Posted on: October 7, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
I’ve been an employee focused on Internet marketing and sales at companies for more than a decade. Being an Internet marketing expert, I’ve also been a consultant in between full time positions, implementing the full range of Internet marketing services such as SEO/SEM, social media, email marketing, video campaigns, etc. From extensive experience, I can share quite a few tips that can help you find the right marketing expert for your position of project.
These are expectations I would have if I was hiring an Internet marketing expert to work for me. It is more ideal to hire someone working full time, but not all businesses have budget. Although there are many SEO and marketing consultants available, specific expectations from these tips below may help you find the right fit.
- A marketing expert should be able to architect and improve landing pages, optimize the conversion funnel, grow targeted traffic, and increase leads in the long term. I have found it to be very useful having this full range of skills to implement and monitor online marketing for a given business. These skills let me focus on growing relevant traffic, enhancing the funnel, and ultimately to increase sales of products and/or services.
- A online marketing specialist should ideally be skilled in the business side as well as technical side. I have found this balance of skills to be extremely helpful, where I can implement technologies, analyze Web metrics in depth, track KPIs, and grow a business brand online. For example, if you interviewed a candidate to market your business and asked 10 technical and 10 business questions, they should be able to answer most or all questions well.
- These days social media is just as important as SEO/SEM. It is a huge plus if a marketing professional has experience in each area.
- A marketing expert can’t know it all. For example, there is a large amount I have learned from implementing and researching, but there are always new opportunities evolving. Therefore I’m constantly testing technologies and learning.
- Results from various marketing techniques, channels, and campaigns are not all immediate. As an example, you may see results from an email campaign sooner than those from a long term SEO strategy with projects rolling out every day.
- It is extremely important to track results in a dashboard to monitor daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Each manager, VP, director, or CEO I’m reporting to can log in and analyze metrics themselves as well as let me know frequency of reports they would like generated.
- SEO is an ongoing service, not a one time project. A SEO consultant should be prepared to work hour by hour, not just to deliver one time rankings. Ongoing work can help SERP rankings continue to improve and build a stronger track record. The SEO person should be able to commit to hourly, not just project based work and also be available for meetings as needed.
By Jordan Hardy
October 7, 2012
Posted on: October 4, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
Having done an extensive amount of SEO over the years, I’ve seen XML Sitemaps misunderstood from time to time. XML Sitemaps are designed to assist search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to index as many URLS as possible on a Website, not change ranking. An XML Sitemap is a live file that lists Website URLs and metadata for each URL, such as priority, change frequency, and last change. The file may help crawlers to index Website pages, providing structure of URLs in the Website and suggested crawl frequency. Sitemaps are not always necessary, as search engines are designed to discover pages on the Web through links from Websites. An XML Sitemap is most helpful when search engines cannot easily crawl through a Website to find pages.
This is the protocol for building an XML Sitemap. In my experience, the best free or paid XML Sitemap generator for a Website depends on Website technology needs and number of URLs. The XML Sitemap for this Website can be found here.
With so many types of content, there are also video sitemaps, code search sitemaps, and other sitemap files you can read about in this post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.
Posted on: October 1, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
In the last decade I have managed numerous successful Websites, ranging from dozens to millions of pages. These include hundreds (may seem like a large number, but the majority are from directing two marketing agencies) of eCommerce, blog, forum, social media, and standard Websites. In my experience, a well marketed business always has unique findings when looking at Web metrics, resulting from brand strategy, projects implemented, and online activity.
Beyond regular projects focused on meeting and beating Website strategy goals, I find Web analytics present valuable added opportunities to leverage proven techniques from my experience and new strategies I have tested. Areas that stand out may include notable increases in conversion points, keyword searches, landing page views, visitor paths, etc. From this list, an example would be a set of keywords and the associated landing page with higher than expected traffic from sources such as search engines, visitor shares, and social media. The opportunity created here to boost traffic and conversions could include more items to offer for sale on this page, a project to create useful new pages nearby containing related keywords, recommended links to feature from this page, a distinctive offer to join an email list, and other possibilities.
After implementation, helpful new insight can be discovered in coming days and weeks through Web analytics.
Posted on: September 20, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
There are 5 items in Google Webmaster Tools I find myself using every week when focusing on Website health and SEO. There are also those items which I check every couple weeks as well as those that can be researched in more depth through other online tools. Within the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard, here are these 5 tools I find myself using the most often:
- Crawl Errors finds pages that either need to be rebuilt, transitioned through SEO, or linked correctly as they are not actually pages.
- Index Status shows total number of URLs from the Website that have been added to the Google index.
- Search Queries is extremely interesting, providing a daily snapshot of queries, pages, impressions, and clicks.
- Links to Your Site is useful, showing Websites linking the most as well as the most linked content.
- HTML Improvements addresses Meta description tags, Title tags, and Non-indexable content.
Content keywords would be the next I’d list, but similar information can be found in a good Website analytics tool.
Posted on: August 29, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
When a customer decides they would like to be removed from your email list, here are 5 best practices I can recommend to increase the chance they have a pleasant unsubscribe experience with your company. If the unsubscribe experience is easy, it may not mean a user will be a repeat customer very soon. But, making good points and not frustrating a user increases the likelihood they may subscribe or buy again. After all, they may have just lost interest in your offerings temporarily and plan to join your email list again when they have time.
- Make unsubscribing easy. Offer an easy to see unsubscribe link at the bottom of all emails you send out.
- After your unsubscribe link is clicked, for a single newsletter there should be no more than one additional action the user needs to take to unsubscribe. Sometimes businesses will make a user log in to unsubscribe, repeatedly type their email address, etc.
- After someone unsubscribes, why send them another email letting them know their unsubscribe was successful? If they wanted to unsubscribe, at least for now they don’t want to see more emails from your company.
- After someone clicks unsubscribe from your email and then on the following page goes through the process, present them on that screen with the correct message. The correct message would be something like, “Your unsubscribe was successful. Were sorry to see you go, and hope you subscribe again in the future.” A big no-no here is to say it will take up to however many days to complete the subscription process. For example, saying “You are now unsubscribed, but the process may take up to 10 days to take effect” is not acceptable. On your end, 10 days may be as you want to retain this person or wait for partners to fully unsubscribe them. But, in this age of the Internet, users don’t understand these reasons. They just know that your email marketing software should be able to unsubscribe them immediately and they won’t hear again from you until they choose.
- If you have multiple fields on your unsubscribe page listing various newsletters, only present relevant, fast options for the user. If they have to select from too many options and drill down menus, they may skip unsubscribing from that page, go back to Gmail, Yahoo, or another provider… and click “Report Spam”. This isn’t the route you want them to need to take.
Posted on: July 18, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
Facebook Edgerank appreciates excellent content, where readers frequently choose to share and like posts and the page. Facebook Edgerank heavily weighs relationships and interaction between audience, page, and comments. Likes are more important than comments since there is more involvement. The more a Facebook page gains likes and comments on posts, the higher the Facebook Edgerank. The Facebook Edgerank algorithm also favors consistency, where an individual or brand posts with reliability.
Posted on: April 3, 2012 by Jordan Hardy
Here are my top 10 SEO (Search Engine Optimization) recommendations for businesses online. It is important to note that each recommendation can be considered a tip of the iceberg for that item, where a high level of experience and technique are necessary to deliver long term results.
- Content with keyword strategy are important, as long as the information is unique and useful to Website visitors and search engines.
- Optimize your Website and landing pages for keywords which will convert at a higher CTR. Keywords and topics should be relevant to your targeted subject matter, with high quality clicks which convert being more important than impressions. It is important to leverage, but not overuse keywords.
- Submit a sitemap to Google and bing (same as Yahoo from alliance). Search engines use sitemaps to learn about the structure of your pages and Website.
- Use bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmaster Tools. These tools provide interesting data to consider with your own Web analytics.
- Secure quality inbound links to your top handful of pages from other Websites.
- Use a robots.txt file to provide useful information to search engine spiders, robots, and crawlers.
- Use descriptive, carefully phrased title tags in your code.
- The best code for search engines is built from scratch since there is a generous amount of unique, useful information to crawl. If you’re using a CMS, eCommerce, blog, forum, template, or other platform, work hard on the code to ensure the Website will provide nearly as much useful information to search engines as would a hand coded Website.
- Your Website structure needs to be carefully architected, providing a useful, balanced hierarchy of information to people and search engines.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 by Jordan Hardy
It is important to provide exceptional customer or client services from any business. In my experience, whether I was managing an art gallery during college or directing a marketing agency in recent years, client / customer service is always important. In this economy, many businesses have improved their customer service out of necessity just to stay competitive. Other businesses, such as The Walt Disney Company where I worked as a manager earlier in my career, maintain a high level of customer service no matter what.
Here are some thoughts I’d like to share today in regards to providing excellent customer service:
- Provide excellent customer service primarily so that customers want to return and also refer friends. Providing customer service primarily to reduce customer complaints, stay competitive, and gain viral networking should be secondary reasoning.
- Treat yor employees extremely well, providing monitoring, guidance, goals, and coaching. Employees who have guidance and goals to look forward to will serve customers better.
- Ensure that you and your employees treat customers as you’d want to be treated. This is easier to say than do.
Above all, ensure your team understands how to be patient. When a customer has had a bad day, a line is long, or a shift is extended too long, an employee may have their patience tested. It is very important to grow tolerance so that at all times customer service is maintained. For employees who haven’t experienced difficult customer service situations, role playing can be very helpful.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 by Jordan Hardy
My favorite project management tools are easy to use, powerful, scalable, and offer a wide range of uses. Project management can be managed effectively offline, on your computer, or with mobile devices. This article focuses on my favorite project management tools which can be used online.
- Basecamp is used by millions of people, and is easy-to-use with a simple user interface. Basecamp offers a dashboard, file sharing, to-do lists, milestones, message boards, time tracking, project overview, and comments on messages.
- ZOHO Projects includes both online collaboration and bug tracking. Zoho Projects also features task management, time tracking, Gantt charts, calendars, project chat, project wikis, and document management.
- Tom’s Planner is online Gantt chart software. Tom’s Planner allows users to drag and drop as they collaborate on Gantt Charts online.
- Teambox is widely used by companies. Teambox offers conversations, task lists, files, time tracking, and social tools.
- DeskAway is excellent for team collaboration from small to large businesses.
Beyond these five, there are many more project management tools I’ve used and enjoyed. To select the best tool for your particular uses, I recommend testing these and any other possibilities.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 by Jordan Hardy
Here are five tips I’d suggest to help increase sales on your eCommerce Website. I’ve got a lot more eCommerce tips to post in the future. Enjoy!
- Leverage Facebook to help your eCommerce performance. Set up a Facebook storefront, linking to your own eCommerce store products on your domain. Good examples of Facebook storefronts include Best Buy and Lady Gaga. Let users comment and use Facebook Share, Like, and Reviews APIs. Use the Insights Dashboard in Facebook to track eCommerce integrations for specific pages, Platform apps, and/or Websites.
- Improve your masthead (the horizontal graphical section at the top of your eCommerce Website). Include your primary and toll free phone numbers, a search box, free or reduced shipping offers, and utility links.
- Incorporate live chat. Live chat can provide additional opportunities to sell products and your brand.
- Use a clear navigation system which doesn’t overwhelm users. Built well, a terrific Website navigation helps both users and search engines, serving as the Website’s foundation.
- Use plenty of relevant photos and one or more unique videos on product pages. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”!