Why Your Website is Your Most Important Marketing Asset

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  • 65% of people see online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other online or offline source.

  • 30% of consumers won’t consider a business without a website.

  • 46% say a website is the biggest determinant of whether they trust a company.


If you own a business today, your website is your biggest marketing asset. Even if you get most of your customers from other channels like networking or foot traffic, people still look at your website to see if you are legitimate. Make sure you are using your website as a tool to educate, delight and instill trust in your customers.

What is SEO?

An easy way to understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is that it is your reputation with search engines like Google. If you have a good reputation, based on the content on your site, the search engine is more likely to list you as a top result when people search for your product.

The best way to improve SEO is to provide a good user experience (UX) for your site visitors. This is done by providing information, products and/or services in an easy to use way. If your site works well for people, the search engines will like it too because search engines like Google are trying to provide good results to their users.

Understand the Customer Journey

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The Customer Journey is the path your customers will take to make a purchase with you. The path will depend on what you are offering and who your customers are. Be sure to create personas for your target customers first.

So when people visit your website, what do you want them to do? How do you lead them down that path? How do you ask them to do it?

Here’s a clue, if you don’t have any call to action (CTA) buttons on your site, you’re customers probably don’t know what you want them to do.

Why Start with Your Website?

The 7 Keys to Marketing Genius

The 7 Keys to Marketing Genius

 

I’m a marketing professor and have written several marketing books, I love marketing and will talk your ear off about it if you let me. One thing I work with people on is to be strategic. Do some thinking before you spend money. The website is part of your marketing tactics, not really your strategy, so why do I jump ahead to talk about websites with people?

  1. Everyone has a website or needs one

  2. People know what websites are so we can have a conversation

Websites are the way for me to start a conversation with people about their business. From there I can backtrack and make sure their strategy is on target before actually building or updating their current site.

Are You Getting Customers From Your Website?

How many of your customers come from your website? How many people look at your site to see if you are legitimate before they do business with you? If you aren’t sure or you don’t have one, let’s talk.


Do you want an expert to look at your website
and give you recommendations?

HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 7 - Mashups, Feeds and Gadgets

(This is an excerpt from the book Internet Marketing for Newbies - read the whole book for FREE)

Google Gadgets

When you visit a site and see a little box with news results it is more often than not coming from a news feed place inside a gadget. If your site has great content you should syndicate and make it available to others in the form of gadgets. You can also open up proprietary information and allow others to mash it up into their own creations. Feedburner can help you turn your blog into a feed and sites like Widgetbox and Google Gadgets can help you turn them into gadgets.
 
Making a widget on Widgetbox 

Next HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 8 - Browser Based Traffic

HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 5 - Microsites and Subsites

(This is an excerpt from the book Internet Marketing for Newbies - read the whole book for FREE)

 

Having multiple subsites and microsites that point back to your main site can be good and bad. On the good side, you can customize these sites to target audiences better. You also have inbound links coming from your own sites coming back to your main web address. The bad news is that unless you are careful, it is easy to confuse your customers as to what site they are on.

Often subsites will click through to a main site and people get lost. You also are diluting the power of your main brand and website when you have subsites. It is better to have all of your traffic going to your main domain so it gets credit for being a popular site with search engines.

Sometimes it makes sense to have a landing page for a campaign or promotion. These can be very effective when they have a single purpose and a clear focus. Make sure that you explain what is happening and where people will go when they click if you send them away from the page.

 

Next HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 6 - Blogs

HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 3 - Email Marketing

(This is an excerpt from the book Internet Marketing for Newbies - read the whole book for FREE)

Email is not new and not as glamorous as some of the cutting edge web technologies available today, but done right it can be the number one traffic driver for your site. The chart below lays out a solid strategy for any web marketing program using Chuck as your hypothetical subscriber.

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Chuck Gets Email Infographic

Next HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 4 - Social Networks

HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 2 - Banner Ads

(This is an excerpt from the book Internet Marketing for Newbies - read the whole book for FREE)

Using Banner Ads
Placing a billboard type ad on other websites has been around for a long time. They have waxed and waned in popularity as some studies show that many people ignore banner type advertisements. 
 
Banner Blindness
Many studies have shown that people are good at ignoring advertising. Site visitors have learned to hone in on the main content and ignore banners as demonstrated in the heat map below. The red areas show where people look the most. Notice that the text is red and the images and banners are rarely seen.
 
Heat map showing banner blindness. Yellow boxes are banners, red and yellow areas are what the visitor is reading
People do block banner ads for the most part, but don’t rule them out completely for your site. Sometimes a well placed banner ad that contains related content can be effective.

 

Next HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 3 - Email Marketing

HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 1 - Search Engines

(This is an excerpt from the book Internet Marketing for Newbies)

There are many ways to get traffic to your site. Building a positive reputation is important, but it takes time. Alternatively you can take a shortcut and pay for traffic using paid advertising. Both methods work and a combination of the two can be very effective. 

Types of Search Engines

Most people use a search engine to look for information on the web. Google is the most popular search engine today, but others include Ask, Yahoo! and Bing (Microsoft). There are two types of results on search pages, sponsored (paid) results and organic results.

Organic and Paid results on a search engine results page (SERP)

Organic search results

Organic search results are the listings that show up that are not paid for by advertisers. Google’s organic search results are displayed on the top left hand side of the page, with paid or sponsored results on the right hand side. Occasionally Google will also place paid results at the very top left hand side of the page.

Organic results and the Golden Triangle

Many studies have been done about how people view web pages and search engine results pages in particular. Heat maps show that people naturally look to the left side of the page about one inch from the top.

In fact most people do not naturally look to the right of the page where Google serves the majority of their paid advertising. The heat map image below shows how people view a Google search results page. The brighter the area, the more people viewed it and for a longer amount of time. This highlighted area is called the Golden Triangle of search.

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The Golden Triangle of search

This does not mean that no one is looking or clicking on the sponsored results. If that were true, Google would not be the multi-billion dollar company it is today. The key strategy for you to remember is to be in the top three organic search results. If you are, you are sure to be getting lots of looks for your search term.

Because of this trend some sites like Ask have started mixing paid and organic results together. This can be dangerous. When you mix advertising with your content it can hinder your credibility. I’m sure they make money, but I question the long term strategy.

One reason Google does so well with their advertising is because they are straightforward about what is organic and what is paid search. I highlighted the areas in the first screenshot, but notice how difficult it is to distinguish the organic and paid results on the non-highlighted page.

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Highlighted mix of sponsored and organic results

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Non-highlighted mix of sponsored and organic results

Many companies use a hybrid of paid and organic search. Often they will kick start their website with paid ads, and transition over to getting organic results once people become aware of their site.

How to get ranked high in organic search results

The best way to be ranked high in the organic results on sites like Google is to have lots of in bound links- that is other sites that link to your site. Google calls this PageRank- the higher your page rank on a scale of 1 to 10, the more likely you are to show up first in search results.

Google Juice

Though PageRank is the official name, many people call page ranking Google Juice. When a high ranking site links to a lower ranking site they can bring up the rank of the lower site, and vice versa. If you can get a high ranking site to link to you that’s good news, but be careful about linking to low ranked sites because it can take away from your own ranking. It’s better to get the juice than to give it.

The easiest way to see your PageRank is to install the Google Toolbar. Not only will you know your PageRank, but you can see the PageRank of any site you visit or that you link to yourself.

Notice that my site only ranks 2/10, but it is still the #1 ranking for Michael Daehn. This says two things; first, my name is relatively unique so it still has top results with a low PageRank. Second, I need to spend more time getting inbound links to my site.

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Google PageRank 2/10

Link Love

When you link to a site, you are essentially voting for that site, and in a way telling Google you think it is a valuable piece of Internet real-estate. It is usually a good idea to link to people and sites you think are valuable to your visitors. It helps to establish you and your site as a valuable resource. Because linking to another site helps their rankings it is often referred to as showing Link Love.

Link Swapping

Have you ever received an email asking you to swap links? You post a link on your site and in return the other person promises to post a link to your site. In general you should stay away from these reciprocal linking schemes. It is appropriate to link to a site that links to you, but do it for legitimate reasons. If the sole purpose is to increase PageRank you are working in the realm of Black Hat SEO.

Black Hat versus White Hat SEO

Just like in the old western movies, the bad guys wear black hats and the good guys wear white hats. If you are involved in shady link trading or other scams that try to game the system you are participating in Black Hat SEO. If the search engines catch you, or they think you are doing something suspicious, they will black list your site. While Black Hat techniques can gain you some short term traffic, they are not a good long term business strategy for legitimate businesses.

Next HOW TO: Get Traffic to Your Website Part 2 - Banner Ads