What Mobile-First Marketing Means for Your Business

Mobile-First Marketing

Last month’s Google Performance Summit in San Francisco, CA, revealed a number of changes to Google’s AdWords and Analytics tools. Some of the highlights of Google’s summit included the development of “Promoted Pins” in Google Maps, changes in ad bidding and a new appearance for ads in search results. All of these developments reveal that Google is moving forward into the mobile-first era while continuing to handle trillions of searches every year.

Google announced that its Maps service will soon include a new generation of localized ads, as well as “promoted pins” featuring local businesses. They note, “Nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location,” revealing that “people’s online and offline worlds are colliding.” Since locally-based mobile searches are growing, this is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to integrate their advertisements into the stream of their followers’ lives and to show them that they are located nearby.

Changes to AdWords bidding will now allow customization based on the platform of choice – desktop, tablet, or mobile. Again this change is driven by Google’s commitment to pursue a “mobile-first” approach to advertising. The increased customization capabilities for AdWords bidding will allow businesses to optimize their marketing for whichever platform drives the greatest response and, ultimately, to reach customers more effectively.

Finally, the “mobile-first” approach to advertising has led Google to reformat the way search results appear to favor mobile platforms. This follows Google’s decision earlier this spring to remove right-hand ads from desktop search results. Expanded-text ads and new responsiveness features in mobile displays further contribute to the versatility and appeal of Google’s world-leading ads program.

Google has published some very helpful information about how mobile searches connect customers to physical businesses. Of course, Google’s search and advertising capabilities have revolutionized the face of marketing in the digital age, and their shift toward a “mobile-first” approach means they are continuing to have influence in this area. The call for professionals in this ever-changing media environment is clear: as Google notes, “accounting for mobile and designing for mobile-first are two very different things.” Mobile advertising and search capabilities offer a promising way to bridge the gap between cyberspace and physical space, as the content users see online pushes them to visit physical locations.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) is a full-service public relations, marketing and digital advertising agency. A Certified Google Partner, PRMG is dedicated to helping organizations and professionals drive client outreach through strategies like mobile-first marketing. If you are interested in any of the services we offer, please contact us at info@thePRMG.com or 631-207-1057 for a free consultation.

Bringing Traffic to Your Website: On-page, On-site, and Off-site Optimization Strategies

seo-web-optimization-sm

These days, it’s not enough to have a beautiful, user-friendly website. It’s also important to consider the site’s existence on, and interaction with, search engines. Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to initiate and funnel traffic to your website, and a well-performing website utilizes the right combination of on-page, on-site and off-site optimization strategies.

 

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization ensures the optimal mix and frequency of well-researched keyword phrases. This typically consists of measuring relevancy across items such as: page title tags, meta descriptions, header (h1, h2) tags, image alt tags, link title attributes and paragraph text on a single web page. On-page optimization also focuses on including keyword phrases in the right locations of a web page. Search engines will prioritize the importance of a keyword phrase that’s physically higher up on the page and tagged correctly, and give that particular phrase more weight when categorizing and ranking your website in organic search results.

On-Site Optimization

On-site optimization focuses on the importance of relevancy across many pages of a website, or the entire site. An example of this would be a website for an accountant where all topics, including practice areas, blog pages, articles etc., focus on accounting-related issues, like taxation, filing, bookkeeping, or anything relevant to the business. Typical on-site optimization strategies include a rich link structure that connects keywords or phrases to other related pages that may more clearly define the specified keyword phrase. Ensuring that the anchor text used in a hyperlink is rich with keywords that clearly define what the subject of the destination page is about gives a search engine a better idea as to what the overall site’s theme and category are. A good example of this would be avoiding a phrase like “click here” as a means to link to another page.

Other on-site strategies would include having a current XML sitemap to help search engines crawl and identify the location of all of your website pages without missing any, using schema markup to better translate information about your organization to search engines (location, hours, type of business), identifying and removing duplicate content to avoid penalties, and using DRY (don’t repeat yourself), lean, compressed (minified) code so that your site loads quickly, giving visitors an optimal experience.

Off-Site Optimization

Off-site optimization techniques primarily focus on aspects that can increase the visibility of a website in organic search results by way of factors that are external to the website itself. This would include social media strategies set to drive traffic and inbound links, obtaining backlinks by use of credible online directories, and ensuring that URLs, address listings, and phone numbers are precise and accurate across all locations on the web. Also, writing compelling, original, quality content — like press releases or blogs that authoritative sites like news sites and thought-leading blogs may want to link to — can help increase your organic search rankings.

A healthy combination of on-page, on-site and off-site optimization is the best approach to increasing visibility for your website. The Public Relations and Marketing Group is both knowledgeable and experienced in creating successful optimization and marketing strategies for websites. Call now for a consultation: 631-207-1057 or email us at: info@theprmg.com.

Should You Choose a Custom Website or Template Website?

websites-multiple-devicesWhen running a business, one of the most important branding and marketing strategies is to create an informative, effective website. How can you decide if your business is better off with a template or a custom-built website? First, think about the goals, budget, and scope of your campaign. For example, if the main objective is a quick, low-cost redesign or creating your first website, a template-based website could be beneficial for your business. However, while many business owners create their own websites using templates through sites like Weebly or GoDaddy, these templates may hinder your overall marketing strategy if your company is looking for a more comprehensive set of services. Continue reading “Should You Choose a Custom Website or Template Website?”

How to Choose the Right Keywords

5 Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Business’ Keyword Strategy

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), keywords are extremely important. Keywords are the words or short phrases that Internet users type into a search engine when looking for a website, business, service or product. In regards to SEO, search engines use keywords when analyzing and prioritizing websites. By including strong keywords in the content of your website, the meta tags, ALT tags, your domain name and each individual page name, your search engine rankings will dramatically improve. Apart from SEO purposes, keywords should also be used in blog entries and your Web advertising campaigns. This article will explain how to choose keywords that will boost your business’ online visibility and bring you higher conversion rates.

  1. Know Your Target Audience — Before determining which keywords to use, you must know exactly what your target audience is most interested in. Your keywords should consist of words or phrases that potential customers are most likely to use when searching for your business, service or website. Ask yourself: what would my potential customers most likely enter into a search engine? Once you are familiar with your audience’s needs and mindset, you can begin compiling a list of potential keywords.
  2. Brainstorm — Come up with a list of potential words and phrases that your target audience might use to find your business online. The goal is to show up as high as possible in search engine results when people search using these keywords. Generate a list of words or short phrases that relate to what your website is trying to promote, sell or offer to your target audience. Try to stay away from very popular keywords because the more competition there is for a keyword, the harder it is to rank high for it. You can narrow your keyword phrases by adding a location or town. Also, rather than repeating the same keyword over and over again in your Web copy, it’s best to use the keyword’s synonyms. This way, your content will be more interesting for readers and Google won’t mark you as a keyword abuser.
  3. Use Keyword Tools — There are plenty of tools on the Web that will help you determine the monthly activity or popularity of potential keywords. For example, try using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. This useful tool can help you get keyword ideas for your overall list and, more specifically, for your Web advertising campaigns. Through this keyword tool, you can find keywords based on your website’s content and also identify negative keywords. Here are several other keyword tools available on the Web:
  4. Keep an Eye on Your Competition — By taking a look at your competitors’ meta tags, you can see which keywords they are using and get an idea of which words and phrases are most common in your industry. By using programs such as Web CEO, you can measure how well you, and your competitors, come up in search engines and, essentially, how easily potential customers are able to find your website. You can also try entering one of your desired keywords into a popular search engine to see which websites show up the highest for this word. While you are aiming for keywords that your target audience is most likely to use, you also want keywords that don’t have as much competition. If you can find a balance of strong keywords and less competition, you will have a better conversion rate.
  5. Adapt When Necessary — Over time, keep track of words and search phrases to determine which keywords you should keep and which you should remove. If you find that some of these words are no longer relevant, opt for different ones and monitor what works and what doesn’t.

For more information on keywords, please read our article, “On-Page Optimization and Keywords.” You can also contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

What You Need to Know About SEO

SEO-Pre-Production

Search engine optimization (SEO) is absolutely critical to modern marketing. With millions of new Web pages flooding the Internet every day, search engines are forced to sift through the clutter and develop a ranking system to prioritize websites. In the most basic sense, SEO is everything that helps your business get ranked higher and receive optimal exposure from these search engines. This is so important because your position on organic search engine results correlates with the number of leads generated by your website. For those who are new to SEO, this article will explain the most important factors that affect these rankings.

  1. Content — Compelling content is perhaps the most important and influential factor of search engine optimization. Every Web page you create should contain unique content that is fresh and relevant to your industry and keywords. Strong content is quickly picked up by the major search engines and pushed to the top of the search results. When writing your Web copy, see if you’ve answered the needs of your customers or clients. What kind of content are they looking for? Depending on your industry, you may offer guidebooks, downloads, a FAQ section, multimedia and other pages that are of value to your audience. It’s also important to ask yourself (even if your content meets the needs of your audience): What makes your website stand out from those of similar organizations? The more valuable and unique your website, the more traffic it will receive. For more information on the importance of content and how you can create better content, please see our article, “Why Quality Content Reigns Supreme.”
  1. Your Web Page Must be Crawlable — In order to build traffic, your website must allow search engines to easily “crawl,” or access and index, the information on your site. If your content cannot be crawled, it won’t be ranked or indexed by search engines. To ensure that your website is crawlable, use search engine-friendly CSS code, include a simple and clean navigation, use text links and incorporate a keyword-rich URL structure. Once your website has been fully optimized, crawled and indexed, it will be much easier to attract organic traffic from Google and other major search engines.
  1. On-page SEO — On-page SEO refers to all of the production requirements on the specific individual pages you are trying to rank. When developing your Web presence, make sure that every page is fully optimized since it’s possible that individual pages of your website will rank higher than your homepage. Start out with a strong, well-thought-out design, incorporate a frequent updating strategy and pick a domain name with potential keywords in it. It’s also important to name your individual Web pages using keywords. For example: www.yourcompany.com/keyword1-keyword2.html. Use proper programming and avoid “black hat” methods to prevent blacklisting by Google and other search engines. These black hat methods include repeating the keyword in your content too often, having duplicate websites and registering many domains and interlinking them all. For more in-depth information on on-page optimization tips and techniques, please see our article, “On-Page Optimization and Keywords.”
  1. Relevance — Your website and individual Web pages must be a close match to the term that is being searched. To boost your site’s relevance in the eyes of popular search engines, make sure that every title, header, link, graphic name and page on your website is somehow relevant and connected to your subject and desired keywords.
  1. Off-page SEO — Off-page SEO refers to the external aspects which attribute to rankings, or everything that happens off your website that builds traffic and leads to higher search engine ranking. The most important factors to consider are the external pages linking to your website and the level of authority these pages have. For example, submitting your website to popular Web directories and social bookmarking websites that have high authority will benefit your overall SEO. For more detailed information about off-page optimization and long-term strategies to improve your SEO, please read our article, “No, We Can’t Get You Those Results Overnight.” An important factor of off-page optimization is the level of authority given to your Web page. The more authority your Web page has, the more likely it will rank high for certain keywords. To maximize your authority, secure as many backlinks as possible from as many high-authority sites as possible. Since authority is an aspect of link-building, you can build authority on the Web by utilizing off-page optimization methods such as submitting your site to Web directories, using social bookmarking websites, blogging regularly and other techniques to engage users with your content and drive traffic and legitimate backlinks to your website.
  2. Link Building — Link building is critical to enhancing your SEO and attracting people to your website. Backlinks are so important to SEO because some major search engines, such as Google, will give more credit to websites that have a high number of quality backlinks. This doesn’t mean buying links or using link farms — backlinks should only be coming from credible sources. For example, backlinks from websites such as Google, YouTube and free submission websites are given more authority and link value. The four major factors that affect link value are:
    • Whether It Is a No-Follow or Do-Follow Link — Focus on obtaining do-follow links, which contain a special HTML Markup that notifies the major search engines to follow the destination inside the link. Always avoid link farms since these can actually hurt your search engine ranking.
    • The Authority of the Page Your Link Appears On — The higher the authority of the page your link appears on, the more SEO credit your backlink will hold.
    • The Number of Other Links on the Page Linking to You — The more links on one page, the less SEO credit each link possesses.
    • The Anchor Text of a Link — Links that have desired keywords in the anchor text (the clickable text in a hyperlink) are the most valuable to you, in terms of ranking for those keywords.

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Anatomy of a Mobile Website

 

mobile

According to a study by Nielsen Media Research, mobile Internet usage is growing at a rate of 30 percent each year. With more people surfing the Web using their smart phones, businesses must recognize the need for their websites to be compatible with these devices. By creating a separate site for mobile users, you are enabling them to experience faster browsing speeds, easy navigation and an overall improved user experience. Having a mobile website can also provide strong search engine optimization (SEO) benefits since it will boost your rankings on mobile-friendly search engines, such as Google and Yahoo.

This article will explain why your business needs a mobile website, what your mobile website should look like and how you can convert your existing website into a mobile site.

Why Does Your Business Need a Mobile Website? — With the variety of mobile devices to choose from, such as iPhones, iPads and Androids, the mobile Web is rapidly replacing traditional desktop browsers. As an increasing amount of people use smart phones to browse websites, businesses should not hesitate to reach this important mobile audience. Traditional websites don’t work well for mobile users because they don’t render correctly on the small, high-resolution screens of smart phones, causing sluggish browsing speeds and disfigured navigation schemes.

Having a mobile website will also provide your business with valuable SEO benefits. Since Google has a separate index for mobile content, having a mobile website is key to securing a higher ranking when people search on Google using their smart phones. Another benefit is that, since Google has a much smaller mobile index of content and not as many businesses have mobile websites, those who do have mobile sites will be at a significant advantage.

What Should Your Mobile Website Look Like? — Most websites were designed to be viewed on a desktop monitor, which has much more space for displaying text and images. For mobile websites, it is essential to have a much simpler and less text-heavy design and navigation scheme. It is also essential to reduce bandwidth so that your mobile site will load faster and run smoother on smart phones. When designing a mobile website, it is important to prioritize your content and navigation scheme and only present the information that is most relevant to mobile users. For example, phone numbers, maps and directions should be easily accessible on your mobile website because these features are valuable to mobile users. A useful feature for mobile Web browsers is the “click to call” option. This feature allows users to automatically call the business by simply clicking on the phone number.

If you are interested in creating a mobile website for your business, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Flash vs YouTube: What to Use When Embedding Videos Into Your Website

flash-vs-youtube

Recently, Adobe Systems abandoned its development of making Flash accessible on mobile devices. Since no Apple device uses Flash, Web developers are debating whether or not to use Flash at all when embedding videos into websites, blogs and Web pages. On top of the problems Flash creates in regards to optimizing a Web page, the concern of not being able to reach Apple users is huge. With millions of iPhones and iPads sold each year in the United States alone, your business could be missing out on a huge number of potential customers and clients by using Flash to build your website.

This article will explain the benefits and disadvantages of using Flash and other alternatives such as embedding YouTube videos or video objects.

YouTube — The advantage of choosing to embed YouTube videos on your website, rather than Flash videos, is that you can reach every user. No matter what Internet browser or mobile device you use to get onto the Web, YouTube videos are accessible. Bringing YouTube videos to your site can connect your website with the most popular online video community. YouTube offers free hosting for a large number of videos, multiple embed options and top-quality video and audio.

Incorporating YouTube videos into your website can also enhance your overall social media marketing strategy. By having a unique YouTube channel for your company, with videos that can be embedded on your website or blog, your business can tap into one of the most popular services available on the Web. This video sharing giant encourages visitor interaction by allowing viewers to “like,” favorite, share or comment on videos, giving businesses another outlet to interact with their audiences. You can also add friends through YouTube and users can subscribe to your channel. Subscribers will receive email updates each time you post a new video. You can embed a YouTube video into your website or blog by following the instructions here.

However, a disadvantage of using YouTube to embed your videos is that your videos will not be hosted on your server. Instead, you are relying on YouTube’s server. If YouTube is down or experiencing high traffic volume, it will delay the playback of video on your website or cause it not to load altogether. Your video will only load as fast as YouTube is able to load. Another disadvantage is that there are many companies that block their employees from using YouTube while at work. According to a report released by the International Business Times, YouTube is the third most blocked website at workplaces. Especially for B2B companies that are looking to reach other professionals, this can be a major downfall.

Video Objects — By embedding a video object on your website, you can have the video file hosted on your own server. This will give you more control and you won’t have to rely on a third-party server such as YouTube. The benefit of using QuickTime, for example, is that the software is compatible with Apple mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. However, there is still the issue of not being able to reach all users. For example, if you embed a .mov file, the user would have to have the QuickTime plug-in already installed on their browser in order to watch the video. Apart from mobile devices such as iPhones, most users have Flash installed on their browser rather than QuickTime.

Flash — The main issue with Flash, as we mentioned earlier, is its inability to play on mobile devices. Flash also acts as a roadblock to search engines, so it does not help websites with search engine optimization. However, Flash is still the most widespread video solution. Flash will work for most users and it is recommended as the best cross-browser solution for embedding videos. To still reach the majority of viewers, but also give others the opportunity to watch your video, we recommend using website code to detect if a user has Flash installed. If Flash is detected, the Flash version of the video will be shown. If Flash is not installed, your website will display a YouTube or QuickTime movie instead. This provides a simple alternative for iPhone and iPad users.

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com.

PRMG Hosts Fall Lecture Series at its Education and Training Center

PATCHOGUE, NY — The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) announces it is offering a series of lectures on how attorneys, restaurants, retail stores, companies and non-profit organizations can grow their business and protect their reputation. All lectures will be held at PRMG’s Education and Training Center, located at 156 North Ocean Avenue in Patchogue.

On September 23, PRMG will host a PR and Marketing For Lawyers CLE course from 11:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. In this program, John C. Zaher, Esq., a leading attorney marketing expert, will review the attorney advertising rules and provide an overview of the tools needed to develop and implement a successful marketing program. Those in attendance will receive two CLE credit hours for Ethics & Professionalism. Registration is $65 in advance ($85 at the door) and includes lunch and materials.

The following presentations will provide those in attendance a multifaceted marketing approach to their organization, including an overview of strategic planning and research, Web development, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations, social media, marketing, advertising and more:

Competing with the Big Boxes (and Little Boxes) Without Going Broke: A Marketing Seminar For Retailers on October 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

Non-Profits Need Marketing, Too: A Marketing Seminar for Non-Profits on October 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

Bring More Guests to Your Table: Marketing Strategies For Restaurants in Today’s Economy on November 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

Negative publicity on the Internet can cost businesses both money and customers. A strong online reputation management strategy is essential to the success of any organization in today’s business world. Getting Started with Reputation Management will provide an overview of a comprehensive reputation management strategy for business owners to monitor their online reputation, publish positive publicity, engage with their audience and take legal action if necessary. The presentation will be held October 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Registration is $15 in advance, $25 at the door.

Social media and the Web are essential components of any multifaceted strategy to make the most out of your business’ marketing efforts. Using Social Media and Web Marketing to Build Your Business will offer those in attendance with an overview of how to strengthen their business’ Web development and SEO, Web advertising efforts, social media presence and more. The presentation will be held October 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

It is imperative to include a marketing plan as part of a business plan and to budget funds for at least six months to a year. Starting a New Business: “If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come” describes the steps PRMG recommends towards developing and implementing a cost-effective marketing plan for the new business owner. When starting a business, there is no room for error. This program, which be held on October 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., will review strategies that work. Registration is $15 in advance, $25 at the door.

Registration fees include breakfast or lunch. For more information, call (631) 207-1057, email: johnzaher@theprmg.com or visit www.theprmg.com.

# # #

About PRMG
Founded in 2002, The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) is a full-service public relations and marketing agency based in Patchogue, New York. PRMG is dedicated to helping businesses, professionals, non-profit organizations, government entities, attorneys and law firms leverage their time, talents and resources by using effective public relations and marketing techniques, as well as advertising, graphic design, website design and development, digital video production, website search optimization and social media. PRMG has launched a variety of website-based entities, including Long Island Policy Forum, PatMedNews, Dining Out Long Island and New York Lawyer Pages. For more information, call (631) 207-1057 or visit www.theprmg.com.

Marketing in a Recession Revisited

100951094

12 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive in a Double Dip

I thought it might be helpful to revisit an article I wrote on the “Top 10 Tips for Marketing in a Recession” in January of 2009. While many of the suggestions still apply and I remain optimistic about the long-term prospects for the U.S. economy, I believe that the economy of today is the new normal in the face of a number of economic hurdles, including high unemployment, international financial unrest and a depression in the real estate market. It is my personal opinion that things won’t change significantly, at least until business confidence can be restored with the election of a new President and Congress in the Fall of 2012. These recommendations suggest that while it is necessary to market, you must do so with the idea of slowly maintaining and growing your business, while continuing to overcome a myriad of external challenges.

Starting a Business in a Recession — If you are thinking about starting a new business in a recession, you are not alone. Small businesses are often the greatest generators of new jobs. This is one of the reasons why the unemployment rate remains high in the United States. Often, when people are laid off, they take the opportunity to start their own business. However, think hard before you start a business, especially if it is a restaurant or a retailer. For example, the highly competitive restaurant industry sees 27% of restaurant startups fail within the first year, according to a 10-year study by Cornell University and Michigan State University. If you are looking to open a restaurant or retailer, make sure that your business will be unique and that you are confident that there will be a demand for your product or services. Think along the lines of necessities, including health care or products like coffee. For example, think of the Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven franchises. Another essential point to keep in mind is that before you start your new business, you must set aside plenty of money for marketing. For more information on this, read our article, “If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come…

One of the first overall suggestions I can make is that when choosing whether or not to start a business in a recession, you must identify what the most profitable businesses are and which ones can give you the most competitive advantage. In a recession, consumers require value more than ever. Just look at Walmart, Target and McDonalds. These companies have done relatively well during the recession because of the value they offer consumers. However, there is an exception with high end luxury markets. Although these markets did take a hit early in the recession as real estate values and stock market portfolios declined, they did bounce back. If you can effectively market to wealthier geographies and demographics, you should do so. If your product is a necessity, for consumers or for businesses, then say it is and why it is. For example, Apple did very well during the recession because consumers viewed their products as necessities. Also, if you have products that appeal to children, then make sure you market them effectively. Parents will be more likely to self-sacrifice than to deprive their children, especially when it comes to their education, health and development.

1. Focus on Your Customers — If you already have a business or non-profit organization, focus on your current customers and clients. Continue to do what you can to keep your current customers returning and always make sure they are satisfied. If you are a retailer or restaurant, send your customers a gift card or special offer to show your appreciation. If you are a professional, hold the line on your rates, provide volume discounting or some other type of acknowledgement of their patronage. From a marketing perspective, you should periodically send your clients e-newsletters, newsletters, use direct mail and engage them in social media to communicate special offers or news to keep them in the loop. Your next step in marketing your current business should be to focus on your website because this is the online hub of information and content for your organization.

2. Develop Your Website — Since you may have extra time now, it is time to focus on your website. Ask yourself: What do I need to do to get higher search engine rankings? The answer is to make sure you have a strong public relations and content creation program, develop your website’s on-page optimization and utilize off-page optimization techniques. For more information on on-page optimization, read our article, “On-page Optimization and Keywords.” For off-page optimization tips, read our article, “No, We Can’t Get You Those Results Overnight.” One tip is to incorporate microsites into your Web strategy. Microsites are essential to maximizing your Web presence and boosting your organization’s search engine rankings. Consider building microsites for specific products or services that your company offers. To compliment your website, you may also decide to create a blog. You may need some development help, but once your blog is created and your new sites are set up, you can use your CMS system or Adobe Contribute for sites created in HTML to make changes yourself. The goal for your blog should be to develop excellent content that will compel visitors to return and share with others. We highly recommend providing downloadable content on your site that visitors will be willing to give up an email address or other contact information for.

For more information on developing your website, read our article, “A Practical Guide to Developing Effective Websites.”
For valuable tips on Web optimization, download our free guide, “Web Optimization Tips.”
You can view examples of websites that The Public Relations and Marketing Group has created on behalf of its clients here.

3. Build Your Social Media Presence — It is crucial to share your content and communicate with your audience on appropriate social media platforms. Communicating with friends and followers through social media will help build your networks and engage your current customers. If you’re just starting out with social media, focus on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If your business is B2C, focus your efforts more on Facebook and Twitter. For B2B companies, LinkedIn should be your first priority. Developing a strong presence on social media websites does require time but it can prove to be an extremely cost-effective way to market your business, which is especially helpful during rough economic times. For example, create a Facebook fan page for your company to communicate with customers and share photos and news. Twitter, the immensely popular micro-blogging network, is an excellent communication outlet to send short messages to a huge audience. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows users to rapidly build their connections, browse and post job offerings and share industry expertise with other professionals in their field. Determine which of these social networking sites you should devote your time to and build a strong presence there.

Beginners can learn how to create a social media presence for their business by reading our article, “Getting Started with Social Media.”
For more information on building a strong presence on Facebook, read our article, “10 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Facebook.”
To learn how to make the most of your Twitter account, read our article, “Secrets to Twitter Marketing.”
For more information on using LinkedIn effectively, read our article, “Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn.”

4. Network — Old-fashioned networking may also help you build professional contacts and reach potential clients at low cost. If you are a professional, attend networking events in your industry and other trade groups where you may find prospective clients. To demonstrate your position as an expert in your field, professionals can hold original lectures, in-house if possible, to keep costs lower. Retailers and restaurants can hold product demonstrations or workshops. Always promote these events to the public using press releases, social media and e-blasts.

Everything up to this point can be done at low cost. However, often this may not be enough and you will also need to advertise to successfully market your business. In a recession, it is often cheaper to advertise and you may have more leverage. However, always keep in mind that you should never advertise in something solely because it is cheap or within your budget. It is always better to spend more on something that is more likely to work for you. For example, your organization may benefit from targeted ads placed in print outlets, on the Web, through email or on television.

5. Focus Your Print Advertising — When using traditional print advertising outlets, make sure that you have the budget to sustain your advertising efforts. If you have a local business, consider using D-Cards and high visibility print ads. To ensure that your advertisements are reaching the right audience, micro-target your ads by placing them in specialty publications. For example, you may want to target a local community by using the front pages of Pennysavers or local newspapers, as well as D-Cards. If your services or products appeal to a specific trade group or demographic, consider specialty publications that service that group. If you need to advertise in a daily newspaper, be sure to put together a catchy ad that is in a high visibility location. In addition, Newsday’s daily deals are often good for retailers and those in the hospitality industry.

6. Target Your Web Advertising — For those on a budget, I would strongly recommend using Web advertising. As studies repeatedly show, more and more people are turning to online sources when searching for products, services or information. This is why Web advertising is so important when marketing your business. Popular Web advertising outlets include Google AdWords, social media ads, landing pages and daily deal websites.

7. Use Google AdWords — Google AdWords lets you create and run text, display or video ads for your business with a custom budget. This is good for marketers on a budget because you will only pay if someone clicks on your advertisement. These ads are displayed under “Sponsored Links” beside search results when someone searches Google using one of your listed keywords. Google AdWords is so effective because you are advertising to an audience who is already interested in what you have to offer.

8. Advertise with Social Media — Social media websites offer highly quantifiable and cost-effective advertisements. Like Google AdWords, you will only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Through social media advertising, you can control your budget, build fans, drive traffic to your website and micro-target based on user demographics, gender, age and interests. For B2C companies, use Facebook Ads to reach your audience. Facebook is able to micro-target based on what users have listed as interests. For B2B organizations, LinkedIn advertising can be effective. LinkedIn offers rich display and text ads that can reach millions of active business professionals. LinkedIn advertising is unique because it can target based on job title.
To learn more about Facebook advertising, read our article, “Interest-Based Advertising.”

9. Create Landing Pages — A landing page is a single Web page that appears in response to a reader clicking on an advertisement. A landing page is little more than a Web page that contains specific content and can be used as part of an effective Web advertising campaign. When used in a Web advertising campaign, landing pages should provide access to your entire website but the goal here is for the visitor to interact with the content on the page. By offering downloadable content, you provide your audience valuable material in exchange for their contact information. This will help you generate business leads and build your email lists. For more information on landing pages, read our article, “Five Steps to Generating New Business through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.”

10. Use Daily Deals Websites — Daily deals websites and phone applications are immensely popular, especially for those with smart phones. These websites and phone apps cater to a vast audience that is interested in obtaining new deals and visiting new venues. Daily deal marketing services such as Groupon and LivingSocial collect users’ email addresses and send them a featured email every day, offering a heavily discounted deal from a local business. Recipients may buy the coupon, redeem it at the local business and get the product or service they paid for. For example, on Groupon, you and the daily deal site will split the revenues from coupon sales and you will pay nothing upfront to Groupon. Running ad campaigns on sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial can prove to be hugely beneficial in attracting customers to your business, especially if you are in the restaurant or hospitality industry or offer some kind of service to your guests.

11. Use Take-Over Emails — Your business can benefit by using take-over emails in your email advertising strategy. Take-over emails allow you to take advantage of another organization’s broad email list. For example, Newsday and other publications offer take-over emails for $50 per thousand, meaning they will send out your email for you to their audience. When creating your email advertisement, make sure that the most important information appears at the top, under the fold of the email, and that you have a compelling title that will encourage your readers to read more. Include links to landing pages, your website, social media profiles and contact information.
To learn more about email advertising and take-over emails, read our article, “Web Ads, E-newsletters and Take-over Emails.”

12. Advertise on Television — Sometimes, you may need to reach large numbers of people in a short time frame. Under these circumstances, I would highly recommend considering television advertising. When advertising on television, it is important to narrow your target audience by using specific programming. Consider upcomers like FiOS, for example. If you are looking to reach businesspeople or wealthier viewers, consider advertising on CNBC or news channels. If your business’ product or service is catered to women, choose to advertise on channels such as Lifetime, WE or HGTV.

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.