Last month Halifax hosted the annual conference of the American Association of Port Authorities and wasn’t it a first class event! The Cunard Centre was packed with delegates from throughout North America, and from as far away as Brazil and Africa, for a week of business sessions and Maritime hospitality.
Since my company sells IT services to seaports and given that a large part of our export marketplace was coming to our home town, it was natural that we would be a sponsor. We needed to prepare for this conference in advance because we wanted to make sure we had plenty of visitors to our booth and events.
My colleague Alexandra Fricker, an expert in Internet marketing, took the lead in that regard and came up with a very effective blend of online and traditional marketing, and I was blown away by how effective it was.
When I first met Chris Lambie, the new Herald Business Editor, I explained that I always strive for my column to be about real life business situations where technology plays a part, and to speak from personal experience as opposed to secondary research.
Why not then write a story about my company and something it has done for the local community, suggested Chris.
“You can do that?” I asked. I’m just a computer guy, not a journalist.
You can do whatever you want, explained Chris, provided you give full disclosure. So here goes:
Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer
─ From What is So Rare As a Day in June, by James Russell Lowell
There is something about June that makes living in Nova Scotia worthwhile. The browns of late winter transformed to greens and our spring cleanup out of the way, we can now look forward to warm lazy summer days.
But while things start to slow down for you, there is no reason for your website to hold back. To keep it working effectively for you all summer, you can do a bit of website “spring cleaning” by setting up landing pages.
If your idea of a web presence is just having a website, think again. Although a website is a crucial first step and should serve as a hub for your brand online, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
How are your customers finding your website? Sure, your URL is on your business card and brochure but if your customers don’t know you exist that’s not going to help. Having a presence on the search engines for key phrases relevant to your products and services is vital. So put yourself in your customers shoes and come up with likely key phrases they may type into a search engine and do it yourself to get an idea of where your website ranks.
There are many different components to search engine optimization (SEO), including on-page and off-page optimization (link building), as well as information architecture considerations, so an assessment of your SEO needs is the ideal place to start and get an idea of where you are and where you could go.
Oh and if your customers are looking for your services locally PLEASE go to http://www.google.com/local/add/ and add your business now!
Do you have several unique products that can stand on their own? Separate websites or minisites may be a good strategy for you, segmenting your products and optimizing for search by using unique domain names.
Thinking about having a photo gallery or videos on your website? Using services like Flickr or YouTube can help you spread your brand beyond your website. Don’t forget to tag your photos and videos with relevant keywords and descriptions. Make sure your profile page links back to your website and brand the profile with at least a logo.
Do your customers look to the web for help related to your products or services? If you have the expertise and time a blog is a fantastic way to connect with your customers. Some questions to ask yourself include: What results are you trying to achieve? And who is your target audience?
Having a presence on social networking sites isn’t necessarily vital for every company, yet. It all depends where your customers are. For a quick test, try going to search.twitter.com and typing in the name of the product or service you provide. If you sell mattresses try searching for ‘new mattress’ or ‘new bed’ or if you’re a restaurant try searching “restaurants” near:”Halifax”. See anyone worth talking to?
Is your company B2B? Encourage your staff to use Linkedin. Again, don’t forget to link your profiles back your company website.
This is just the beginning of what you can do to increase your presence on the web, but if any of these tactics make sense for you, the time to start is today. If you have any ideas you’d like to add or any questions please leave a comment!
I was recently flying in from Boston when I noticed my native West Pubnico from the air, clearly distinctive because of its 17 power-generating windmills, and I remarked how it reminded me of looking at Google Earth on my computer.
Then, it occurred to me how strange a thought this was: that reality was reminding me of a virtual image rather than the other way around. It was life imitating illustration, if you will.
That’s pretty much the way it is. Our sense of reality is becoming viewed more and more through the lens of the Internet, and this is something you need to take seriously if you’re depending on your website to carry your message.
Many people think that all you need to do is create a website and people will find it. That’s akin to printing stacks of marketing brochures and putting them in a warehouse, hoping someone will stumble upon them.
Others think that registering their website with search engines will do the trick. That would be like putting an ad in a few newspapers telling people where they can go to get your brochures.
Still others feel that if you put in enough keywords, then that will make your website popular. It will definitely help, but it’s far from the full story.
If not done correctly, it will hurt more than help. Why? Because search engines don’t like to be tricked. If the keywords don’t match the content and follow search engine rules, then the search engines may downgrade the site in their listings.
But help is available. There is a whole industry around making sure your website gets found by the right people via search engines, a process called search engine optimization. Here are some of the important facets of search engine optimization: