People come to me all the time and ask me to look at their website and “tell them if its good.” I ask them the following questions: Who’s your audience? Who’s your competition? How are you different? What’s your objective for having a site?
Often the answer is “I’ve never thought of any of that.” Its difficult to know if a website is good without looking at these other criteria.
Don’t rush it
It seems like everyone is keen to get started on their site before they do some thinking and planning. Here are 6 things you need to be clear on before you get started:
1: Have a clear vision for your business as a whole
Not having a clear vision is like going on a road trip without a map. You need to have a clear vision so you know where you’re headed. Once you know where your business is going, think about how your site fits into the picture and what your objectives are.
2: Be clear about your ideal audience
Your ideal audience isn’t everyone. The more clear you are, the more you will attract the right people. They need to be able to say “yes, this is for me.”
3: Be clear about your competition so you stand out
You can’t stand out if you look and sound the same as everyone else. Study your competitions sites and see how similar or different you really are. Compare for language, list of services and design. How about really and truly being different?
4: Do some simple market some market research
Big companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on market research. You can do it by simply picking up the phone and asking your key clients a few questions. “What do you like most about my product?” “What other options were you considering?”. Schedule a 15 minute call – they’ll be happy to help. Some of my clients hire me to do this for them as they feel that a neutral 3rd party will get more information. I’ve seen businesses greatly enhance the value they provide as a result of market research.
5: Develop a differentiated message
Use what you learned in steps 1-4 to create a message that clearly articulates what you do and how you are different. Test it out and gage people’s attention.
6: Now you’re ready to work on your site
Now you have the information you need to give your web people. You know your vision, your objectives, your ideal audience and how you stand out. You know what your client wants and needs from you. You have the information you need to create a site that truly will speak to your clients. You have differentiation!
Think about every point of contact you have with your customer – these steps apply to your entire business. Make sure you go through these steps before you spend money on marketing your business and make sure you know your difference!
This past week: The Apple announcement date is nearing (Sept 10) and the hype and rumours keep growing. And it is all about the new iPhone(s), yes it seems there will be a cheaper version of the iPhone 5 as well. Different colours and finger print recognition are a couple of the new features being rumoured. Also it seems that the new OS iOS 7 will be released on the same date. What is the most surprising is that Apple still creates a buzz before product announcements, this is not equalled by their competitors. Maybe it is the secrecy they have with their product development or maybe it is the fact everyone knows what ever it is, it will be very cool and it will look very nice. One thing that is certain about Apple is the attention to detail, just getting and unpacking a new product from them makes you feel special. This is something small business owners should by inspired by when it comes to putting together all the different pieces of what makes a business successful.
Time to get a policy in place-> Social Media Survival Essentials for Your Company
Good guide for the novice in Social Media marketing, and I'm sure that there are plenty of not so novice Social Media people that could use some of the tips in this post as well.
The constantly changing world of SEO-> Google’s Recent Webmaster Guideline Changes: What You Need to Know
Google is constantly making changes to the search algorithm, with a focus on getting the most relevant content for the user's search results. Because of this they list of practices that would be penalized, it is good idea to see if you are doing any of the things that Google thinks are just ploys to manipulate your website ranking.
That's right, FB nows shows you when to do it-> Best Time to Post on Facebook: Use Insights http://ow.ly/olEKd
Probably the best feature of the new redesigned Page Insights. Since posting on Facebook needs to be sporadic (no more than 1.6 times a day by conventional wisdom), you need to make sure the most people are going to see it.
We all like infographics-> How to Create an Infographic in an Hour or Less [5 Free PPT Templates] http://ow.ly/onGTz
HubSpot again shared great tips and in this post it includes a PPT templates form making infograpichs. Making infografics can be difficult and hiring the services of a good infograpich designer can be very costly. This could be of great for you, even though your infographic might end looking like many others.
Local search where any small business should concentrate their efforts to establish a good ranking. It is bester to rank high on your local area than trying to competed for that first page in the global arena. Most likely your business caters to the local community and not optimizing for local search is a big missed opportunity.
Impact of Smart Phones on Local Search
Today local search is increasingly done on a phone. To achieve local search success,you need to optimize for mobile and be sure that your business displays when searching on a mobile browser or the map app.
The infographic below (from Balihoo) shows good statistical data for the benefits of Local Marketing. One fact that stands out: 70% of adults in the U.S. rarely or never use the phone book. Most of them (60%) use the internet to find contact information. While only 59% of PC searches resulted in a purchase, 78% of mobile phone searches and 77% of tablet searches resulted in a purchase.
This past week: BlackBerry announced that it is up for sale. The once leader in smartphone technology can't move forward on their own anymore. The release of their new Z10 and Q10 phones did not have the expected results for them; although they are the best BlackBerry phones ever, they failed to wow anyone and they are seen as "almost as good as" their competitors. The truth is that the Z10 just caught up with the Apple and Samsung, even Microsoft phones are selling more than BlackBerrys. Once the BlackBerry fan left for Android or iPhone it proved almost impossible to lure them back, not even with the Q10 keyboard. Unfortunately BlackBerry took to long to realize what was happening in the smartphone market and relied too much on the loyalty of their user base. This should be a good case study for any business, it takes a lot of work to get to the top, but a bigger effort should be made to remain there. On to this weeks Tweets.
A lot of money and not released yet-> Analyst Prediction: Facebook Video Ads Will Generate $1 Billion in 2014
There has been some talk about this new Facebook advertising feature, this article predicts a very lucrative view. Time will tell if this is correct, but one thing for sure is that they are coming and rest assured Facebook will find a way to include them in our news feed seamlessly.
Google+ for your company, it helps your SEO!-> 10 Tips: How Not to Use Google Plus
If you haven't yet, create a Google+ page for your business and start sharing posts. Google is offering great tools (some for free) on your Google+ account. They really want you to stick around the Google Universe.
It looks like a good place to market your biz-> 3 Reasons Why YOUR Business Should be using Facebook Marketing
Facebook has made some improvement (and these seem to come regularly) to their ad targeting. Now they offer a variety of different types of ads that can reach your audience in a way no other medium has done before.
The makings of the Universal Translator-> Facebook buys speech translation software company
Just like Google gives you tools for free so you stay within Google, Facebook is trying the same tactics. This is one more tool to be available soon in your Facebook profile.
We all want this-> How To Build A Successful Blog For Your Website
Content marketing is the way to go for any business and for a small business it is a must. With a blog it become easier to release fresh, new, relevant, content. This article has good tips on how to do it well.
Does your website has one?-> 70% of Small Business B2B Websites Lack A Call to Action
This is very true, not only do most business website lack a call to action, they are also vague on what they do or how can they can help. Time to take a good look at the copy of your website and check if you message is clear and to the point.
OpenTable is quite the success story from its launch in 1998 it has grown into a company that generated 39.4 million of revenue in the first quarter of 2012. Today it has what feels like a bit of a monopoly of on-line reservations - according to some reports they control more than 90% of on-line reservations.
OpenTable lists over 25,000 restaurants world wide and seats 9 million diners each month.
OpenTable works for diners
For the end user, like you and me, looking to make a dinner or lunch reservation - the system is a win-win. There are various search options - you can search by restaurant name, you can search a neighborhood and you can even search type of food. Wondering where you can have diner at 7 pm? They can search that for you too. The system includes user reviews and even a point system that benefits the reservation maker. All this for free.
OpenTable isn’t Free for Restaurants
This great tool that revolutionized dining reservations is far from free for restaurant owners. For reservations that come directly via the OpenTable website (or app), restaurants pay $1 for each individual in a reservation - that means $6 for a party of six. If the reservation comes through the restaurants website (still linked to OpenTable) the reservation is only .25 for each reservation - so $1.50 for a party of 6. But that is only part of the cost. To use OpenTable for on-line reservations, you also need to user their booking system in-house - and that costs money too. Average set up fees are around $650 and the monthly fee for terminal use is around $270. Open table says that on average they receive $635 per month from each participating restaurant. For some restaurants the monthly fees paid to OpenTable are in the thousands.
To know if it is really worth it, you would have to crunch the numbers. Some restaurant owners will tell you that OpenTable brought in reservations that they wouldn’t other wise get - and if that is the case, maybe it is worth it.
Restaurant owner, Mark Pastore of Incanto in San Francisco wrote what has become a widely republished article against the use of OpenTable, “Is OpenTable Worth It” if you want to hear an actual restaurant owner’s perspective, I suggest you give it a read.
OpenTable’s technology makes it worth it
OpenTable does provide restaurants with a system that facilitates reservations and enables restaurants to track things like diner’s preferences. If you make good use of the system, you can also use the tool to promote events and even market to your database of customers through OpenTable (although that will cost you more).
For another restaurant owners perspective, I suggest you read, “Is OpenTable Worth It? Founding Farmers says ‘Yes’”. These OpenTable users spend $6000 a month on the service, but found by truly utilizing the software they have come to love the tool and the value it adds to their business.
Alternatives to OpenTable
Competition in the on-line reservation world is starting to emerge. Websites like Seatme.com (which was purchased by Yelp) charge a simple $99.00 monthly fee and strive to address the many frustrations smaller restaurant owners have with OpenTable. In Canada, Urbanspoon’s online booking service, Rezbook looked like it was making headway by attracting restaurant owners looking for a cheaper and easier to manage alternative. But as of July 31, Rezbook has been purchased by OpenTable - existing Rezbook contracts will be honored but no new clients will be added.
Creating your own alternatives to OpenTable
The good news is that according to a recent Cornell University School of Hotel Administration’s Centre of Hospitality Research study, 71.7% of all dining reservations are still made over the phone. Make sure your web site is optimized by ensuring your phone number and address are easy to find (read last weeks post on restaurant website best practices). Make sure your site is optimized for local search and you are set up in Google +. Not everyone is using on-line reservation systems, when they don’t make sure your site is easy to find and easy to use.
As much as I love technology, I have never been much for using OpenTable, now that I know how much it costs a restaurant each time I do, the next time I make a reservation, I will pick up the phone - what will you do?
We are pleased to have Pilar Galiana as a guest blogger. She is a digital marketing strategist who has worked with brands like Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Nokia Canada and TD Bank to mention a few. These days she runs her own small business, you can find her mobile site here, www.ellasays.ca.
The benefits of having a website for a small business are pretty well documented. At YWD we help small businesses to get their websites up an running in the shortest time possible. Once the website is live, business owners need to start thinking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). While there is no definitive formula for ranking high in search results there are few best practices that will ensure your business is found and better positioned to rank high. One of them is to use the right keywords and/or phrases for the main pages of your website. This can have a dramatic increase on traffic and can generate good leads since more people would be landing on the right page.
Also, having the right keywords is a must for your landing pages when running a marketing campaign (more on landing pages).
There are many tools to help you find the right keywords, but Google has one that is pretty good and it is free. They are also the owners of the most used search engine as well, so they likely have the best idea of which words will help users find you.
To use it is easy:
You need to enter your product or service, the url for the page and select a category that best fits your business. (see image attached)
Once you submit the form you get a list of possible keywords. The idea is to use one or two of those (no more than that) and work them into the copy for that page.
Google Keyword Planner Interface
Do you have any SEO tips or trick that have helped you improve the ranking of your site?