From my and my company’s background experience, a 101 list of web marketing tips, ideas and best practices. I tried to cite as many websites and other respectable reading sources as possible:
- Don’t use site-wide links. They are highly deprecated in the latest algorithm changes, and may even lead you to a penalization of your website’s SERPs. As a measure of precaution, I recommend a maximum of one site-wide (no matter the number of pages) for every 40 to 50 unique links from 40 to 50 unique domains.
- Use the title and meta description tags as wise as possible. They are your best choice of avoiding supplemental pages. Try to make each page with it’s own unique title and description, and never repeat more than 20-25% of the title and description tags content on different pages. Use a limited number of characters (8-10) in the title tag, and put the most important of them, relevant to each page, at the beginning.
- Read my previous post on 14 search marketing questions, asked by Digitalpoint members.
- Try to use H tags (1,2,3 etc) at the top-most possible location in the pages of your website, in the source order, and NOT visual order.
- Don’t be a Copycat. Don’t write news or posts just to have something for the big Google. Nowadays, duplicate-content filters are continuously evolving and even if you gain something on the short term you will loose it later. Try to be innovative.
- Use a pen and paper. Always have an agenda and a pen around. Note down every crazy idea you think of … Most of us have truly great subjects to write about, but during the day we forget, busy with other issues. I always note my ideas. At the end of a day, I am amazed to see a 20 subjects list to write about, versus 1 or two that I can come up with at writing time.
- Suggest “related websites” in your website’s Alexa information page. That will bring some traffic.
- If you want that early search engine boost, don’t just buy a new domain and invest $10K on the website design and development. You are better off buying a 5 year domain and investing $5K on the website. Age matters a lot and it will matter good years from now on.
- If you own a website that contains 80% Google and you are always on the lookout for new content/news to write about, please and I mean PLEASE read Ionut’s Google System. He’s still a student at a University in Bucharest (I live in Bucharest, so I have to meet him soon) and he can write all those stuff about it. Imagine him 10 years from now. He’s great on finding every bit of information, bug, unreleased service or any other thing about Google.
- Try to build other websites that revolve around your primary niche. Use them to better market and infuse brand and traffic into your primary website. I’m not talking about building scraper websites. Build quality content ones, and invest money and time and work hours in them. But in the end, just make them a vehicle that you will use to better market your primary website.
- Use Google’s, Yahoo’s and MSN’s(that’s the Moreover ping server which will ping MSN) sitemap services. Not only that it will provide you with invaluable server and website data, but it will get your pages in their index faster.
- If your website is in DMOZ, and Google and MSN (Live.com) show the DMOZ title and description, and that doesn’t work for you (most of the time, the DMOZ information for your website sucks) just bypass it and use your own ones. MSN and Google both support this function.
- Don’t ignore Google’s, Yahoo’s, Live’s and Ask’s image search functions. Most of the times, you can get a higher traffic from the image search engines then from the usual search, especially if you have a content rich website. Just a reminder for you: use the title attribute on links that surround the images, and use the ALT attribute on the image tags themselves. Also, always remember to rename your images with relevant descriptive words (a maximum of 4 words works best).
- Have a look at the websites I read (Bloglines), and subscribe to their feeds. Read them regularly.
- If you use the Adsense, YPN! or adCenter contextual ads on your website, try to optimize them. Don’t just insert them in your website and leave them. Work with them, change the position, the ad layout, the colors, the content around them. And remember, that at least for Adsense, the ad that’s placed in the highest position possible in the source’s order, will yield the highest income per click.
- Use affiliate programs once your website has started to receive some quality traffic. Depending on your niche, affiliate programs are a much better way to convert your traffic, then all the other advertising methods like contextual networks, banners, links etc. Commision Junction is a good way to start your research.
- Effectively lead your readers to your MDA (Most Desired Action). That may be a newsletter box, a banner, an Adsense etc. Place your MDA right below comments, or in the left/right sidebars, or in the header. Experiment. Analyze. React.
- Build an affiliate system for the services products you are offering. Let others do the PR and sales job for you.
- Don’t trust yourself only in RSS feeds. A lot of users are “old-school” and prefer e-mail newsletters. Always offer this option.
- Another good newsletter tactic is to offer a periodical e-mail digest with the top stories in a certain period. A week, a month etc. Maybe some of your visitors missed a few interesting posts/articles.
- Research Robin Good’s Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites (Part 2 and Part 3 available too) and market your RSS feed in all those websites. Don’t know what an RSS feed is ? (if you don’t, you’re either a moron, or you should fire someone).
- Not only submit your RSS feed to different RSS aggregators, but learn to market it.
- Pay attention to your website’s statistics. Install a good analytics tool like IndexTools or Google Analytics. Not only the absolute numbers and statistics (like total users/total visits) count. Try to go deeper and analyze the navigation patterns, entry/exit rates and pages, the new /returning visitors ratio etc.
- Continuously monitor your server stats, referrers and logs, and try to respond to links and articles that reference your website. That shows dedication and it’s another way to market your website indirectly.
- Survey your visitors (you need a free user account to read this article). Learn what your audience and demographics are. Strive to improve your readership towards your website’s business goal. Constantly re-survey.
- Research your market and always be up to date with your competitors. What their prices are, where do visitors go, is the site designed for success ? Look for things like quality code and content, internal/external linking, keyword density in content and links, pages indexed, Google Pagerank, quality titles, headers, site layout and design, conversion process, site load time, dedicated host, what new services they develop and announce etc.
- Learn to increase your leads
Trial and errorTrial and measure: raise awareness of your products and services, convert a visitor into a registered user and/or paying customer, persuade exiting customers to make further business, developing loyalty.
- When commenting a post or story in another website don’t spam: “OMG that’s uber cool”, “Nice post” or something like that. Instead, try to make your comments in a professional way, show what you liked/disliked/agreed/etc, cite other sources, give examples, bring pertinent arguments etc. Remember, comments are an important part of a post/article. Over 60% of the readers will also read the comments.
- Try to associate your name or your website’s name/brand with the big boys on your niche. Regularly comment their articles (don’t spam) and from time to time make reviews of their post on your blog/website.
- Starting your website from scratch, always sucks. Seek out other websites/companies in your industry and try to establish a relationship with them. Try a mutual partnership and/or services recommendations. Don’t try to e-mail/fax your direct competitors.
- Brand and paint your employee’s uniforms and your company’s cars with your logo and website address. This is especially useful if you have a lot of cars. It’s mass-branding and it will get people, thus future clients in your local area accustomed and comfortable with your logo, website and business.
- Put your website address, on every possible internal piece of paper or communication device, including, but being limited to business cards, letterheads, invoices, newspaper and/or other print ads, yellow pages advertisements, receipts etc.
- Always identify yourself with your visitors, especially if you own a publishing website/weblog. Always have your editor name written for articles and it’s best to have a profile too. A picture, a contact method.
- If you ever want to write something that will end up on any of Digg’s, Reddit’s, Netscape’s, Newsvine’s (etc) frontpage, write about how to get on their frontpage, about Firefox, Wordpress or Apple/Mac. No matter what you write about those, people love them and you WILL get on the frontpage, unless it’s un utterly stupid article.
- Pay close attention to Stumbleupon. It’s a great alternative social network. Install their toolbar, and if you write a good post, submit it in their system. Be faithful and fairplay with the other members, help each other, and add friends to your account. Ask other members to review you if they liked what you stumbled upon. StumbleUpon traffic had the highest converting ratio (at least for me), in comparison to Delicious, Digg or Reddit users, which seem to be RSS and AD blind.
- Whenever you have the belief that digging your articles will yield you an increased CTR on your Adsense ads, RSS subscriptions, comments or any other kind of added benefit to your website, you are wrong. I can sustain Davak’s post 80%, except the Alexa part. Digg users do use the Alexa toolbar or plugins that count as the Alexa toolbar. But you won’t notice any increased CTR’s, comments or clicks, no matter the traffic gained from a Digg.
- Reward helpful and valuable users by promoting their work on your homepage, or develop a rating system. Invest 5 minutes of your time to send a quick email or note telling them you appreciate their help.
- At least once per year, ask your visitors what do they think about your website’s content. What would they want to read more ? What new facilities should you offer them ? 10 reasons to survey your visitors.
- Be humble. Don’t forget where you started from, even if you are a professional in your field. No one can be an authority in a certain category if others don’t link to/recommend/interview/blog about.
- Write controversial content that will self-generate links and discussions/comments. Pick on well-known people, criticize loved websites or brands.
- When starting your website, try to gather a few links from already established and trustworthy websites. Stop trying to get your link on websites that are 2 months old like yours. Pay a directory submission in Yahoo!, BOTW, Webxperience!, Skaffe or other well known directories. Paying for a directory submission almost guarantees you a faster response time. DMOZ is an excellent way to start but you can’t get your way in fast and with money, so it’s best to “submit-and-forget-about-it”.
- Build links slowly, to avoid the sandbox. Slowly can mean 5-10 gained backlinks per month.
- When you research websites for IBL’s possibilities, don’t be fooled about high PR pages. What you need is Trust, not a high Pagerank. How can you tell if a website is an authority website or not ? Just find 5 titles of 5 articles on that website and search those phrases in Google. If the website appears on the first page, then it’s a quality website. After that inspect some of it’s backlinks, and try to see if the website is involved in dubious link schemes or has IBLs from irrelevant and spam websites. If it doesn’t, you’re OK to go. Remember, what you need is Trust, and traffic. Not Pagerank.
- A good link building strategy is to comment or participate in discussions or content on other websites in your industry. It’s not enough to have good articles/content. The world has to know about them. Make connections/relations with other jounalists/bloggers/entreprenours in your niche, comment their articles, and links will come by themselves, with time.
- Create posts/articles that help your visitors and attract natural links. “5 tips to …”, “25 easy ways to make …. better” type of articles are the best you can write.
- Write stories/articles in the most highly-ranked websites of your industry and link to your website from the article. I am not talking about article directories, but industry websites that accept content contributions from members. (like ThreadWatch or WebproNews, for example)
- Are you in any good relations with an US faculty/university ? Kindly ask them if you can contribute with something, and request a link from their websites. .edu and .gov links are supposed to carry a little more weight and authority then regular links. An excellent post in SEOmoz on ten ways to earn an .edu link
- Do you write in forums ? Always put your link in your signature, and try to write a few attractive words too, to increase the likelihood of clicks on your links. Many forums like Digitalpoint or V7N, have a latest blog post function. If you have a feed, always use that functions (tip: it works with any feed, not just blogs).
- My best advice for gathering a LOT of easy links is to create and release free templates for any wide-spread, free CMS system out there. Wordpress, PHP Link Directory, Joomla, Mambo, Typo66, Drupal, etc. You are not a designer ? Hire one to build you some templates. What’s the benefit ? That small “template by X” in the footer of the template, that will reside in all the websites that use it. The more functional and beautiful the template is, the more people will use it. Colleen, from Kalina Web Designs as well as Chris from Pearsonified come highly recommended by me and others. It’s not worthwhile to tell you that I too have a design company. We’re too expensive for your ass ;)
- If you are interested about Pagerank rather then relevancy, whenever you submit to directories or other websites that accept links, try to search the most relevant page with the highest PR, and submit to that. Keep the relevancy pretty high on your list though, otherwise they will reject your website for sure. I would and will.
- Viral marketing, word of mouth, tell a friend schemes can get your server on fire in hours. Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. I guess this Threadwatch article about a Mini-Cooper AD will tell you more.
- Ask friends or colleagues in your industry, to review your business website. If you have high profile friends, then you are sure to bring a high traffic and increased authority impact to your website.
- Build a funny 404 page that will make your visitors laugh a bit and maybe will attract some links.
- Don’t overlook linkbaiting: Organize a contest, adding a competitive element to it and offering a prize, post a very cool and funny post (usually a video or a cartoon or something that everyone would understand visually), ideally related to your industry etc.
- Take a 6 months/1 year college class and get a personal page on the university’s .edu domain. Prices are usually cheap
- Issue press releases for your website. No matter the field, a well written press release can not only improve your marketing strategy and gain a few inbound links and link bait from other websites, but can lead to journalists that will cite your company in their offline/online magazine as well as in online news websites like Google News and Yahoo! News.
- If you have a company or product presentation website, try to provide multilingual pages. Helps for ranking in different localized search engines and user experience …
- If you have local conferences or shows, that relate to your industry attend to them. Go yourself, or send an employee. Make business connections, friends, discuss daily issues, socialize. You wouldn’t imagine how much that will help you on the long run.
- If you sell products or services on your website, regularly offer discounts or promotional coupons. That will not only increase sales and visibility but will attract links and stories, especially if you are a well known company. Issue a press release each and every time you offer that discount. Journalists and news search engines like Google News usually pick up the press release if it’s written correctly.
- No matter your writing skill, read a few pointers about how to write a professional press release (excellent 21 pages e-book on the new rules of PR – local mirror) and try releasing a free press release at PressBox, Free Press Release, PrLeap, i-Newswire, 24/7 Press Release, PR.com, PR Free or ClickPress. After you’ll see the benefits, hire a professional press release writing service and do it by the book at PrWeb, PrNewsWire and/ore other global, more authoritative PR distribution services.
- Read the PccPolo 101 marketing tips (local mirror) and the United States Small Business Administration 100+ Marketing Ideas.
- Your customers are always right!
- Thou shalt remember that not only Google has a Bible: The 10 Commandments of Marketing (you need a free user account to read this article).
- Personalize your company’s cars license plates
- Optimize your website’s shopping cart and watch how your average order size increase and your cart abandonment rate decrease.
- Do you have a company or corporate website ? Build a blog for yourself. Blogs are a common way of internal company communication as well as a good source of PR. Clients and possible clients feel close and can interact with your team, online.
- Do you blog ? Pimp your blog with social bookmarking tools, a Feedburner account with the FeedCount option activated to show your RSS subscribers.
- If you have a blog (but not only a blog) take full advantage of Technorati. Technorati offers you the chance to submit 20 tags relevant to your blog, when you create your account, and start to claim each blog/website. Don’t let that stop you. Use Technorati tags, tailored for each post individually. Technorati pages rank extremely well, and it’s a great source of traffic, so it’s best to use it to your advantage. Watch how PrWeb uses Technorati tags in every press release, to it’s advantage. The advantage is that your specific article will show up in searches of each of those tags.
- Whenever you write a post on your blog, or an article in your publishing website, or a press release, try to think search too. Research with Overture and Wordtracker (if you have an account), what are the best words to use in your title. They tend to help a lot, because the title usually is used in the meta description and URL too. That will boost your page a little in the SERPs.
- Plan your blog’s start. When starting a new blog, it’s important to realize that every detail counts. Don’t start with a default theme and ‘hello world’ – like posts and then ask for links. Try to start with 2-3 good written subjects. Always plan ahead and write today, tomorrowâ€™s post.
- Always link from your blog. Link to as many quality websites as possible. Don’t be afraid to “spread your PR thin” or some other BS like that. Link to good posts of people, link to good newspaper articles, and most importantly, link to relatively unknown blogs/websites that feature a good original story. In most cases that will yield you some free PR. Most other websites (like PrWeb or blogs etc) have trackback plugins so they’ll feature your story in their comments.
- Read Quadzilla’s 9 rules about blogging (disregard rule #10) and Seth Godin’s how to get traffic for your blog post.
- Have a blog ? Always ping update services. Here are the Update services I use for this blog (For Wordpress, they are located in Options/Writing/Update Services):
I use the Bloglines, Technorati and Google Blogs pings to update those services immediately and not wait for services like Pingomatic to notify them hourly.
- The quality of the layout and design matters. Don’t release an ugly, badly design website. I would rather wait to do a much better design and release the website afterwards. The same situation for websites that are already online. Got an ugly design ? Redesign the website. It’s proven that a new, more beautiful and accessible design for a website strongly increases the likelihood of bookmarking, re-visiting, and subscribes to the feed and newsletters.
- Write with the user in mind. A BAD post example is like writing a long citation of another blog-post/authority site, and actually writing no opinion of your own. Try to add your own analysis and views of the subject. No matter how many other websites blogged or wrote about a story, they will never write the same post as yours, with the same pro’s and con’s.
- Spell check your content. There’s no other big mistake for a publishing site than users criticizing the misspells. Take those extra 2 minutes to check the spelling errors in Word or even Google.
- Try to get your readers to comment and to involve themselves with the subject at hand. Uses phrases like “I’d like to know what you think?” / “I’m waiting your suggestions about …” etc.
- If you can’t write good stories, don’t. Hire an experienced publisher to do the writing for you. John Scott hired Peter Da Vanzo to blog for V7N’s blog. Not because John can’t, but because he’s not the writing geek and because he wanted a professional blog. That does the job well for him and that can do the job well for you too.
- If you have a website where people can pay online for products, make the job easy. Put a BIG button or text, use multiple processors like 2CO, Paypal etc. Don’t hide the payment link in some footer or sidebar space. Make it visible. If you don’t have your own shopping cart, then let the visitor know that he will be redirected to a 3rd party website, to complete the payment process.
- Make sure the website is consistent in look, feel and design. Nothing is more disturbing to a visitor/customer than feeling as if they have just gone to another website. Keep colors and themes constant throughout the site. And yes, this is a marketing tool too. You DO want your visitors to come back right ?
- If you have a content website, try to keep your posting frequency regular. If you decide to post 1 post per day, then post 1 post per day, every day, every week, 365 days/year. So what if it’s Christmas ? Just don’t make your posting habit irregular. Today 1 post, tomorrow 5 posts, 1 week no posts etc. That disturbs visitors and that will hurt your RSS subscribers and newsletter subscribers numbers.
- If you just invested a lot of cash for a beautiful Web 2.0 design and layout (Web 2.0 hotties and how to design Web 2.0 style), why not make the best of it ? Make sure that it’s a valid XHTML and CSS layout and submit it to the hottest CSS galleries around the world like CSS Beauty, CSS Import, CSS Remix or CSS Vault.
- Always personalize your e-mail responses, newsletters, invitations and any other material that ends up at your existing or possible future clients. Never send a bulk message. Most of the current clients get offended by such messages and the future possible clients will just ignore them.
- Send out a “thank you” email to all existing customers and alert them about your plans for the next year.
- Add interactivity to your website. Visitors need to have a communication highway one way or another. If you still haven’t included a commenting system, a forum, a blog or other interactivity systems to your website, do it now. Always ask questions from your readers and try to involve them in your world.
- Create an (extensive) glossary of terms in your industry, like Aaron did for his industry: search engine marketing. That will set you apart and will make you an authority website in your niche.
- Create powerful anti-spam blocks for your website. No-one will trust your authority if your website is full of spam. Use a Captcha module, or a math module, asking visitors to identify a string or to do a mathematical calculation before their comment gets approved. According to Akismet, 93% of (blog) comments are spam. Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal got hit with 850.000 spam comments since he installed Akismet (thanks for the info Loren).
- Put the accent on visitor experience not traffic. Traffic is useless if you can’t convert it into paying customers. A visitor experience optimized website with 500 visits/day can bring you twice the income then an un-optimized one with 10.000 visits/day.
Global Marketing (emphasizing technical specifications)
Advertising and Affiliate Marketing
RSS & Newsletter Marketing
Analytics Marketing Techniques
Brand and Visibility Marketing
Social Media Marketing
Link Baiting, Link Building and Research
Corporate & e-Commerce Marketing
Design, Content, Accessibility and Usability Marketing
Only 90 ? I want you guys to continue with the last 11.
Have a great week-end.