

It is your CUSTOMERS.

  • Once you’ve sold a product or service to your customers, are you doing everything you can to keep your name in front of them as THE EXPERT in your field?
  • Are you marketing to them regularly?
  • Are you sending them newsletters each month that reinforce the value of what you and your company offer?

By communicating regularly with your existing customers (Your “HERD”) through offers and also newsletters you are building a strong fence around them, thereby keeping you in the front of your minds and your competition in the rear view mirror.

Many companies big and small neglect the customers that they’ve already done business with forgetting the true costs associated with acquiring a new customer. Depending on what you sell, it can be very expensive to gain a new customer. While we all know the importance of marketing to “cold” prospects and growing your business with new clients, it’s much easier to sell an existing client more “stuff” because they’ve already demonstrated that they have some degree of trust in you.

How do we know that? Simple. They’ve already given you their money.

Let’s explore some ideas and ways we can build our fence:

  • NEWSLETTERS – This is #1. You need to send out a monthly newsletter to your clients by email and/or regular mail (preferably both if it makes sense). The content needs to be light, entertaining, and non-sales oriented. You can have special offers in the newsletter, but keep it minimal and focus on a readable, fun newsletter that your customers will look forward to.
  • Blog Posts – Daily, Weekly, or Monthly you can write blog posts about your specialization and thereby reinforce your credibility among your customers. Keep posts relatively brief and easy to read (6-7th grade reading level preferred).
  • Email Promotions – Special discounts, offers, and date sensitive sales announcements are all great ways to promote your company and your products and/or services.
  • Social Media – Make sure your Facebook posts and Twitter “tweets” are regular and relevant. This is another subtle, but effective way to keep your fence strong around your customers.
  • Direct Mail – With more and more of your competitors taking their marketing online, why not use direct mail to communicate with your customers? It’s a contrarian approach to online marketing that is still very effective.

Something else we don’t want to overlook here is one of the best reasons why you want to actively market to and communicate with your customers…

REFERRALS.

Even if your existing customers don’t buy another thing from you in the foreseeable future, if you are fresh in their minds because you are actively communicating with them, odds are that their colleagues, friends, and family members will need your services in the future. This makes it that much easier for them to remember you and make a referral. Referral business is easy to sell to and easy to please, generally, with reasonable expectations.

So, is there any downside?

Time. As business owners, you wear many hats and are pulled in many different directions on a daily basis. In order for your “fence” to be effective, it has to be regular and predictable. This means that you must send out your newsletters and other offers on a regular basis.  You must allot the time each week or month to create the copy and implement the campaigns. If you can assign these tasks to an in-house marketing or administrative person who has some marketing background or experience, this is ideal. You can then proofread and/or edit the content and give it your final blessing, as the expert.

If you’re short on time, talent, or otherwise, we can help.

We have a full staff of experienced copy writers and marketing staff that can create regular newsletters for you with no hassles. We can also setup and show you how to do other types of email communications and blog posts that get results with your customers. Call us today at 1.877.490.8324 for a free, no-hassle consultation.

You may also Click here to schedule a confidential consultation.

If you enjoyed this article, would you mind sharing it with others who might benefit as well? Please click any of the icons below and spread the word! 🙂

To your success!

Ben Vaughn
Sr. Online Business Strategist
AutoWeb Technologies

Are you missing out on future sales with your web site?

One of the biggest problems I see with companies and their web sites when it comes to generating sales is that they do not “capture” the email addresses of visitors. Most companies expect a visitor to come to their web site and immediately make a call or a purchase. It rarely works that way.

It’s called “browsing” the internet for a reason… 

It takes trust and several exposures for a potential customer to make a purchase or a serious inquiry. Many times, we’re so eager to sell, sell, sell that we forget that there has to be a genuine need on the part of the customer AND that need can only be met when they’re ready. Otherwise, we enter into a game of “cat and mouse “.

However, the fact that a visitor is at your web site tells us one simple thing – They are here now. We don’t know exactly why, but they are. We can’t be too aggressive with our web site copy or “nag” them with intrusive “chat” popups while they’re browsing. Those things can be a real turn off.

You can, however, put a system into place that turns your static storefront into an automated marketing machine. Instead of hoping and praying that someone calls you or buys something NOW, you can offer them an incentive to give you their email address in return for a special report or some other useful information (or coupon or discount towards a future purchase).

What’s in it for them? – If you do things right, you can create unbiased reports and resources that your potential clients will see as valuable. You then become less of a “threat” and more of an “asset”, only seeking to lend a hand and help.

What’s in it for you? – You now have permission to market to them on a regular basis with more helpful tips, offers, and newsletters. You can earn their trust over time and when they’re ready to make a purchase, your company will remain fresh in their minds.

Make sense?

This approach really works. We’ve seen businesses grow their future sales exponentially using this approach (including ours). However, it does requires a commitment of a few things on your part:

1. You need to create (or have someone else create) some sort of “offer” for visitors to your web site. This should be some sort of guide, report, discount, or other special information that helps educate your customers and help them with their “problem”.
2. You need a system of collecting their email addresses and managing them. There are many systems out there that can do this for you very reasonably.
3. You need to consistently send well written email communications that offer more information, tips, and offers that they may deem useful. Be careful here not to market too aggressively or you may see a spike in “unsubscribes”.

Using this systematic approach, you’ll create a “herd” of potential clients who will come to know and trust you as well as your products or services.

So, take action today and start maximizing the traffic that you’re getting to your web site. Your future revenue numbers will thank you!

If you’re open to some new ideas for turning your static web site into a lead generating “system”, we’re here to help as well.

Click here to schedule a confidential consultation or call us directly at 877.490.8324.

To your success!

Ben Vaughn
Sr. Online Business Strategist
AutoWeb Technologies