Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

Getting Google to Know You

Jennifer Tanzi

Jennifer Tanzi

Here is a helpful article for novice small business operators looking to understand the impact of SEO on their sales as written by my guest, Jennifer Tanzi of Buydomains.com:

Using SEO to Court Search Engines

Ever since Google became a verb, small business owners have wondered about guaranteeing prime placement when prospective clients go a-typing in their search engines. Times have changed since you simply added “AAA” to your business name and scored first place in the yellow page listings. Marketing yourself is more complicated in the digital age, but with a little bit of insight and a few simple steps, you can catch the eyes of those search engines, and propel your businesses name up those prospective clients’ lists of results.

You know how people use name repetition (sometimes relentlessly) to remember yours? (“Hi, Sandra, so good to meet you, Sandra. Can I get you a beverage, Sandra? Sandra, let me take your coat.”) Search Engine Optimization — SEO — works kind of the same way. Repeating key phrases in your domain name and throughout your website pages makes your business more appealing to the search engines. Once they find you, so will all those new clients. You just need to put some thought into choosing the right keywords, and some craft into your copy so your message sounds fresh, and not repetitive.

First, figure out your key keywords. Let’s say you sell organic lavender, tended and harvested on your own pristine acres of New England farmland. You’ve done your homework on choosing domain names that attract type-in traffic and landed one that screams “organic lavender” right there in the URL. Now, how can you ensure that every person looking for your product sees your business name in lights when they go Metacrawling?

Perhaps your website boasts glorious photos of lavender plants so vivid you can smell them through the screen, and describes memorably the many attributes of your farm — the perfectly tended soil, the soothing scents of the lavender as you coax the shoots from the earth. But when Elinor the Florist needs a supplier for her tremendously successful hand-tied organic bouquets, what words will she type into her search engine? Organic lavender. And, since she wants to go local, maybe also, “New England.”

So there you have ‘em. New England. Organic. Lavender.

Your new SEO keywords, New England organic lavender, should appear five or six times on each page of 500 – 600 words of copy. So your site needs to describe the perfectly tended soil of your New England organic lavender farm, the soothing scents of your New England organic lavender plants as you coax the shoots from the soil. Placement of the keywords is critical, too. You should include them in <H1> header tags, in your first paragraph and in links throughout the site.

As you master SEO, there are a few pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. Vary the titles and meta data of your pages, so that if several different pages of your site pop up in the search results, customers see difference slices of information about your business from your site.
When you’ve mastered the SEO strategies, test your efforts. Cruise the web yourself to see which sites your keywords bring up, and what your competitors are doing differently to place high in the results. And be sure to use web analytics on your site so you know exactly how your visitors are finding you.

To small business owners, those search engines might at first seem a fickle bunch. But once they get to know you — through SEO — they are really going to love you.

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Filed under SEO, Small Business Marketing

Should Companies Embrace Facebook?

bivI was interviewed for a cover article that appeared in this week’s edition of Business In Vancouver. The story reads “Surge in Social Networking Rings Corporate Security Alarms” and talks about the rising use of platforms such as Facebook and the potential negative affects it could have on the workplace. Privacy and security are increasing concerns as more people congregate, share and communicate online. I don’t disagree, particularly when it’s employees of companies disclosing corporate information not intended for the public on a ‘company Facebook page’. This is particularly true with publicly traded companies. The same careful administration bestowed to a company website, should also be taken with a Facebook page or Ning community site or Myspace space.

But this shouldn’t stop your company from embracing these social media tools and platforms, which allow you to reach prospects and customers in a meaningful and massive way like no other. First, you’re reaching them where they go and on their terms. At Facebook, a user will only get updates on your company if they opt-in by becoming a fan. At Twitter, a user will only receive your messages if they become a follower. They also have the power to share it with their friends, fans and followers instantly, giving you some viral love in return.

And second, these tools aren’t trendy, they’re cultural. More and more people find these tools to be just way too simple and powerful to ignore. And the price is right. Our raw and primitive need to communicate and connect will never change. How we do, does and will. And technology leads the way in helping us serve that need cheaper, faster and easier. These tools and platforms are revolutionizing the way we communicate and connect, and businesses may as well learn how to use them to their benefit, and not their detriment. Below is an excerpt from the article:

While a company may not be able to control negative comments that are posted on the Internet, the web’s interactivity allows companies to respond to them. “There’s a whole etiquette to social networking that not everybody gets,” said Rajan Sodhi, vice-president of marketing at PEER 1 Network Enterprises Inc. (TSX: PIX). One consistent rule is to communicate openly, honestly and often.

Vancouver-based PEER 1 uses a number of social networking tools and has an employee whose sole role is to cultivate the company’s online presence. PEER 1 also monitors the Internet for content that mentions the company. “It can be positive or negative,” said Sodhi. “If it’s something [about PEER 1] they aren’t happy with, we acknowledge them right then and there.” As well as reacting publicly on a blog or network on which a negative comment was posted, PEER 1 will usually follow-up with a phone call.

“We’re a real believer that these social media tools and platforms are here to stay,” said Sodhi, who is the administrator of PEER 1’s Facebook site. “You can be fearful of it and not embrace it, but I think you’re going to lose one of the best tools for communicating and reaching your market.”

Read more

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Filed under Business, Communications, Facebook, Internet, marketing, MySpace, Ning, Online marketing tactics, Selling, Small Business Marketing, Social Media, social network, Technology, Viral

Free SEO Tool Ranks Your Website Against Competitors

reviewmyweb_logoI get a lot of emails asking me to post, discuss or review a service and rarely have I found one worth sharing. This is one of those rare moments. Sam Cabal asked me to take a look at his free search engine optimization (SEO) tool called reviewmyweb.com that provides a fairly detailed report of how well your website ranks against your competition. Simply submit your website URL, along with up to two of your competitors, and within minutes a report is emailed back to you. It takes into account Google page ranks, backlinks coverage, site content, and blog coverage. I just tried it and found it very impressive. So much so, I’ve just sent a copy of my report to my Senior Web Developer as we’re in the midst of optimizing our new PEER 1 website which went live a few days ago. This is a handy tool for web marketers that I encourage you to try out… and the price is right. Sam, thanks for sharing and good luck.

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Filed under Google, Internet, marketing, Marketing Research, Online marketing tactics, Search Engine Marketing, SEO, Small Business Marketing, Social Media, Web Sites

Cool Gadget Alert: The Flip Video Mino

The Flip Video Mino

The Flip Video Mino

Cool new point-and-shoot video camcorder called the Flip Video Mino by Pure Digital Technologies is the size of a small digital camera, but can record up to 60 minutes of video and publish straight to YouTube, AOL Video, and MySpace through its internal software. You can see a Flip Video demo here. It retails for $179.99 and comes with 2GB internal memory, rechargeable batteries, digital zoom, and a USB arm that connects directly to your laptop download your videos in seconds. I’ll be getting my hands on one soon and can’t wait to start playing around with it.This is a great tool for bloggers and Internet video aficionados.

At PEER 1, we have launched today a limited time promotion where are giving away the Flip Video Mino free to anyone who signs up for a managed hosting or dedicated hosting plan. If you are in the market for hosting, this a great time to sign up for a plan and to get your hands on this hot new gadget.

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Filed under Hosting, innovation, Internet, marketing, PEER 1, ServerBeach, servers, Small Business Marketing, Technology, video, youtube

Poll on Marketing Spend

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Filed under advertising, Branding, Business, Communications, Internet, marketing, Selling, Small Business Marketing

Has Starbucks Lost its Cool?

Starbucks discontinued breakfast sandwich.

Starbucks discontinued breakfast sandwich.

I went in today and noticed Starbucks has introduced new breakfast items like hot oatmeal and whole wheat buns. A few days ago, I was at another Starbucks that was still serving those breakfast sandwiches that make the store smell like a cheap diner rather than a joint for premium coffee. Something isn’t quite right at the house of mermaid. Too much expansion. Venturing away from their core product. Every place looking way too much like the other, which normally shouldn’t be a bad thing when trying to maintain brand consistency. Whatever it is, what used to work for me no longer does.

Maybe it’s because in Vancouver, we have an abundant choice of excellent coffee shops with loads of individuality and charm… something that appears to be missing at Starbucks. The once symbol for cool coffee and a great place to meet, is beginning to feel like a bad corporate hangover with a self-indulgent CEO at the helm who has lost his grip on the experience and setting. Or it may just be me. But, I find myself increasingly drawn to every coffee shop OTHER than Starbucks to grab a cup of joe or meet for business or catch up with a friend. Sure, when I’m travelling, I tend to look for a Starbucks because I know what to expect because I don’t know the local coffee scene and don’t have time to explore. And I’m fully aware that delivering that consistent product and experience is key to that statement, and what we all like to preach about when running a successful business. But, there is a fine line between consistency and cookie-cutter. I think the mermaid may have crossed over.

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Filed under Branding, Business, Coffee, marketing, Small Business Marketing, Starbucks

Structure 08 Conference a Big Success

PEER 1 headline sponsor of Structure 08I was invited by Techvibes to write a blog post about the first ever Structure 08 conference hosted by GigaOM, which I attended and my company PEER 1 sponsored. It was held on June 25th in San Francisco at the Mission Bay Conference Center:

Just got back from the Structure 08 conference hosted by GigaOM and headline sponsored by my company, Vancouver-based PEER 1. The sold out event was a tremendous success with over 600 people in attendance representing companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and VMWare. A third of the conference room was allocated to media alone.

Making the decision to sponsor Structure 08 was an easy one. It is so rare to have a room full of the brightest minds discussing and debating the latest technology impacting IT infrastructure. “Cloud Computing” was by far the topic of the day, a buzz term that seems to encompass anything related to virtualization or on-demand scalable web hosting, which is sometimes, well, cloudy.

The line up of speakers included Jonathan Yarmis of AMR Research, Mendel Rosenblum of VMWare, and a heated discussion that included panelists from Google, AT&T, GigaSpaces, Mosso, Joyent, and XCalibre. Read more

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Filed under amazon, amr research, at&t, cloud computing, Co-location, conference, data center, events, gigaspaces, Google, Hosting, Internet, It infrastructure, joyent, Managed Hosting, marketing, mosso, Om Malik, PEER 1, servers, Small Business Marketing, structure 08, Technology, virtualization, xcalibre