Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Local SEO Lead Generation: Mining Gold In Your Own Backyard

Because search engine optimizers (SEOs) and marketeers (SEMs) live in the web world, we often overlook the opportunities in our own community. Almost every commercial outlet has a website that’s been collecting digital dust since ’02. Most of these business owners don’t recognize the expanding use of local search and personalized search to find businesses close by.

Local sites can include (at no additional cost, btw), printable maps showing the location of the outlet, written directions, a snapshot of the store front and other helpful features that drive residents of the region to actually visit the local outlet.

Local search is growing by leaps and bounds and local businesses need SEO. Here are some suggestions for generating some local buzz-worthy biz.

1. Advertise in the local newspapers. Yes it’s a dying medium but it’s also one of the best way to reach local business owners. And because the local rag is headed south you can often negotiate better terms for more insertions. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

2. Teach an adult education course on SEO. Solid gold. The folks who sign up understand the importance of on-line marketing and you (in the context of an authority on optimization) are bound to pick up a few clients over the course of the course.

3. Contact local service organizations. The Elks, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club – your community has branches of these service organizations that meet monthly for lunch. And they’re always looking for guest speakers. So, not only do you have the chance to demonstrate your knowledge before community and business leaders, you get the rubber chicken on the house.

4. Join the local Chamber of Commerce. The crème de la crème of the local business community and one of the best networking-lead generation steps you can take. (As a side benefit, your local CoC should offer health coverage at group rates – a little money-saver.)

One final suggestion: In all your local promotional efforts, offer a FREE SITE ANALYSIS. It’s something you’d do any way and it immediately creates a value-added offer. Be straight up in your analysis. If the site’s all set, say so. Don’t use SEO-babble to create a problem where none exists.

However, offer prospects a menu of on- and off-site optimization opportunities. Low cost options like adding revenue streams (there are 10 of them), content syndication and, of course, optimization for local search.

Most small business owners are unaware of the power of the web and lots of those business owners operate in your neighborhood. So, when prospecting for prospects, consider local businesses.

You may even get a free lunch out of the deal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Best Ecommerce Website EVER: Amazon Brings Web 2.0 to Life

  • Okay, so it’s We’ve all shopped there. Even my 83-year-old father has a single click checkout PIN. Amazon, as we all know, owns a great deal of space in the e-commerce sector, expanding from books to DVDs and now, (blushing) sexual novelties. Don’t ask me the site search word. I didn’t go there.

    Here’s the thing. Jeff Bezos and the creative minds at Amazon have long employed what are now considered standard issue on ever pushcart site operating on a shoestring. But Amazon, with its far-horizon thinking, saw Web 2.0 long before the rest of the digital realm and integrated the basics of Web 2.0 when we were all dully clicking from one static, one-way site to another.

    Web 1.0
    The first incarnation of the web was pretty straightforward. It was static. It wasn’t very interactive (unless you made a purchase) and it was, for the most part, a one-way street. The site presented its products and you made your buying decision. Period.

    Today, with the deep penetration of DSL and cable into delivery of the web, site designers and webmasters can add a lot more. And Amazon is the perfect example of just how effective these new age principles work.

    Web 2.0
    Web 2.0 is all about engagement – engaging the site visitor. Let’s review how Amazon employs 2.0 tactics.

    Personalized search results
    First, dynamic web pages enable Amazon to personalize my Amazon home page based on my buying history. I receive recommendations generated by items previously bought. Oh, and I’m also greeted by name – all from the big, juicy d-base maintained by Amazon.

    Of course, you can by-pass the recommendations and employ simple dropdown menus to narrow your search.

    Visitor Interaction
    Nobody does it better.

    At Amazon, buyers are encouraged to leave reviews. Heck, if you buy a piece of junk, trash it on Amazon. You’ll feel better and total strangers will be better informed.

    Suggested Products
    If you buy a piece of electronics gear, Amazon will automatically up sell by providing a list of related items and other gear required to hook-in the gizmo – USB cables, e.g.

    Amazon provides:

    other items purchased by those who searched the item you’re considering



    free shipping and other useful information intended to keep the Amazon visitor on site longer. Even when you log off, the tireless hits you with one last list of suggestions worth your time.

    I even get a golden box filled with specials targeted especially at me – items on sale and on my list of reading interests.

    Easy Out
    I can save items in my wish list and return later to purchase them. And once I’ve determined my purchase, I can employ Amazon’s One-Click Checkout. Man, making it easy to buy with confidence boosts sales.

    Daily Specials
    There’s always something new on sale at Amazon. Changes daily so I’m tempted to return to see what’s new today – even if I’m not in a buying mood.

    Ease of use, changing content, easy navigation, personalized pages based on an active d-base that creates pages on the fly, one-click out the door – Amazon is doing it right when it comes to on-line commerce.

    And let me just say that I don’t work for Amazon, nor am I in any way affiliated with the company (unless Mr. Bezos would like to drop me a line), so this assessment of Amazon is based on personal experience and my experience with Web 2.0 features.

    Amazon has it all.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Intuitive SERPs

Search engines, as we know them today, will soon join the heap of outdated technologies along with 8-tracks, VHS and DVD. Why? Because search engines collect data on our browsing habits and produces unique results pages based on our past browsing histories.

If I type in “dogs” as my query word, I’ll get everything from pet stores to the history of the basset hound. And, if I’m using one of the growing number of Chinese search engines, I’ll come up with some recipes, as well. Unfortunately, my broad query provides thousands of results, often requiring me to refine my search to whatever it is I’m looking for. “Dogs” as a query just won’t cut it.

However, that search engine will have in its database a long history of my queries. The SE will know that I order dog chow on-line in bulk and will (1) bring up outlets where I’ve previously purchased dog chow and (2) offer a few hundred SERPs of similar sites to those I’ve frequented in the past.

Amazon employs this approach to a more “intuitive” search engine my scouring my buying history and offering “MY RECCOMMENDATIONS.” So, my Amazon home page will display different products than those shown on your home page. Very convenient and obviously very effective.

So, the days of the “throw anything out there and let the user decide” will soon come to an end, at least as the default mode. Of course, you’ll always have the option of “SHOW ALL.” This will change the fundamentals of how users search.

Looking for a specific item or type of item. Personal search.

Want the full spectrum? Search all.