In this article two important marketing strategies are reviewed: search engine optimization and social media.

Just as the spokes of a wheel are held together and strengthened by its hub so too is the planning for a successful marketing campaign. The greater the integrity and quality of the hub, the better are the chances that the spokes will stay true and provide far reaching performance.

In this series we have looked at several ‘spokes’ that contribute to a winning web marketing strategy. Part 1 looked at several of these building blocks: marketing budget and timelines, market research, and competitor analysis while Part 2 discussed the importance of keyword research, focus on achievable phrases, creating relevant textual content and search friendly website design. A future article will deal with the remaining spokes: link building, blogs, newsletters, and website analytics.

But central to all of this, the hub, is search engine optimization. A properly optimized site will make all its associated components strive for greater potential. SEO raises the bar. With the rapid maturation (sophistication?) of the internet it has become ever more challenging to keep up to date with recent advancements and techniques in one’s online quest in search and being found.

Here are some guidelines that have withstood the test of time and will likely continue to be valid for the foreseeable future. The list is not all inclusive and as search engine algorithms constantly change so do the weighting of these variables. The higher a search engine’s confidence in these elements, the higher will be organic placement in their index. Ensure your website has the following focus:

  • Keywords: develop a universe of achievable keyword targets and then create sufficient textual content to support these keywords on critical pages in the site so it is optimized for maximum search engine relevancy. Consider having keywords with descriptive or geographic modifiers, if applicable.
  • Title Tags: unique and keyword enriched descriptive Title tags must be written for each page in the site. The Title tag is often used as the title for whatever search engine listing you achieve. This makes the Title tag not only a crucial element for achieving listings but may also influence prospects to visit your web site. As a result, it is very important to consider the structure of the Title tag and what message you wish to convey.
  • Description Tag: unique keyword enriched Description Meta tags that are page-specific are a critical component in optimizing the site. If the Meta tags are relevant to the page they are on, this may add extra leverage for achieving placement under other keywords. It should be optimized to suit the specific content of the page.
  • Navigation: a text-based navigation map should be available at the bottom of each page in the site. This is especially true if your site utilizes a fully graphical navigation bar or image menu. Text links are extremely important within a web site because they are easily indexed by the search engines.
  • XML Sitemap: create an XML site map and feed it to Google. When changes are made to your site Google is notified and this may encourage increased spider frequency.
  • Keyword Ratio: keyword to non-keyword ratios should be tested on each page to approximate the average keyword density found on successful competitor’s pages.
  • Alt Tags: descriptive image Alt tags should be optimized.
  • Links: ensure there are no broken links in your site; repair or delete them.
  • Primary Keyword Phrase: the Home page in your site must provide for a specific focus on your primary keyword phrase. A reasonable description length would be 100 – 150 words.
  • Secondary Keyword Phrases: have internal pages focus on secondary keyword phrases that are unique to that page.
  • Text Links: place keywords in the text links. Take the opportunity to cleanly add keywords into these links and they may enhance the placement outcome. Refrain from using generic terms such as ‘Home Page’ or ‘About Us’.
  • Splash Page: It is irrelevant to have a splash page as your Home Page as there is no text present for spiders to read, record and index.
  • Pop-Ups: do not use pop-ups in place of internal pages as search spiders will not read information contained in them.

As always if you are in the development phase of a new website or revamping an existing one it is always a good idea to purchase a few hours of quality consulting time. Such a precautionary measure can save you from expensive launch delays or having to reprogram code.

When a website is optimized it is important to recognize that SEO is not a one time event. The online environment is a dynamic one and constantly changing. As such, websites require continual management and maintenance. Frequently revise content to keep it fresh to both the search engines and your potential customers.

There are 10 organic listings available on each of Google’s index pages and your goal is to be as high up on that first page of results as possible. Because if you are not there, you can bet it will be your competitor. Implementing a sound SEO campaign and actively maintaining the site will help you get there.

Ross Dunn, StepForth’s CEO authored two extremely popular downloads about SEO. I highly recommend checking them out. Here they are – The Ten Minute Optimization REDUX – A SEO Tips White Paper and Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly? – Your Personal SEO Checklist

On Social Media and What Social Media Can Offer Your Company

Social media communities have the enormous power to change how people view and discuss your product online. You can optimize specific content you have for broadcast to a set of social media channels and their most relevant platforms. Some of the best ways for increasing your exposure on the web can include question and answer websites, blogging, and forums, to myriad social media sites and networks with ten of millions of users.

Is social media marketing a bubble or will this new flurry of interaction really change the face of online visibility? Although it is still early in the game to judge, here are some interesting possibilities that can further promote your online presence.

  • Community building: most social media sites are composed of communities, individuals, and groups who can drive large amounts of traffic to your site. Build relationships in these areas to benefit your company and its goals.
  • Brand Awareness: your identity on the web! People are probably chatting or looking for your products and services on the web right now and you want your brand to be found when this happens. Increased exposure and visibility on social media sites will lead to your site being found and possibly seen as a leader in your industry.
  • Reputation management: social media creates a better online presence for your products and services. It is important to know where your presence is found and what people are saying so you can control your message. Monitoring tools for keeping track of your online presence, social media achievements and pertinent industry news will keep you abreast.
  • Improved search engine ranking: social media creates fresh and relevant content that will be indexed on the search engines and social media sites. Some social media sites are indexed on certain search engines and thus can provide greater exposure of your services. This can lead to information on your site being ranked higher and more often on the search engines.
  • Increased visitor traffic: having your presence on social media sites can greatly affect your online traffic. Social media traffic will produce more qualified leads and highly targeted traffic to your website and can lead to viral online exposure.

One of the benefits of a social media program is to promote your site so it is seen as an authority in its field and the place to find information about your product or service. Where is your company or product online in relation to the top social media and niche social media sites related to your industry? Where does your target audience go for industry news, information and resources and which social media sites do they use?

What are your competitors up to in social media? Where are your competitors found on social media sites, where they are promoting their brand online, and what is giving them success online?

Develop marketing content (text, video, and/or audio) to produce a campaign that will showcase your products or services and increase traffic to your site. Determine which web communities (from large to niche social media sites) are best designed to promote your content. Then leverage and target the top social media communities to increase your website’s visibility.

Not only can social media help businesses find their clients online but it can build a positive brand experience where you are seen as a leader in your field having a product or service that many people recognize, trust and use.

Social media marketing works well within a strategic web marketing plan that may also include consultation, competitor analysis, keyword research, a multi-month, hands-on search engine optimization campaign or website analytics.

For a more in depth discussion on social media please see Do it Yourself Social Media Marketing – A StepForth White Paper

by Bill Stroll, Sales Manager, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Celebrating over 10 years of web marketing excellence.

The Genesis of a Successful Online
Marketing Campaign is comprised of 3 parts to date