How Videos Boost Your Small Business Marketing

Do you know that Google owns YouTube? You probably do. Google owns lots of things and is buying and creating more things every day.

Google has a simple business goal: to take over the world. And one small part of achieving that goal is to make YouTube videos ubiquitous. If you help Google achieve this goal, you’ll be rewarded with SEO cred that boosts your small business website’s search rankings.

Here’s a process you can follow for making videos that help your small business marketing efforts:

  • Create YouTube videos that are relevant to your brand and offerings. Make them short and interesting– 90 seconds is plenty of time.
  • Write video descriptions that contain your desired search keywords.
  • Embed these videos in your website, such as in blog posts or on product pages. A great example is on Steve Yastrow’s page for his Ditch the Pitch sales training methodology.
  • Write short, interesting content to surround the video. Again, make sure to include your keywords.
  • Frequently update your site with new videos, so Google sees that you are creating fresh, relevant content for website visitors.

I follow this process with my small business clients, and we see significant success with our organic search traffic. Give it a try!

 

Marketing Podcast: SEO Roundtable

Dave Weatherholt handed me the reins to talk about search engine optimization (SEO) during this month’s “Getting Down to Business” radio show. I was joined by fellow SEO expert Steve Volz of Alaska Search Marketing.

In this 30-minute podcast, learn some of the basics of SEO like:

  • The history of search engines
  • What does it mean to get “blacklisted?”
  • Search engine optimization tips you can start using today
  • Criteria for choosing a SEO provider

Listen or download below:

SEO Roundtable

Download the SEO Roundtable MP3 file here. (17.5 MB)

This segment first aired during “Getting Down to Business” on Alaska’s Fox News Talk 1020.

Google says, “Tag, you’re it!”

This article highlights the importance of html tags to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This may seem technical and dry, but it could make the difference between a customer finding your site or your competitor’s site.

A tag, among other things, can make text bold, italic or denote it as a heading. How you use tags to style your website is important to search engines like Google.

If you’ve studied SEO, you know how crucial it is to create keywords for each page of your website. The importance of tags is less well-known. All else being equal, Google will pay more attention to text that is in a heading, bold or italicized. It follows that you want to place keywords inside these tags whenever possible.

Here are a list of tags you could consider using on your own site:

  • Heading 1: <h1>
  • Heading 2: <h2>
  • Heading 3: <h3>
  • Bold: <strong>
  • Italic: <em>

Along with bold and italics, I use Heading 1 (h1) and Heading 2 (h2) for my SEO. You can style them just as you would any other text.

Observe:

h1: Small Business Marketing

h2: Zoo in a Jungle Marketing uncages small business potential.

I only use two levels of headings because the more headings you use, the less important Google will consider them.

A word of caution to those of you eagerly making plans to pepper your pages with headings and emphasis: don’t overdo it! Only use headings sparingly and when appropriate. Heading 1 is fine to use as the title of your page, but Google will ignore your site if you enclose an entire paragraph in an h1 tag. And your human readers may flee if you insist on bolding and italicizing every little thing (after all, the point of SEO is to get actual people to visit your site).

Having trouble? No worries. Feel free to email me with any questions at amanda@zooinajungle.com.

Stuck on Search Engine Optimization?

Sometimes optimizing your website for keywords can feel stifling. For instance, how many times can a person put “tax accountant” on a web page before looking ridiculous? (I’m not sure, but the About.com article certainly pushes it, don’t you think?) Fortunately, there is a way to vary your terms and still get placed in search engines – and it’s free.

Google’s free keyword tool will end your SEO writer’s block. Although the tool is designed to provide keywords for you AdWords account, it can help you with so much more. Using the keyword tool, you can learn:

  • The most popular terms people use to search for your products and services- both globally and locally.
  • The most competitive terms- hence the most difficult to optimize for.
  • What terms your website is currently optimized for- sometimes these results are surprising if you haven’t paid much attention to SEO.

Keyword Tool Examples

Let’s help About.com keep their search ranking but be a little less dreary to read. They could use any of the following terms as a replacement for tax accountant. Notice that “tax preparation” receives about five times the search volume as “tax accountant.”

Did you notice that the competition for all of the above keywords is extremely high? It would be difficult for any tax accountant’s website to break into the top page in these searches. Fortunately, there are some less competitive options that are more specific. A tax accountant firm could be successful at writing an article titled, “How to Find a Tax Accountant.” Or they could focus on geography, such as “tax accountant in ohio.”

If you are curious what Google thinks your website is optimized for (and you should be!), you’ll want to enter your website address into the keyword tool. Here are the results for my site, which specializes in small business marketing.

Google seems to understand what Zoo in a Jungle Marketing is optimized for pretty well. Tip: although “business” garners the most searches in a month, it would be foolish to optimize for such a general term. The likelihood that someone searching for “business” wants to read my blog or hire Zoo in a Jungle Marketing is very slim.

Go forth, and use Google’s free keyword tool to optimize!

Blogging for Small Business

Advice for small businesses thinking about starting a blog

There is an abundance of hype around blogging. Some people claim to have made a fortune with their blogs, while others assert blogs are frivolous and a waste of a business’ time. For most small businesses, the truth lies somewhere in between. A well-designed and regularly-updated blog can be a great addition to your marketing mix and sales-generating activities.

This article will explain the pros and cons of blogs for small businesses and give you some expert tips for publishing a successful blog.

Why a blog is great for your small business

  • Blogs are great for search engine optimization (SEO). You can incorporate your keywords, the content changes regularly, and other websites will likely link to your posts. Search engines love all of these things.
  • If you do it right, you will become a trusted resource for your desired audience. Trust will lead to customer relationships. Relationships lead to profit.
  • When a potential customer contacts you after reading your blog, you have the advantage of being a partner instead of a vendor.
  • As an expert in your field (hopefully), you should easily be able to create content of value for your desired audience.

Why blogs are terrible for some small businesses

  • You have to update a blog frequently for it to matter. If you aren’t updating once a week, any readers you gain will lose interest. Dormant blogs also do nothing for your search engine rankings.
  • Your blog must be interesting to your desired audience, or you will be writing to an empty room (forgive the mixed metaphor).
  • Blogging is a long-term part of your success. There won’t be immediate gratification, but as you build a reputation and body of work, you will see results.

Things successful bloggers know

Make your blog an integral part of your website. Don’t create a blog that no one can find. Replacing your home page with your blog is often a good solution for small businesses, especially if your home page currently says something generic like, “Welcome!”

Investigate blogging software to find the right option for you. For my clients, I use WordPress blogs. The software is easy to use and highly customizable—and free!

Blogging requires discipline. Make a schedule and stick to it. Create an editorial calendar. Set apart time each week dedicated to writing. If you have trouble doing this, find someone who will hold you accountable.

Get a professional editor who knows your goals. Regina Spektor has a song all about editing, and she sings, “You can write, but you can’t edit.” She might as well be singing to the world, because behind every great writer is a great editor. If you want proof, ask for my original draft of this article.

Work on finding “your voice.” Every great writer has a distinctive voice. Writers aren’t born with these voices; they cultivate them. A professional editor will also help with your writer’s voice.

If you have trouble getting started writing, or your sentences come out in an incoherent jumble, just start typing exactly how you talk. Imagine you are talking to a friend, potential client or your aunt—whatever makes you comfortable. Consider getting a voice recorder and speaking your posts before you write them.

If you want other bloggers to visit your blog, post links to articles and to comment, you have to do the same for them.  It’s as simple as the biblical advice in Proverbs, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.” Just replace “man” with “blogger.”

Learn about (or hire someone who knows about) search engine optimization. All the concepts from my post on growing visitors to your website apply. If you do SEO right, your blog will be tailor-made for helping the people searching for your products and services to find your website instead of your competitors’.

Write really useful articles for your desired audience. For example, if you are a caterer, consider writing about the top five appetizers to impress guests rather than the latest innovations in keeping food warm. A caterer wants potential clients to find her blog, not necessarily industry-insiders.

Thinking about starting a blog for your small business but still need more advice? Feel free to give me a call or email me with your questions—513.833.4203 or amanda@zooinajungle.com

Google’s Free Tools

Most businesses don’t realize that Google provides a variety of free tools to improve your website traffic. Following are some of the most useful free Google tools:

Google Analytics

Install Google Analytics on your website to track all sorts of nifty data, like how many visitors came from Anchorage, AK last month or the average time a visitor spends on your products page during your Tuesday Special Sales. Analyzing this data tells you how successful (or not…) your web initiatives are.

Google Local

Gain an edge in Google Search Results by signing up for a free Google Local listing. Your business address, logo, phone number and website address will appear on Google’s maps when users search for your products or services

Google Webmaster Tools

Get Google’s advice on how to improve your site for search with Google Webmaster Tools. See what other sites link to yours, upload your sitemap for Google to use, see what search queries lead visitors to your site and more.

Google’s Feedburner for your blog

Manage your blog’s RSS feed with Feedburner. Features include the ability to specify a delivery time, see how many email subscribers you have and customize the look and feel of your feed. Feedburner works with your existing RSS feed.

Building Your Website Traffic

Every small business knows they need a website, but it can be challenging to build website traffic. Even if you have beautiful web design and an easy-to-use layout full of great information for your customers, your job is not yet complete until customers and potential customers visit your website. This article will provide tips for success while exploring the two major ways for building website traffic: pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization.

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Search engines such as Google and Bing offer companies advertising with a pay-per-click model. Each time a searcher clicks on your ad, you pay for it. Pricing is determined by an auction model where companies compete for higher rankings and more frequent showings of their ads.

PPC advertising is one of the most effective ways for a business to advertise. You only pay when someone searching for your keywords clicks on your ad. Keywords are words or phrases that describe your business, products or services. There is a high likelihood that someone will be interested in your products and company when he searches using your keywords.

Benefits of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Fast results

See your ads within minutes of completion.

Trackable

Google, Microsoft adCenter and Yahoo give specific, useful data on when your ads appear and how often they get clicked.

Effective

With proper love and care, PPC advertising will grow your business results. Within a year, one of my clients went from averaging 5 leads per month from their website to over 50 qualified leads per month.

Customizable

There is complete control of your ad and landing page, allowing companies to guide visitors to relevant information.

Scalable

The budget, ad formats, ad wording and landing pages can be changed at any time.

Drawbacks of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Stiff competition can require a large budget

If you have low-quality ads or landing pages or very competitive keywords, your budget will have to be quite large to make the first page. However, for most small businesses, a well-managed PPC campaign will cost less than most other advertising

Can backfire if not properly managed

An ad taking a searcher to an irrelevant page will waste your budget and reduce your credibility.

Tips for small businesses already using PPC advertising

  • Create relevant landing pages. When someone clicks on your ad, they are searching for a specific term. If they don’t see that term on your web page within two seconds, they will move on to a different site.
  • With Google AdWords, use the “Search Query” report to discover new keywords that trigger your ad but aren’t in your keyword list yet. Add them for more results.
  • If people searching for an irrelevant keyword often click on your ad, add them to your list as “negative keywords.” This will save your budget unwanted clicks.

About non-pay-per-click Internet advertising.

Many website directories offer non-pay-per-click advertising. They often use persuasive personal selling techniques to get companies to agree to monthly or yearly contracts. I usually recommend to my clients that they create the free listings offered by such websites as yellowpages.com and ignore the sales pitches. The directory listing websites can’t provide the same return on investment as pay-per-click advertising.

Caveat: Advertising on websites for a specific community can be helpful to certain businesses. For instance, a wedding photographer may want to advertise on The Little Wedding Guide or The Knot, places where couples gather and do research.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of making your website easy for search engines to find is called Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, you pick one or a few keywords and incorporate them into your website often. If you do it well, search engines will rank you higher in searches for your keywords, but your website will still remain readable for actual human visitors.

Benefits of Search Engine Optimization

Authentic

Often, searchers believe in the authenticity of organic search results more than PPC advertising results.

Cost

Search engine optimization doesn’t require any advertising budget, only time, knowledge and effort.

Incremental benefit

A little SEO will help your website traffic a little. Put significant efforts into your SEO, and it will increase your website traffic tremendously.

Drawbacks of Search Engine Optimization

No short term results

Search engines, such as Google, may take up to six months to show the results of your SEO work in searches.

Hidden costs

SEO can require a lot of time and effort, resulting in hidden opportunity costs.

Requires constant attention

You can’t just optimize your website once, then forget about it. Good SEO requires periodic research and frequent updates to your website.

Tips on Search Engine Optimization for Small Businesses

  • Choose to optimize for keywords that will have less competition but still be relevant to your customers. Instead of “financial planner,” optimize for “financial planning in Alaska.”
  • Relevant anchor text is incredibly important to search engine rankings, but most business people don’t know what it is. Anchor text is the word or phrase that constitutes a link. Always make your anchor text relevant to the page you link to and ask others who link to your site to do the same. Good anchor text: Marketing for small businesses (tells search engines what your link is all about). Bad anchor text: Click here! (Search engines can’t determine what this links to).
  • Blogging is great for search engine optimization if it’s done well. The first rule of any blog is to update it frequently—twice a week is a good goal. Blog entries don’t have to be long, just relevant to your chosen keywords and your customers’ interests.