Tag Archives: ppc

Pay-Per-Click Advertising & Search Engine Optimization

There are pro’s & con’s to both Pay-Per-Click advertising and optimizing for natural search engine traffic.

PPC advertising has many great benefits. First of all, you get your traffic going quickly. I have used this advantage many times. I test new products and even new websites through PPC advertising before making a decision to promote or scrap my new website or product idea.

I am a firm believer in testing new products before throwing large amounts of money into advertising. PPC advertising is a great way to do this. For example, with Google’s Adwords program, you can post your ad, pay a $5 sign-up fee and have highly targeted traffic to your website within an hour. How is that for efficiency?

Also, you can moniter your click charges and stop them before they get too expensive. By the time you have spent your budget on clicks, you should have a pretty good idea of how successful your product is going to be.

I think of PPC advertising as being the most useful when starting a new business or product. WIth PPC advertising, you can quickly and efficiently find out which keywords you need to target and which products are the most popular.

Once that testing period is over, however, it’s time to look into Search Engine Optimization. PPC advertising can be very expensive, costing hundreds, even thousands a month in advertising costs. Once you know what keywords to target, it’s time to put together a plan on how you are going to optimize your website. The drawbacks to search engine optimization is that it requires a lengthy amount of time to get your site to rank high with your keywords. That is why I suggest using this method after the testing period is over, when you already know your business will be profitable.

Search Engine Optimization is definately a slow way to get your website traffic if you plan on not using PPC traffic. It could be a long, expensive road before you even begin selling your product. Search engines can take months, even years to start pulling up high with the search engines. But, natural search engine traffic is definately the best long term way to get the majority of your traffic.

When getting your site to start pulling up in SE natural listings there are 2 main things that need to be done:

  1. Add Content
  2. Add Backlinks

Search engine traffic requires you to submit your site to many different search engines and wait, maybe even months for them to spider your website.

I have had much better luck with another route. You can pay a fee to have your website listed in a very high ranking directory like www.dmoz.com (free), www.yahoo.com‘s directory ($299) or another website where your link is on a page that has a page ranking of 4,5,6 or higher. The sites I mentioned above have rankings of 8 or 9. When you have your link on a site with that high of a ranking, the search engines are spidering those sites constantly and will find your website and spider it very quickly. Not only will they find it quickly but because you are linked to a high ranking site, you will also rank higher with the SE.

When looking for backlinks, focus on sites with content related to yours and high page rankings of 4 or higher.

As for content on your site, try to include about 200-500 words of content or text on most of the pages of your site. Text makes your site bulkier. Make sure to integrate all of the keywords you want to target within the content of your site. Don’t worry about cramming the same keywords in over and over. Search engines may possibly even blacklist your site for keyword stuffing, if you try to do that.

There is a lot to know about Search Engine Optimization but, those are the 2 main factors when getting started.

In summary, when starting out, I suggest using PPC advertising for testing products and keywords. Spend time optimizing your site for search engine traffic after you have tested your products and keywords.

Where is online advertising going?

Discusses t he brief history of online advertising through specific ad strageis and discusses where online advertising is headed.
Is there such a thing as “traditional” online advertising? If there is, it started with banners, moved to FFAs, took a step backwards with SPAM, a hard right with classified advertising and then shot forward with pay per click search engine. So how do you know where to spend your advertising budget in the current market? If you’ve been responsible for your company’s web advertising efforts over the years you might agree that the traditional means of advertising worked; as least for a little while. So as new types of advertising penetrate the market with increasing frequency, what do you do with those proven stand-by methods of generating links and traffic? Throw them out? Keep them around for posterity? Maybe give them a facelift? Let’s review those traditional ad models then look at some experimental models. TRADITIONAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS

Banners
Banner ads in the form of animated gifs are the most common and widely used form of online advertising today. Banner ads reach the widest possible audience because practically 100% of Internet users can view them without any special plugins. Web marketers, advertisers and promoters have quickly realized that banners under 12k in file size puts the ad in front of the visitor as quickly as possible, increasing the chance of click-through even though surfers are growing increasingly immune. New styles and shapes of banners (such as skyscraper ads) have grown in popularity recently, which is addressed in the “Experimental Advertising” section below.

SPAM
What does SPAM stand for? It’s not “Stupid Pointless Annoying Message” (which in some cases it could be) but rather “Sending and Posting Advertising Messages.” It’s hard to believe SPAM is effective, but unarguably, it is. While click-through rates continue to fall and legislation begins to rise, it is a savvy advertiser’s best bet to stay away from it, unless of course you’re selling Pasta Pots or Viagra. Rich mail – “Fancy SPAM”
Most likely, the e-mail messages you receive on a daily basis are text only. Rich mail, on the other hand, allows graphics, video and audio to be included in the e-mail message. When you open up a rich e-mail your e-mail client automatically calls up your Internet connection and launches an html page in your browser. E-mail clients that are offline will invite you to click on the link when you have your Internet connection open again. If your e-mail client does not support graphics you will receive the e-mail in text only. While SPAM is still SPAM, rich mail has proven to be much more effective than standard text messages.

Pop-Ups/Pop-Unders:
This creative, yet completely obtrusive and annoying means of advertising was once celebrated in some circles as the most innovative ad concept since banners. It only took a short time before many users, sick of being trapped in a never-ending onslaught of such ads, voiced their rejection. One can only wonder when advertisers will recognize the public dissatisfaction and move on to another more effective means to promote their companies.

Institutional Advertising:
While institutional or “in-house” advertising has been available since the inception of the Internet, few companies have made an effort to utilize the many different aspects of online advertising in one format as has 7Search.com with its Direct Pay-Per-Text advertising. 7Search, a leader in the pay per click search engine arena, has recently introduced this program which enables its advertisers to advertise outside of its search return lists using the same titles and descriptions seen on its search engine. The pay-per-click model enables interested advertisers to leave behind the CPM impression model and focus on the click conversions. Direct Pay-Per-Text is a patent-pending concept from 7Search which will be released to the general public in the coming months.

Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
It’s hard to think of PPC search engines as a “traditional” means to advertise online, but the ratio of those advertisers who do versus those who don’t is staggering; in fact the majority have at least tried their hand at leasing traffic. In a PPC agreement, the advertiser only pays for qualifying clicks to the destination site based on a prearranged per-click rate. The response on ads with well-written titles and descriptions targeted to the users query pull response rates unseen in the ad industry previously. The greatest advantage arguably is the ability to measure precisely the rate of return versus your investment. Some of the most popular PPC search engines are FindWhat.com, 7Search.com, Ah-ha.com and the industry leader Overture.

EXPERIMENTAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS

Traffic Exchange Advertising:
Hit exchanges, actually a form of banner exchange, are a recent phenomenon on the Internet. You will visit the site of a member of an exchange, and in exchange, another member of the exchange will visit your site. The recent explosion of hit exchanges on the web has diluted the effectiveness of such a method of advertising. There have also been many instances of cheating, in which a script is used to generate visits to a site. However, if you have a product that is of interest to webmasters, and is low cost or has a free version, there is no harm in giving hit exchanges a try.

Shockwave ads
Shockwave is best suited for campaigns that want to utilize out-of-banner real estate, such as applets, trading cards, and games. Director and Flash provide the ability to embed interaction, video, and audio within the file, making Shockwave files some of the richest ad units on the Web. Viral marketing and strong brand interaction are two of the key strengths of Shockwave ads. As these ads are typically “bandwidth monsters” the adoption has been slow and will most likely remain that way. Other downsides include development costs and the fact that it just won’t work without the Shockwave plug-in, which (though downloaded by millions of users) is far from being a mainstay.

Interstitial ads
Interstitials are ads that play between pages on a website, much like television ads play between sections of a program. There are several variations on the interstitial model: some play in the main browser window, while some play in new, smaller windows; some are pre-cached, while some stream ad content as it plays; some provide the ability to create very rich ads, while some focus on smaller, faster-loading ads. Whatever the format, nearly all interstitial ads perform very well if measured by both click-through rates and brand recall.

Floating ads and DHTML
Types of floating ads include DHTML sponsorships, in which advertising objects “fly” across the page on a preset course; cursor sponsorships, in which the cursor turns into an advertising image; and scrolling ads, in which an advertisement moves up and down the edge of a page as the user scrolls up and down. Floating ads give the advertiser and publisher the flexibility to achieve nearly any effect. However, as this is one of the more daring types of online advertising, advertising and content must be balanced on any given page. Floating ads (especially DHTML and cursors) are best run for short periods to create brand awareness—running them for longer periods can bring negative user feedback. It is important to understand that online advertising is only effective if it generates significant response and this applies to both traditional and experimental ads. Unfortunately, the only way to discover the efficiency of your campaign is to test in every format at least once with as many ads as you are able.

Online Advertising Traffic and the First Law of Web Surfing

You won’t read about this phenomenon in books or articles on general principles of advertising or direct marketing. In fact, traditional advertising professionals and direct marketers often create only so-so online advertising campaigns simply because they’ve never heard of this phenomenon, even though it’s essentially the first law of human web surfing behavior.

How to convert your online advertising traffic into customersReady to find out what that all-important first law of web surfing is? Prepare to be not very amazed. You see, everyone who surfs the web already knows about this phenomenon of human behavior because we all do it–even you.

So here it is, the first law of human web surfing behavior, which you absolutely must take into account when marketing your website: While surfing the web, almost everyone will hit the “back” button if they think there’s a chance–even a small chance– they’ve come to the wrong web page.

The corollary to this law of web surfing behavior: Anyone who clicks through to your site via an online advertising link needs to know they’ve arrived at the right place as soon as they get there.

Immediately. Within a second. From a click glance. Without having to read anything. The average human attention span on the web has been measured at eight seconds, and you’ll have already lost a few seconds while the page downloaded.

The Key(word) to Converting Advertisement-Clickers into CustomersHow do you make absolutely sure visitors feel like they’ve arrived in the right place?

Make the title and first heading of your landing page (the page on which a visitor “lands” after clicking on an advertisement) the same as the headline of the advertisement that brought your visitor there. If the landing page links to a banner (image) advertisement, use the same pictures and color scheme as the advertisement.

The landing page absolutely must immediately remind the visitor of the advertisement.

The advertisements, in turn, must flow logically from the keywords they are targeting. Even if your advertisements are appearing on websites rather than search engine results, you need to be thinking in terms of the keywords people are using to search for your product in order to speak the language of your prospective customers.

That’s why it is very important both your advertisement and landing page incorporate the target keyword prominently, in headings as well as the page body. That’s also why it’s so important you don’t send your visitors from online advertising to your homepage–it’s unlikely you could optimize your homepage for all your possible advertisements. Visitors who arrive via advertising need to land on a special “landing page,” or they may crash and leave your site.

Conversions: your advertising campaign’s goal But what happens once visitors land on your site and decide to stay more than ten seconds? It’s no use if they just hang around. They need to convert.

Important definition: In online advertising parlance, saying a website visitor “converts,” means he or she has taken a desired action toward becoming a customer, either 1) buying something or 2) contacting you for more information, thereby becoming a lead.

The percentage of visitors who convert out of the total number of visitors who arrive at your page is the conversion rate. Your goal is to get this rate as high possible. You do that by finding the right message to display on your landing page, and also by targeting the advertising so you are getting visitors who are most likely to convert.

In order to get your visitors to convert once they arrive, you need to make sure they have a clear path to conversion from the landing page. The simpler the path, the better–a winding road might lose some potential customers. This conversion path could be as simple as a “buy now” button or a contact form, or as complex as a multi-step shopping cart with required registration with required email confirmation to scare away those who are not truly devoted buyers.

Targeting your trafficWhat you show visitors who arrive at your site is only half the equation. The visitors themselves are the other. As with everything in life, you can’t convert a sow’s ear into a silk purse. In this case, the sow’s ear is paid traffic that is not targeted, or is coming from popunders or other forced viewing, or is just plain faked (there is software specifically designed to emulate human visitors so fraudsters can sell the “traffic”).

Even in the best of cases, some traffic converts better than others. Generally speaking, visitors who are looking for you are the likeliest to convert, so conversion rates tend to be highest from advertising on search engines. Conversion rates tend to be lower from advertising on websites (so-called “content” or “contextual” advertising).

Conversion rates are lower still on advertising on website popups, and lowest of all on so-called adware (programs that display popups on a user’s computer; the people who sell this advertising often label it “targeted traffic”). Sending emails that consist of nothing but your advertisement, even if you’ve skirted the legal definition of spam, is not worth the bad will and damage to your brand.

Preaching to non-converting online advertising trafficA significant percentage of visitors, maybe a majority, will never just click “buy now.” How do you reach them?

Many people simply will never make a purchase without speaking to a salesperson first. For them, provide a convenient contact form, as well as a live chat option–if you can afford the time and expense–your email, and a telephone number. A telephone number is especially important since there are some visitors who will never convert without hearing the voice of someone on your end.

For visitors who are not ready to convert immediately, you should have informational articles, “about us” pages or FAQs ready to help them make up their minds.

For visitors who simply will not be ready to convert today, give a reason to bookmark your page. Good articles. A special offer. A newsletter to sign up for. Free advice.

Just make sure you don’t place these alternative non-converting options in too prominent a position, or you’ll risk distracting prospective customers. A few paragraphs up from the very bottom of the page is a good place to catch people who are interested in you enough to read the entire page, but still haven’t converted. The very bottom of the page should be reserved for a conversion option for all the prospective customers accustomed to scrolling to the bottom of the page to get a quick overview.

After all, if you want your visitors from online advertising traffic to convert into customers, shouldn’t you at least make it easy for them?

The Future of Advertising

Advertising is a medium that constantly evolves. It changes with the times. It adapts to new technologies. It is unrelenting in its desire to find new and better ways to reach an ever-growing consumer marketplace.

But its not simply advertising that evolves. Consumers and consumer behavior are changing too. As we look at the future of advertising, it’s important to look at how the two interact and change together over time.

Without a doubt, the Internet has revolutionized the industry. It has taken the world – and the advertising world by storm. And it has only just begun to make an impact. The Internet has become a global medium with massive potential. Forty years ago, television was considered new media. Fifteen years ago, it was cable. Today, people spend increasing amounts of time online at the expense of other media. The first evidence of this audience migration appeared in 1998 in a Forrester Research report.

The researchers asked PC users which activities they were giving up to spend more time on their computers. 75% of the respondents said they gave up television.

Interactive. That is the real key behind the power of the Internet in advertising. The Internet is really the only medium where we see true interactivity. In addition:

• It means greater viewer involvement.
• It means users can access services according to their interests and their tastes.
• They can request and receive specialized product information, make an instant purchase, all the while saving time and expense.
• The effectiveness of Web advertising appears to relate to the fact that surfing the web is an actively engaging experience, similar to reading magazines.

Consumers also have the choice to “opt-in” to receiving additional information on a particular product or service. In Seth Godin’s groundbreaking book, Permission Marketing, he said, “By reaching out only to those individuals who have signaled an interest in learning more about a product, Permission Marketing enables companies to develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness- and greatly improve the chances of making a sale.”

All the Rage: Pay Per Click and Natural Search Using SEO

It’s no secret what has taken over the business world, in industry after industry. Pay Per Click and Natural Search Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Today, being on the first page for your most popular keyword phrase is like having the most memorable prime time television commercial in 1973.

Pay per click advertising on search engines allows you to choose keywords you would like your site to appear under when a potential customer engages in a search. You decide how much you are willing to pay each time a person clicks on the search results. But it can be competitive – and expensive if you are trying to use keywords that are very popular.

Natural Search or Organic Search is the non-biased, non-paid results that come up when you do a search. This can be influenced heavily by what’s called “Search Engine Optimization” – the complex and time consuming practice of ensuring that your website is doing all the right things in order to rank high for certain search terms. In this arena, smaller companies can out maneuver large corporations, so there’s a lot of excitement generated because of this.

Essentially, that’s where the power of advertising is going. It’s all about Search. And Search is only going to become more important over the next ten years. If you can get on that coveted first page organically, well then, more power to you!

Web Sites, Banner Ads, etc..

The other forms of on-line advertising vehicles are of course, web sites, banner advertising placed on others sites, newsletters, ezines, and email. They are used in many different combination, for different purposes at different times. But most savvy companies are using all of them. The value of banner ads has been hotly debated for a number of years. Opponents argue that the click-through rates have gone down so much, that banner ads are nothing but wasted money. But research clearly shows that banners are very effective in building brand awareness. On-line users may not click on a banner, but if they see it enough times, the company’s name is drilled into their head. When its time to shop, that product or service is first in their mind. Simply being exposed to the brand as one surf’s the web is enough to make a big impression.

The impact of banners on brand awareness was tested for the first time in fall 1996 by Millward Brown International. Three brands were tested including a men’s apparel brand, a telecommunications brand and a technology company. The findings were significant and conclusive for each brand. Awareness was significantly greater among the banner-exposed (test) group than the non-exposed (control) group. Specifically, exposure to the ad banners alone increased brand awareness from 12% to 200% in a banner-exposed group.

The study also compared the impact of the banner ads in this test to television and magazine norms from prior Millward Brown studies. The findings were remarkable: Single exposure to a Web banner generated greater awareness than a single exposure to a television or print ad. Rather, the effectiveness of Web advertising seems to stem from the fact that Web usage is an actively engaging exercise.

Newsletters and Ezines

Most smart marketers out there have either a newsletter or ezine nowadays. These types of customer communication and advertising tools will only continue to grow in use and importance. It goes back to the whole “what’s in it for me?” issue. The customer wants to be part of the process. They want to learn something. Or keep themselves updated on the latest news. Most of all, they want to get something out of the relationship. They want to do more than buy something, they want to improve their lives in some small way – and they want you to help them do that.

Email Advertising

Email is another of the big three Internet advertising mediums. Companies like Got Marketing, and N5R are providing new and exciting email marketing solutions for thousands of progressive firms. Their results are impressive. Consider response rates that average 10 to 20 times those of traditional direct mail. Or campaign Network marketing referral rates as high as 40%. The bottom line is that programs they put together have produced millions of leads for clients. And it’s surprisingly affordable. This means that almost anyone can now utilize this advertising medium. But it has to be done smartly, because you don’t want your emails to end up in spam filters. That is one inherent problem with email advertising, especially in the past two years.

N5R in particular is now one of the leading direct marketing agencies in North America. They develop innovative one-to-one marketing campaigns that drive a measurable, positive ROI on behalf of their clients by driving acquisition and conversion to trial and purchase for their clients. They have developed award-winning strategies in five major industry sectors. These include Internet Marketing and Online Contests/Promotions, Permission Based Email Marketing, Text Messaging, Success Based Email.

In Internet Marketing and Online Contests/Promotions, marketers can gather and compile behavior and preference data from prospects and customers and use this information to send targeted and relevant information. Developing ongoing programs of one-to-one communication is cost effective and measurable. Contests are the quickest and most effective way to gather this data and build relationships with customers. It’s very possible to build a permission-based database of over 50,000 prospects in only 6 weeks, increase web site traffic by 900%, improved online sales revenue by 1,000%, and achieve $40 million in sales from leads generated by an online promotion.

With Permission Based Email Marketing, loyal clients are just an e-mail away. Where traditional marketing campaigns fail, e-mail can shine through. E-mail marketing allows companies to speak one-to-one with their audience in a respectful, intelligent and creative way. It is extremely cost-effective, provides the foundation for future marketing initiatives, and delivers measurable results.

Text Messaging or SMS (Short Message Service) is a technology that allows people to send and receive short (up to 160 characters) written messages on cellular phones. It is already hugely popular in Europe and Asia and is growing rapidly in North America. SMS marketing offers the following benefits:

One-to-one communication with your target group, anywhere, anytime reach, low campaign cost, and very measurable data. Imagine if your mobile phone received an email message, “You’re only a block from a Starbuck’s; stop in for a 20% discount on your latte.” The data is available and marketers are starting to tap into these resources.

Success Based Email is free email deployment where companies only pay for results. This “pay-per-click” approach is based on the premise that companies will only pay for each email that receives a “click-through” from the recipient. Not only does the new approach enhance the value of marketing dollars spent on such campaigns, the move will likely trim total dollars spent.

For example if 100,000 emails are sent, 70% are opened and 15% of the recipients actually click on a link in the email then clients will only be charged for the 15,000 people that clicked on the link, not for the other 85,000 that didn’t. The return on investment (ROI) or cost savings inherent in this new approach will be very appealing to permission-based marketers. The bottom line is that marketers will now pay for real, measurable results.

The Next Step

Compared with other media, the Web is still limited in its bandwidth offerings. But it’s getting better every day. With the continued improvement of bandwidth development, we will soon be positioned well to create full-featured multimedia advertising on the Internet. Once a majority of consumers have DSL capability and the computer power to access it, there will be some incredible things happening. Sites like tvtonic.com are already offering some very compelling visual and audio imagery in the form of movie trailers and music videos.

Market researchers, futurists and industry experts predict that interactivity through multiple technologies and devices will change how consumers interact with marketers. Interactive advertising will soon be everywhere. So, in effect, it could be considered the age of mass customization in advertising. Advertisers will have the tools to narrow their targets and address Web ads to individuals and not to a demographic or psychographic group. Why market a commercial to 1 million people, most of who aren’t in the target audience, when the same ad could be shown to 10,000 people who are very interested in the product or service? Most of those will even give their name and address.

Interactivity will also be a part of television. Interactive TV will be the norm in the near future, and this too is another exciting opportunity. There will be total integration between TV channels and advertisers web sites. While we are watching TV, we will be able to interact with what we are seeing, ordering hamburgers from the McDonalds down the street or communicating with the local car dealer that we are interested in buying a car. Clicking on products we see in TV shows and ordering them will be easy. Your TV will keep track of what you are watching. Your TV will even know what kind of car you own because you’ll tell for the free oil change you’re offered in exchange. The oil change will be compliments of DirecTV, and it is only good at Jiffy Lube, which has paid to be the official oil-change provider for DirecTV.” That’s the way it will work.

Service Initiative Advertising

Another major trend is what I call “Service Initiative Advertising”. Let’s face it; consumers are tired of advertising as usual. Many people say they hate commercials. The success of Tivo and satellite radio can attest to this. They want more from their advertising. And who could blame them? People are inundated with advertising today- every where they go. Service Initiative Advertising takes the whole process one step further. Essentially how it works is that it requires advertising to offer some value to the consumer.

For example: Kraft Foods creates a website that offers busy mothers a source for quick recipes for the family evening meal. The idea isn’t to push Kraft products, but to promote Kraft as a brand that offers a service to customers. There have been companies who positioned their entire marketing strategy on this tenant. Now, it will become a key part of advertising for almost everyone. The consumer wants to know you care.

It’s important to realize that advertising mediums of the past will still be here. But, they may look a little different in the future. Direct mail will always be around as long as people like to receive mail. And despite external challenges, the U.S. Postal service will still be around. TV and radio will be here too.

But the future is here. And advertising will never be the same.

One thing that is certain is that it will continue to be as exciting and dynamic as it has been in the past. But now, the consumer is a part of the process.

Online Advertising For Dummies

Whether you are checking your email, shopping on a website or just searching for information, online ads are everywhere! A new marketing landscape, the Internet offers a new and cheaper advertising space, as compared to traditional spaces like print, television, radio and outdoor advertising. It’s a revolution of sorts and small and home business owners are making the most of it.

For a home based start up, online advertising is a potent tool that can maximize visibility, drive traffic to the company’s website, up the sales and build a solid brand in the process. Going to an expensive advertising agency to run your campaign would most definitely burn a hole in your pocket. The good news is you don’t have to do that. Just remember the twin mantras of focus on what you want and a strong dose of imagination; and you’ll be on your way.

Take the guesswork out of online advertising

Online advertising is not a function of elaborate guesswork and a myriad of hits and misses. Like the traditional offline version, online advertising must also follow some basic rules. Know what you want your advertising to do, where to get it and what to do with it once you have it. Here are some guidelines to get you started.

  1. Define your advertising objective: Shut the door, switch off the lights, take a deep breath and think why you need to advertise. Clearly define the goals you want your advertising program to achieve. Is it generating new leads, increasing the number of hits on your website, making your company visible in the market place or to increase on/off -line sales? Each goal will have a different advertising path. You can only expect your program to maximize returns, if you know for sure what you want your advertising to do.
  2. Decide “where” you want to be seen: It makes a difference to be seen in the right places. Like in offline advertising, the placement of your ad is very crucial to success. Advertising (Co-advertising for higher benefits) on websites that are most relevant to your line of business would be the best place. Also consider top Search Engines, Online Yellow pages, Service Provider directories and large sites or networks. Explore trade –specific websites for a more focused audience.
  3. Tailor the message for your target audience: when you want the caveman to listen, beat your chest! Craft your message to appeal to the target audience. Your message for a visitor on a trade forum’s website would be different from what you say to the guy clicking on your ad on a home business site. The trick here is to align your message to the mindset of your audience. Equally important is that the message should convey the promotional goals your advertising desires to accomplish. So if you are selling ice to an Eskimo shopping in an Internet mall, don’t forget to mention the discount on your season sale!
  4. Be Creative: In a marketplace teeming with new ads you can easily get clobbered on the head with run-of-the-mill ad copy. Your most valuable asset in this crowd is your creativity, which will make your ad stand out. Be creative not only in the copy, but also in the placement of the advertisement. An online contact lens clinic pulls hundreds of people every day to take an eye test with a simple ad. The small 1” X 2” banner says, “ Think You Don’t Need an Eye Test?” in the same format as you see on the reading sheet in an optometrist’s clinic, with alphabets running vertically in a decreasing order. This is a classic example of a simple but creative idea getting the desired results.

    Add more depth to your advertisement by using rich media like HTML, DHTML, Java and layered ads. Use animated messages doubled with pull down menus for better use of space and for expanding possibilities of response.

  5. Choose the advertising medium well: They say, “Well Begun is Half Done”. If you are going to spend a sizeable amount of money on creating and placing ads, they should do more than just wiggle and pop. To maximize response, choose the advertising medium carefully. You have several choices like banner ads, contextual advertising, ezine advertising etc. Research and read on various formats and the factors for each one’s success. Then decide on what format works best for your campaign. Once you have decided on the format, it is equally important to choose the vendor. If you have decided on banner advertising, research and list the websites that would give you the maximum exposure to the right kind of audience. Check out the option of using advertising networks and the pay-per-click options as well.

    Once your campaign has been set in motion, take care to monitor response and be ready to change or completely redo your copy and the advertising vehicles you use. Keep a track of the ROI (Return on Investment) for every advertising purchase that you make. This way you can figure out which forms of advertising are working for you and which ones aren’t.

All online advertising is aimed at inducing “action”. Every online ad that you see is built to make you act: ‘Register for a free newsletter’, ‘buy now and save dollars’, ‘get a quote on your requirements’…the list goes on. The thing to remember here is that once the prospect has been pushed into an action, there should be real value for him at the other end of the pop- up. Unless you can fulfill the promise your brand is making, your online ad has been wasted.

A well-planned and well-executed advertising campaign can fuel the growth of your home business tremendously. Use online advertising following some simple guidelines and see how it impacts your sales, visibility and brand building, all at the same time.

12 Things You Really Should Know About SEO

From the very beginning of the Internet, the number one challenge which all of us have faced is how to attract qualified visitors to our websites. Throughout the boom years, one of the most popular solutions was to get massive funding, relatively easy to get in those days, and “buy” traffic, by various means.

As an iconoclastic young developer, with ambitions of beating the “big boys” at their own game, more time than money or the connections to get it, I sought a less capital intensive methodology to achieve the same results. Years of study and rapt attention to the pertinent forums, trying everything that even seemed to make sense (making many mistakes along the way, and learning much from each one), then carefully monitoring the results, has lead to many highly workable tools in our SEO bag of tricks. The outcome of these trial and error methods, (lots of both) lays the foundation of our SEO services and the basis for the ongoing growth of traffic to your website and ours.

The simple fact of the matter is this: Expertise in any other form of writing in no way qualifies one for the type of writing required to optimize a website for the Internet. There are many sites which have less than correct punctuation, grammar, and even spelling which rank #1 in their optimized search phrases. This is not to say that I don’t think these things are important, only that to be found in the search engines, they are not the most important consideration.

The flip side of this argument is equally true. Just because someone knows all the ins and outs of all of the search engines, can write algorithms in their sleep, has lunches with Dr. Eric Schmidt and is on a first name basis with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, does not, in any way, make them a writer. All of the writing on this site was done as a collaborative venture between Susan K. Thompson, a professional writer with strong academic credentials and real world experience, in both business and marketing, and myself. Was there a lot of editing and re-write? Yes. Were there disagreements? You bet! Was it worth it? Look at the record.

Emerald Coast Entrepreneur was launched on May 1, 2005 with most site optimization in place and submission to the directories just beginning. With a total monetary investment of less than $100.00, and a time investment, I’d rather not think about, but which approached 300 hours, the site was given a PR5 ranking by Google on it’s first update, less than 2 months after our launch.

Studies show that over 90% of all online users use search engines to find what they are looking for, whether products/services, or just plain old information.

The following twelve points will, I hope, summarize a philosophy, approach and methodology to the SEO question which is both sound and effective, along with giving some helpful insight into the industry itself.

1. Content. Content. Content.
Effective, professional, optimized Copywriting is the single, most important factor in any SEO campaign. Search engines index websites based on the content found on each page of the site. With a thorough understanding of the language and grammatical conventions combined with intensive research, to find and exploit the market focus, one can move a website to the upper echelon of the “SERP’s” (Search Engine Results Page) in a methodical as well as ethical manner.

2. Analyze Web Logs.
Measure everything, at least twice, and then check again. While I would be the first to say that many of the procedures that make up website optimization are more art than science, one needs to take a very scientific approach to the results of the effort. This is done by methodically keeping a record of, and making an analysis of the sites web logs. There are a number of specialized software which make the job easier but at the bare minimum, one needs to keep a close eye on the site visitors and their activity while on the site. No matter how well planned the strategy, it is largely theoretical until proven by the results, which can only be measured by the logs, and a thorough analysis of their content.

3. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, or any other search engine.
Those who promise such feats will either optimize for such vague search term phrases (such as, “green stunted widgets with purple Polka-dots and icing”) that no one will ever likely look for, or they are making a false claim, which they have no intention of keeping, or they have an inside edge at Google, something which they will loose, quickly, when the honest folks at Google find out about it. The other option, that they will take the money and run, is worth mentioning here but I’ll be polite.

4. Some things are just plain silly.
You don’t need to submit your site to 50,000 search engines. Businesses which offer this service are suspect, at best. 85% of the search results on the Internet come from one search engine, which, if you have one link from an established website, or better yet, a directory, will find your site just fine, on it’s own. Four (4) search engines account for over 90% of the traffic on the web. As for any supposed benefit which may accrue from being listed in an obscure search engine in Botswana which specializes in safaris to the Kalahari Desert and receives 7 hits per day; well, you figure it out.

5. SEO is not Pay-per-Click.
While no one would argue the effectiveness of getting increased traffic and sales, through a well planned, pay-per-click campaign, the fact remains that the conversion rates are generally low and they cease the moment the “pay” stops. With a well planned and executed SEO campaign, while results may take a bit longer, they continue to produce, and in fact grow, long after the work is done and paid for. Quite often we have found that after a thorough optimization of a site, only minor adjustments are needed on an ongoing basis, primarily related to new content and/or new items of sale or service.

6. SEO is not witchcraft, Druidism, shamanism.
Neither does it require any special chants, ceremonial fires, or vestments, though some of us do like to howl at the full moon, on occasion. There are no “Top Secret” practices which a reputable SEO can not tell a client, a judge, or his mother, for that matter. The very nature of the Internet has always been cooperative and there is nothing about SEO that can’t be learned, with a heavy dose of time and money. A reputable SEO firm will give you an item per item breakdown of just where the money goes. Be wary if you sense a secretive atmosphere or any unwillingness to answer questions. While there are technical points which might take some background to fully understand, if one has a solid overview of the entire situation, a simple explanation should be easy enough to come up with.

7. Do-it-yourself SEO.
Yes, you can execute your own SEO campaign and find a reputable SEO firm to help plan and organize it for you. About one half of my own clientele do some part of the actual work themselves, or have their in-house dedicated personnel do it, after discussion of the goals and aims of the business/website, a thorough website analysis, comprehensive search phrase research, and focused instruction on the ways and means of achieving high SERPs. These preliminaries are followed up with a detailed program of suggestions and methods which the client can then implement themselves or hire others to perform. Average savings; 30-40%.

8. Phased Implementation.

While many companies spend thousands of dollars per month on Search Engine Optimization, an alternative is available which will pay dividends to you in increased sales and leads without the high initial investment. The most important consideration is to have a reputable firm handle the initial evaluation and suggested optimization planning first. The trial and error method will cost much more, in the long run, with or without the desired result. After studying the plan and establishing a workable budget you may implement the plan as finances allow.

9. Remember the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Never was this more true than in the realm of SEO. While concrete and measurable gains will always come from a well thought out and executed optimization strategy, the Internet is a competitive media and we all want to be number one. Accept that a steady upward movement, over time, will place you worlds ahead of a flash followed by a crash.

10. A thought to ponder.
At stake, in the race for the top, is the very existence of your website, your business, and quite possibly your reputation. Beware of any “shortcuts” or less than ethical schemes that anyone might suggest to further your business goals. When it’s all said and done it is you, the business owner, who bears the responsibility for any company or individual you hire. Insist on knowing exactly what the strategy is and what steps are being performed to implement it. If it seems, in the least, suspicious, ask for and get an explanation. In this case, not only is Ignorance not bliss, it could very well be the beginning of the end for your business.

11. All incoming links are not created equal.

Both the relevance to your line of business and website subject matter and the PR value of the incoming link determine how valuable they are to your own PR ranking. With Google starting the trend, nothing new there, and most of the others following close behind, the days of grabbing all the inbound links, in any way possible, are gone. Not only will low ranked and/or irrelevant inbound links not help, they will, in fact, cause a penalty. Link farms, free-for-all link schemes, automated link accumulation software, or any other fad that doesn’t carefully screen the links and websites they are coming from will, in the long run, do more harm than good.

12. It’s more than just facts and figures.
The relationship between an online business and SEO is, perhaps, one of the closest of business relationships. In order to be effective, a SEO must know not only the facts and figures pertaining to the endeavor, but s/he must know something of the dreams and aspirations of the business principals. Things which don’t normally come out in a prospectus are often invaluable information when searching for the “right fit” into the complex world of the Internet. My own clients sometimes ask, due to the frequency of my calls and email in the early phases, “Am I your only client?” I usually laugh and say something to the effect that until I know your business almost as well as you do, yes, you are the only one that counts.

PPC Advertising – The First Step In A SEO Marketing Campaign

Often, sites view seo and PPC marketing as exclusive marketing techniques. Each marketing method has its advocates. In reality, both have a place in the Internet marketing process. If you intend to pursue a major seo effort, a PPC campaign is a critical early step.

PPC For Testing

Let’s say you have a site offering a service or product in the travel market. You’ve put together a healthy budget and decided to go for broke. Yep, you’re optimizing and trading links in an effort to go after keyword phrases with major traffic and competition. For instance, you’ve decided to have a go at “Europe travel”, which has roughly 400,000 searches each month and major competition for high rankings. You spend two years trading links, adding content and so on. Miracle of miracles, you pop on to the first page of search results. You start shopping for your private jet only to realize a very disturbing thing. You are getting thousands of visits, but few sales. After running calculations, you find the site is converting at 1 in 10,000.

Houston, we have a problem.

A PPC campaign should be used to test your site against keyword phrases before you spend the time and money on an seo campaign. The best platforms to use for your campaign are Google Adwords and Overture. Yes, click fraud is a problem, but less so on these platforms.

After opening accounts and laying a credit card down at the PPC alter, you need to give some thought at to how you will test your keywords. Here’s a hint. The campaign should be designed to test the keyword phrases, not maximize sales. This may sound like a strange statement, but keep in mind the purpose of the campaign. You are determining whether you have picked appropriate keyword phrases for the seo campaign. So, how does it all go wrong?

With both Overture and Adwords, you have the ability to designate the reach of your keyword phrases. Most pick the “broad match” option, which is terrible for testing. With broad match, your advertisements are going to appear for your keyword phrase AND variations of the phrase. Since the ad is appearing on a variety of keyword phrases, the results can give you a false impression of the value of the primary keyword phrase.

Going back to our example, we start a Google Adwords campaign for “Europe travel” and use the default broad match option. After a month, we are happy to find the ads converting at 1 in 70. Having validated the keyword phrase, we set off on the long seo campaign. But are we really sure about the validity of the keyword phrase. Since Google has been known to seriously expand keyword phrases under the broad match option, how do we know that the true keyword phrase isn’t “European travel”? We don’t unless we take a few additional steps.

The first step is to limit the PPC advertisements by bypassing the broad match option. Instead, you want to limit the appearance of the ad only to searches for the exact keyword phrase. In Adwords, this is known as the “exact phrase” match. To designate it, you simply place brackets “[]” around the keyword phrase. Second, you need to track traffic originating from the ads. This can be done using tracking tools on your server or through the tracking options offered by each PPC platform. Regardless of your choice, the resulting data will give a much truer picture of the value of the particular keyword phrases.

Nothing is more aggravating then getting top rankings, but miserable conversions. The only way to beat this problem is to test, test, test. Using PPC campaigns at the outset of an Internet marketing efforts can save you a lot of headaches later on.

What is Pay Per Call? How does it work?

Pay Per Call is the next wave of advertising on the Internet. Similar to a Pay – Per –Click advertising. Pay Per Call has a lot more to offer and a wider audience in mind. The Pay-Per Call (PP-Call) is geared towards small businesses that do not have a web presence on the internet. However, this form of advertising can be used by all types of business or services offered on the net.

Advertisers create an ad similar to a Pay-Per-Click (PP-Click) ad. Advertisers choose key terms in which they would like to appear under. They also choose their geographical location (local, regional or national) Pricing starts at $2 and can exceed $20. The ad itself consists of a headline and 2 additional lines of text, (including a URL if the company has one). Surfers then call the toll free number shown in the ad. After the surfer calls the number, the call is forwarded to the actual business phone. Seems pretty basic doesn’t it? But, I had a few questions I needed answered so I contacted Ingenio and spoke to them about their service.

My first question regarded calls placed after business hours. If my business phones are manned Monday – Friday, 9 to 5, will calls still come in after 5pm on Friday? The answer is that currently there is no automated scheduling that will turn your ads on or off at a specified time. However, you can go in manually and pause your account so that your ads are not shown during non-business hours. The automated scheduling is in the process of being implemented but there is currently no set date for this to take effect. Of course, you can place your business hours in the ad as well but this may take up valuable space that could be better utilized describing products or services. Businesses that have a call center for after hours calls are effectively 24 hour businesses, so this should not be an issue for them.

My next question concerned wrong numbers and short calls. We have all done it. We see one number and dial another. Or, we see something and on impulse we reach for the phone, and then change our mind ten seconds after dialing. So, does the advertiser pay for these types of calls? Is there a time limit a person needs to be on the phone for? There answer is yes. The calls need to last at least ten seconds. This should be more than enough time to establish that a wrong number as been dialed. I also wondered about people trying to beat the system. The trouble with PP-Click is that people may dial and occupy a salesperson with no intent other than to try and boost their revenue off the ads placed on their site. Ingenio has taken this into account. They can track calls that come in through their system. Any numbers seen abusing it can be blocked. Hopefully, this will discourage any type of scam to boost profits on sites that sponsors these ads.

I was also interested to know about ads that did provide a URL. Was there an additional charge levied when someone clicked on the ad? Fortunately, there is not. If a business sells over the net as well, they could certainly use this to their advantage. Of course, one of the main advantages to this type of advertising is that it caters to potential customers that do not, for whatever reason, like to make purchases online. Overall PP-Call may be worth its weight in gold. At least the potential is there. Will it surpass PP-Click as far as the preferred method of advertising? Probably, not. It does however give advertises who couldn’t advertise on the net before a reason to start. Maybe then they will see the importance of having a web presence on the Internet.

SEO Advertisting & Pay Per Click PPC

Advertising can be an easy way to break into the internet but there are many downsides to it. Unless you are running a community based site, have a site offering very unique content, a valuable service or product the traffic usually only comes as long as your paying for it. Of course ad campaigns can also be very expensive to run and maintain so you need to be sure your squeezing everything you can out of it. You should only proceed with a ad campaign if you are positive your site is the best it can be, otherwise you may just be pouring money away. There are thousands of companies on the internet who offer to provide you with ad campaigns, many of which never deliver, do not let any of these points put you off advertising.

If you want quality traffic with affordable prices you are recommended to stick with the major search engines and their partners. Google Adwords, Overture and MSN are all well respected companies which will deliver you the best traffic. All of the fore mentioned websites use pay per click systems which can be perfect as they drive traffic with keywords you specify directly at your site, these advertisers are all interlinked with the main search engines so you should expect to get the most widespread sections of the population from them. Because they have the traffic numbers to support ad campaigns there can sometimes be bidding wars on popular keywords, I advise you to stay away from popular keywords and do your research. Overture provides a free Keyword Selector Tool which can help you find out how much traffic similar keywords receive each month, these are usually a lot cheaper and still provide the same high quality traffic.

As I mentioned before advertising wont necessarily mean a good flow of traffic after you stop paying, other routes of advertising can mean you get listed in a search engines immediately for a set fee. Yahoo offers the ability to pay for a index within their search engine or directory, although your site still needs to abide by the same rules as other sites it gives you the opportunity to get indexed immediately within the search engine, a more subtle way of advertising power. Alternatively you can find quality sites that are related to yours on Sitepoint.com and WebHostingTalk.com who may be willing to put a one way link up for a nominal fee.

You may find websites on the internet offering “banner exchanges”, “free traffic” and other such promises, I wouldn’t look at them twice unless you want to lose out. The traffic they send you is of the worst quality, many of these websites operate bots, own networks of link farms and even pay people to visit your site. This of course means that no one being referred from these sites are actually interested in your content or services, in worst case scenarios you may even end up being banned from search engines due to these malicious sites. Even if they are reputable companies it is hard to judge whether they will work for you, many of the smaller search engine companies simply do not get the traffic to give you value for money.

Marketing Your Business – How Do I Adapt To The Internet?

The way we do business is changing rapidly. From VOIP, video conferencing, email support, telephone answering services, and the almighty internet. As a business owner we are faced with hundreds of decisions our parents and grandparents never had to contend with.

Some of you keep hearing from other business associates that internet marketing is the greatest method of increasing business and building a foundation for customer support. The only problem is, you’ve just learned how to send emails to people! Never mind learning about SEO, web design strategies, content analysis, pay per click, ROI, etc!

Do you hire an SEO company or do you learn yourself?

Investing time into your company is what we business owners do best but, in many cases, when it comes to learning new methods we quickly open our wallets to anyone out there who seems like the right person to help with your situation. This is the worst possible decision you can make.

Diving into the internet marketing community with your wallet open will result in a disaster if you aren’t properly trained on how to spend your money wisely. The key is not to hire an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company to take your money and promote your business behind your back. Try finding someone who offers you their “training services” in order to train yourself or someone within your organization to learn more about what is required online, how much effort it entails, and what pitfalls to avoid.

As a business owner, if you blindly search online and pick a company, you have no idea what you could be getting yourself into. There are no secrets to promoting your business online, only a lot of hard work. That being said, anyone with a computer can easily learn how to get their company high search engine rankings. Search engines don’t look to see whether or not you’re running a scam. No, they are concentrated on delivering relevant results for your search terms.

Old Fashioned Marketing Tactics:

In the old days (and still practiced today), business owners would devise their own marketing plan through print media, business cards, postcards, fliers, brochures, newspapers, magazines, TV ads, and radio ads. By doing this, the company could track their results by trial and error and really find out what truly works for their industry.

Old fashioned marketing is a simple trial and error process. So is the internet. Unfortunately, all too many business owners don’t have a clue how to start their own internet marketing process and they fail to even put their foot in the water. Instead, many business owners simply hire anyone they can find that seems reputable and then turn a blind eye and say; “Here’s my budget, you are the professional, you tell me what to do”. This is simply preposterous. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are now by learning and adapting and as soon as it comes to marketing your business online, you simply shut down.

I hope that this article has awoken some of you. Don’t be afraid to dive into the internet’s vast realm of marketing potential. So what if you fail the first time around. When we started out, we had no idea what we were doing, 3 years later our website ranks higher than many other internet marketing companies world wide.

The ULTIMATE secret to internet marketing is simple…

A concept I call “T.I.M.E.”

T – Try and try again
I – Internet changes all the time
M – Marketing opportunities are around every corner
E – Eventually you too can succeed

Think of it this way (Illustration only)

Here is a time line of your internet marketing campaign:

Start date – Research only: June 7th, 2009
Hired a website designer – August 31st, 2009
Website Complete – October 15th, 2009
Website launch – October 20th, 2009

Started an internet marketing campaign – November 1st, 2009
Started a Pay Per Click campaign – November 10th, 2009
Made a sale – November 15th, 2009

Increased our website’s link popularity – January 1st, 2010
Website gets hit by the Google Sandbox Effect – January 20th, 2010
Increased our Pay Per Click campaign – February 5th, 2010

Made some changes to the website – February 21st, 2010
Increase the website’s link popularity – February 28th, 2010
Got listed in the Yahoo directory – March 3rd, 2010

So here you are 10 months out of the gate and your website may still be “locked in the Google sandbox” ( Search for “Google Sandbox” in Google for an explanation). Your link popularity is just starting to grow a little bit. Hopefully you haven’t tried to link to everyone you can find and are actually linking to companies that are directly related to your business. Your PPC campaign is doing good. People are finally starting to come through Yahoo & MSN search results. You can sometimes find your company in the 200th spot within search results in Google and you are now wondering why this is taking so long.

Welcome to the world of marketing your company on the internet!!!

This time line representation from above is just something to show you how “T.I.M.E.” is the key of success on the internet and all we are required to do is keep plugging away and keep learning more every chance we get.

For most people who simply open up their wallets, they would have learned nothing in those 10 months and for everyone else starting an internet marketing campaign, those who didn’t simply just open their wallets, their websites are probably 10 times further than yours!

In Conclusion:

Learn more about how to increase your marketing campaign on the internet. If you have to, hire someone in-house who can learn for you and give you updates on everything. If you truly need to hire an SEO company make sure it’s for the right reasons like “starting and finishing a marketing campaign with you learning in the process”, or “enhancing a campaign that is already in place”, or “to revise your website’s conversion rate” or “create a full impact  key word optimization campaign”, etc. Take your time and use “T.I.M.E.” to increase your business slowly but effectively on the internet.