SOPA is a bill currently being discussed in the House of Representatives. It's aimed at providing law enforcement and judicial officials with tools to fight and punish piracy and copyright infringement.
While the agenda may be altruistic, the language of the bill and the restrictions it places on website operators pose some significant hurdles that could end up censoring the Internet in many ways.
As Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet giants said in a joint letter to the Senate, “the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites.”
How will this affect you as a business owner or professional?
Think about your blog or social media channels. If you share an article from an industry resource, you could be guilty of violating SOPA and your website could be blocked. There are many other implications. Mashable’s Chris Heald wrote a piece analyzing the language of the bill, translating it into simple context.
Read the bill in its entirety and decide how it might affect you as a marketer and as a consumer of online content.
We’ve written before (here, for instance) how sloppy use of the English language on your website or in other marketing materials may leave your audience wondering what else your company is careless about when no one is looking?
But there’s an even more urgent reason to make sure there are no typos or misspellings in your online content: they can cost you serious money!
Online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe of England’s “Just Say Please Group” measured the revenue-per-visitor for one of his company’s websites. He found that the revenue doubled after a spelling error on the site was corrected.
"If you project this across the whole of Internet retail, then millions of [dollars] worth of business are probably being lost each week due to simple spelling mistakes," said Duncombe for a BBC article.
Another point: Errors in your online content - whether on your website, your social media postings, email newsletters, etc. - eat away at your legitimacy. Visitors who spot them may question your professionalism and your commitment to doing accurate, detailed work.
Sure, mistakes can happen, but remember that attracting online traffic is tough enough with a perfect website. Don’t invite suspicion, damage your brand and lose money by taking a lax approach to spelling and grammar.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of increasing the likelihood a web page will be found via Internet search engines - used to be all about adding specific keywords and phrases to a page as many times as possible. According to the theory, the more often the keyword was used, the higher the page was likely to rank.
This approach led to long paragraphs of extremely repetitive copy written only to attract search engine spiders, not for human consumption or understanding. But now, according to CopyBlogger.com, almost 85% of what determines how a web page ranks in a search engine is actually based on factors other than keywords and phrases.
This doesn’t mean that incorporating keywords within website copy isn’t important; it’s just that SEO involves more now, like the authority of your domain, what web surfers think about your content, links leading to and from your website, and the relevance of your content.
To optimize a site these days, you’ll need to write compelling content, share your information through social media platforms, link your site to others, establish yourself as an authority within your industry or market, and earn the trust of your visitors.
To do this, make sure you are:
1. Creating eye-catching and descriptive headlines. 2. Providing quality content that gives readers tips, how-to hints, and other information. 3. Including videos, links and social media feeds on your website that help keep your pages fresh and new, whether you’re changing your site’s written content or not. 4. Utilizing link building. 5. Writing easy-to-read copy that includes subheadings and bulleted lists.
Successful SEO requires an ongoing commitment. If you don’t have the time, skills or resources to take on the job yourself, have a qualified website marketing company do it for you.
Though Twitter and Facebook have been staples of the social media scene for several years now, many small businesses haven’t yet figured out how to leverage these platforms to communicate with their audience, develop their brand and, ultimately, drive sales.
But research shows that more and more people are making purchasing decisions based on things they read in social media. So, what’s a business to do?
Think about how you use Facebook. You may put up with the random ramblings of your friends, but when it comes to companies that post nonsense or information that’s irrelevant to you, you’re probably more likely to reach for the hide button.
On Twitter, the relevance and accuracy of your information is what makes your audience want to share your content. And, as with most other marketing tools, it takes time and consistency of message - not a hard sales pitch - to make it effective for your business.
Take a note from Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee). This is an excerpt from his book The Thank You Economy:
“When I first started Tweeting, I had no brand recognition; no one knew who I was. To build my brand, I started creating conversations around what I cared passionately about: wine.
I used Search.Twitter.com…to find mentions of Chardonnay. I saw that people had questions, and I answered them. I didn’t post a link to WineLibrary.com and point out that I sold Chardonnay. If people mentioned that they were drinking Merlot, I gave them my Merlot recommendation, but I didn’t mention that they could buy Merlot on my website.
I didn’t try to close too early, like a nineteen-year-old guy; I made sure to invest in the relationship first. Eventually, people started to see my comments and think, “Oh, hey, it’s that Vaynerchuk guy; he knows Chardonnay. Oh cool, he does a wine show - let’s take a look. Hey, he’s funny. I like him; I trust him. And check it out: he sells wine, too. Free shipping? Let’s try a bottle of that…” That’s what caring first, not selling first, looks like, and that’s how I built my brand.”
Google is out with a new survey entitled "The Mobile Movement" that looks at how we use our smartphones. The short answer is, a lot -- at home, at work, while consuming other media, and especially while shopping.
The Google survey found that 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones to help with shopping, while 88% of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.
And there are these two figures from the survey that I found most fascinating. The important number here is 79:
79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, finding more product info to locating a retailer...
but…79% of businesses surveyed say they don’t have a mobile-optimized website.
That’s a huge disconnect from the people who are ready to buy from you. Would you have signage in your store that only 21% of your customers could see? Or print a marketing piece that nearly eight out of ten people can’t read? That’s what you’re doing when you ask smartphone users to use a website that’s designed for viewing on a computer monitor.
So what can you do to reach these connected, active smartphone consumers? Here are a few suggestions:
Create a mobile version of your website that’s optimized for smartphone viewing. Focus on features that are most useful to customers and elements that are most likely to attract visitors from your search engine links.
Design your own smartphone application. One that puts some of the most-useful features of your website in a branded package that lets you control the experience with a great marketing platform that's also a useful tool for your customers.
Serving the smartphone audience should be a key part of your website design and marketing plan. Without it, the mobile movement might just leave you behind.
(The following piece is from Tesh.com, the website of syndicated radio host John Tesh and his "Intelligence for Your Life" program.)
According to MSNBC, manufacturers, stores, hotels, and casinos are using scents to make you feel happier and more confident about their products and brands. It's not just marketing mumbo-jumbo. It actually works.
Martin Lindstrom (pictured at left) is the author of Buyology: The Truth and Lies About What We Buy. He says scent has a huge impact on our spending habits because smells bypass our rational brain, and tap right into our emotional core. Smells trigger emotions on a subliminal level, so you won't think about why you feel a certain way; you'll just feel something. You might get into a new car and immediately feel happy and at ease. Or you could enter a hotel or casino and feel excited and energized.
The emotions will stick with you. A study from Rutgers University found that certain scents not only improve a shopper’s opinion of a product, but they're more likely to remember that product two weeks later. That's why more and more companies are using smells to market their products, like Sony electronics stores. They waft a secret mix of vanilla, mandarin and bourbon around their stores. Each of those scents plays a different role. For instance, the vanilla makes women, who may feel uncomfortable in an electronics store, feel more at ease, the scent of mandarin makes people think the store is classy, and the subtle scent of bourbon makes men feel welcome.
Other retailers use relaxing scents like lavender, which is proven to slow down a shopper's heartbeat and stretch their perception of time, making them stay in the store longer and spend more money.
Scents can evoke a range of emotions. Vanilla makes people feel protected because it reminds them of breast milk. Woody smells give you a feeling of security and solid values. Cigars and leather are trustworthy smells – that’s why a lot of law firms use leather and wood in their décor. Fruity smells make you feel summery and open minded.
That’s why car companies, hotels, and stores have started using scent marketing – everyone from Express clothing stores to the Mandalay Bay resort in Vegas have custom smells. So the next time you get a whiff of Coconut Spice you’ll remember what a great time you had losing money at the Mandalay Bay.
If your in-store / on-site marketing efforts are only aimed at your customers' eyes and ears, you're missing an important target: their noses.
Most on-site marketing appeals only to the consumers' vision and hearing. That makes for a visually crowded and noisy marketplace. But by adding Aroma Marketing to your mix, you not only support your traditional in-store signage and displays, you make lasting impressions on your consumers via their sense of smell, a pathway to the brain that remains largely unexplored by marketers.
Aroma Marketing is an effective method for appealing to consumers for several reasons:
Scents don't have to pass through the filter of consciousness. While shoppers can tune out or gloss over visual displays, they don't choose to smell. Aromas are taken in and processed involuntarily.
Many studies have concluded that the sense of smell plays a critical role in the creation, storage, and retrieval of memories. This is because the olfactory bulb - the part of the brain responsible for odor processing - is located right next to the part that controls memory. A specific scent in your store, office or other facility can trigger positive memories for your shoppers, patients or customers. They then link that good smell and the good feeling to your brand. It's a phenomenon known as Emotional Anchoring.
Pleasant aromas in a store cause shoppers to linger up to 40% longer, and the longer they linger, the more likely they are to buy.
And there are other benefits. Aroma Marketing can:
Enhance mood and create excitement
Stimulate the brain and make a person feel awake and refreshed
Your business blog is an important platform that your company can use to communicate with your audience. Blogging offers many benefits. You can position your company as an expert in your industry. You can solidify your brand position. And the SEO value of the content can drive more traffic to your site.
But generating relevant, engaging content can be a challenge.
Next time you’re struggling to write a dynamic blog post, put yourself in your audience’s shoes and approach your products and services in a way that addresses their fears, pains, or goals. Offer a solution to those problems or a way to achieve those goals, and you’ll develop not only a dedicated readership, but a loyal client base as well.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), you may have a lot in common with the folks who work in tire sales and automotive repair.
Brian Canning is a 30-year veteran of the auto repair world who now serves as a business analyst, leadership and management coach, and team leader. He’s also a true believer in the power of search engine optimization – the art and science of maximizing your website’s appeal to search engines and making it easier for potential customers to find.
1) You may think that SEO is a magic bullet. Canning writes that most shop owners “are dying for that plug and play solution” to their marketing challenges that they’ve heard SEO provides. “Many of them are discovering that this great tool can certainly have a positive impact,” Canning reveals, “but just like every other tactic or strategy, search engine optimization only works as part of a broader marketing plan.”
SEO can play an important role in your online success if it’s planned and executed well, but it’s not a cure-all. As pervasive as the Internet is, there are still many other touchpoints where you need to meet and engage consumers in order to maximize your success.
2) You may think that SEO is a one-time project. Canning explains that search engine optimization “only works if [you] are willing to put in the time, money and consistent effort to launch it in the right way, and then only if [you] are prepared to dedicate time to its execution every month.”
The web is constantly changing and evolving, and your SEO and Website Marketing efforts need to keep pace. If your site isn’t updated regularly and frequently it’s sure to lose ground within search engines and in the minds of customers looking for new information and new reasons to return to your site.
3) You may think that SEO is a quick and easy fix. “Most of the owners and managers I talk to are reluctant or unable to put in the time [to execute an SEO program],” writes Canning. “They discover much too late that the panacea of search engine optimization does not exist unless they are able to commit themselves to the effort. This sounds an awful lot like work to me.”
Strike any chords? If your day is already full, don’t add SEO chores to your to-do list. It’s too critical to be put off until you “have the time.”
4) You may think that SEO is a job you should take on yourself. “Knowing how taxed most shop owners and managers are for time, my suggestion is that you explore all that search engine optimization could do for you, all the ways that it could highlight and make your operation more visible, and find somebody accomplished to do it for you. It is so important and crucial to your long-term viability and so demanding of a thorough and consistent effort, my strong suggestion would be to spend some time searching out who is successful at it and negotiate a comprehensive plan that matches their ability with your immediate and long-term needs. Search engine optimization is one of those things that is best left to the professionals.”
Canning adds this: “There is not a more important marketing tool out there. SEO makes us very visible to the buying public by putting us where consumers are looking. Doing it half way will leave you no better off than when you started down this path. Please take my advice: remember how important this is and how busy you are and find a successful professional to do it for you. Your bottom line will thank you again and again and again.”
Brian Canning's thoughts mesh perfectly with our approach at BusinessVoice: We take care of every aspect of the ongoing marketing and search engine optimization of your website so you can concentrate on what you do best. And, yes, to maximize the success of your website, the effort needs to be ongoing.
If you'd like to get your SEO conversation started, give us a call at 866/473-9000.