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5 things you should not do as an internet marketer

Internet Marketing 101

What to look for from your marketer?  Not everyone is an expert

Internet Marketing

Any business owner will tell you to keep an eye on what your competition is doing.  As such I am constantly looking at what other SEO and Internet Marketing Firms are doing.   I generally focus on those that I would compete directly against but occasionally go outside of my area just to see what others are doing.

Some of these firms look very strong and seem to know what they are talking about based on their content and social media presence, while others could use a few lessons.  It always amazes me when someone advertises services that they are not proactively using themselves.  For example, if you look through craigslist you will see numerous people advertising that they are expert web designers, yet they do not have a website.

Often I come across a site that advertises SEO but they do not seem to have a strong understanding of what SEO is in 2014.  The game has changed.  You can no longer rely on a strategy that focuses on link spamming, email spamming or keyword stuffing.  You cannot pay a black hat SEO to get you on the first page of Google.  The tricks that many would be SEO firms used to get their clients to the top no longer work, and their clients are suffering while they scramble to correct everything,  The fact is if the SEO firms were doing it right all along, and heeding Google’s warning, they would not be scrambling today.

Today your focus should be content, content, and content.  Developing original, quality, relevant content is what will drive your site to the top, as long as everything else is set up properly.  As long as the content is there, the rest can be achieved with a little help from a qualified internet marketer.

Rather than list everything you will need to do,  I am going to list some of the things you should run away from if you see it on another firm’s site.  This is not an all inclusive list but is a good starting point.  If you are looking for a true expert in the field of internet/digital marketing make sure they are not trying to include any of these items as part of their own strategy.   Your firm should be transparent.  If you don’t know what they are doing then they may not be using ethical online marketing methods.

If you are looking for some things you should be focusing on as part of your plan, learn more on our guest blog post on Business2Community.com.

Probably most important, if they promise to get you the top spot of Google’s search results instantly…run and run as fast as you can.  No one can guarantee that.

What Internet Marketers Should Not Be Doing

1.  Flash Content-Flash content is not crawled by search engines.  Meaning it is not seen by Google, Bing or Yahoo when they send their spiders out (sounds creepy, I know) to look for content.  Flash content (as well as other similar content) is not readable by the search engines.  The more flash content you have the less likely you will be found by search engines, which means you will likely not be discovered when people search for your product or service.

If your home page has flash content, or you have a flash intro as part of your site there is a very good chance the search engines will never find it.

Flash has also fallen out of favor of many people who use the internet, so much so that HTML5 was developed and it is rumored that Flash will eventually be phased out.  HTML is the language of the internet.  Other languages are built on top of HTML but without HTML you do not have websites.

If the internet marketer you are looking at has a lot of flash content, or java content, especially on the home (index) page of their site you can bet they are not very strong in the field of SEO.

2.  Focus on link building as a primary strategy-At one time adding your link to as many resources as possible was indeed a strategy that would work if you wanted to get to the top of the search engine results page.  So much so that large corporations invested a lot of time and money into this as their primary strategy despite warnings from Google.

Today, with Google’s recent algorithm updates, this strategy will prove costly.  If your site invested in this as a strategy it is most likely suffering today.  You should not be paying for links back to your sites or exchanging links with others as methods for link building.  Google wants links to your site to basically be someone saying you are an expert on a subject.

If an internet marketer’s primary focus is on link building (most likely spamming) then their plan will not work with the algorithm that Google has in place now.  It will most likely have the opposite impact and cause you to drop in the ranking.

3.  Ignore Social Media-It’s the elephant in the very small closet.  You simply cannot afford to ignore social media.  If a firm says they are SEO experts but only have a couple hundred followers on Twitter or no presence on Facebook/Google+ then they do not take social media seriously.  If they have not heard of Pinterest or Instagram then they are not prepared to develop your social media plan.

Social Media cannot be ignored.  There is no question about it.  You cannot survive without a presence on the major players of the social media world.  It’s really that simple.  Without this presence, and interacting with your audience you will lose out to your competitors.

4.  Duplicate Content-Duplicate content on your own site, and on other sites can be harmful to your internet health.  Google does not like duplicate content.  If there is duplicate content Google will discount at least one of the sources.  If one of the sources is discounted, can you afford to have Google decide which one it is?

If an internet marketing firm has duplicate content, duplicate pages or duplicate sites then chances are they are not aware of this rule, and probably others.

5.  Ignore Your Audience-So many times I see where people are commenting on blog posts, social media posts or other internet content by an internet marketing company where a representative of the company does not reply.  It seems to happen most when the comment is not favorable to the topic of the post.

This means the company is not engaging its audience.  This is not the behavior you want from your internet marketing firm.  Engagement is one of the most important aspects of internet marketing and should never be ignored under any circumstance.  If you see an internet marketing not interacting with it’s audience this indicates they do not value their audience, and will not value your audience either.

The Final Word

Ask a lot of questions before you commit to a firm.  Understand what their plan will be, ask for reports on the results of the strategy they have in place.  Any good internet marketing plan will include tweaks to improve upon results or address negative results quickly.

SEO plans are constantly adjusted, updated and optimized and should include social media, content development and multimedia such as images and video.  The best marketers use tools to check for all possible problems and correct them quickly.  Ask what tools a potential firm will use.

Transparency is always key.  If the firm cannot tell you exactly what they are doing and how they are achieving the results you should express concern.  Remember, you are the client, not vice-versa.

If you have questions about what your firm is doing feel free to ask!  We’ll look into it and let you know, for free!

 

CT Internet Marketing Facts in 2014

Have Website, Will Search

If you own a business you undoubtedly heard of the internet.  As a matter fact unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard of the internet.  It has become almost critical that your business has some sort of presence on the internet or risk becoming irrelevant.  It’s so easy to start a business and establish it on the internet with the number of resources available at little to no cost.

But it’s not enough to just create a static web page and upload it to the massive world wide web.  There are literally billions of web pages on the internet, some of them competing for the same audience you are trying to reach.  Let’s take a look at some simple statistics just in Connecticut Internet Marketing.  I will list some of the things CT residents are searching for and how many times they are searched in a month, just on Google.

CT Search Facts

    • CT Plumber-12,100
    • CT Electrician-5400
    • landscaping in CT-12,100
    • CT Computer Repair-3600
    • Italian Restaurants CT-6600
    • CT Life Insurance-1900
    • Financial Planning CT-390

As you can see you may have some stiff competition, and this is just Google.  What about Bing and Yahoo?  What about Facebook, Twitter, and Google+?  You have your work cut out for you now that you opened the business and uploaded your static site.  So what’s a business to do?

Local Search Marketing in Connecticut

Here are some tips to improve your search results.  You can do most of these on your own with little to no financial commitment but the time involved may prove to be overwhelming especially if you are trying to run a small business.

1.  Website Content-You should strive for original, fresh and related content for your website.  This is probably the single most important piece but as you will discover the other pieces all tie in together.   If you are Financial Planner in Connecticut you will want to develop a blog with relevant content.  While not every post needs to be Connecticut specific it should have some flavors of Connecticut, and of course Financial Planning. Your ‘static’ pages should also be relevant and contain material that is up to date.  You will need to refresh and optimize on a regular basis to obtain your ultimate goal of reaching the top of the search results.   The percentage of content on your website should be significantly higher than the actual coding behind the site.  You should also have a clear structure to your website using a menu and internal links.  Google wants to be able to find other pages on your site easily. Images on your site should contain the proper description.  You should limit the amount of flash and java content.  If you are looking to have more media on your site use pictures and videos but ensure they have proper descriptions and coding.

2.  Social Media-At the very least you will want to develop social media profiles on what I call the Big 3.  (No not the Miami Heat).  Your social media should be used for community development and not for the cold sale.  If you set out to attack customers with sales pitch after sales pitch you will fail to develop a community and brand awareness. Facebook-right now Facebook is easily the king of the jungle.  In Connecticut alone there are over 1.6 million people over age 18 on Facebook.  That means using Facebook you can reach almost half of the states population.  Where else can you do that for no financial commitment? Alright, it’s not quite that simple, it will take some time, and at first you may want to invest in Facebook’s advertising system to get your page jump started.  With Facebook Ads you can target a very specific audience, and as soon as you reach 30 followers you can get more insights into your Facebook page to help optimize it further.

Google+ has taken over the number 2 spot over Twitter as far as the number of users.  Google+ is Google’s entry into the social media world after a couple of other failed attempts.  Google+ also lets you set up Google Authorship which will help to rank in the Google Search results tremendously.  As a matter of fact, Google has said if you have Google Authorship set up you will rank better.

Twitter is a micro-blogging site.  It has slipped to number 3 in number of users just recently.  It offers a platform to post short (140 Characters or less) updates about whatever you want it to be.  Twitter made the hashtag famous and while all the aforementioned sites use hashtags as well Twitter seems to thrive with them.

3.  Keywords are also important but not in the same way as they used to be.  It is important to have Keywords on your website (and social media profiles) but they should be a part of the content.  Search engines are not using meta keywords anymore.  Keywords should also be added using H1 and H2 tags wherever possible.It is also important not to overuse Keywords (called Keyword Stuffing).  This can have a very negative impact on your site’s ranking in search engines.  Using your keywords should not make your content unreadable.  If it does not make sense to you then it probably will not to your audience.

4.  Link Building is also a good way to get your site noticed by search engines but can also have a negative impact if not done right.  You should strive to quality, related sites link back to your site.  Google looks at this as meaning you are considered an expert in your area if other people in your field, or related fields are linking back to you.The reverse is possible if your site is linked from sites that are unrelated, or even worse are considered spam.  This can have a very negative effect on your search engine results.  Another no-no is posting on blogs solely for the purpose of adding a link back to your site.

5.  Guest Blogging is a good way to get your name out there.  There are many sites that allow people to blog as a guest which will do a few things for you.  It allows you to show your expertise in an area, making you the authority on the subject.  It also allows legitimate backlinks to your site if the blog has a by-line (which it should include, using Google Authorship). With that being said make sure that your guest blogs are also tied into your Google Authorship account.  This goes a long way in making you the expert on the materials you are covering.

You will want to be careful with Guest Blogging.  Make sure you are not using it as a form of link building.  You should only guest on high quality blogs, and do so on a regular basis to ensure that Google does not view it is spam.  You also will want to limit guest bloggers on your own site.  Make sure they are legitimate content developers and not spammers.

6.  Email Marketing can be a very useful tool in your toolbox.  This allows you to send email to people who have opted in to receive notifications from you and may include product or service updates, tips, promotions and pretty much anything else you want to include.   Using a service like Constant Contact makes email marketing very easy to manage, and it is very cost effective.Email Marketing still has one of the highest ROI in the marketing world.  It is a good idea to invest in it since the cost is minimal but the potential is limitless.  It is important to note that your email should be considered an extension of your website.  It should have well thought out content that follows the same guidelines as your site, no keyword stuffing or other behavior that will turn your audience off, or encourage them to opt out.

7.  Adwords-While this one will cost some money it may be a good idea to use it initially to build your websites presence.  Using Google Adwords you can target specific audiences who are looking for exactly what you are offering.  This means that you are getting pre-qualified leads to your website, and now it’s up to you to convert the visit.

These are just some of the things you should be focusing on.  It is a good starting point to help your CT Internet Marketing plan get off the ground but there are many other things that you can do.  Keep in mind you are creating a web presence to attract potential clients, not for your own ego.  You should always get the perspective over an unbiased person whenever creating or drastically changing your website or other web presence.

It is also a good idea to keep in mind the don’ts of local search marketing.  Anything that seems unethical probably is.  Link Spamming and Keyword Stuffing are two things you will definitely want to stay far away from.

Not sure how your internet marketing plan is going?  Ask us, we’ll let you know…for free.

Happy Marketing!