12 SEO Tips We Learned from Business OnLine

The past couple days I attended Online Marketing Summit in San Diego. The conferences was maxed out and especially excellent if you are interested in email and SEO.

The event was well organized, talks were top notch, and I met some great people, but the #1 thing I learned was some great SEO tips. I sat down for 15 minutes with Thomas Beatty a Sr. Analyst with Business OnLine for an SEO audit of our online contest software company Artistic Hub.

In 15 minutes I learned some basic but very valuable SEO best practices that we are implementing immediately. Since i believe in the power of Paying It Forward I wanted to share. We just created this summary so these aren’t implemented yet, but will be by next week.

12 SEO tips I learned from Business OnLine

1)    Make sure your title matches your keywords

  • Old: Online Contest Software | Photo Contest Applications | White-label Contest Platform | Artistic Hub
  • New: Contest Software | Photo Contest Software | Customizable Contest Software | Artistic Hub

2)    Modify your description to be accurate and keyword focused:

  • Old: “Artistic Hub is a white-label contest application company. Our contest platform can power photo contests, design contests, audio contests, or video contests.”
  • New: “Artistic Hub is the leading contest software company. Our contest software can be customized for photo contests, design contests, audio contests, or video contests.”

3)    Modified and consistent keywords:

  • We were using software, application, and platform inconsistently. We are combining all the terms to use software.

4)    Use keywords accurately in content:

  • The top two searches for us are “contest software” and “photo contest software”. Anytime we use these we should use text and we want to use the combination as much as possible without forcing it.

5)    Use text for navigation not images:

  • We are big on design and a lot of our links are images so we are modifying to be text.

6)    Modify top navigation to be text and keyword focused:

  • Our Applications -> Our Contest Software
  • How It Works -> How Our Contests Work
  • Features -> Contest Features

7)   Modify sub navigation text under features to be text and keyword focused

  • Branding and Integration -> Contest Branding and Integration
  • Management Center -> Contest Management
  • Distribution Strategy -> Contest Distribution
  • Re-read the content and change any references to applications or software to “contest software”. Should always be ….our contest software…

8)    Use descriptive alt tags on all our images. Here is an article for reference and here is what we are changing:

  • Add alt tag to our AH icon on top “ Artistic Hub Contest Software, Photo Contest Software, Online Contest Software”
  • Add alt tags to all of our “Our Application” hover over images

9)    Use top keywords if appropriate in our bottom navigation:

  • Change “our applications” to “Our Contest Software”
  • Add software to the end of each sub link ex: “photo contest software”

10)    Add a Custom 404 Page. Here is a 404 info reference

  • Anytime someone enters an extension on “http://artistichub.com/blahblah” it should show a custom 404 page with some text like “Sorry you didn’t find what you are looking for. Were you looking for one of these things. The page would then list our navigation links.

11)    Modify plain page anchors to use keywords

  • http://artistichub.com/#t02 should say  http://artistichub.com/#OurContestSoftware

12)    Break out our website into pages with below the fold content.

  • We are using a one page website design and Thomas’ suggestion was to break out the website into pages. We are keen on design so he showed me an example of how the Venetian in Vegas uses flash with content below the fold. The home page looks awesome with great flash, but as you scroll down you will see a page of text so search spiders can index the content properly

So this is what we learned and these are easy best practices that anyone can implement. If you are looking for bigger SEO projects I highly recommend Business OnLine.

9 Ways to Build Your E-mail List

One of the most valuable and highest ROI forms of marketing is via email. Most businesses realize this but their biggest challenge is building their email list. Clients ask us every day for tips on building their email lists so I wanted to share some of the advice we give. Next week I’ll cover tips to having a great newsletter, because once a company develops an email list the next step is to communicate.

Here are 9 Ways to Build Your Email List

  1. Add an Email Opt-in on Your Website and Facebook – The easiest way to get emails is to ask. Simply add an email opt-in form on your website and any social media sites your company maintains.
  2. Online Contests – The second way to drive a lot of email submissions is to run a contest for your customers. This is one of the biggest benefits our clients receive at Artistic Hub when they work with this. We consistently add 100-300 emails a month to our local clients databases and for our larger accounts 1,000 – 3,000 emails a month. The key is to make the contest fun, easy to enter, and offer a compelling prize. The more compelling the prize the more people are motivated to participate.
  3. Create a Fish Bowl for Employees – As your company grows, employees will come in contact with hundreds and thousands of people. Train them to ask people when they get their card if they can add them to your email list. Make sure to ask or you will offend people, but if they say yes sign them up. Once you have trained your staff leave a “Fish Bowl” or box for your employees to put business cards in. Restaurants utilize this strategy all the time and there is even a company called Fish Bowl that manages the program for a very small price.
  4. Offer a % off Incentive – A sometimes overlooked way to increase email opt-ins is to give a discount or incentive. Simply promoting a 10% off or $10 off coupon if someone signs up for your newsletter works great.
  5. Give Something Away for Free - Instead of a discount another option is to give some information away for free. A white-paper, a report, or an industry analysis that your company has done that could be beneficial to a prospect’s research.
  6. Add A Guest Book Online or In Your Store - For businesses that have a retail or storefront, simply adding a guest books at the entrance and near the registers is an additional capture point. Many people will sign-up while they are waiting to make a purchase. Use similar messaging online.
  7. Ask for Emails with Purchases Online or In Person – Another place to ask for email sign-ups is after a customer makes a purchase. This can be in person or online. Online after a customer’s payment is confirmed they should see a message asking if they want to receive updates and specials. Many times this can also be a check box right after they enter their email.
  8. Ask for Sign-ups in Email Confirmations – The second time to ask for email sign-ups after a customer makes a purchase is in the receipt or confirmation email you send them. You are allowed to message a person after a transaction if they give you their email, but you can’t just add them to your email list. So, make sure in your standard email confirmation text you ask them again if they want to receive future communications.
  9. During Customer Service or Inquiry Calls – Most calls businesses get are either customer inquiries or customer service calls. Train your staff to ask each person if they can have their email and if they want to receive updates or future special offers.

The key with building an email list is to just start. Over time the list will build and your sales will go up.

If you have other great ideas, please add them in the comments!

Marketplaces 2010 – The Local Vertical Opportunity – San Diego, CA March 22-24 -

March 22- 24 there is an awesome conference, Marketplaces 2010, coming to San Diego. I wanted to share this event as I will be attending.

Here is a list of the headline speakers and I’ve posted their press release below for more detailed information.

Speakers:

  • Jon Brod – Exec VP of AOL Ventures
  • Jon Herratti – CEO of CitySearch
  • Andrew Mason – Founder and CEO of Groupon
  • Sam Sebastian – Director, Local & B2B Markets Google
  • Craig Smith – CEO of Service Magic

If your company is looking to go local, market local, or do biz dev with any of the above companies I recommend attending.

Here is the link to register: Marketplaces 2010

#Press Release#

Local media execs to gather at BIA/Kelsey’s Marketplaces 2010 conference, March 22-24 in San Diego, to examine the outlook and business opportunities in online vertical media

CHANTILLY, Va. (Feb. 10, 2010) – While only 5 percent of small and medium-sized businesses say they currently advertise in online vertical directories, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) express a willingness to buy online vertical directory ads, according to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor study. It is this local vertical advertising opportunity that will be the focus of BIA/Kelsey’s upcoming Marketplaces 2010 conference (www.kelseygroup.com/marketplaces2010), which takes place March 22-24 in San Diego.

“More than half a billion dollars have recently poured into the local vertical media and advertising space,” said Peter Krasilovsky, vice president and program director, Marketplaces, BIA/Kelsey. “At Marketplaces, we’ll take a close look at the market opportunity in verticals, and we’ll hear from the companies that are successfully using vertical approaches in search and content to drive audiences and value.”

The Marketplaces 2010 program will feature more than 50 influential executives from across local media, vertical sites and services, including five keynote addresses by Jon Brod, Executive VP, AOL Ventures; Jay Herratti, CEO, Citysearch; Andrew Mason, Founder and CEO, Groupon; Sam Sebastian, Director, Local & B2B Markets, Google; and Craig Smith, CEO, ServiceMagic.

The conference will also include 11 general sessions, a bonus pre-conference session devoted to the latest tools for marketplaces success and a SuperForum focused on the mobile vertical space.

Marketplaces’ “Mobile Vertical SuperForum” is a fast-paced series of micro-sessions on the rapidly changing mobile vertical landscape. The SuperForum will include a mobile kick-off address, product demos and deep discussions around the growing opportunities in mobile. Companies participating in the Mobile Vertical SuperForum include Big in Japan (ShopSavvy), CallSpark, LocalAdXchange, Loopt, MoVoxx, OpenTable, RepairPal and Yelp.

Highlights from the conference agenda include:

  • Vertical Ad Networks Revisited
  • Applying Social Media to Vertical Marketplaces
  • The Engines of Vertical Search
  • The New Content Aggregators
  • Small Business Marketplaces
  • The New City Guides
  • The New Directory/Marketplace Plays
  • Back to Square One: Refocus on Revenues

Conference sponsors include Acxiom, AgendiZe, Amdocs, Local.com, Local Matters and Localeze. Groupon is the promotional partner for Marketplaces. Association partners are Association of Directory Publishers (ADP), Great Outdoor Network (GON), International Classified Media Association (ICMA), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Yellow Pages Association (YPA). The conference media partner is the Advanced Interactive Media Group (AIM Group). For more information on Marketplaces 2010, visit www.kelseygroup.com/marketplaces2010.

About Local Commerce Monitor
Local Commerce Monitor is BIA/Kelsey’s annual tracking survey of small and medium-sized businesses, conducted with research partner ConStat since 1999. The survey measures where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving. Local Commerce Monitor draws its sample of business respondents from a mix of nationally scoped MSAs, which include first- and second-tier markets. Local Commerce Monitor Wave XIII was conducted in August 2009 via an online survey of 302 SMBs.

About BIA/Kelsey

BIA/Kelsey advises companies in the local media space through consulting and valuation services, research, Continuous Advisory Services and conferences. Since 1983 BIA/Kelsey has been a resource to the media, mobile advertising, telecommunications, Yellow Pages and electronic directory markets, as well as to government agencies, law firms and investment companies looking to understand trends and revenue drivers. BIA/Kelsey’s annual conferences draw executives from across industries seeking expert guidance on how companies are finding innovative ways to grow. Additional information is available at www.bia.com and www.kelseygroup.com. The company’s blogs are located at http://blog.bia.com/bia/ and http://blog.kelseygroup.com/, and it can be found on Twitter through http://twitter.com/BIAKelsey.

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For more information contact:

Eileen Pacheco

For BIA/Kelsey

(781) 556-1026

eileen@tango-group.com

MacKenzie Lovings

BIA/Kelsey

(703) 818-2425

mlovings@bia.com

How to Name New Product, Website, or Service

The new year is off to a great start and I wanted to share my thoughts on a simple but very important topic – Naming.

I know there are tons of topics out there on naming a new product, service, or company. Even so, I wanted to share how we do it. So far its worked well and made it easy to start creating value in our brands from day one.

  1. Use easy to understand words
  2. Use real words (Online thesaurus is great for name generation)
  3. Limit the name to one or two words, two gives you the capability to have a descriptor (Adjective + Noun).
  4. Use a name that gives customers some sense of what your company does
  5. Check if the url is available or available for purchase on GoDaddy.com
  6. Check the US Patent and Trademark database to see if the name is available for trademark
  7. Once you have a list of names that pass the 6 steps above, pick the name you see the ability to build a brand around

If you find a name and the URL is available and its not trademarked, the last question to ask yourself should be “Is the name limiting?”. We made the mistake of naming our apparel line “Collar Free”. It was great for the t-shirts we started with, but no one could see us as being more in the future.

As we evolved as a company, we named our contest software platform “Artistic Hub” and it has been a good fit. We help people engage with companies they love through the use of design, photography, and media.

Its not overly complicated, but we find having a simple checklist when picking a name is very important. It helps us pick a name quickly and move on to the branding and idea execution stage faster. I believe a name is important, but nothing is more important than a good revenue model.

Here is another great article on the topic from Smashing Magazine – “Effective Strategy for Choosing the Right Domain Names”

On another note, we launched a new version of Artistic Hub on Friday. It more accurately shows off what we do and the clients that benefit from our contest platform. Let us know what you think.

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