Google Webmaster Tools Releases Two Q&A Videos This Week

The first video asks a question about grammar in comments. Some people have wondered why this would even be a concern. Well, Google has made it clear that quality writing and good grammar are important factors. So if you have a blog post and 20 comments with bad grammar it is reasonable to wonder if that “content/text” could hurt the site/page. Watch below to see Matt Cutts answer this question.

The next video is fairly lengthy and Brian Harish asks about what types of things the webspam team at Google deals with. Matt breaks down what is examined by his team and he even tells you about different team roles and processes. All webmasters and marketers should really listen to the specifics Matt mentions and try to gain some insights; how can you look good in the future? Watch the video and see! :)

Why a Business Website Just Isn’t Enough Anymore

digital-marketingOnce upon a time, in a digital land far, far, away, websites for business were an optional idea. Nowadays, however, they are considered a basic requirement when starting any new business. You cannot just HAVE a website to say you have one, and stop there. It is extremely important to note that now what matters is WHAT you have on your business website. You need great content that reaches out to your potential, current and past consumers. You want to engage in a conversation with them about your brand. This builds brand awareness and trust for your brand.

Just having a website setup for your business should not be the end point of your digital marketing efforts. You spent time and money in your website for it to be found in the search engines by potential consumers, but that isn’t enough. So let’s take a look at what else should be included in your digital marketing efforts.

Components of Effective Digital Marketing:

  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Paid Search Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Video Marketing

So you ask yourself, why bother with these other forms of digital marketing? Isn’t just a having a website enough? Nope. First of all, embarking on these other forms of digital marketing will offer additional ways for your potential consumers to discover you. Who doesn’t want maximum exposure, right? Keep in mind that not every single one of your potential consumers are going to just go directly to your website. They may not even find you by traditionally searching in a search engine. By engaging in the other digital marketing efforts mentioned above you can reach your potential consumers where ever they are online, not just when they are particularly looking for you.

As an additional benefit, most of these efforts also help you with the search engines. Content marketing, including blogs and other forms of content,  benefit your search engine optimization efforts, while paid search advertising can also help you when customers are searching for your brand or keywords relating to your brand. You can also utilize paid search advertising to retarget website visitors after they leave your website.

Social media can help you to be seen and found.

When the content from blogs and videos get attention from website visitors, such as social shares, that can signal to search engines that your site is relevant and helpful.  This can help your search engine rankings. Without these signals your website would have to battle on its own with your competition, who are all also including extra efforts in their digital marketing strategies.

Basically, even if you have an amazing website that converts potential customers like crazy, it certainly cannot do as much on its own as an entire digital marketing strategy could.

The Role of Your Website in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

So, where does your website fit into all of this digital marketing you ask?

Well, for starters, it’s the foundation of the rest of your digital marketing efforts and eventually the destination for sales. Each of the aforementioned components should be driving traffic back to your website, where you have optimized it to convert visitors into customers.

Paid search ads including display ads, for example, should direct people back to your website.  Your social media can include links to the blog articles you are posting. Your email mailing list grows from a contact form on your website and your email newsletters should also offer multiple links back to your site. Your website even offers videos a guaranteed home destination, regardless of where else you post and share them. Everyone gets pushed back to your site.

In other words, the focus on your digital marketing efforts should not be about making the sale immediately, but about driving people to your website. If your website is designed and optimized well, it should be primed to make the sale for you, which takes that burden off of your other digital marketing efforts.

Therefore, while it is important to do more with your digital marketing than just a basic website, you also want to make sure that you have optimized your website as much as possible for conversions. Since it is both the foundation and destination of your other online marketing efforts, it needs to perform as well as possible to convert customers.

Once you get your website launched, do not make the mistake of dusting off your hands and say that you are finished with that project. If you want to be truly successful online, you are going to have to do more digital marketing efforts than just a basic website.

Image credit: Shutterstock Maksim Kabakou

Beware of Your Digital Agency

BewareThat sounds like a totally crazy thought right? The reason you hired a digital marketing agency was to grow your business. You want to increase your sales and build your brand awareness. So how could a digital agency actually be giving you the exact opposite results? It could be lack of effort, lack of expertise, or even both!

Them

Digital marketing agencies come in all shapes and sizes from the small, boutique agency to the large corporate agencies. One thing they know how to do is sell themselves by telling you how awesome they are. After all, they have case studies to back up their supposed results right? In the end the equation goes like this: you pay us money and we give you miraculous results. We have all seen this.

You

For a small business owner, you are trying to grow your company. So the digital agency comes in and gives you analysis. They tell you that we need to get you a new website design. It needs to be optimized. You need a “fresh, new look”. Doing this is going to explode your business and put you at the top of the search engines in no time. You are going to get more leads with your sales sky-rocketing.

Truth About BAD Agencies

Now let’s look at what is actually happens in this scenario. The agency will indeed build you a new website. This process will drag out over a few months for a basic website but one thing is for sure, they will not drag out the process of getting you an invoice each month. Then after a few months the new site will launch which is great news right? Unfortunately not. After the site launches, you will not hear much if anything at all from the agency.

Are they building your brand awareness as agreed? What about your search rankings results? If you’re lucky you MAY get an automated report from them every couple months. There has never been any strategy written–no actionable items listed anywhere. Everyone is going into this battle completely blind. Wow, now THAT is a winning strategy. What are they doing on your account each month? You have NO IDEA. So now what do you do about all this?

Hold Your Digital Agency Accountable

it-is-your-moneyWhile refreshing your brand and getting a new website design is great, it is not enough. This is just the beginning of the process. After this is done the digital agency should be executing a full-blown strategy for you including inbound marketing and a content marketing strategy. It may also include paid search strategy as well as social media strategy, depending on what all you agreed on.

The ultimate goal of all this is to bring in more customers to your business increasing your sales and revenue. No doubt about it, the customers are out there. It is a matter of your digital agency getting the customers to you. Let’s take a look at some crucial areas you need to consider before choosing a digital marketing agency.

1. Inbound Marketing 101

Giving an old website an overhaul or a totally new website does not guarantee success with any business. No matter how cutting edge your site design with all the bells and whistles, if people can’t find your site that is all just a waste of time and money.

Having an effective inbound marketing strategy will help your business to be found by potential customers. This holds true no matter if your business to B2B to B2C. There are several tactical parts of an inbound strategy. You have to create effective content that is relevant to your potentials customers, meaning content that they find useful and that helps them. This content can be delivered across several different channels in various forms. It could be blogs, ebooks, white papers, case studies, videos, infographics, webinars, Google Hangouts On Air, etc. It can also be via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Vine, SnapChat, etc. The most crucial point to remember is that the content that is delivered has to be useful for the potential customer. It must address their needs with clear calls-to-action to easily convert the customer from a potential customer to an actual customer.

Here is a clear warning sign: Beware of any agency who does not lay out a clear content marketing plan that will begin once the new website or redesigned website is launched. Also, be leery of any digital agency who is unwilling or unable to dig deep with you strategically. They should be asking hard questions on the front end of a project that force you to define your point of difference and value proposition to customers. It’s not enough for an agency to understand what you do, they need to know and understand who you are—because that gets at your brand essence. That is what defines you from the your competition and makes your business unique through the eyes of the customer.

2. Ongoing Content

The keyword mentioned above is ongoing, as in a continuous flow of content. Not just a one hit wonder. Now that you have attracted potential new customers to your site, you have begun a conversation that is designed to be everlasting. You cannot just turn on the stream of information then shut it off. If you do, if you are erratic in the consistency or quality of information you deliver, those potential/current customers will leave, or at least abandon your site.

Much like a personal relationship, your business relationship with customers is an evolving process. There is a very tangible life cycle to each and every customer; and they are all at different stages. You need to hear the customers, knowing their needs and desires. You need to understand these needs, as soon as they arise, or even before they arise. Otherwise, your business will not be able to provide real solutions at every particular point during the sales cycle- from the minute they seek you out to the engagement process,and then to the actual conversion.

Contrary to some schools of thought, the process does not end with the sale; it accelerates. Once you have captured a new customer, once they have purchased, the task is to continue the conversation.  You have to make sure their experience is positive, or gain insight as to how it might even be better. From there, your goal is to satisfy and delight your customers with anticipatory service, continued relevant information, and authentic gestures of appreciation so that they ultimately will become brand advocates for you.

More agency warning signs: Be very aware of a digital agency that does not think or talk about your long-term goals. They should not just talk about the short-term, “quick fix” goals. Digital agencies have a way of swooping in, demanding a bunch of money on the front end to cover the intensive “design and build phase,” and then they disappear like a thief in the night.

Typically, agencies like this will lay out a three- to six-month period of work that abruptly stops. The assumption being that you will have everything you need after that time period, so you can simply sit back and count your money as the sales flood in. The reality is just the opposite, the agency should work just as hard or harder after you go live to ensure qualified prospects are finding you and entering a very nurturing sales process.

3. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Factor

It used to be that businesses had to be wary of digital agencies that did not fully grasp the concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The challenge was to separate the self proclaimed “gurus” from those who were actually legit and delivered effective, results-driven data to support both their paid search and organic search recommendations.

Today, you still have to be wary because the biggest concern now is to be on the lookout for digital agencies that overpromise with SEO, especially as the rules of the game are shifting. Why? Because Google has systematically implemented key changes to their algorithms to prevent companies from manipulating search engines. Instead, they want them having a conversation directly with actual consumer, giving them what they want.

Also, with the recent Hummingbird Algorithm, Google has literally encrypted data for SEO practitioners with the infamous “not provided”. Again, this is all in an effort on Google’s part to ensure that brands are giving their living-breathing customers the type useful information they are wanting/needing/craving, and NOT trying to “write for search engines” in order to improve page rank and better results. Those days are ove and likely are not coming back. So the function of SEO should be to optimize customer-facing content that has been created for actual prospects and customers. It should support and inform the customer experience and the story the brand is telling as it relates to real customer needs and expectations.

bewareofsnakesYet again, another warning sign: Search Engine Optimization is not a science, it is an art (some say it is both). And, the canvas is forever shifting, thanks to Google, who has declared war on sleazy opportunists who employ black-hat tactics such as duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and spammy link-building schemes. So be on the lookout for any SEO company that promises cheap, quick, easy solutions. We’d all like to believe that’s how it works, but reality is quite different, especially in light of Google’s recent algorithm updates. Also, make sure whomever you work with is Google-certified, follows best practices, and most of all, is transparent. Any vendor who is unwilling to “show you the guts” of his or her research, data and methodology is probably up to something shady, or at least ineffective.

In conclusion, ask strategic, long-term questions to make sure you have the right team or agency to help your company build brand awareness, drive leads and ultimately gain market share. There are a number of legitimate, highly skilled agencies around who not only know what they are doing, but have your best interest in mind. But, there are many more who do not. Every brand needs to, on every agency, examine whether or not an agency understands marketing strategy and if they are capable of providing solid strategies before signing a partnership.

Consider well the three areas discussed above—Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy, SEO Plan—so you can spot any of the warning signs mentioned above. By asking the right questions, you should be able to identify an agency partner that is right for you and, like a good marriage, will continue happily ever after and not have to end in a nasty divorce.

 

Image Credits: Shuttertock, Aapthamithra, VT750 , crossstudio

10 Ways to Kill a Business Relationship

It’s no secret that people only do business with people that they know, like and trust. Building business relationships takes a lot of effort and time. However, it only takes moments to quickly ruin a business relationship; all that time and hard work down the drain forever. It is also very hard to regain someone’s trust after tainting a business relationship.

Don't offend business associates

Let’s take a look at 10 ways to kill a business relationship:

1. Failure to deliver.

Let’s face it, even as a kid we hated broken promises. As adults we don’t want to be let down either, especially in business relationships. Don’t promise big things, get others excited to invest in an idea, and then not follow through. It’s great to dream big, but unless you are willing to work hard enough to make something a reality, don’t get other people invested in your idea. Keep your word.

2. Primarily a taker.

If all you ever do is take and not give this will become noticeable. If you’re always asking for help from others, but are never offering help in return, this is a sure-fire way to make others drop their relationship with you. It is way more important to be a giver than a taker.

3. Failure to provide value.

You have to show others that your work is valuable to them. People are willing to put up with even a few hiccups if you prove that you are valuable to them. We are all human so mistakes are expected, however, constant mistakes that prove you are pretty much worthless is a definite way to kill your business relationship. This is not just a one hit wonder folks; you have to constantly prove your value to others whether it is giving referrals or meeting/exceeding set goals.

4. Silence is not always golden.

As far as B2B relationships, a big killer is silence. If you stop talking or responding people get antsy. They will look for something/someone else. As long as you’re talking people (again) will put up with a lot. Change is hard so we avoid it at all costs, but when we sour on a relationship we start looking elsewhere and the idea gets easier and easier. You have to maintain regular communication with people.

5. You’re a Debbie Downer. Most people say I’m always smiling when they say and I say why not?! Nobody likes someone who is always negative. Everyone loves someone who is fun to be around. We have all been around that person that is always complaining. Everything is not always doom and gloom people! If you’re happy then others will be happy even in stressful situations.

6. You Sell Too Much.

Nobody wants a used car salesmen around them constantly. You will most definitely turn others off if all they ever see is you trying to sell your services and products. People want to get to know YOU so sell yourself first. After you build a trust and relationship with people, then they will make a purchase from you.

7. You don’t listen.

If you don’t care about what others have to say, you are setting yourself up for failure. Take the time to listen to what others say. If you listen you can find out what their concerns and needs are. If you come across as arrogant without any care as to what others have to say this will kill any chance you have of a business relationship.

People don’t want to be around someone who only talks about themselves. People take comfort in being heard and acknowledged. This shows that you actually care about them. Give people your FULL attention.

8. You lack credibility.

Remember people are always looking for ways to verify your credibility. What better way to solidify your credibility than to utilize your current and past clients. These can be your best brand ambassadors, so use them! Get testimonials from them and use them for case studies to show that you work for them has helped them achieve and exceed their goals. This will help you gain new business and the respect of new clients.

9. Don’t be disrespectful and rude.

People judge you by your actions so don’t be disrespectful to others and yourself by being rude and obnoxious. Nobody wants to be around someone like this. Be genuine, but also be genuinely nice to others. Do not be offensive. While everyone does not always share the same beliefs, it is a good rule of thumb to be considerate of others. I say if it would offend your mother or grandmother, then you probably should not do it, or tweet about it for that manner.

10. Failure to take responsibility.

Don’t play the blame game. If you screw up then you need to own that screw up. We are all human and make mistakes. If you don’t own up to your mistake and take responsibility then it makes you appear unprofessional and completely immature. Do not make excuses. People will respect you so much more if you actually admit your wrongdoing and show them that you have learned from the mistake, with a clear outline as to how you will correct the problem in the future.

Image Credit: Shutterstock Radharani

Learn How To Use Excel With the Google Analytics API – Annielytics Dashboard Seminar & Discount

not so ugly data

Annie Cushing, who blogs all things data at Annielytics, is doing a three-day seminar on how to use the Google Analytics API to create interactive reporting dashboards in Excel. By the end of the third day you will have the skills necessary to take data from a Google Analytics account and build out a reporting dashboard that will update with new data with little-to-no manual effort on your part.

AnnieCushingAnnie is known for making data sexy, and she will be sharing her secrets for how to make your visualizations beautiful without being distractingly busy or garish. If you are afraid that you aren’t going to be able to master these skills in three days, don’t worry. You will have so many resources to refer back to whenever you need to create data visualizations of your own that it’ll be like riding a bike.

Excited? We are. But that’s not all. Annie has offered the coupon code AUTHORITY to our readers for a $150 discount when you register. Find out what seminar location is nearest to you, and sign up for an Annielytics Dashboard Seminar today!

Mobile Marketing Stats You Should Know for 2014

Every business owner should be educated and focused on all marketing possibilities via mobile. As the infographic below, from WebDAM, shows 1.4 billion people used smartphones in 2013! That is 1 in 7 people worldwide!

A business CANNOT ignore the importance of mobile devices when it comes to how a website displays & works (keep in mind that tablets and phablets are a part of mobile). Businesses also can’t ignore the different marketing options available via mobile.

I suggest you really study the infographic below and examine the different types of mobile marketing and the top 5 mobile apps that are being used. Think about what mobile marketing options you have missed and consider how you can take advantage of the top 5 apps to gain some exposure for your company.

The mobile device industry will continue to grow and evolve, so if you haven’t done so already please educate yourself on mobile marketing and accessibility. You need to understand how to help your business via mobile marketing if you hope to survive.  (Click infographic to expand)

MobileMarketingInfographic