Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dull, Boring Web Sites are - uh - Dull and Dumb

Debra Mastaler has a rocking, awesome post titled, "Dull, Boring And Cheap Means No Links For You" on Search Engine Guide.

Her point is simple -

"No matter how I spin it, when I tell someone "Dude, your site is boring and lacks credibility... No one will link to it unless you make some changes..." it doesn't go over well... It's easier when you have something tangible to point to..."

Way too many companies - and many of them tech-based start ups - pay little or no attention to creating good content on their web sites. I get it...content is time consuming and takes effort, thought, and work. And yet - I'll go one better than Debra and remind you that dull boring content says that is pretty much the way you see your business. One advantage you have as a small or local business is that you are not some nameless, faceless company -- so I say, STRUT YOUR STUFF.

If you can't do it yourself, there are always folks (a commercial for myself should go here, yes?) who are writers and will take the ongoing task of creating your copy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Great Post for SEO Folks

Thanks to Rae Hoffman, whose post in Search Engine Land, "Link Development Tool Shortcuts for Firefox" is great stuff for anyone interested in linking building or SEO shortcuts.

There are a couple of links in the post to pages of SEO shortcuts, and also some great highlights about the information, such as:

  • MSN Link from Domain Search: Shows you a listing of sites that a specific URL is linking to.
  • Google News Site Search: Allows you to quickly identify if a publication is listed within Google News as a source of news content. Hoffman notes this is one potential signal of the quality of and value in obtaining a link from a specific site
  • Yahoo Search to See if a Site Is Linking to You: Does a quick search to see if a specific domain is linking to your website.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Of Offers and Opportunities

Just some misc notes that have been in my 'blog it sometime' stack...

Tech help -- Small businesses need help with tech stuff according to the non-profit California Small Business Education Foundation, and for sure, they are correct. So the group started a web site with info and links to free resources. The site isn't everything it should be, or needs to be, but it's new, and no community is born fully functional, so take a gander.

The 48 hour day -- It bugs me a little that when Macy's has a "One Day Sale" it's always a two day sale. The day before is thrown in as a "preview" but the full promotion is in effect, so what the heck. I'm sure their smart market-driven we-measure-everything people can show that the words "One Day Sale" provides urgency. But it always bugs me.

The fiber-filled promotion -- I like oatmeal as much as the next boomer-who-suddenly-knows-what-fiber-is, but I was surprised to find a door hanger on my mail box promoting the opening of Mustard Cafe a few blocks from me. The franchise surely knows what pulls best, and I'm sure they work with their owners, but the offer was "Join us for a complimentary bowl of hot oatmeal on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 7-11 a.m." Aside from the fact it's spring, (not exactly oatmeal season), I wondered why restrict it to three days. My best guess is that it is meant to give the appearance of a special offer but really not provide one...sort of a way to get the attention without giving anything. My impression: Get Real!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

20 (Rare) Questions for Google Search Guru Udi Manber

Popular Mechanics has a great interview with Google's Udi Manber that gives a peak into that powerful entity we call "search" and speaks to the current trends, the future of search, etc.

I heard Manber speak at a Kelsey Conference a few years back - he was in charge of Amazon's A9 search product when it was trying to change the search universe -- and he was a great speaker. Well, no surprise, he's a great interview too. I'm working on that talk for the SNA newspapers about basics of search engine optimization, so my mind is full of search engine stuff these days, and I like that Manber lifted my vision above the mundane with quotes such as this, when asked how search has changed:

"I like to say that it’s almost science fiction every five years. When the first search engine appeared in ‘94, compared with when I came out of academia in ‘99, compared with the way it was in 2003, compared with the way it is today—every five years there have been just incredible advances. What we do now, we couldn’t have foreseen 10 years ago. Today we’re finding a lot more information, and the questions are getting a lot harder."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hunting for SEO Success Stories

I'm busy getting together a presentation for the SNA / E&P Interactive Media Conference (that's Suburban Newspaper Association and Editor & Publisher for those who don't know).Topic is "Big Ideas in SEM/SEO for Small Papers "- and I'm hunting for some case studies and big ideas. I've received ideas from two of the smartest folks I know in this area: Greg Sterling and Andrew Shotland. Also got some interesting ideas from Tami Damiano who is with ABC Search, an ad network working with smaller sites.If you can recommend any tips or tactics, or can recommend people who have had success with optimizing search for the local market, I'd appreciate a heads up. Thanks! And if you are planning on being at the conference in May, let me know.

Scott Hepburn Gives Us Some Great Small Biz Website Tips

Note: Scott Hepburn - Marketing. Simplified. has experience (and if you read his PRStore blog he also has a lot of wit) in working with small businesses - he kindly contributed some tips for setting up a web site

1) Remember Your Audience
The #1 mistake of amateur Web site builders is forgetting the audience. While it's tempting to write a Web site about how amazing YOU are, focus instead on your customer and the benefits you offer to them. Don't stick to your typical lines, either. Ask yourself, "Is this information my customer wants to hear, or is it just information that I want them to hear?"

2) Contact Us Form
A contact form lets your customers contact you with a question or comment. It's also a great way to gather their contact information so you can follow up with a personal e-mail, phone call, or direct mail. A personalized response goes a long way.

3) FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions give you a chance to provide context and clarity to your customers. Remember, they may still be at the beginning of the buying cycle, so it doesn't hurt to educate them about their choices. It's all part of building trust, which leads to sales

4) Headlines Matter
Studies show that Web readers have even shorter attention spans than offline readers. Headlines should express in very clear wording how you'll improve your customer's life. Attracting attention is a good start, but you have to hold their attention, too.

5) Special Offers
You use special offers to attract customers offline...why wouldn't you do it online? It's one more way to guide Web site visitors down the path to becoming customers.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I'm here to help if anyone has questions!

Posted by Scott Hepburn - Marketing. Simplified. to Get Real Marketing: For and About Local Marketing at April 8, 2008 6:33 AM

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Big Idea for Small Blog - how web to print increased readership and revenue

Interesting post in Read/WriteWeb byJosh Catone, Who Says Print is Dead? Local Blog Finds Success Offline.

It's a brief case study of The Flying Pickle, a hyperlocal blog in New Zealand that organized its best posts each week into a print edition that it delivered via post directly to the homes of local residents.

This is one of those smart but simple ideas, a 'bootstrap' marketing tactic that could work for small online sites, local community papers, and neighborhood blogs. Check it out.

edit: Here's the link to the original case study published by Zeta Prints