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- 2 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Contents _____________________________________________________ Contents...............................................................................................................................2 Introduction..........................................................................................................................4 Pillar #1 – Keyword Research .............................................................................................8 Pillar #2 – Website Design ................................................................................................19 Pillar #3 – Blog Technology..............................................................................................34 Pillar #4 – Autoresponders.................................................................................................50 Pillar #5 – Paid Advertising...............................................................................................66 Pillar #6 – Press Releases ..................................................................................................78 Pillar #7 – Link Building...................................................................................................86 Pillar #8 – Article Submission.........................................................................................108 Pillar #9 – Group Interaction...........................................................................................118 Pillar #10 – Viral Marketing............................................................................................133 Pillar #11 – Visitor Analysis............................................................................................153 Pillar #12 – Continuous Content......................................................................................168 Pillar #13 – The Evolving Web .......................................................................................172 The 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing – In a Nutshell.......................................................182 The Next Step – A Strategic Internet Marketing Plan.....................................................196 About the author ..............................................................................................................199 © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Introduction - 4 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Introduction ________________________________________________________________________ T he 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing offers a broad introduction to internet marketing methods for people like you – for marketing managers, business owners and entrepreneurs. It has been written to help you build your overall online marketing knowledge, explaining a wide variety of internet marketing activities or ‘pillars’. Few businesses understand the technical aspects of internet marketing. I strongly believe that companies need to have some understanding of internet marketing methods in-house, so that they can understand why things need to be done. Businesses can then make the decision to either do everything in-house, or manage the process and outsource the technical side to a good search engine optimization firm. Search engine optimization firms are good technicians, but they don’t necessarily understand how to portray your business online. They will do what they are told to do, or they will tend to do a very good job of just certain aspects of search engine optimization. However, you know your businesses best and that’s why it’s important for you to understand what you can and cannot do, or should or should not do, from an internet marketing perspective. The content of this book will introduce you to the fundamentals of internet marketing and give you a broad understanding of how to implement them. I will be using real life and fictional examples to demonstrate the concepts discussed. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Introduction - 5 - The 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing is not just about search engine optimization, and overall, internet marketing is a lot more than just search engine optimization. However, the two aspects of search engine optimization (namely onsite and offsite search engine optimization), are key features of a successful internet marketing campaign. Onsite search engine optimization includes getting all aspects within your site right, such as (but not limited to) having the correct title tags and heading tags on your web pages. Offsite search engine optimization consists of controlling, as much as possible, the relevance of the sites on which your links appear, the relevance of the pages within those sites and the wording used within the links on those pages. Therefore, when a site wants to link to you, you need to be aware of what linking text to request from the webmaster in order to maximize the value of the link. Inbound links from other websites play a large part in your final search engine rankings so it is important to try and generate as many relevant inbound links as possible. Increasing your inbound links can be done using a range of different techniques, which I will discuss throughout the 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing. Internet marketing as a whole includes paid advertising as well as other forms of internet marketing, such as podcasting, video marketing, email marketing or any other method of bringing traffic to your website or driving prospects to your opt- in pages. (We’ll come to what an opt-in page is later on) Ideally, when undertaking an internet marketing campaign, you want to mimic what happens naturally when people find a website to be a useful resource. By employing a successful internet marketing campaign, you try to replicate the natural building of links when increasing the popularity of your website. You do this by generating a wide variety of links and building diverse forms of traffic towards your website. Internet marketing can be summed up as any activity that helps to promote and measure the success of your business online. By reading the 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing book you will better understand what needs to be included in an internet marketing plan for your own business. I’ve tried to provide a broad-based overview of internet marketing methods in as a logical manner as possible. I’ve tried to do this in a way that makes internet marketing methods easily comprehendible, while still providing some of the © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 6 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING ‘meaty details’ within each of the internet marketing areas discussed. By sectioning off these internet marketing methods I began to realize that there were 13 key important areas to understand – and therefore 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing. There are two things to bear in mind when reading this book< Firstly, the purpose of the book and who the book is aimed at. The purpose of this book is to provide a comprehensive general introduction to internet marketing for marketing managers, business owners and entrepreneurs. If you’re a seasoned Internet marketing expert I would hope that you know most of the information – although a little recap never did anyone any harm! Secondly, this book is free. This means that it’s less likely to get updated as often as a paid book which is surely understandable. That’s not to say this book will ever become completely outdated. The principles behind each of the 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing will be alive and well for many years to come. However, to try and keep things as updated as much as possible, instead of including any links to recommended websites within the book, what I’ve decided to do is to keep all the resource links online. That way it’ll be much easier to always recommend the most relevant of resources. Links to websites mentioned in this book (as well as many other relevant, useful resources) can be found at http://www.26weekplan.com/resources. Finally, when you get to the end of this book, you’ll see that I also provide a follow-up 26-week internet marketing plan ‘action plan’ newsletter. This newsletter is free-of-charge and it’s a great way to help you implement the 13 Pillars. Just visit www.26weekplan.com to sign-up. But now it’s time to get going with the 13 Pillars of Internet Marketing. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #1 – Keyword Resea- 7 - Pillar #1 Keyword Research © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 8 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Pillar #1 – Keyword Research ________________________________________________________________________ K eywords are the phrases that people type into search engines to find a product or service. At the very beginning you need to make sure all the different pages on your website are targeting the right keywords - the phrases that people are likely to type into search engines in order to find the product or service that you offer. The keyword phrase myth There is a myth that the best scenario is to appear at the top of Google’s search results for a really popular word that relates to your industry. However, this is a mistake because if you’re doing this then the chances are that you are focusing on your competitors instead of your own prospective customers. The keywords that you need to focus on are the ones that provide great conversion rates for your website in addition to a reasonable amount of website visitors (traffic). Conversion rates are measured by calculating the number of visitors to your website divided by those that go on to undertake the action required in order to reach your ultimate goal. If you’re a college or university you may think, ‘Oh, it would be fantastic just to appear at the top of Google for the keyword search ‘college’. Not necessarily. For instance you might offer very specific courses. You obviously cover just a specific locality – and a specific price bracket. Therefore, you are not likely to get very good conversion rates from just that one word. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #1 – Keyword Research - 9 - Another example is you may think, ‘If I offer a business articles website, wouldn't it be fantastic just to get thousands of visitors for the keyword ‘business’? However, in this instance as well your conversion rates will suffer as the keyword ‘business’ can have a very generic meaning and as a result it is more likely that these visitors will have reached your website and not found what they were looking for. Rather than think about single term keywords you should be focusing on succeeding with longer phrase keywords, commonly called long-tail keywords which are easier to rank highly in search engines and often lead to better conversion rates. Long-tail keyword phrases It is important to use what are called long-tail keyword phrases. By using long- tail keyword phrases you face less competition from similar businesses, making it easier to get ranked in search engines. Long-tail keyword phrases also give you higher conversion rates as they pull in more relevant traffic to your website, with visitors more likely to follow-through and become your customers. By focusing on long-tail keyword phrases, relevant people who have specifically searched for what you have on offer will be visiting your website, rather than people stumbling upon your website by chance. Not only are visitors from long- tail, more relevant keyword phrases more likely to stick around and purchase from you. They’ll be more likely to bookmark your website and come back later. Internet search patterns Think of the patterns that people make when search for something online. Think about how you use a search engine. Do you just search once and then pick out a website from your first set of results? You are more likely to perform an initial search using just one or two words and then try and narrow down the results further after that. This improved search is generally made by adding extra words (often determined by the initial search results) or the use of inverted commas ‚around a phrase‛ to indicate that it's a specific phrase that you’re searching for. Most internet users are aware that the more precise your search terms are, the more likely you are to find the precise resource you're looking for. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 10 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING People are looking for something specific when they type in a longer keyword phrase into a search engine. That’s another reason why you shouldn’t necessarily worry about not coming up in the first set of search results. The keyword phrase solution / using keyword phrases The more keyword phrases that you are trying to aim for on a single page; the harder it is to achieve high search engine rankings for your chosen page. Do not be tempted to go for lots of different keyword phrases for your home page - you should aim for one main keyword phrase on each individual webpage plus some longer-tail keyword phrases (preferably encompassing your main keyword phrase) – up to a maximum of 3 phrases per page. Any more than 3 keyword phrases per page will dilute the impact of each of the phrases on your individual pages. A good example would be if you had determined that your main keyword phrase for your home page should be ‘UK travel guide’ then a couple of longer tail keyword phrases that you could include on the same page without diluting their impact might be ‘free UK travel guide’ and ‘UK travel guide for tourists’. You should also focus on different keyword phrases for different pages of your site, again up to a maximum of 3 per page. The main content on your web pages will naturally allow search engines to find alternative longer keyword phrases. That’s another reason why you should have just the one main keyword phrase as a main target as well as just a few specific longer-tail keyword phrases. Note: Pillar #2 will review different areas on your web pages where you should be including your chosen keyword phrases. Search engine ranking In the 1990’s search engines like AltaVista were the most popular means of finding information on the web. At that time the meta-keywords tag was the primary factor in determining the relevance of individual pages, and where those pages should be ranked in search engines. From roughly the year 2000 onwards, search engines started to realize that their results could be easily skewed if they focused on the meta-keywords tag too heavily. Instead of relying on this piece of meta data for ranking decisions, Google counted the quantity of links to a webpage from other websites and the © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #1 – Keyword Research - 11 - text used within those links (amongst other things) when deciding on the search ranking of a web page. The meta-keywords tag has continued to drop in value as the large search engines such as Google and Yahoo! have become wise to spotting ‘keyword stuffing’. This has happened to such an extent that may search engine professionals don’t bother with it anymore. Selecting the appropriate keyword phrase As Google has evolved the way it ranks pages, you should review your keyword phrase strategy accordingly. In order to implement the optimum keyword phrase strategy, you should use different levels of keyword phrases according to the relevance of the keyword phrase, the degree of difficulty in getting that keyword phrase ranked highly by a search engine and the structure of your website. To help you determine the appropriate keyword phrase for each page on your website I would recommend that you think of your keyword phrases as belonging to one of three categories: - Your home page keyword phrase - Your category page keyword phrases - Your keyword phrases on individual pages within your categories Category keyword phrases explained By category keyword phrases I’m assuming that your website is structured in a hierarchical order and therefore has a certain amount of links on the home page, and these pages that the home page links to have further links that point to additional pages. I’m referring to the pages which are linked to directly from your main pages menu as your category pages. Helping search engines to determine the relevance of your site By structuring your keyword phrases into different levels you are helping explain to search engines the precise relevance of your site. The means search © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 12 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING engines are more likely to understand the meaning of your site and they will be more confident that your website is an authority on a particular topic. You should have a separate keyword phrase for your home page, your category pages, and your individual pages within. For your home page you can afford to choose a keyword phrase that is searched more often, and which will generate more traffic to your site; category pages less so and individual pages even less so. As a rule of thumb I tend to focus on a two-word keyword phrase for my home page, three-word keyword phrases for my category phrases and four-word keyword phrases for my individual pages. Figure 1.1 – Google External Keyword Tool Google External Keyword Tool Determining subject areas to cover on your website One of the first areas you should address with your website is to determine your main category subject areas. A category represents subsections on your website which help search engines and visitors to determine the contents of that particular subsection of your website. I suggest having approximately 10 to 30 main categories within your site with different keyword phrases associated with each of them. For example, if your keyword phrase on your home page is ‘golf lessons’, you may wish your category keyword phrases to include ‘london golf lessons’, © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #1 – Keyword Research - 13 - ‘cheap golf lessons’ and ‘golf driving schools’. Your category keyword phrases needn’t contain exactly the same words as your home page keyword phrase, but they should be topic related – and more specific. Researching keyword phrase categories There are different ways of researching categories for your site and there are a number of resources you can use to help determine the most appropriate categories. First of all, you should go to competitors’ websites and have a look to see how they are structuring their websites, taking note of any categories they have on their sites. Secondly, you can use what is called the Google External Keyword Tool (Figure 1.1). This tool offers you suggestions and ideas for other keyword phrases associated to a smaller word or phrase that you type into it. This tool can be used for both website category ideas and keyword research. Another available tool is KwMap - this gives you ideas based on what people type into search engines. It maps words closely related to, but not the same as, the search term. It provides a similar function to a thesaurus which is another option for researching different categories. The best way of understanding how KwMap can help you brainstorm new website categories and keyword phrases is to have a play with the service. Taking the guesswork out of determining keyword phrases Having determined your categories you should then research the keyword phrases that people use to find the kind of product or service you offer. There are tools available for researching your keyword phrases. These will give you an understanding of the levels of phrases that people type into search engines. The main keyword research tool I recommend is called Wordtracker. CASE STUDY 1 – Product-based Online Retail Freddie Faldo is a golf shop owner with an online retail presence. Below is an example of how he can use Wordtracker to conduct his keyword research. In the first instance Freddy would type the word ‘golf’ into Wordtracker © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 14 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Figure 1.2 – Keyword Tracker Tool Wordtracker Knowing which keywords to target It is going to be difficult for him to run at the top of search engines for the word ‘golf’ unless he puts a lot of effort in, as there is a great deal of competition for the keyword ‘golf’. View a screenshot of the Wordtracker search on the word ‘golf’ in figure 1.3. Even if he does get to the top of search engine rankings for the keyword ‘golf’, are people looking for what he offers? Perhaps they are looking for golf courses or golf lessons rather than buying golf equipment from a local shop. Ideally, the keyword phrase that he should be targeting for his home page is something like ‘golf equipment’ as that is specifically what he offers. Drilling down deeper into Wordtracker results In order to determine the keyword phrases that Freddie should be using for his category pages, he can click on the links within the Wordtracker results for golf equipment to show results such as: ‘used golf clubs’, ‘discount golf clubs’, ‘ping golf clubs’. As these are actual search phrases that people use on a regular basis © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #1 – Keyword Research - 15 - they are more beneficial. They are also longer phrases and therefore more specific to Freddie Faldo’s website. Figure 1.3 – Keyword Tracker Tool Searching for the keyword ‘golf’ in Wordtracker He will also be able to see within these results how many times a day these phrases are searched for e.g. the phrases ‘used golf clubs’; ‘discount golf clubs’ and ‘ping golf clubs’ are typed into search engines roughly 800 times a day. He now has an idea of how to structure his website by using the keyword phrases used ‘golf clubs’, ‘discount golf clubs’, ‘ping golf clubs’ within the category of ‘golf equipment’, back with the knowledge that there are a great deal of people that regularly search for those phrases online. CASE STUDY 2 – Service-based Online Retail Jane Jobs runs a Sales Executive Recruitment Company. Jane is already aware that her business is about sales jobs. But what categories should she choose for © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 16 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING her website? Using Wordtracker Jane can see that people type in ‘sales jobs’ 150 times a day. That is a nice level in terms of number of visitors for a keyword phrase to aim for your home page. Roughly you should aim for between 100 and 1,000 times searched for a home page keyword phrase. Category phrases should be searched a bit less - probably something in the region of 20 to 200 times depending on the size of business or on how hard you are prepared to work at getting those pages ranked highly in search engines. From the Wordtracker results (Figure 1.4), the different categories that she could have within her website are: ‚medical sales jobs‛ (51 searches), ‚pharmaceutical sales jobs‛ (31 searches) and ‚direct sales jobs‛ (17 searches). Jane can now be confident that these are the phrases which people are actually searching for. Using Wordtracker to amend your website strategy Having initially considered structuring the site keywords on a regional basis, Jane can now see that people don't as commonly conduct regional searches e.g. ‘sales jobs Belfast’ or ‘sales jobs Newcastle’. This research therefore gives her a much better idea of how to structure her website and how to cater her offering towards the majority of potential website visitors. Drilling down even further, she can structure different keyword phrases for her individual pages as well. By clicking on the phrase ‘medical sales jobs’, she can include these longer keyword phrases on individual pages within that category. Examples of longer-tail keyword phrases that Jane can use on her pages within the medical sales jobs category include ‘medical equipment sales jobs’, ‘medical device sales jobs’, and ‘sales jobs medical equipment’. Pillar #1 – Keyword Research Summary Structure your site correctly to begin with. You know what your business is about and what your home page is about. Make sure your keywords reflect your business purpose. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #1 – Keyword Research - 17 - You should aim to structure your website in a logical manner for both users and for search engines. After you choose your home page keyword phrase, choose your site categories. What categories represent your business? Brainstorm ideas and use resources such as an online thesaurus, KWmap, Wordtracker and the Google External Keyword Tool to come up with 10-30 relevant categories for your site. Focus on your individual pages after your categories. In an ideal world you should devise a structure of 10 to 30 individual pages within each category. If you want, and if your website is large enough, then you can go for sub-categories within categories before drilling down to pages within that section. Conduct keyword research to come up with one keyword phrase per page. Be as specific as possible. By selecting long-tail keyword phrases, even if you have fewer visitors to your site, you will have a higher conversion rate from the traffic you do receive. In the long term bringing in a couple of visitors per day to an individual page, equals 500-600 very relevant visitors over a year. Check out the keyword research resources at http://www.26weekplan.com/resources#week2 Position your keyword phrase in your site architecture – and this is where we start Pillar #2 – Website Design. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 18 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Pillar #2 Website Design © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 19 - Pillar #2 – Website Design ________________________________________________________________________ W ebsite design, pillar #2, aims to make the best use of the keywords you have chosen for your site. In addition this pillar helps you position your keywords in the most appropriate places on your site. The main aspects of pillar #2 consist of behind the scenes coding, navigation structure, onsite optimization, the precise relevance of each page and improving conversion rates. Behind-the-scenes coding The ‘behind the scenes’ coding on any website needs to be as efficient as possible to assist with search engine optimization. When designing sites using software such as Dreamweaver, although it’s constantly getting better, surplus and repeated code can sometimes still be generated. For example, in Dreamweaver, if you highlight some text and make it bold, then remove the bold at a later point, some duplicate code has been known to be produced. Note that this isn’t any slight on Dreamweaver – Dreamweaver is probably one of the best pieces of software available for designing a beautiful website without any knowledge of HTML code – but you can never 100% replicate the ability of a human website coder. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 20 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING So while some software is excellent for designing websites, the best solution for optimizing the code is somebody manually checking to ensure all unnecessary code is taken out. The use of cascading style sheets One method of keeping your web page code as tidy as possible is the use of something called cascading style sheets. Among other things, cascading style sheets (or CSS for short) help you reduce the repetition of code that might otherwise be required when you have a particularly repetitious design style on your pages. Examples of such styles might include common fonts for headings, subheadings and links throughout the site. Another advantage (in addition to the reduction of your website source code) of using cascading style sheets and storing all of your styles in the one file is that it gives you the facility to quickly and easily alter just the one file on your website in order to amend the properties of any one element across your entire website. (For example the style of any main heading that appears on your website) Ordering your website code in an efficient manner One thing you need to be aware of is that search engines crawl through your website source code in order to try to understand what each of your web pages is about. They don’t see your design – just the code behind your design. And the higher up within your page source code the relevant content, the easier that search engines will find it to determine that your web page is about a particular topic. If you have a flashy, involved top section at the top of each of your website pages, then the chances are that there is a great deal of code that is required to make that top section display correctly. In an ideal website design, your code will get to your main page heading as soon as possible, shortly followed by the body content on your web page. This is the main reason why lots of blogs display their site navigation toward the right hand side of each page. It means that search engines quickly crawl through the post content before they get to the standard site navigation, so there is a greater chance that this page will be ranked higher in search engine results for the body © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 21 - content. Website navigation for visitors and search engines It is of great benefit to you when you tailor your website navigation towards both users and search engines. Within your website navigation structure you often have categories, sub- categories and individual relevant pages within these sub-categories. If a web page features ‘backwards compatible navigation’, this will allow a person who has reached an individual page in a website, either via a search engine or an external link, to understand where that page fits into the website as a whole. The navigation should provide them with the option of browsing your site and if they can easily understand your structure they will be more likely to visit another individual page within the site. Figure 2.1 – Trek the UK travel guide http://www.trektheuk.com/cornwall.php For example, in figure 2.1, when somebody stumbles upon this page which is about a place called Cornwall in England, they immediately understand where this it fits into the website as a whole. They’re therefore much more likely to continue to browse through the website. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 22 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING This associated navigation also helps search engines by showing them the topics that are associated with the page, therefore justifying why the search engine should rank the page as more relevant for a particular topic. The navigation on the page in question reads as follows: Home > Places to go > England > Southwest England > Cornwall Home > [Category] > [Sub-category] > [Sub-sub-category] > [Individual page] A visitor can quickly familiarize themselves with the website and navigate through the different categories. Another helpful pointer for search engines is to include the keyword phrases within a text link that points to a page. This keyword phrase in the link needs to reflect the content on the page that the link points towards – and not the page on which the text link resides. For example, if you wanted to link to a page which was about ‘French language courses’ and you linked to that page with a text link that contained the words ‘French language courses’, this would be assisting with the search engine optimization of the landing page. This is another reason why in the example above, the text ‘England’ and ‘Southwest England’ is used within the navigation links. It greatly assists with the search engine optimization of the landing pages. Onsite optimization There are 8 essential aspects of onsite optimization. These are things that you should be aware of and should instruct your website designer to design your site in a manner that appeals most to search engines. 1. Page Title Your page title can be found in the (commonly blue) bar at the very top of your website browsing software. (i.e. Internet Explorer / Firefox / Safari etc) In figure 2.2, the page title text in the blue bar says ‚The internet marketing strategy specialists – Purple Internet Marketing‛. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 23 - Figure 2.2 – Purple Internet Marketing The ‘Page Title’ text can be found in the blue bar at the top of this screenshot The Page Title serves the dual purpose of helping your users understand what the page is about, as well as providing search engines with a keyword phrase inside the Page Title. It is important that your site should use different Page Titles on individual pages in order to optimize each page on your website. This will enable individual pages to be found by a search engine. Failing to do this will have a detrimental effect on your web page rankings in search engines. When search engine results are displayed the Page Title is the link that is underlined. By making the page title as relevant to the search as possible, the searcher is more likely to find what they are looking for and click through to your website. Of course the Page Title must explain to people exactly what is on each page too – otherwise you’re your new website visitors aren’t going to hang around too long. 2. Meta Description Although the meta-description isn't generally thought by search engine optimization professional to be part of the search engine ranking algorithm, this meta tag can still significantly positively impact your search engine result view to click conversion rates. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 24 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING To view the meta-description you can enter an individual web page and right click to select ‘view source’ or ‘view page source’. This enables you to see the code behind the individual web pages and near the top you are most likely to find the meta-description. Figure 2.3 – Page Source of BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz View of the page source The meta-description viewed as highlighted in figure 2.3 begins ‘Business Articles – Latest business news & management advice’. At the time of writing if you search Google for ‘business articles’, the number one result is the website www.BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz. (Figure 2.4) When you view the descriptive text underneath the clickable title you will see that the text used in the description has been taken from the meta-description. Figure 2.4 – Google Search Searching Google for ‘business articles’ This shows why conversion rates from a user viewing a search engine result to the user deciding to click through to the website can be significantly improved. If you manage to include a meta-description in the search results which is © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 25 - extremely relevant to the users’ search then it is much more likely that the user will decide to click through to the website. Note: If you decide not to use a meta-description in your website coding, or if a search engine deems your meta description to be irrelevant compared with the content on your page then the search engine may instead decide to use some alternative content from within your page as the description with the search result. This is generally extremely unfavorable when it comes to trying to improve your conversion rates. Remember – you do not need to incorporate the keyword phrase within your meta-description – this probably won’t influence search engines. The most important thing is that you tailor your meta-descriptions towards users and trying to persuade users to visit your page without being misleading. It is fairly simple to ensure that your meta-description is different for each page on your site. If you are using a content management system, you can commonly generate the meta-description automatically, potentially from the first few lines of your main page content. However, ideally it is good to have the facility to include manual meta-descriptions with each page. In addition to individual page titles, this will significantly improve your conversion rates from search engine result (SERP) pages. 3. Heading Tags Heading tags should appear either side of a heading within a page. For example the heading in figure 2.5, the home page of www.BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz is ‘Latest business articles’. Some hidden tags behind the source code of that heading explain to search engines that this is an important heading, and therefore that provides a very good indication to search engines about the content on the page. If you view the source code behind the page (View > Source in Internet Explorer) you will be able to see the heading tags in the source code. Heading tags consist of text enclosed by <Hx> where x is a numerical value from 1 to 6, with 1 being the most important of headings. For main headings like ‘Latest Business Articles’ (the heading shown in figure 2.5) the code generated will look like: © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 26 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING <H1>Latest Business Articles</H1> Figure 2.5 – BuildYourOwnBusiness www.BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz Remember, the purpose of heading tags is to help explain to search engines what your page is about. If you have your keyword phrase within the heading tag, it is more likely that search engines will consider that your page is likely to be about your keyword phrase topic. 4. ‘ALT’ Tags ‘ALT’ tags are alternative text that appears if an image does not display properly. Sometimes if you hover over an image with your mouse the ‘ALT’ text will be displayed. ‘ALT’ tags originated in the 1990s when Internet pages were slow to load because of dial-up connections. The text appeared instead of the image, describing what the image was. Users could then click on this text to download the image if required. However, ‘ALT’ tags now have several additional uses. They can be used to help to explain to search engines what your pages and images are about, again helping your site ranking. Additionally they provide a route into your website when people are searching for images using Google Image Search or MSN Image Search. If you have ‘ALT’ text associated with each image it is more likely those images will appear in search results, increasing the traffic to your site. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 27 - ‘ALT’ tags are also beneficial for visually impaired people who use software to read pages out loud. If you have text that explains what images are, it assists the software and makes your site more accessible, also giving your site greater compliance with certain web standards. 5. Keyword Rich Navigation Within your website, you should be linking to different pages using keyword phrases. The keyword phrase should reflect the content of the page that you are linking towards. For example, if I am linking to a page about change management articles, ideally, I want to be using the text, ‘change management articles’ within the text link to that page. (Figure 2.6) Figure 2.6 – BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz An example of keyword rich navigation Above, the orange ‘Change Management Articles’ text link links to the page which can be seen in figure 2.7. Figure 2.7 – www.BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz The ‘Change Management Articles’ page © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 28 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING In figure 2.7, there are aspects that optimize this page for the ‘Change Management Articles’ keyword phrase. You can find the phrase ‘Change Management Articles’ within the page title, heading tags, page content and links towards that page. 6. Good URL Format The URL does not really impact search engine optimization a great deal, but it is important to have a consistent URL structure within your website that search engines can follow. Some websites have their pages generated from databases with long URLs that aren’t consistent because they change depending on which users are visiting your website and what they are looking at. This isn’t good, as search engines will find it hard to determine which URL is the correct one and which one should be ranked. Just remember that if you make things easier for search engines then they are less likely to come up with an excuse not to rank your web pages as highly as they might otherwise be ranked. There is often no need to have lots of question marks and different query strings within a URL. Try and make them as simple as possible. For example, the following formats of URLs are ideal: www.buildyourownbusiness.biz/change-management-articles (category URL) www.buildyourownbusiness.biz/change-management-articles/what-is-change- management (page URL) 7. Don't Link to the Same Page in Two Different Ways Many websites link to their homepage within their own site by using /index.html at the end of their URL. The reason that website designers do this is that this the way to tell your internet browser to load a particular page as the first page when somebody visits your website. However, all you need to do is link to your home page using your main domain name for example www.buildyourownbusiness.biz, instead of www.buildyourownbusiness.biz/index.html. You should also ensure that you © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 29 - are consistent with your choice of whether or not you use ‘www.’ Using more than one format of link for the same page could dilute the impact of your linking structure. If you have links within your site using one format, but have links from other websites in a different format, then it can reduce the popularity of your homepage with search engines. (i.e. if you link to your homepage using www.yourdomain.com/index.htm from within your site yet other sites just use www.yourdomain.com) The reason that you should just stick to the one format of link is because search engines are less likely to rank your site highly if they are not able to recognize how popular your site actually is. In addition, as a worst case scenario from these duplicate styles of linking, search engines may think that these two different pages offering duplicate content. This means that they may choose to de-rank one of these pages completely because they think you are offering duplicate content on your website. 8. Use ‘No Follow’ tags where appropriate The final aspect of on-site search engine optimization that I’d like to include here is the use of ‘No Follow’ tags within your linking structure. ‘No Follow’ tags enable you to tell search engines ‘Don't rank this page’ or ‘Don't rank these pages’ because they are not important. Pages that you do not want to be ranked in search engines should make use of the ‘No Follow’ tag, for example the ‘about us’, ‘disclaimer’ or ‘terms & conditions’ pages within your website. There may well be lots of pages within your site that you do not want search engines to include in their results pages. By deliberately diverting search engines away from certain pages, search engines are more likely to focus their efforts on determining what the rest of your site is about and rank the rest of the pages in your site more highly. The format of a ‘No Follow’ tag looks like: <a href=http://www.buildyourownbusiness.biz> rel=‚nofollow‛>About Us</a> If you are constructing a simple HTML link, and you don’t want search engines pass any credence to the page that you’re linking towards, you should include the ‘nofollow’ attribute. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 30 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING More site architecture tips Make sure that you stick to one precise topic per page. It is not just one keyword phrase per page, but it is one relevant, precise topic per page that is relevant for users. This will make life as easy as possible for search engines – so you’ll have a good chance of getting a high search engine result – and getting a high conversion of users clicking through to your pages – and those visitors staying on their site because they’re immediately aware of the precise nature of the page. Have a logical progression within as well as within your individual pages. (Remember the navigation in figure 2.1) This will encourage users to progress through your site after stumbling upon your page through a search engine result page. Less is often more when it comes to conversion rates. You may want to minimize navigation on some pages and give people less options. This in turn drives your website visitors towards the one option that you really want them to choose. Precise relevance of each page Each page within your website needs to be extremely relevant. Why not survey your visitors and ask them how you can improve your website? This may help you reduce the amount of visitors who leave within a few seconds of arriving – thinking that your site is not relevant for their needs. You’ve done the hard work when you get visitors to visit your website after finding your pages listed in search engine result pages. Don’t uncoil your efforts by making your site seem irrelevant for you visitors’ needs. Your web pages should be designed for your visitors – with search engines in mind. Don’t overload your pages with keyword phrases or make your visitors have to scroll to read the content that they are looking for. The best optimized web pages don’t look ‘optimized’. Improving conversion rates Improving conversion rates should be another imperative area of focus within website design. You need think about what your goals are for an individual visitor in addition to how you will measure your goals. Do you simply want © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #2 – Website Design - 31 - people to leave a name, an email address, and get them to fill in a form? These types of goals are the easiest to measure. Other goals you might have include – selling something; tracking free downloads; tracking link clicks or tracking pages viewed to name just a few. Many businesses will want to capture contact details of visitors e.g. name, email address etc. An important though is that you shouldn’t rely on search engines forever for free traffic in you business model, as your website might not be ranked highly by Google or Yahoo or MSN forever. You should aim to build an email list in order to reduce your reliance on search engines in the future. A final important aspect of improving conversion rates is to test different sales techniques. Software programs such as AWeber and Google AdWords will let you display different versions of the same page and test alternative versions against each other. You can test your headings on your pages, your descriptions, or even the text within a button. This will help you to produce the optimum versions of your copy. Perhaps you don’t need all the information that you’re requesting your visitors for? Maybe you’ll treble your opt-in rates if you just ask for name and email address instead of asking for name, email address and physical address. Ideally, you need to be testing all the time. Once you find a winning page, you should keep it but continue to test and tweak it to see if you can further improve conversion rates. Pillar #2 – Website Design Summary Take some time to think about your behind the scenes coding – make your whole website as efficient as possible, which will help search engines when they crawl through your site. Get your navigation structure right and make sure it's logical for search engines and individual users. Remember that your website visitors may land on an individual page via a search engine and good navigation will allow them to quickly understand where that page is in relation to the rest of your site. This will make your new visitors more likely to stick around for longer. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 32 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Ensure that you’re aware of the 8 essential aspects of onsite optimization which will help to improve your search engine rankings. Have you considered the precise relevance of each page? Having just the one topic per page will make life easier for both visitors and search engines. By undertaking continuous testing and analyzing what does and doesn’t work, you can alter the structure of the site to maximize conversion rates. Check out the website structure resources at http://www.26weekplan.com/resources#week3 © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #3 – Blog Technolo- 33 - Pillar #3 Blog Technology © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 34 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING Pillar #3 – Blog Technology ________________________________________________________________________ B log technology is how I prefer to describe the marketing benefits of blogging. I view a blog as a great piece of technology rather than an online journal or diary. Many businesses dismiss blogs as informal online diaries in which people voice opinions. However, the technology behind a blog can be harnessed as a powerful Internet marketing medium for business – and the communication style can be any style you like. Pillar #3 Blog Technology covers: - What a blog is - A review of some of the different types of blogging software available - How to quickly and easily personalize a blog with the use of themes and plugins - What Pinging and RSS feeds are and how they impact internet marketing - Why Podcasting is so closely related to blogging and how to use a blog to start your own podcast What is a blog? Wikipedia describes a blog as being a website with entries made in a journal © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #3 – Blog Technology - 35 - style, however, this is not necessarily the case – I don’t like that description. While the vast majority of blogs may be presented in reverse chronological order, the content topic and style is entirely your choice. Your blog can include news stories, or have formal content. It could be targeted internally within your organization. How useful is a blog? A good piece of blogging software is also a great content management tool. Blogs are an excellent way for non-HTML literate workers within an organization to upload new information onto a website. Search engines tend to rank websites higher if you continually add new content to your site. You should not think of your website as being a static entity – it should be continuously updated with content regularly added to your site. When sites are updated regularly, then search engines are more likely to consider it current and therefore more relevant than a website that has not been updated for a period of time. A blog makes it very easy to add new pages to your website. It makes it much easier to keep your website current. Popular blogging software - Blogger Blogger is software that you can use that isn't hosted on your own server. I would not recommend it for business use. If you are new to blogging it can be useful to register and create your own account to see how blogging works. It is owned by Google and free to use. - WordPress The software that I recommend for business use is WordPress. (Figure 3.1) It is open source blogging software and it is also free to use. WordPress.org can be downloaded onto your server and installed on your website. As you can use it on your own domain a typical address for your blog may be YourDomain.com/blog. WordPress themes © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 36 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING When using WordPress you can also use WordPress themes, which allow you to personalize the look and feel of your blog. Anything relating to the layout, design, look and feel of the blog itself is derived from a WordPress theme, and there are thousands of free themes that you can use. Figure 3.1 - WordPress wordpress.org Figure 3.2 is an example of a website that is giving away a theme free-of-charge is Copyblogger. At the time of writing Copyblogger has over 100,000 RSS subscribers, so it goes to show that giving away a good WordPress theme for free can be a very effective form of internet marketing. Figure 3.2 - Copyblogger Copyblogger has over 100,000 RSS subscribers Even if you decide to download and use the Copyblogger theme, you do not necessarily have to stick to the same color scheme. You can use a theme as a base for your blog and then amend it according to your brand or website colour © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #3 – Blog Technology - 37 - scheme, if required. You can even get a personalized WordPress theme. If you want to install your blog on your domain, then the blog can be tailored to look exactly like your site. Your visitors will probably not be aware of the fact that they’re viewing pages which have been delivered via another content management system. You can search for a free theme to suit your individual needs at WordPress.net. Search by style, colour, general look and feel, or browse to view different themes that are appropriate for your business. Content management Blogs are a great content management tool as they don’t require you to be technically literate to post pages or manage the publishing of new content. All you have to do is enter your title and content within the blog post, choose your category and press ‘submit’. If you install a WordPress blog on your server you can give different levels of authority to different users. You can limit access to particular categories, or allow certain users to only create posts, as opposed to authorizing them to amend the look and feel of the blog. Figure 3.3 – Backend of WordPress Adding an entry to the WordPress blog Figure 3.3 shows the back office of www.PurpleInternetMarketing.com, which is © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 38 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING a site completely designed and managed via a WordPress blog installation. If you want to write a post, all you do is click on ‘write’ to add and entry to your WordPress blog. (See figure 3.3) Click ‘write post’ and enter the title and post text. Then select the various categories you want the post to be associated with (if you want more than one category press ‘add’) and then press ‘publish’. It’s as easy as that to add new posts and therefore add new content to your website. WordPress plugins WordPress has been specially designed to be ‘lean and mean’ in the way it operates. This is because they understand that different WordPress users certain features and not other features. In order to cater for everyone’s needs, they made the sensible choice of designing WordPress to be a world-class core product without any extra ‘bells and whistles’. However, because WordPress is open-source it means that independent coders can add additional functionality to the software in the form of ‘plugins’. This means that users aren’t lumbered with downloading a bloated core product which has features that they don’t intend to use. To provide these different features and functionality there is a wide range of plugins available of which the majority are free-of-charge. All plugins are are small software programs which work together with your standard WordPress installation. You can search for plugins in the plugins directory on the WordPress website. (wordpress.org/extend/plugins) Search by what you want your plugins to do. Whatever additional feature you are looking to add to your blog somebody else has probably had the same thought – and perhaps built a plugin to accomplish the required task. Perhaps you want to amend your graphics or the look and feel of your blog, or even amend your linking structure. You may want a plugin which will allow you to help you build a revenue stream into your blog. Recommended plugins At the time of writing there are many plugins which I use on one of my blogs – © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com Pillar #3 – Blog Technology - 39 - the Purple Internet Marketing website. The following are 5 plugins which I currently use and that I am comfortable recommending. (Please note that these kind of recommendations change all the time. Visit http://www.26weekplan.com/resources#week7 for an up-to-date list of blogging resources + links to 2 highly recommended professional WordPress themes.) 1) Akismet is a great spam filter if you have ‘comment posting’ functionality at the bottom of your blog posts. Some businesses may choose to disable the comment functionality but it can be useful to encourage interaction within your website. Comments can provide up to date content for your site, while it also makes your blog more of a community that people are more likely to come back to and listen and read other comments. The Akismet plugin should disable around 90% of your spam comments and save you a great deal of time in comment moderation. 2) aLinks is a tool to control links within a blog. One of the potential issues with blogs is that people can ‘steal’ your content via your RSS feed (we’ll get to what that is in a bit) and automatically publish it on their own site. You may not necessarily want them to be able to do that. aLinks allows you to build in automatic links within your blog posts. For example, if I mention the phrase ‘business articles’ within a blog post I might set it up so that the plugin automatically generates a link to the home page of www.BuildYourOwnBusiness.biz. If people republish that post which contains that link, then the link will probably now be on the other person's website pointing back to your site. At least is somebody steals your content you gain by getting a link on their site. 3) Popularity Contest is a tool to make popular posts easily available for your visitors to view. As previously discussed, blogs commonly display posts in reverse chronological order which can make it difficult for users to find old posts that still have good content or are of interest. What Popularity Contest does is to provide a listing of your most popular posts of all-time in a sidebar within your blog navigation. Because the chances are that this is your best every content, it will give you a greater opportunity to retain new visitors on your site. © Copyright 2007-2012 Purple Internet Marketing Limited www.26WeekPlan.com - 40 - THE 13 PILLARS OF INTERNET MARKETING 4) Get Recent Comments is a plugin that shows the most recent comments that people have made on all of your blog posts in a widget in your sidebar. If you are encouraging people to comment on your blog to build up community interaction, one way of doing that is to publish the latest comments made on every post within your menu system. You can display the five or the ten most recent comments made by people on your blog. This is beneficial in a couple of different ways. You are encouraging your blog to be more of a community and if people can see their latest comment in the main sidebar it will encourage them to post a comment again. The Get recent Comments plugin has additional benefits too. By being able to see a comment on an archived post, this may well encourage a user to visit the original post. One other way that this plugin adds value to your site is that you're improving the search engine optimization as these links point directly to the comments at the bottom of different posts and not to the posts themselves. This drives alternative search engine crawls throughout your site. 5) My Avatars is a plugin that’s associated with a website called MyBlogLog, a very popular blogging community. When users register at MyBlogLog, they upload a small picture, or avatar of themselves (perhaps even a company logo). After somebody has uploaded this image to MyBlogLog, in addition to the avatar image displaying on MyBlogLog, whenever a blog has the MyAvatars plugin installed, the avatar image will also be displayed next to comments by that registered MyBlogLog user on the blog. This again encour
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