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More Thoughts on Online Marketing

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(I’ve been reading a lot about online marketing strategies lately. Turns out it is really complicated stuff! I can say that with authority because, after all, I’m an industry professional…)

Seriously, though. We’ve been advising our clients for quite some time that getting noticed on the web takes a trifle more than hiring us to design a site for you and calling it a day. Bearing this in mind here is (yet another) two item list of important dos and don’ts fer gettin’ yourself noticed on the web. 1. Don’t ask us to design a web site for you all in Flash and then, months later, ask us to optimize it for SEO. This seems like a simple one for folks in the industry, but the scenario has recurred so many times in our client histories that we can’t seem to mention it often enough. Many times we’re asked to design a site for a project where a real-world example that the client likes is referenced. Often that site is a beautifully executed Flash web site with soundtracks, animation, video, etc. At this point, we usually sit down with our clients and explain that the site they’re in love with was entirely authored in Flash. Flash is a web authoring application which can create visually lavish work but which, historically, has not allowed the site to index well on Google’s search engines. (All this, however, is changing, as Google recently announced that it has started to index Flash content. See this post…) Now — don’t get me wrong — we LOVE Flash in our office. Most of our sexiest sites were designed in Flash. However, they do have their drawbacks from an SEO perspective. Despite our best efforts at apprising our clients of these drawbacks, though, it has happened three times in the last year that we’ve been asked, after the fact, to offer SEO advice on web sites we’ve designed entirely in Flash. If SEO is a principal concern of a client’s, then that client is probably best to stay away from an all-Flash web site. So, again, before you hire us to design your site, think about what your SEO goals might be for the site, not just now but several months from now…. 2. Do understand that designing a site is only the first step in getting noticed online. And SEO is great, too, but it’s only part of an online web presence strategy… I’ve talked about this in previous posts, but again, these are such critical issues for our clients these days, that I’ll harp on a few issues again. First, let me begin by saying that we believe in SEO at Splat Productions. And, although we leave hardcore SEO services to the experts we partner with, we do offer an “SEO Pre-Flight” package for all our web clients, which ensures that your site has been prepared, submitted and cataloged according to Google’s protocol for webmasters. (Ask us about this and we’ll tell you more…) Having said all this, though, we think SEO is only part of the solution to getting your site noticed on the web. As mentioned in previous posts, site owners really need to be thinking of a comprehensive marketing strategy, in order to increase the chances of more (and better) prospects getting to their site. Remember, the ultimate goal is to push people to your site from as many places as possible.So, then, besides hiring an SEO guy, web clients should also consider the following:

  • Increase traffic through reciprocal linking. Suppose you have a document transcription service for lawyers. And suppose you use a courier service to pick those documents up from your clients. Get that professional associate to link to your site from theirs and you do the same for them. Got a business blog? The blogosphere is built on the concept of reciprocal linking. Just look along the lefthand side of this or many other blogs.
  • Develop an opt-in email list and blast to it. Regularly. Direct marketing on the web isn’t so different from print. Developing an electronic mailing list and reaching out to your customers and prospects with well-written news and promotions is a surefire way to increase hits to your site.
  • Make a video and post it on YouTube. Get a MySpace page. Social networking sites like MySpace offer cheap ways to publicize your business without spending much cashola. As always, though, content is king. People won’t talk about your business if you don’t have something interesting to say…
  • Do some cheap PR. Or hire a pro to do PR for you… Did you know that there are PR services which businesses can employ to distribute web-based press releases really inexpensively? We’ve written a couple in-house and, whenever we do it, we see our site traffic go up. Pricing for online press release distribution is quite reasonable. We’ve used PrimeZone in the past…

So, there you have it: a short list of dos and don’ts for internet publicity hounds. I’m sure we’ll be talking about these issues some more in future posts…

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