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Why Do Ads Follow Me?

Have you ever felt a little paranoid when, after visiting one site on line, you find links to it on other sites?

It happens like this:  You’re shopping on line and show interest in a product item.  Later while visiting other sites that have sponsored ads on them you keep seeing the same ad that touts just the item you were interested in.  It feels like someone is looking over your shoulder.  It’s creepy.  In fact you may wonder if you can stop it.

Well, you can stop it to some extent and here’s what’s happening and how you can stop it.

It may seem like someone somewhere is keeping a dossier on you to make this happen.  I won’t include what the government may be doing when I say that it’s not exactly as sinister as it seems.

Your browsing habits and information about what your interests are gathered from many sources including the search engines, social media and anywhere you reveal them.  This information is stored in ‘cookies’ that are kept on your computer.  That’s the first part of what is happening.

A cookie is a small piece of information stored as a text file on your computer that a web server uses when you browse certain web sites that you’ve visited before.

Cookies are commonly used when you sign up for services (such as web hosting). Cookies are also commonly used for sign in (login) features. Cookies can only be used with the Domain Name that stored them. Basically, the web server needs to use cookies in order for the web site to work correctly, and the information is nothing more than a string of letters and numbers.

The second part is best represented by the Google sponsored ad programs called ‘Adsense’ and ‘Adwords’.  Adwords campaigns provide the sponsored results you see at the top and down the side of search results pages.  When you click on them the person paying for the ad is charged a fee based on a bidding process among businesses that want that position on the results for your search phrase.  Your click may cost the bidder from ten cents to $25 or more.  It’s a huge business.

Adsense is an arm of that ‘pay per click’ program that rewards websites that permit sponsored ads to show on their pages by paying them a portion of that ‘click fee’.  When you read the news on Google, for instance, most of the news providers have pages that have sponsored links embedded in the text or on the side.  That’s what pays the bills for those sites, the revenue they earn from sponsored ads displayed to you because they provided interesting news to you.  Your having the ads on your free news feed is like having to listen to ads on ‘free’ radio or television.

When you go to a website with these ads the cookies stored on your browser indicate what your interests are.  If the cookie says you are female, under 30, married, have young children, for instance, and you go to an Adsense equipped page the embedded ads may be sponsored by a toy store, a seller of linens, women’s clothing, etc.  If you have recently shopped for a winter coat you may be surprised to see lots of ads for winter coats.

It’s not hard to realize that this ability to present you with tailored ads is going to be much more effective than if the ads were random.  If you’re the above demographic, you’re not as likely to notice ads for muscle cars or snow tires as you would be for the above products.

What seems creepy is when you notice that this targeting is based on you personally, but if you must watch ads, isn’t it better to have ones that you might be interested in?

You can turn off these cookies and you can turn them off without deleting the ‘good’ cookies that websites use to keep track of you when you visit them.  After all there may be a thousand people at once on Macy’s website shopping.  The website has to keep track of all of those users as they make choices.  To do that they place a cookie on your browser so when you return to the site after a break or between pages they know what has gone before.

As an experiment I visited a site that has Adsense and saw an ad for a real estate website specializing in Squaw Valley that I visited yesterday.  I then opened an ‘incognito’ browser window and went to the same site and page.  This time the ad was for Ralph Lauren in which I have no conceivable interest.

For times when you want to browse in stealth mode, Google Chrome offers the incognito browsing mode. Here’s how the incognito mode works:
Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito aren’t recorded in your browsing and download histories.
All new cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows that you’ve opened.

There are several advertising companies that have gotten together to agree on standards to allow people to opt-out of this process.  It doesn’t stop the ads but it stops their being targeted to you specifically.  What actually happens is when you request to opt-out the advertising company website sets a cookie that blocks the process.  By agreement they all do it for a minimum of 5 years.  However, if you, for any reason, delete your cookies those cookies are also deleted and you would have to reset them.  To learn more about these ads you can click on the icon,  when you see it on an ad.

You can bookmark the following sites and quickly reset such cookies quite easily.

As I write this there are approximately 118 companies participating in the choices program and 88 have profiles for this computer

Manage Your Online Reputation | Here’s How

dreamstime_s_53058887How One or Two Bad Reviews Can Cost You Big Time!

You’ve been hearing for the last few years about how important reviews are to your search engine position and how important your online reputation is.

Well they still are really important for that, but also they are playing a growing and very important role in your client’s decisions on whether to do business with you.  There are still people who don’t know how to do reviews but as Internet savvy becomes more and more common, most do use reviews!

Anybody who does a search for a product or service has become familiar with the links to various reviews for the businesses they see in the results. Not only that but THEY READ THEM. And they do make decisions based on them.  I do it, maybe you don’t, but I guarantee that many of your prospective leads do.

Who writes the reviews about you?

That’s the really scary part.  An unhappy customer or client who wants to vent is the most motivated to do a bad review.  It’s a chance to really poke at you if there is some real or imagined slight that they feel.  Sometimes there’s a legitimate complaint and sometimes you may not think it’s so legitimate, but understand the only person who can take down that review is the person who made it.  And once posted it’s there forever.  Let me repeat, forever.  There is almost no way to get that bad review removed by the reviewing website and the reviewer may not even be reachable.

Of course there are also some customers who are so pleased with your service that they’ll give a good review.  In fact when you start researching reviews you’ve received you’ll find most are either one star (BAD) or five stars (Good).  There are seldom three and four star reviews because people just aren’t motivated to go to the trouble of reviewing a business that is ‘OK’ or ‘Pretty Good’.

Over time you will get some bad reviews.  I don’t care if you’re Santa Claus or Honey Boo-Boo, somebody will have a beef about how you treated them and will want to let the whole world know about it.

Review sites like Yelp and Google and others rank very high in search engines, so if someone searches specifically for your business by name, it is very likely that a review about your business will come up before your own business site.

For instance:

How do you know if you’re being hurt by a bad review?

You don’t know for sure, but stop and think if someone is interested in the service or product you offer and they are online looking for someone to do business with, how likely are they to choose a business with an average rating of one or two stars when right there in the same list is another business with four or five stars average?

If you expect to get Internet leads, you need to take this all very seriously.

If you do a search for Realtors® in any medium to large city you will see listings for dozens of Agents and Offices. Most will have a few very good reviews and some will have one or two bad reviews.  To give you an idea of how important it is to manage these, here is a review of a very successful agent in Fair Oaks, CA who had only two reviews.  One was 5 star and the other was 1 star as follows:

9/7/2012 First to Review (from Yelp)

[Company Name], and their agent [Agent Name], are horrible to work wiith.  She went on vacation during the beginning, as well as the closing periold for the home we purchased.  Her lack of communication, her refusal to meet deadlines, her deceit in the details of the liisting, and her overall non-professionalism was shocking.  She would rather be golfing rather than conduct business.

Here’s an example:  She listed the home, then refused to take calls from our realtor while on the golf course, nor did she respond to any e-mails.  Her excuse on the phone call was that she did not recognize the number calling…..what???  Her excuse on the e-mails, was that she  never checks “that e-mail box” because it was her old e-mail account.  However, it was this “old” e-mail account which was posted on the listiing…….what??????

Avoid [Company Name]  Real Estate, and [Agent Name] at “all costs”!!!!

In a long list of 5 star ratings for other agents this agent had a 3 star rating.  If you were working with a buyer or seller and they “Googled” you and saw this Yelp review, how do you think it might impact your credibility with that client?  Imagine how this could affect your sales over time.

If that one bad review had been “drowned out” with 5 or ten great reviews most people would realize that the bad review was probably due to a one time misunderstanding.

The takeaway is Manage Your Online Reputation!!.

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Converting Tire Kickers into Customers

Lead Conversion on Your Website

Remember the last time you bought a new car?  Did you simply go into the nearest dealer with your checkbook in hand ready to buy?  Not likely. That car salesman’s job was lead conversion.

It does happen sometimes, not often.  If a dealer depended on people walk in and buy on their first visit they wouldn’t last very long.

When you first go looking you’re a ‘tire kicker’, someone who is not ready to buy but wants information to help you make a decision.  Of course it is very likely that you will buy a new car in the near future, but there are a lot of dealers, and  a lot of incentives and different models and on and on and on.  So you go from dealer to dealer gathering information until something spectacular happens.

That one special car appears.  You get excited and now you are no longer a tire kicker, you are a Prospect.  Now you know what you want and you only have to decide which dealer to buy it from.  You consider price, reputation, and possible testimonials of friends or acquaintances or contact on the Internet to help you decide whom to buy from. Lead conversion has brought you to this point.

99 percent of the visitors to your website are ‘tire kickers’ not prospects.  They’re gathering information and have no immediate plans to buy from you.  In fact they don’t care much about you or your testimonials or awards or sales record.  They care about what they can learn on your site.  They may spend considerable time on your site to get information if it’s there, but in the vast majority of cases they are not going to suddenly convert to prospects.

After the first visit they will not return for more information.  After all they’ve already gotten the info you had to offer.  If they want further investigation they’ll go to a different site or sites to see what they can find there.  There is no loyalty to you for having supplied information.

Statistics show that 85% of demographically targeted visitors to your site will EVENTUALLY make a purchase. So you’re faced with a marketing equivalent of musical chairs.  You hope that when that TK decides to get serious that they’re on your site.  Musical chairs is NOT a great marketing strategy.

So what is a great strategy taking into account these facts?  Glad you asked.

Your site must do everything possible to capture these visitors’ email and permission to market to them so that you can keep their interest by continuing to provide them with useful information about their objective so when they transform into prospects and are looking for a company or person with whom to do business you are front and center in their sight.

That, in a nutshell, is what we at Silk Shorts do for you to convert your website and marketing plan into a ‘lead machine’ that provides your sales team with purchase ready prospects in a continuous stream.  We not only optimize your site and your traffic gathering efforts but also design your website to convert tire kickers into ‘leads’ to whom you can then market to with your email program.  When your website has captured a visitor’s email and permission, its work is done.  Even if they only saw your home page and at that point converted, they are now in your sales ‘funnel’.

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Crushing it with Local Search

dreamstime_xs_37887048LOCAL Search Engine Internet Advertising — WITH OR  WITHOUT A WEBSITE!

Local Search is a goldmine for small business, and the major local listing services have become a big part of the equation.

Online marketers who do not take advantage of it are among the majority of small business owners (for now). A full-on search engine optimization campaign is time consuming, intricate and expensive. However, there are some SEO related things anyone can do to increase their business’ online presence. If, as a small business, you can look beyond your daily tasks and spend just a little bit of time seeing to these basic 6 steps (listed below), you will be far ahead of your competition, or at least keeping up with the top players in your niche online.

1. Claim your company’s profile(s)

If your business is established you will normally find a listing for your business on the major local listing services already. As a business owner, you must own and control it and any others.

If your business is newer, or just not listed online at all, establishing a listing is even more important. Either way, simply log into Google Plus, Yahoo Local, and Bing Business and create or claim the listing profile that is rightfully yours.

If it already exists, chances are that some information on it is incorrect, or that a lot of information is missing. Additionally you may find reviews attached to your listing–not necessarily good ones.

Your company’s online reputation is at stake.  If it’s bad you need to improve it, if it’s good you need to build on that.

2. Add Pictures

The local listing sites love to offer an enhanced experience to their users above and beyond what a phonebook would offer, so it makes sense that when you add more interactive features like pictures and video, they will bump you to the top. Photos are an absolute must, and you can start with your company logo.

From there photos of your staff, your storefront, inventory, or happy customers can go a very long way toward enhancing your listing.

Do not worry if you think your storefront, staff, or anything else is not commercial-perfect. People want to see the real side of your business. Yes, it is a good idea to look your best, but don’t be fake and overdone either.

3. Add Video

Video is seen by most users as not better or worse than pictures, but just another addition that gives more legitimacy to the listing. Video also shows the listing services & search engines that you are serious. If pictures are an enhancement, then video is an above-and-beyond bonus feature.

The video you upload doesn’t have to be a professionally produced television-style advertisement. In fact an informative narrated PowerPoint presentation uploaded to YouTube and embedded into your local listing is more effective than an advertisement on many levels.

Other small businesses have found success in embedding customer video testimonials taken with a simple hand held video camera or webcam. I say do it all.

At this point in the game, you can’t go wrong with video, nor do too much of it. Just be sure to keep each video under 60 seconds.

The “now” mentality of people on the Internet is a strange dynamic; while they can never make time to watch one 20 minute video, they seem to have more than enough time to watch twenty 1 minute videos in a row.

4. Control information about your business online

You are what you publish, especially online. If there is a local listing on one website with incorrect information, it is a certainty that other directory websites will pick it up and republish it.

If this happens, it will make it more difficult for potential customers to find your business. So start with the big directories (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and get the information in correctly and claim the listings by verifying with these services that they belong to you.

Then track down all the other listing services you can (Yelp, Best of the Web, Foursquare, Merchant Circle, etc.) and start claiming those as well.

5. Lots and lots of customer reviews

Ask customers to review your business on different sites (start with Google Plus and then expand). Ask for reviews on your website, on your Facebook Page, and on email signatures of outgoing customer emails.

Not only do the reviews  make you more credible to future customers, but the search engine based listing services love reviews.

With all other variables being equal, if you have more customer reviews in your Google Plus page than your competition, you are much more likely to be listed above the competition.

Keep in mind that there are customers that are not so happy with you and your business, and they are online too. A few bad reviews can and should be counteracted with good ones.

6. You need to have a local phone number and local address for local listings

Yes, I said need. Toll free numbers are cool looking, but if you are playing the local business game, the search engine based listing services look on your website to see if the information you submitted is correct.

So, if you have toll free number on your website, and not a local number, the credibility of your Google Plus profile just went down.

Additionally, a clearly listed local address at the footer of every page of your website is a must.

People want to be able to see that you are a real business and not a start-up-dreamer running things out of your garage, and the local online directories want to be able to verify that the information you submitted to them on your listing is correct.

Local search is the incredible evolution of the phonebook. While “yellow page” type companies have tried many incarnations of migrating their services to the web, the fact is, they are dinosaurs waiting to become extinct.

It is because of the advent of the Internet itself that you, the small business owner, can publish yourself and promote yourself, by yourself and grow your business without any need to rely on traditional forms of mass media.

The power is in your hands to gain as much exposure as you would like to have, you just have to go out there and do it. Here is to your success!

 

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How to Write Blog Content Sellers and Buyers Want to Read

Blog Content is Critical to Your Website’s Success

 

Blog Content is KingHow many times have I heard, “I don’t have time to find good blog content?” 

I understand, but your competition is making time to create blog posts once a week or more so you need to figure out how to find the time.  If you have team members, all of you can sit down and go through these steps together for 20 minutes.  If you are a single agent, then do it by yourself for those 20 minutes.  You will be surprised what you come up with that will make great blog content.  These will become the titles of your first blog posts.

Take a piece of paper and pen or start a new document on the computer and brain storm (just put down what comes to mind)

What questions do your Sellers and Buyers ask all the time.  Make a list of these questions.  This becomes the very best content for your blog because it focuses on the issues that your new/present/past clients want to know. (more…)

REALTORS® Marketing Plan Cheat Sheet

The National Association of REALTORS® and Google completed a joint study on ‘Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate.”  They state, “Together, Google and NAR’s individual research results tell a cohesive story about today’s uber-connected home shopper.” Any REALTORS® marketing plan should take into account these findings.

The findings include:

  • 90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process (Source: 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers)
  • Real estate related searches on Google.com have grown 253% over the past 4 years (Source: Google Internal Data, Q3 2012)
  • Buyers use specific online tools during different phases of the home search process.
  • How important “local” search terms and websites are for buyers.
  • How mobile technology connects online to offline home buying – including the reading of online reviews
  • 75% of senior home buyers go online to search for a home
  • Senior home shoppers place high value on neighborhood information and interactive maps

(see all the reports at http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/Study-Digital-House-Hunt-2013-01.pdf)

How are you connecting with these Sellers and Buyers? Since 2006 Inbound Marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Agents and Brokers that use Inbound Marketing stand to gain a competitive advantage over those that choose to ignore it. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of:

  • Buying ads in newspapers (6% said they frequently look at the ads , 22% said they occasionally look at the ads, & 73% said they rarely or not at all look at the ads)
  • Spending big bucks on real estate magazines (and not knowing how many qualified buyers or sellers actually see the ad: 3% frequently, 15% occasionally, & 82% rarely or not at all)  That hurts!
  • Doing mail-outs that get thrown away
  • ‘Praying’ for leads
  • Cold calling
  • Ads no one reads in the Yellow Pages

A REALTORS® marketing plan focuses on creating quality content that gives Sellers and Buyers a reason for coming back to your website, emailing or calling you.  By knowing the Sellers’ and Buyers’ needs, fears and wants (their ‘Personas‘) you ATTRACT inbound traffic that you can then CONVERT, CLOSE, and DELIGHT over time.

The new way of doing business is creating experiences.  Marketing is as important as the services you offer.  The Sellers and Buyers are more empowered than ever.  They can see all the listings on line and compare one agent/broker to another on their desktop, tablet and/or smart phone.  You have to be better than the next REALTOR® at providing a great experience or the new and existing clients will go someplace else.

What Does the Graphic Mean?

ATTRACT, CONVERT, CLOSE and DELIGHT are the four marketing actions Inbound Marketers must take in order to obtain visitors, leads, and clients.

The bottom row shows the TOOLS you need to accomplish these actions.  Several of the tools, like email, are used at different stages of of your marketing campaign.

What Exactly is Inbound Marketing?

Sharing is caring and Inbound Marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream clients, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.

So How do you do That?

Content Creation- You create targeted content that answers your client’s basic questions and needs, and you share that content on your blog, social media, videos, and email.

Lifecycle Marketing
You know that the first time someone comes to your site, they are looking for the listings.  They sign up for email updates, they look around the site to see if you have statistics about the real estate market, they look through your free offers, etc. People go through stages as they interact with your company, and each stage requires different marketing actions.

Personalization
As you learn more about your site’s visitors/leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.  Are they interested in selling or buying?  When are they planning to actually buy or sell?  What price point are they looking at when they do buy?

Multi-Channel
Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you.  With your marketing on social media, you are reaching the people who prefer to communicate on social media.  If you also put that marketing information on your blog, people who subscribe to your blog will see it and people who want to receive their information by RSS feed or by being notified when a new blog post is up, will see your marketing.  Your custom email program will email the information out to people who buy-in to your email program, etc.  You are reaching your audience in the channel they prefer.

Integration
Your publishing and analytics tools all work together like a well-oiled machine, allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time.  You can analyze your marketing effectively with freebies like Google Analytics and you can also automate many of your marketing tasks.

Make Marketing People Love
By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your marketing becomes relevant to the needs of your clients.  Now that’s marketing people can love.

The Four Marketing Actions

Attract

You don’t want just anyone to your site, you want the site visitor who wants the services you provide. You want the people that are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy clients. Who are the “right” people? Ideal clients, also known as our ‘SELLER PERSONAS’ and ‘BUYER PERSONAS’.  These Personas are made up of the traits of your sellers and buyers who contribute the most to your bank account. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, fears, as well as personal and demographic information of your ideal prospect.  Your Personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.  If you only deal with Sellers who own homes worth over $500,000, then all your marketing material needs to address that group of people not someone who owns an $80,000 condo.

Some of the most important tools to attract the right users to your site are:

Blogging
Inbound Marketing starts with blogging. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.

Social Media
Don’t just put your listings on Facebook, engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand. Interact on the channels where your ideal Sellers and Buyers spend their time.  Post an introduction to your latest blog post and a link to it too on social media and send out an email.

Keywords
Your clients begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. So you need to make sure you’re appearing prominently when they search. To get there, you need to carefully, analytically pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal Sellers and Buyers are searching for.

Pages
You must optimize your website to appeal to and speak with your ideal Sellers and Buyers. Make sure your website content contains information that will turn visitors into leads.  They want to learn more about what you do, how you do it and how it benefits them.

Convert

The next step is to convert your site visitors into leads by getting them to fill out a form with their contact information so that you have permission to market to them. You need to offer them something of value and that is information that is interesting and valuable to each of the personas such as a ’60 Day Moving Check List.’  Both Sellers and Buyers would consider that worth giving you their contact information, and they are also giving you permission to market to them when they fill out the form(s).

To convert visitors to leads, we create:

Calls-to-Action
Calls-to-action are buttons or links that encourage your visitors to take action, like “Download Our 60 Day Planning Guide for Your Move” or “Sign-up For Our Monthly Updates on Marketing Statistics.” If you don’t have enough calls-to-action or your calls-to-action aren’t enticing enough, you won’t generate any leads.

Landing Pages
When a website visitor clicks on a call-to-action, they should then be sent to a landing page. A landing page is where the offer in the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where the prospect submits information that you can use to begin a conversation with them. When website visitors fill out forms on landing pages, they become leads.  Your landing pages also include an automatic ‘Thank You’ page so that the site visitor understands that their request has been received.  (That ‘Thank You’ page can also have a call-to-action on it)

Forms
In order for visitors to become leads, they must fill out a form and submit their information. Forms must be optimized to make this step of the conversion process as easy as possible.

Contacts
One of the weak links I see so often is that a REALTORS® may be receiving numerous leads but they don’t have a way to organize and keep those leads.  Some companies supply their agents with a Customer Relations Management system.  If this is one of the tools that is supplied to you, make sure you know how to use it and that you do use it.  Your leads are your ‘gold mine’.  You need to work that gold mine

Close

You have leads coming in from your website, social media, email, landing pages, etc. but you have one data base to manage those leads.  You can segment the leads into different categories such as ‘Sellers’, ‘Buyers’, ‘Looking to buy in the next 90 days’, ‘Just looking for now’, etc. so that you know what type of marketing is going to work best for each Persona.  Certain marketing tools can be used at this stage to make sure you’re closing the right leads at the right times.

Closing tools include:

Lead Scoring
You have all those leads in the database, how do you know which ones you should be calling now?  Developing a numerical system as simple as:  #1 is a ‘must call immediately’ to #10 is a ‘put on an email list for now’.

Email
What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call to action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your free offer(s), but still isn’t ready to become a client? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with them and help them get ready to sell or buy.

Marketing Automation
This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and life cycle stage of each lead. For example, if a visitor downloaded a free offer on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that lead a series of related emails. But if they follow you on Twitter and visited certain pages on your website, you might want to change the messaging to reflect those different interests.

Closed-loop Reporting
How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best leads? Is your sales team effectively closing those best leads into clients? Integration with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.

Delight

Inbound marketing is all about providing remarkable content to your users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing clients. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them. Inbound Marketers continue to engage with, delight, and turn their current customer base into happy promoters of them and their company.

Tools used to delight customers include:

Smart Calls to Action
These present different users with offers that change based on their Persona and life cycle stage.

Social Media
Using various social platforms gives you the opportunity to provide real-time customer service.

Email and Marketing Automation
Providing your existing customers with remarkable content can help them achieve their own goals, and keep you fresh in their minds.

A New Methodology

The new Inbound Marketing Methodology covers each and every step taken, tool used, and life cycle stage traveled on the road from stranger to client. It empowers you to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers, and delight promoters. The new methodology acknowledges that inbound marketing doesn’t just happen, you do it. And you do it using tools and applications that help you create and deliver content that will appeal to precisely the right people (your Seller and Buyer Personas) in the right places (channels) at just the right times (life cycle stages).

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How To Change Your Website for Better Search Engine Placement

Everyone has an opinion on how to ‘optimize’ a site but what is really important?  The answer might surprise you!

On-Site Optimization

Most people think the most important part is how their pages are built.  That is important, and most do-it-yourselfers rely on articles that emphasize on-site changes to:

  • Title tags
  • Description tags
  • Keyword tags
  • Image ‘alt’ tags
  • Image ‘title’ tags
  • Use of ‘header tags’
  • Image compression
  • Keyword Density

See list of definitions HERE 

Unfortunately you may invest a great deal of time and effort and money in following all of these suggestions and then be discouraged when, after several weeks, there is no significant change in your competitive position in search results.

This is especially frustrating when you see that the sites that were outperforming you not only are still outperforming you, but don’t have as complete on-site optimization as you do.   In fact those competitors may have pretty poor sites, but their ranking is still high.

Why is that?  There’s never been a definitive answer to that question, but the most probable one is that the answer is not related to these on-site, page-related elements.

There is no quick or simple path to getting your fair share, or MORE than your fair share of business from Internet search engines. Certainly any part of what we discuss here will help, and ignoring on site factors would be a mistake.  However, an on-going month-to-month effort by professionals can result in excellent, long-term positive results.

Here is what we, as professionals, do for continuing Inernet marketing clients:

If a site was not created by us we tweak the on-site elements above.

We then assess the following for the site:

Is the content of the site unique (not copied), and high quality with no misspellings or grammatical errors?

Does the site have backlinks  that are relevant to the site and from sites that have good Google PageRank?

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What You Can Do About ‘Bounce Rate’

Bounce Rate FixesWhen a user visits your site and leaves it without going to another page on the site it is called a “bounce”.  The ratio of such bounces to the total number of visitors to the page is called the ‘bounce rate’.  For instance if 1000 users land on a page and then either hit the back button or leave the page for another site, they’ve ‘bounced’.

Some bounces are to be expected.  Perhaps the landing page has all of the information the user wants, or they bookmark the page for later examination and then leave or if the landing page is a blog page with posts, then often all or most of the relevant content is on one page.

When you have a multi-page site and a high bounce rate that’s an indication that changes are indicated and it’s time to make some experimental changes to evaluate how they affect the bounce rate so that you can increase the effectiveness of your online marketing.

Sometimes you can infer a problem by examining the page and determining what the expectations of most of the visitors might be.  For instance if the title of your page is “Short Sale Listings in North Snowridge” and the page has slideshow dominating the page, and the link to Short Sales is one of many located below the fold, the visitor might conclude that this is not what they’re looking for and hit the back button to try the next link in their search results even if they really do want to know about  short sale listings in Showridge.

Improving your bounce rate is a logical way to increase your sales and it becomes increasingly important if you are paying for clickthroughs from ads on search engines, directories or social media sites.  That’s where you pay for the clickthrough even though the user may bounce and may only be on your site for a few seconds.

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I Finally Made A List Of Words We Use!

Bounce Rate:

Website SEO Glossary of TermsBounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits in which the person left your site from the first page they landed on.

This differs from “exit page” which defines the last page a visitor was on when they left the site.

A high bounce rate usually shows that the site entrance pages have no relevance to your visitors. The more interesting and relevant your landing pages are, the more your visitors will remain on your site and convert.

You can minimize bounce rates by customizing your landing pages to the keywords and ads that you run. Landing pages must provide the information your visitor is expecting to see.

<title> tags:

A title tag is the main text that describes an online document. It is the single most important on-page optimization element (behind overall content.)  It’s what you see first in a list of search results.

Optimal Format for the title tag is:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
or
Brand Name | Primary Keyword and Secondary Keyword

Best practices for length of the title tag is less than 70 characters, as this is the limit Google displays in search results.

<meta description=””> tags:

Meta descriptions are not important to search engine rankings, however, they are extremely important in motivating a visitor to your site to click-through from the search engine result page (SERP).

The meta description should employ the keywords intelligently, but it’s most effective in convincing a visitor to click your link instead of the competition’s.

<meta keyword=””> tags:

This is a place to add keywords and search phrases originally to help search engines know what words are important.  It is no longer used by search engines so its effect is virtually nil.  However, if you already have it, it won’t hurt.

Image <alt=””> tags:

This describes a picture so search engines and text readers used by visually impaired visitors know what it describes.  Search engines don’t see information on graphics.
Image <title=””> tags:

This is different from the site <title> tag described above.  Virtually the same as the image <alt> tag for SEO purposes.

Header tags:

These are code elements (called ‘markup’) that tell your browser how to display text.  Since this text is usually more prominent than normal text, search engines add value to keywords appearing that are formatted with header tags.

Image Compression:

Most image formats make huge files that, if used on a site, cause the page to load very slowly.  Compression reformats the image or graphic to make it a much smaller file with the same appearance.  Two versions of the same photo might be 5,000,000 bytes or 50,000 bytes and display exactly the same.  If a page doesn’t load fast, visitors go to the next site on their list.

Backlinks:

Links from other sites to your site.  If they are from relevant sites they help indexing.  If a lot of relevant sites link to you, that suggests to search engines that a lot of people consider your content useful.

Blog:

Short for “Weblog”.  A site with frequently updated content often with the function of supporting comments from visitors.  Very helpful for SEO although requiring more attention to keep content fresh.

Cookies:

A cookie is a small piece of information stored as a text file on your computer that a web server uses when you browse certain web sites that you’ve visited before. More…

Keyword Density:

This refers to the concept that there is some ideal density of keywords on a page that will control indexing.  While keywords should be used on the page, there is no magic value to density.

Linkfarm:

A site that exists just to create links to sites.  Typically, they may charge a small fee or will gain their revenue from ads on their sites.  Considered ‘spammy’ by search engines.  Avoid using linkfarms.  In fact Google now demotes sites with too many such links.

Organic Search Results:

Organic search results are unpaid, natural listings on search engine results pages (SERPs) that are surfaced and ranked based on their relevance to a user’s query.

Although it takes time and effort to optimize your web pages for organic search, once you rank high in SERPs, you’ll typically see lucrative long term returns on your investment.

PageRank:

This is a value that Google creates based on traffic and relevance and other factors that Google considers important.  The higher the PageRank a site has, the better. Backlinks from sites with high PageRank are valuable for SEO.

SEO:  Search Engine Optimization

Sitemap.xml:

A file placed on the site that advises visiting search engines what pages to index and what their relative importance is.  Very important on sites with frequently update or added information.

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Teach Your Website to Convert Visitors to Leads

dreamstime_xs_16878878Your Website is a virtual Salesperson working for you 24/7 TEACH IT TO CONVERT VISITORS TO LEADS!

That makes sense, doesn’t it? When a person comes to your office for information you give them information, tell them about your service or product and then lead them into a commitment to buy or look at property or discuss your services.

When people come to your website for information and it gives them information about your products, services, property listings and services. Your website acts for you to turn that visitor into a prospect and eventually a client. That’s the idea, at least.

Suppose you hired a buyer’s agent or salesperson to work with your prospects. And what if that salesperson were great at presenting ideas and information but NEVER GOT A CONTRACT SIGNED, never asked the prospect to buy? Would you keep that person on? Would you fire them? Or would you try to teach them to close a sale?

99% of Realtors and other businesses are facing that problem with their websites. Their sites have listings and product information neighborhood information and schools information. It has their bio and qualifications and testimonials and more but the site never effectively asks for the sale! I don’t mean the sale of a home but the sale of contacting you or sending you a request for more. Oh, there may be a phone number on the site or a form for “contact for more info” but that is not effective. When you are demonstrating your service or product you don’t just show it hoping the prospect will say: “OK, how can I go about buying your product?” No, when you see strong interest you say: “Let’s do it now”. YOU CLOSE!

So 99% of the sites never do that, they never close.

You see, it doesn’t really matter how many visitors you have to your site if the site can’t capture contact information on them so you can take them to the next level and turn them into a prospect and client.

Most of those 99% of businesses think that the answer to this problem of losing 99% of their visitors to the competition is to get more and more visitors to the site, and they spend tons of time and money on chasing that goal. But, what good are all those visitors if you can’t turn them into prospects?

What those 99% of Realtors need is a good closing strategy for their website.

Remember less than 5% of visitors to your site are ready to buy right away, but almost 85% will be buyers within six months. (At least for real estate sites)

Another statistic is that you only have one chance at 90% of your visitors. A few will return to the site if you’re lucky, but your best chance is that first visit. If that first time visitor doesn’t contact you on their first visit, it’s unlikely that they will return to give you or your website a second chance.

So let’s define your website’s job. Very simply, it is to capture contact information from as many visitors a possible on their first visit so you can market to them and develop a rapport with them. The object of that ‘nurturing’ is so when they get serious about buying or selling, you are already at the top of their list to do business with.

Closing strategies for websites and follow up marketing strategy is what we incorporate in every client’s website.

THIS IS OUR CLOSE:

Send us your email address and we will send you our “5 Ways to Turn Your Website” into a 24/7 Lead Machine!”

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