Web Ads, E-newsletters, and Takeover Emails

With the continued rise in the value of social media and the resulting ability to hyper-target ads, many publications have now realized the gold mine on which they are sitting.

When newspaper subscribers or website visitors give their email addresses to these companies, they often “opt in” to receive certain emails. Maybe it’s a weekly sports update, or daily business headlines; these subscribers have now opened themselves up to be advertised to in a whole other way. Because the reader can choose what emails he wants, based on his interests and preferences, he effectively self-selects his demographic. If he indicates an interest in local restaurants and entertainment, proprietors of such goods may rightfully believe that this reader will be likely to take an interest in their offerings as well.

Some news sites have even gone so far as to offer their subscribers “opportunities from our advertisers.” These emails are completely taken over by an advertiser and go out to the site’s opt-in list on the advertiser’s behalf. I wanted to go over some of the ways that advertisers and news sites are working together to bring relevant content to interested consumers locally.

Newsday has three such opportunities. There are eight themed enewsletters that go out either Monday through Friday, or once a week. All of these newsletters allow for a 3.5×3” cube ad near the top of the email. They can be targeted to subscribers in specific zip codes and paid for by the thousand. Newsday also offers an email message called AdMail, which allows advertisers to completely take over an email with their own text and images. Though the advertiser will never be given the subscriber list, they will receive a click-through report informing them of who and how many took interest in their ad. Newsday AdMails can only be targeted by county and go to about 60,000 subscribers in Suffolk and 45,000 in Nassau at $50/thousand.

The third option for advertisers looking to reach Newsday subscribers is the new Daily Deal program. This is a collective buying opportunity, similar to Groupon. The advertiser offers a product or service for at least 50% off and splits the resulting proceeds with the email agent. Newsday’s version goes to over 10,000 subscribers and includes a free half-page print ad and banner ads on the website during the day their deal is scheduled to run (only one advertiser deal per day). There is no up-front cost to the advertiser, though the program is what is known as a “loss leader,” since vendors end up only receiving roughly 25% of the usual price for an item.

The LI Press also offers banner ads in their weekly KIOLI (Keep It On Long Island) newsletter, which goes to 50,000 subscribers, and takeover AdMail messages that can target specific groups of people. The AdMail groups can be customized by zip code, gender, age and interests. Depending on the specificity of the list, the cost per thousand can be as high as $100 or more, but this price is supported by the quality of the targets. Unlike the Newsday AdMail, which is sometimes wasted on too broad a demographic, the LI Press AdMails really target those likely to have the greatest interest. Of course, these ads also include the valuable click-through reports.

The LI Pulse offers their Executive Eblasts, which go to the “über consumer[s] and VIPs of the region,” but are, in our opinion, overpriced at over $1,500 per email to a single list of about 7,800 subscribers ($192/thousand).

Any of these options provides a cost-effective way to target the consumers most likely to become your customers. For more information, or for help structuring a comprehensive marketing plan, contact PRMG.

On-Page Optimization and Keywords

Working with Domains

• Pick a domain name that has potential keywords in it.
• Choose to pre-pay your domain for a few years in advance. Genuine sites plan on staying around for a while.
• If you’re using a shared server, you may want to do a blacklist check. If you have spammers on your server, you share the same IP address with them and so you may be considered a spammer.
• There are multiple ways to reach your home page; make sure your site is set up to redirect the other ways. For example, yourcompany.com, www.yourcompany.com, yourcompany.com/index.html, www.yourcompany.com/index.html all should redirect to the one you pick. Google considers these to be four separate pages, instead of one.
• Name your Web pages using keywords, for example, www.yourcompany.com/keyword1-keyword2.html.
• Never block your domain registration information using a privacy feature. Doing so may cause search engines to consider you a spammer for your anonymity.

Use Proper Programming

• Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo alt descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words.
• Make sure you have at least one text-based navigation link to make it easy for search engines to find the other pages of your site. Search engines have trouble following links using JavaScript-based images. These alternate text-based navigations are usually found at the bottom of a site.
• Stay away from developing websites with Frames because you cannot link to a specific page of the site. Use Flash and Ajax minimally. Search engines cannot read anything inside Flash and cannot see inside the Frames.
• If you MUST have a splash page with Flash or something of the sort, you also MUST place content and link text below it.
• If you aren’t too slick with CSS, putting your menu on the right-hand side will ensure spiders will crawl your main content first (after). Spiders read sites top to bottom, left to right. • Get rid of code bloat. JavaScript and CSS code should be moved to separate external files. • Make a dynamic XML sitemap to submit to search engines. • You should have a customized error page. If a potential customer finds a broken link, they can be supplied with links back to the site. • You should have a robots.txt file which is used to restrict search engines from reaching certain parts of your site. It also tells search engines where your dynamic XML sitemap is located.

Displaying Your Content

• Keep your content text-based as much as possible. Search engines cannot read text that is embedded in an image. If you use images, make sure you assign an alt tag and title tag to each image. An alt tag is seen when the image cannot be displayed. It is also used by the visually impaired.
• Keep your content changing and fresh. Outdated content will rank lower than more recent content.
• If your site’s content does not change often, then your site needs a blog. Once you have a blog, it’s important TO BLOG ON IT or you will receive little to no results. Crawlers crawl for content; if your site’s content doesn’t change, the crawler will come back less and less often. Three blogs entries a week is proficient.
• You should have a good content-to-code ratio. This means, even though you enjoy spinning images, with cool effects, and flashy junk, your content-to-code ratio is poor. A blank white page with optimal content will always do better than code-stuffed junk pages.
• If you are writing a substantial article, then you are most likely dealing with sub-topics. These sub-topics should be split in to separate pages with their own optimizations.
• Put high-quality outbound links related to your Web site. This doesn’t mean you should link to your competitor; it means you should link to a site that is within the realm of what your site is about and use the keywords considered by Google for that site. This shows users that you are in good faith and not a spammer. A higher ranking will give you more traffic than outbound links. People leave when they haven’t found what they’re looking for; chances are you’d have lost them anyway.

Using Keywords

• Pick relevant keywords that potential customers may search for. Try to stay away from very popular keywords. The more competition for a keyword, the harder it is to rank high with it. Try narrowing your keyword phrases by adding a location or town.
• Use keyword phrases in the content on your pages and in the headings. Repeat keywords throughout the content making some bold or italicized – this tells search engines that these words are more important. Make sure each page has a good amount of content – search engines love a lot of text.
• Don’t try to cram keywords and pull a fast one on a search engine spider. Programmers are constantly rewriting code to find people who try to abuse the spider, and they will find you eventually. So basically, BE LEGITIMATE – write content for a reader and NOT a spider.
• Use keyword phrases in the title of each Web page. Each page should have a unique title. Don’t list your company name in your title – most potential customers won’t be searching for you specifically. The words towards the beginning of the title should be the most important.
• Use the keyword and description meta tags in your site. Each page should have unique keywords and descriptions.
• It is always best to use keywords in anchor text (links). “SEO tips” is always a better anchor text than “Click here.” Crawlers also consider the surrounding text nearest to the anchor.
• Give each page a focus on a single keyword phrase. Don’t try to optimize the page for several keywords at once.
• Rather than repeating the same keyword over and over again, it is best to use the keyword’s synonyms. This keeps your content more interesting for readers, and Google won’t think you’re a keyword abuser.
• The best places for juicy keywords is the beginning and end of your page. Sometimes that’s not where it “looks” best to viewers; in such cases, it’s optimal to use CSS to place your keywords at the top of the source and not change the visual layout.

“Blackhat” Methods

Avoid using these methods to prevent blacklisting by Google and other search engines:
• Having duplicate websites.
• Auto-generated content.
• Repeating the keyword in your content too often.
• Redirecting the home page.
• Using small pixel text or hidden text on your pages. For example, white text on white background.
• Submitting your site to a “link farm.”
• Cloaking: this means displaying a different version of your web site, depending on the IP address of those accessing it.
• Registering many domains and interlinking them all.

LI Press April Schedule and Discounts

This April, Long Island Press is offering discounts on 2- and 8-week advertising packages. They have recently started working with a new printer and are now offering color ads on every page. Additionally, their website is enjoying more visitors than ever. Below is the schedule for the month’s issues. If you’re interested in placing an ad with the LI Press, let us know; we’d be glad to help you out.

Here is what is being featured this April:

Thursday April 7, 2011 – Cover Story – What’s Next for Suffolk County – Change for Suffolk County is on its way and the Long Island Press editorial staff will let us in on what is ahead for the east side of Long Island. The entire Long Island Press is now printed in full color on every page to help your business shine through.

Thursday April 14, 2011 – Special Section / Our Annual Travel and Summer Camp Guide – The time is now to make your plans for summer vacation or a last minute chance to sign up the children for camp. The April 14th issue will be filled with great vaction suggestions. Please join us by advertising your business in this special issue to reach this curious reading audience.

Thursday April 21, 2011 – The 2011 New York Auto Show Guide – The 2012 models are coming out and the Long Island Press will be your guide to navigate you through the show. We have plenty to feature in the exciting special section that will outline all of the details of the show.

Thursday April 28, 2011 – Cover Story / LI 2035 – In this issue, we take a look on what we can expect for the future of our Island. Join us as we head Back to the Future!