My Star Wars Talk at Ignite Denver

This is my presentation at Ignite Denver at the Irish Snug. It was fun. The screen chopped the top of my slides a little which is lame. I thought the variety of presentations were cool. I ordered the nachos but they make their nachos with potato fries and not chips, weird but still good.

Local Business SEO in Denver

With millions of blogs and websites, what can your business do to stand out? In my opinion the best strategy for local businesses in Denver to succeed in search engine rankings is to provide hyper local content.

First, some stats: According to SBI + M:

  • 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore networks).
  • 66% of Americans use online local search, like Google local search, to locate local businesses (TMP/comScore/SBI + M).
  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP/comScore).

Now can you see why local search is so important? Here are are few ideas of how to make you business stand out in Denver:

1. First take John Jantsch’s local content post to heart:

Make sure that you use the names of cities and suburbs on your pages, add your address to Google maps, talk about local and community events in your blog posts and titles. Link out to local sites using town and neighborhood names in the anchor text. As wells as using local words in you title tags of pages, anchor text for internal and external links, H1 tags, bold and italics tags, urls of page names, and alt and title description of images.

  • Use to comment and post about news in your area. They help you find places around you, get news for the places and neighborhoods you really care about, and engage more with your neighbors.
  • Use to get started registering your business to local directories.

2. Get descriptive. For example, according to Google’s Keyword Tool, keywords “Denver Restaurants” get about 135,000 searches a month and “Thornton Restaurants” gets only 2,400. Sure, it would be nice to be ranked well for the 135 thousand searches for Denver restaurants, but also consider that there are 10,900,000 competing pages for those keywords. The chances of being ranked well for those words are slim. Meanwhile, Thornton restaurants has only 1,090,000 competing pages; that’s 9,810,000 less pages of competition.

And think of the mindset of someone searching for restaurants in Denver vs. restaurants in Thornton. The Thornton searcher is much more likely to be looking for a place to eat near them right now then someone broadly searching for restaurants in Denver where they may be doing research for later or any other host of things.

3. There is this idea of Needle in a Haystack Marketing where you can publish very specific ideas to the Internet and, thanks to the long tail and search engines, people looking for specific things can find what they are looking for thanks to you. Your message doesn’t reach everyone but that’s OK because the people you do reach are the ones looking for you. If you have a specific product or service unique to what you do in Denver, then use it in your content.

This should get you started. For more ideas see SEOBook’s web publishing strategies.

SMM Helps Businesses When No One Cares

In it’s most basic terms, marketing is the act of trying to get people to care about your business. Get them to care enough and they just might buy. The problem is finding enough people to care when no one cares. Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody:

Having a handful of people highly motivated and a mass of barely motivated ones used to be a recipe for frustration. The people who were on fire wondered why the general population didn’t care more, and the general population wondered why these obsessed people didn’t just shut up.

This is because:

The number of people who are willing to start something is smaller, much smaller, than the number of people who are willing to contribute once someone else starts something. Many people care a little about causes and events, but not many care enough to do anything about it on their own,  both because that kind of effort is hard and because individual actions have so little effect on big corporations.

But that’s now OK because:

Social media lowers the hurdles to doing something in the first place, so that people who cared a little could participate a little, while being effective in aggregate.

This is important in marketing your business on the internet because:

Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activities themselves.

Get those less than loyal customers to engage with you, even if it is a little bit. Social media marketing allows your little brand to have a chance. Every extra person is another drop in the bucket that helps your idea to spread.

The Effect of Online Communities and Business Success

The ability of increasing a customer’s connectivity to your business before and after they buy is a huge advantage of online marketing. In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell explains the importance of a community in facilitating that connectivity:

If you want to create a change in people’s belief and behavior, a change that would persist and serve as an example to others, you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced, and expressed and nurtured.

He explains how John Wesley spread Methodism by traveling around England and North America organizing small groups. Rebecca Wells book, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, went through 48 printings and 2.5 million copies because of book groups who flocked to it.

It’s easier to remember and appreciate something if you discuss it for hours with your best friends. It becomes a social experience, an object of conversation.

So now how is a community created? First start small:

Small close-knit groups have the power to magnify the epidemic’s potential of a message or idea. That’s the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.

Data Driven Internet Marketing: Measuring Equals Success

You cannot manage what you cannot measure…And what gets measured gets done.” Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard

This quote entails the essence of data driven Internet marketing. Do you know where your customers come from, how much the average customer spends or how often your customers come back? Powerful decisions can be made from looking at the answers to these few questions alone. You could target your marketing efforts to the places where most of your customers come from. You could try up-selling techniques to improve your average profit per sale. You could give your most loyal customers tools to spread your message via word of mouth to their friends.

Wal-Mart keeps track of the number of items per hour each of its checkout clerks scans at every cash register, at every store, for every shift as a means of measuring their productivity. These obsessive data gathering habits are at the heart of Wal-Mart’s strategy. A small business cannot afford to ignore the importance of marketing accountability and measuring success.

How Web Analytics Will Help Your Website Grow

An excerpt from Web Analytics:An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik:

Imagine walking into and out of a supermarket. If you did not purchase anything, the supermarket managers probably didn’t even know you were there. If you purchased something, the supermarket knows something was sold but that’s about it.

Visiting a website is a radically different proposition if you look from the lens of data collection. During the visit to a website, you leave behind a significant amount of data, weather you buy something or not.

The website knows every “aisle” you walked down, everything you touched, how long you stayed reading each “label,” everything you put into your cart and then discarded, and lots lots more. If you do end up buying, the site manager knows where you live, where you came to the website from, which promotion you are responding to, how many times you have bought before, and so on. If you simply visited and left the website, it still knows everything you did and in the exact order did it.

With this kind of information, imagine the kind of improvements you could make over time to help your website grow.

Internet Marketing vs. CPM

Internet marketing allows you to get your business in front of the people most likely to buy. Weather its through improving SEO when people search for your service or product or PPC though Google’s content network, it works better than the traditional CPM strategy.

The vehicle with the lowest CPM, cost per thousand, is thought to be the best because it reaches the greatest number of people for the money. But this confuses activity with results. What does it matter how much you throw if none of it sticks? It’s not enough to place ads or have them seen be lots of people. What happens as a result? Did anyone buy the advertised product?

There are two metrics in advertising: reach and frequency. Reach is how many people see your ad and frequency is how many times it is seen. No single ad, no matter how well produced, is ever enough to sell you product. You need frequency to earn trust and you need trust to sell. With larger reach, the percentage of ideal customers that are interested in your product will be very small. A lot of money is wasted on people who are not in the market for your product.

As Seth Godin Puts it:

The more people you reach the more likely it is that you’re reaching the wrong people.

Christ Anderson explains the importance of targeting:

Sure, the traffic today is still mostly going to Facebook and MySpace. But as they struggle to target ads based on the faint signals of consumer behavior in a generic social network, the smart money is going to the niche sites, where laser-focused content and community makes targeting easy.

Data Driven Web Site Design

Does this situation sound familiar? You’re in a meeting and your throwing around ideas about how your website should look. Your partner says, “Let’s not use drop-down menus, I hate using them and hurts the quality of the site.” Meanwhile you ‘re thinking, “I don’t mind drop-down menus. I think they’re practical.”

Then you say, “OK, but I think that we should use the red logo instead of the blue one, I think people will relate to it better.” “No way,” replies your partner, “the red logo does a much better job of calling people to action.”

And so the same conversation goes that has plagued meeting rooms ever since advertising was invented. The belief that most web users are like us is enough to produce gridlock in the average web design meeting. But behind that belief lies another one: the belief that most web users are like anything.

Web use is idiosyncratic. There are no “right” answers. The better solution: make a hypothesis, test it out and see what works. Be driven by the data. If a higher percentage of customers who land on the page with the blue logo and the drop-down menus, than use it. After you’ve crossed that bridge, make another hypothesis, test it and see if it works.

Page Views, Hits & Visitors in Measuring Traffic

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the data the Google Analytics provides. Here’s a look at three units to measure – hits, pages views and visitors.

A “hit” DOES NOT actually refer to the number of times a user visits and/or clicks on a Web page. A “hit” refers to the user request for a Web Page “hitting” the web site’s server. Thus, you could have multiple “hits” to the server but only one view of the Web page. For example, if you have a page with 10 pictures, then a request to a server to view that page generates 11 hits (10 for the pictures, and one for the html file).  A page view can contain hundreds of hits.

A page view is each time a visitor views a webpage on your site, irrespective of how many hits are generated.

A visitor counted only once in a specific time frame. So if someone visits the site today and tomorrow, they’re are counted as 1 unique visitor and 2 page views.

Google Analytics Blog does a good job of describing how to measure visitors accurately on Google Analytics.

The ultimate goal is to measure quality. One way to measure the quality of a site is a low bounce-rate or the visitors who move onto another site immediately after visiting your site. What does a high bounce rate tell you? Avinash Kaushik defines it as, “I came, I puked, I left.” So in other words a high bounce rate isn’t good.

Keywords Determine a Customer’s Stage in the Buying Process

The key to a successful PPC campaign is determining the keywords/phrases that your target audience will search for to find you.

The first step is creating a “keyword universe”

  1. Think about what words your customers use when referring to your product/service.
  2. Use a keyword tool to get a list using those initial keyword ideas. Google’s keyword tool and the SEObook keyword tool work great.
  3. You can also have Google go through your site and come up with more ideas.
  4. With that list expand it with common misspellings, plurals and abbreviations.

Now, all of these different keywords can be used by customers at different stages of their buying cycle. With some analysis you can understand to a degree what the customer’s motivation may be.

Learning Stage: the customer is gathering information. They use broad keywords like TV.

Shopping Stage: the customer is comparing products, brands and features.They use a little bit more refined keywords like Plasma TV or High Definition TV.

Buying Stage: the customer is ready to buy. They will use exact keywords of model numbers like Sony BRAVIA 46″ 1080p HDTV.

Is this strategy fool proof? No. But utilizing your web analytics to measure the success of certain keywords will allow you to see those keywords that are catching people too early in the buying process. If a lot of people are bouncing quickly, they may be too early in the buying process.