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The old ways of digging out the phone book to find small businesses in your area are being phased out. The new king in the small business marketing game is digital marketing. Whether you’re a running an auto body shop or pizzeria, a paint store or restaurant, if you want your business to thrive in this digital world, you have to adapt.
Adjusting your marketing plan for the digital age doesn’t have to be a struggle, though. There are dedicated digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) companies out there that can handle all of this for you.
Below, some of the important services these companies can provide your business so that you don’t miss a single customer.
Website Building and Revamping
Unless you’re one of the few holdouts, your company already has a website. It doesn’t matter whether your company is strictly online or has a brick and mortar presence. To put it in context, even traditional offline businesses like vending machines now use online strategies in order to reach more customers and potential vendors. A great example of this is 1800Vending, which allows prospective business owners to compare technology and strategy for 3 different kinds of vending services.
If you are one of the last remaining people without a dedicated website for your small business, you’re doing more harm to your business than good. The age of the internet has been upon us for a while and now there’s a smart phone in the pocket or purse of nearly half of Americans. It’s with these tools that people now find all of their information, so now, more than ever before, a website is integral to any marketing strategy, not just the digital kind.
If you’ve got a website up and running, but it’s not getting you the leads your business needs, maybe a website overhaul is due. Marketing agencies employ digital design professionals that can offer your website a more professional and industry-appropriate look, which will encourage visitors to explore your site and lend your business a certain level of professional credibility.
Search Engine Optimization
Another aspect of digital marketing is SEO. While search engine optimization is not the same thing as digital marketing, the two go hand-in-hand. SEO is the practice of driving traffic to a website via various online methods. Some of those methods include press release writing, blogging, on-site optimization of website content, and more.
Think of SEO as digital PR. Sites of all kinds use it to get mentions from huge media outlets (as seen on their website) which give them a PR boost as well as a bump in the search rankings.
One of the big ideas behind SEO is that when people search for information on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, there is a certain way they formulate their search terms. One of the ways SEO helps your business’s website get found in the search engines is by optimizing it for specific keywords and search phrases related to your business so that when people type them into the search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo know that your website is relevant to those search terms and brings your site up.
Social Media Management
In the last decade, the way individuals communicate on the internet has dramatically changed because of social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more have given internet users new tools and ways of creating and sharing information with one another. The way small businesses interact with their customers has changed as well. For one thing, the norm these days is for a business to have social media accounts through which customers and potential customers can interact with a business.
This is a good thing, though. Because so many people use social media, it plays a role in how they search for and choose businesses to support. Digital marketing and SEO companies often offer social media management as part of their monthly packages and may also offer social media training for businesses that are more comfortable having an employee interacting with users.
So, if you’re company has been struggling to find customers, leads, and sales, digital marketing will definitely make a great addition to your marketing strategy. As the world becomes more digitally centered, it’s adapt or die, as Darwin would say—so what are you waiting for?
This is an excerpt from the third edition of Words@Work: A Business Writing Handbook For The Internet Savvy.
Style still counts. Treat all your business email as communication from you to another person or group. Worry about your content and don’t alter what you have to say because the message is being transmitted electronically instead of going on paper. What you write represents you so make it clear and polite. An email letter is still a letter and your reader should be shown the courtesy of being taken seriously as an educated person with good standards of language.
Next time you read or write your e-mail, imagine what it would be like if your letter was the electronic equivalent of an open letter to anyone on the globe, including your boss, the government and your friends and family. Well, you don’t need to have to have a very vivid imagination, because it is!
Nothing is totally private in the contemporary world of e-mail. The technical reasons for this are varied, but the principal causes include the proliferation of network monitoring/tracking software within corporate networks, government searches for illicit on-line content, and the near-universal practice of server backups and archives. Even if you compose and get your e-mail on a non-networked PC, remember that the Internet is a network and most of the servers it passes through backup and archive all content that runs through them, including your e-mail. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that everything you send or receive over the Internet is in the public domain. It is a brutal fact of life that if the government, your boss or your competitor really wants to read your e-mail, they can acquire the technology to do it and some already have and use it routinely.
Even mail you think you may have deleted may reside on some server archive or can be found by a technological wizard who wants to find it badly enough, as several high-profile computer executives have found out to their determent in antitrust or copyright infringement trials where their company was the defendant.
Here is some practical advice on how to handle e-mail. As for what is already out there, just accept the fact that it’s floating out there in cyberspace and move on. You cannot undo what has already been done. By following these simple rules, you can stop worrying whether your e-mailing will get you in trouble and start taking advantage of one of the truly remarkable inventions of our century.
Rules For Safe And Smart Emailing
- · Assume your correspondence will be read by your boss, your spouse, your co-workers, friends, enemies and so forth and write accordingly. A little diplomacy and judgment go a long way toward avoiding problem e-mail.
- · Resist the temptation to send copies of your e-mail to too many people. We all get too much e-mail and any cc mail that causes the reader to ask “Why is this being sent to me?” should not have been sent. There is too much room for misunderstanding if an email is not received in a crystal clear context.
- · Don’t ever email jokes (no matter how seemingly funny) or ‘politically incorrect” messages. Save them for face to face discussions with friends.
- · Avoid the temptation to hide behind the supposed anonymity of e-mail sent to even the technically unsophisticated. Headers usually give the sender away and easy-to-use network software can trace the origins of almost any e-mail indefinitely.
- · Haste is dangerous, especially in a convenient and instantaneous medium like global Internet e-mail. Next time you are tempted to dash off an e-mail motivated by a strong emotion like anger or greed, whether to a friend, foe or stranger, don’t hit the “send” button until you have had a chance to calm down. Place what you have written on hold to revisit after a few hours or even a whole day. If it still seems to be the right thing to send, revise it using the other rules you find here before sending it.
- · Resist the temptation to reply to unwelcome and unsolicited e-mail. It usually encourages mailers to send you more. Ignoring it is usually the best policy. An exception to this rule is when the mail is slanderous, libelous, threatening, fraudulent or simply untrue and may have been disseminated to a large audience. In this case, send a polite but firm e-mail telling the sender you offended by his or her untruth and warning the sender to cease and desist. If it continues, do not engage in continued nasty exchanges, but take appropriate, measured and legal steps to deal with the matter as the situation might warrant. In the case of threatening or fraudulent e-mail, do not reply to the sender. Inform the proper legal authorities and follow their advice.
- · Style still counts. Despite the convenience of e-mail, the conventions of good and polite communications that respect your reader have not been repealed. You demonstrate respect to your reader when you start with a greeting (Dear Madam, Sir, Bill, Mary, etc.), end with an appropriate closing, (“Sincerely” or “Regards” are appropriate words in business communications). Also, it is good e-mail etiquette to identify yourself by signing your letter with an electronic e-mail signature. This is usually just a little file created in your e-mail software that includes your name, title, email, web site and only the briefest marketing message, if at all. Keep it to four short lines or fewer.
- · Remember that an e-mail letter is a still a letter and should follow the common-sense rules of good letter writing. Have a purpose for writing, write with your reader in mind and take pains to make your mail well-composed, organized and concise. Even an informal note should be well-written and never sloppy. or cryptic.
- · Mind your personal and business image because everything you write is an expression of you and your business and you don’t have a second chance to make a decent e-mail impression. Use your spell-checker and proofread what you have checked after the spell check and before you send it since spell check can lead inadvertently to the wrong word. If your spell checker does not allow you to do this conveniently, change software to one that does. Also, if grammar is not your strong suit, it is OK to use a commercial grammar checker. It may make your writing bland if you follow it too slavishly, but it will also make it grammatical.
By following these simple rules, you can stop worrying whether your e-mailing will get you in trouble and start taking advantage of one of the truly remarkable inventions of our century.
Jeffrey R. Orenstein, Ph. D. is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Suncoast Digital Press, an eBook-age book publisher in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. During his previous 25 year career as a political science professor at a large Midwestern state university, he wrote several textbooks and public policy analyses for Harper Collins, Praeger, Kendall Hunt and others and scores of policy monographs for professional meetings.
Since retirement from his first career, he has been a newspaper editor, author of business articles in national magazines and guest editorialist in daily newspapers.
He is the publisher and executive editor of Living On The Suncoast, a glossy lifestyle monthly magazine in the greater Sarasota area of Southwest Florida. Feel free to e-mail your questions or comments about business writing to him at jorenstein@
Orenstein has a B.A. from Ohio State University and an M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, all in political science.
If you are a business owner, you are going to want to try out different ways to promote your business. Promotion for your business is a necessity because it will allow you to get the exposure that you need to have the utmost success. If you did not promote for your business, most people would not even know that your business exists. There are lots of everyday ways to promote your business, some of which you may never have given a thought.
Create a Website
It seems as though this is a must these days. You should create a website for your business that is full of compelling content and then promote it like crazy on social media. It does take time, effort, and an initial investment to get your website up and running, but it will be worth it as a way to showcase all that you have to offer to the potential customers. Your website should appear to be quite professional and it should contain important information, such as the name of your business, contact info, and what you provide. Give people a reason to do business with you by showing them what they can get from you. All types of businesses have websites and they use it for promotional purposes.
You can customize all sorts of products with your business name and logo to spread the word about what you have to offer. You may want your business name featured on t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and even custom umbrellas. If you do choose this route, go for bright and bold colors that will stand out to the human eye. You want to grasp the attention of others so that you can get them interested in the name of your business and ultimately have them visit your website to possibly buy items that you are selling or services you are offering. While this may seem like superfluous advertising, it is actually a major component of brand development.
Traditional Business Cards
Along with other promotional efforts, traditional business cards can serve a good purpose, allowing you to spread the word about your business. There are lots of websites that give you the opportunity to customize business cards to your liking at an affordable rate. Once you have them custom made with your business information listed, you can start passing them around. You should also give them to customers to hand out to their friends.
Offer Special Discounts
Everyone loves a good deal so why not offer special discounts to new customers? If you are offering a good discounted deal for merchandise or services, people will more than likely be willing to give your business a try. If they end up loving what you have to offer, you will have gained more loyal customers who will continue to do business with you. Aside from discounts, you can also hold special contests on a monthly basis to gain more exposure for the business.
Being a business owner is definitely challenge, especially when you have to spend lots of time promoting your business. However, there are plenty of everyday ways that you can promote your business without having to do too much work. For example, when you have customized products and people are wearing them, they are actually helping you to promote your business because they are wearing gear with your business logo on the front. These are just some of many promotion techniques that all business owners should try.
If you are currently working on putting together a new startup company, you are going to have to take the initiative to advertise and market the business in a promotional effort. The purpose of marketing would ultimately be to help build your business from the ground up, allowing you to gain exposure and new potential clients and customers who will do business with you. There are numerous promotional products that can be used for startup companies. You can give these products a try to reap all of the benefits.
Choosing a Product
Choosing a product for your business is the most important thing. You want a product that is actually going to represent your startup in a good way. There are so many products that can feature your business name or logo in a marketing sense, so you should choose wisely. Some options that you will have include t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, mugs, and personalized tote bags. You can create customized hooded sweatshirts with a graphic design that represents your business. These sweatshirts can be worn by all kinds of customers and as they wear the comfortable sweatshirt, they are basically walking around as walking billboards. You can decide on just about anything because the type of product you choose is your decision.
Printed Business Cards
You can customize your own business cards, have them printed out, and start passing them around. There are lots of online websites that make this undeniably easy to do. Interestingly enough, this is one of the oldest forms of advertising for a business and it is still a tried and true method to this day. Every business owner should have promotional business cards on hand at all times because they do come in handy. You can place them at the front of your business so that customers can grab a few and pass them out to their friends. You can also ask to place them in other local stores and shops around the area. Try to create eye-catching and professional printed business cards so that they are visually appealing and actually get positive attention from possible customers.
You may not have realized this but offering coupons is much like offering a promotional product for your startup. Aside from coupons, you can also offer discount specials to get people to buy something from your business. The coupons or discount codes should include the name of your business so that people automatically know what store the code is for. It is important to remember that customers enjoy sweet deals and discounts. If this is what you are offering, they will likely try out something that you have to offer, and you can end up gaining loyal customers from this.
There are so many promotional products that you can use for your startup. It is always good to use a few of these promotional products, especially if you are trying to increase traffic for your business and gain more customers. These marketing efforts can prove to be very worth it in the long run, especially when it comes to building a loyal base of customers who will continually choose to do business with you. Get creative when it comes to the promotional products and choose items that you think represents your business in the best way.
Ten years ago, advertising was pretty straightforward. You could buy ads on television, the radio or in the newspaper. If you wanted to get really fancy you could also do direct mail. Today, though, there are a lot more options that are available to you. So how do the ad agencies keep up with the changing trends in marketing, promotions and advertising?
Some advertising agencies have dug in and continue to specialize in “traditional advertising.” They specialize in television, radio and newspapers. Some agencies are choosing to specialize in “niche” advertising, which means that they are choosing to take on just one kind of promotions or marketing.
The benefit of working with a specialty or boutique agency is that you know that you are working with an expert. Specializing means that the people you work with are going to know their stuff inside and out. This can be a huge benefit to you because you won’t have to worry about the lines getting blurred as you work to come up with a marketing campaign for your product.
A lot of advertising agencies have chosen to eschew the traditional idea of specializing in a specific type of promotions or advertising. They are choosing, instead, to become a hybrid agency. This means that in addition to doing traditional promotions they are also well versed in internet based advertising and marketing.
The benefit of working with an agency of this type is that it cuts down on the work that you have to do. You don’t have to worry about how well what one agency wants to do will coordinate with what another agency will do. Because all of your campaigns are happening under the same route, they will be more cohesive than they would be if you went the specialty route.
How Do You Remain Competitive
This is going to depend largely upon the type of client that you are trying to attract? Typically, though, the agencies that can offer a variety of different promotional styles are going to fare better in the current market. The Internet isn’t a fad, it’s a way of life and business professionals understand that.
As the owner of an ad agency, it is definitely to your benefit to offer a variety of different advertising methodologies and expertise. This helps keep your clients “in house.” Why would you encourage a client to spend money somewhere else when they can spend it with you?
The advertising field has changed dramatically over the last decade. There are two ways to react to this change—you can choose to go hyper-specialized or you can expand your knowledge base and attract more clients. Which route feels best to you?
Looking for ways to create better content for the web? Want to write concise and powerful articles that get response? Need to create quality blog posts that don’t get ignored? If yes, then go through the following five tips on writing top notch web content:
#1: Focus on Relevance
Whether you’re creating content for your website or blog, it has to be highly relevant. You’re after all creating content for your target audience, so what’s the use writing about your mother’s cooking or your brother’s dog if it doesn’t relate to your topic?
Web readers not only want information, they want relevant information. The first rule of creating better content is to create content that your readers want. You just can’t make them read your content if it they’re not interested in what you’re writing.
#2: Be Quick to Introduce Your Purpose
A lot of web writers make the mistake of dragging the article and creating suspense before reaching to the actual purpose of the article. When you’re writing content for the web, always remember that your readers have a short attention span.
So no matter what type of content you’re writing, you should not only have a purpose, but you should also be quick enough to introduce it to your readers right in the first paragraph. In short, get to the point in the beginning so that you can expand upon it.
#3: Use Action Words
People consume content on the web with an aim or purpose in their mind. They want to change something about their life or learn something new. So if your content doesn’t give them the motivation to act on the information you’re giving them, it’s useless.
This is why it’s important that you focus on using action words. Tell your readers exactly what you want them to do. Take them by hand and guide them by using an active voice, instead of a passive one. Keep the flow moving.
#4: Leverage Bullet Points
More of your readers will skim or scan through your content when compared to those who read. Why? Because not everybody has the time or inclination to read everything you write. People move from one piece of content to another quickly on the web.
By using bullet points, you make it easy for your readers to scan through your content and stop by any point that interests them. Short lists are great when it comes to creating web content. They’re way better than big chunky paragraphs.
#5: Write Short, Snappy Sentences
Writing short sentences is an art, but it can be learned. The reason why you should aim at keeping your sentences short is because you’ll be able to convey your ideas swiftly without wasting a lot of space and your readers’ time.
Work on writing in a concise manner as it not only shows your writing prowess but also makes your overall content appealing. Try and use only those words that actually contribute to your content and cut out any unnecessary ones. Check out MediaWhiz on Twitter and see how they present quality information in a concise manner.
Creating content for the web is no rocket science. If you know how to talk, then you know how to write good web content. It really is that simple.
It’s hard for any small business to get the leg up on their bigger competitors. It is a sad but simple fact that people know the big companies exist and are often unaware of the existence of many smaller companies. The huge marketing campaigns larger companies can afford to create doesn’t help either. The only thing you can do is try to advertise yourself, but if you attempt to compete with bigger companies by marketing in traditional media you will fail. Thankfully guerrilla marketing is a great alternative for businesses wanting to grab attention and a loyal customer base.
Guerrilla marketing refers to any form of advertisement that is unconventional and does not use traditional media such as television, magazines and newspaper. As such, what you can do with guerrilla marketing is limited only by your imagination, and is often low cost enough that even the smallest of businesses can afford to do it. The downside is that when not done right a guerrilla marketing campaign can blow up in your face. It’s best to get some general liability insurance to be safe, but if you want to attract attention you need to take the risk.
An example of how guerrilla marketing was used can be seen in the case of The Blair Witch Project, a now famous and profitable film. At the time though it was simply a low budget affair assembled by a group of college students. In order to build hype for the movie, they decided to make a website claiming it was a true story. It included mocked up missing person reports, lore on the Blair Witch and even interviews with ‘the authorities’. The site was so realistic that even now some people believe that the movie was real, and it certainly got a lot of people into theaters.
When was the last time you saw a mainstream marketing campaign decide that the best way to advertise a product was to make two huge plastic mock ups of political candidates, grow some ivy on their head as though it was hair, then have people vote between them on who has the best ‘hair’? And yet, this is exactly what happened in Cow Wow’s guerrilla marketing campaign to advertise their fertilizer. This was so out there that the client actually cancelled the entire campaign at one point for fear it would all go wrong, but an amendment on how much the heads would tour and the nature of the voting changed their minds. A good thing too as the unique and frankly bizarre advertising stunt netted a lot of customers for the company.
Guerrilla marketing can even be used to provoke a very specific response from a very specific party. When it comes to advertising for a small business this is usually not necessary, but for charity work it can be invaluable. In Paris, the Medecins du Monde ran a campaign where they simply handed out easy to assemble tents to as many of the homeless who couldn’t find shelters as they could. The sheer mass of tents springing up prompted a strong response from the government, who gave the homeless a great deal of support after that. This just goes to show how even a simple campaign can have a huge response when done right.
You don’t need a lot of money to run a marketing campaign, and if your aim is to compete with larger corporations that approach is counter productive to begin with. A creative guerrilla marketing campaign is often the perfect way for a small business to attract lots of attention and customers.
With the consumer world turning to the internet for just about everything, it’s important for companies, both large and small, to maintain a web presence. Understanding how to create a website is the first step, but you will also need to maintain your website, build a blog and use a few other marketing methods to increase your online presence. Here are a few quick tips to help with your website build and marketing.
Building and Maintaining Your Website
If you don’t already have knowledge of web design or you just don’t have the time, you can outsource the actual website build to a professional design. You want to do your research first, so that you understand all the possibilities. Your web designer can set your site up on an easy to use content management system, such as WordPress. This will make it very easy to manage your site and create a blog.
Your actual website needs a homepage, about, contact and other pages for any services or products you offer. These shouldn’t change much, but your blog should. The best way to create your blog is with a page on the same domain as your website. The link will look like this: http://www.yourdomainname.com/blog.
The blog will give you the ability to post regular information about your company, any current sales or discounts, the industry or anything you want. With up-to-date information, you can not only attract more visitors, but also keep them coming back often.
Marketing Your Site
You don’t need a large budget to properly market your website. With your blog, you will gain the opportunity for visitors to share your posts on social networks and all over the internet. This type of marketing is very powerful and as long as you post high quality content, on your blog, visitors will share your posts. You can also share your own posts on social network sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Using content is a very cheap way to market your website and create authority in your industry at the same time. Even if you’re not a good writer, you can hire someone to write for you. One of the best ways to use content and gain a large amount of visitors to your website is through guest blogging. Just write (or hire someone to write) a guest article and contact a high traffic blog, in your industry. If they use the post, you will get to put a link back to your site in the resource box, which can lead to a large amount of traffic.
Another very productive method to help your company stay connected with customers and continually market to them is to build a list. You can give away a simple free gift, such as a free digital report or something downloadable, if a visitor subscribes to your newsletter. This method of marketing is very cheap and you can use an autoresponder to stay in touch with your subscribers, announce sales or even launch a new product.
Just putting your company name on a website won’t bring in new clients, but a professionally designed site with the right marketing will. If your company can’t be found online, even if your products don’t sell well online, you could be losing customers. Investing in a website will give you another way to connect with potential customers and you can easily maintain and marketing your site without spending much cash.
Online advertising, especially targeted ads, has evolved over the years. It all started with banner adverts. Websites with a lot of traffic were paid a good sum by advertisers based on the CPI model. This led to the creation of ad networks.
The ad networks started to face problems. Advertisers were clueless about the exact number of impressions they would get in a particular month, and some website publishers didn’t have enough impressions for an order to be completed. Some cases had publishers exceeding the number of impressions than the buyers were demanding.
The improvement in online advertising came when Yahoo introduced keyword advertising. The concept was that companies and advertisers would pay on a per click basis, and each click would redirect the visitor to their particular website/blog.
Advertisers could now pay according to the selected keywords. Google reinvented this concept later on. Google adsense was created. This ad network allowed advertisers to place the ads on their desired websites. They were allowed to pick the keywords, and Google displayed ads on pages that were relevant with the keyword. Adsense is still widely used by advertisers and publishers.
Gmail was introduced with similar online ad technology. However, it was dependent on emails to check the relevancy of the keywords to display relevant ads. Ads were also introduced on video sharing websites, with YouTube offering pay per click ads as well.
Today, more relevant ads are displayed to search engine users. Companies and entrepreneurs have managed to invent technologies that personalize the ads displayed based on the consumer experience. An example is Phorm technology. Today, more relevant ads are displayed to search engine users. Companies and entrepreneurs have managed to invent technologies that personalize the ads displayed based on the consumer experience. An example is Phorm technology.Phorm is a leader in online marketing software in which ads can be targeted specifically to the online user. These programs provide users with custom advertisements instead of general sidebar links that really nobody clicks on.
Relevant ads have made online advertising much more effective. Advertisers are now able to reach their targeted customers, and spend according to the number of impressions they receive. Bidding (real-time) is also on the high. A report from IDC (International Data Corporation) suggests that 1/3 spaces will be bought for online adverts till 2015. .
The ads displayed today are able to grasp consumer’s attention. Large ad units which display rich creative graphics and content are growing quickly across the internet. Online ads are now also being displayed in large units on smartphones. Advertisers have also come a long way. They are now creating ads that engage the readers. Ads now include videos, polls and other engaging content that makes the visitor want to ‘check them out’. The way things are going, the relevancy will continue to increase in the future.
As we all know, making the first move in business has its advantages. What not everyone realizes is just how effectively you can leverage this situation in terms of SEO. I’ve been doing SEO for years and I also own an online pool store, so when I got wind of a particular big opportunity, I jumped at it. The results were impressive.
The quick back story here relates to the Americans With Disabilities Act. After being signed into law by George H.W. Bush, pieces of the legislation have slowly been rolled out. When I heard the deadline for assisted pool access was being given a deadline of March 2012, the light bulb went off. This was going to be big.
The main form of assisted access that would meet these regulations was hydraulic pool lifts. This was a very small industry with only a couple fairly large players who never had much competition, because, let’s be honest, how many of these things have you ever seen? But, now there were going to be 300,000 pools in the United States that needed a pool lift.
The Plan, Part 1 – On Site Changes
First off, we needed to carry the major lines of pool lifts if we wanted to have any chance of reeling in web traffic to our store. We added the most popular products from the major players and made sure we had unique content about the lifts on each page. Google is not a big fan of duplicate content, so we got away from the manufacturers’ descriptions and wrote our own descriptions. We made sure to have page titles that included the brand, model number and major keywords for the category, namely “pool lifts”, “swimming pool lifts” and “ADA pool lifts”. We added a category for pool lifts in our main navigation and also added a link to the main pool lifts page off of our home page.
Aside from products, we wanted to make sure we were set up as an educational source as well. Considering ADA compliant lifts cost somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000, we knew there would be plenty of potential customers who wanted to do their homework before making that kind of investment. So, we did our homework and wrote our own educational guide. Again, we avoided copying directly from the ADA site, as Google would see that as duplicate content and it wouldn’t help us out in that capacity. While it wasn’t perfect, what we had for content definitely set us up as well as the top couple players.
The Plan, Part 2 – Link Building
For the average business owner, the unknown key to ranking high in Google is link building, that is, finding high quality, relevant links to your pages. We knew pool lifts wasn’t the sexiest topic, but we knew we could at least find a few places that would likely link to us – we just had to figure out where they were and what our pitch would be.
We had an established relationship with a site called Swim University, which has a blog about anything pool related, so we reached out to the site owner and offered an explanatory post about these new regulations. Shortly thereafter, we had a link live on that site (which you can see here). This was a good start, but we still wanted more links to beef up our status. We found more guest writing opportunities on sites dealing with disabilities, as we found them to be receptive to our cause (such as this Cerebral Palsy site). We also maintained two high ranking blogs of our own for Swimtown, so we created posts on those that linked back to our pages. Finally, when we realized it was difficult to get listed on a lot of other disability resource sites and pages, we figured we’d build our own. We put up a directory to help people find qualified installers (a real need for the end customer) and promoted it to installers so they would get themselves listed. The end result of that is our site poolliftinstallers.org, which has a big ad for Swimtown on it and also links back to our site. Two birds, one stone.
This was by no means perfect, but the original deadline for the lifts was March 15th, 2012 and was later pushed back to May 18th and once again to January 31, 2013. Needless to say, the waters have gotten deeper and more competitive since that second deadline. But, a large number of lifts got moved by that second deadline and as we were ranked in the top 3 for our main keywords (and a huge number of other lift related terms), we saw some huge benefits from our efforts. Here’s a snapshot of the traffic.
Obviously, the huge rush was at the first deadline as every hotel owner and commercial pool in the country panicked to either buy a lift or learn more, and the graph above is just organic search traffic that included the word “lift”. We peaked the week of the deadline with 1,717 lift related visits, but typically were getting 400-600 per week (due to Google not providing all search data, our true traffic numbers were likely substantially larger than this). I’m not at liberty to say exactly how much revenue this turned into, but I can say pool lifts have been a huge contributor to our sales being up more than 250% year to date for 2012.