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This chapter is from the book

Lessons We've Learned

We delve into the nitty-gritty details of paid search, organic search, usability, conversion metrics, and more in subsequent chapters. This section, however, goes over some of the more common problems that stand out for many companies, as lessons already learned.

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

The "keyword" issue is one that's nearly universal. Companies have one idea about what their keywords are, but after an initial conversation come away with a completely different concept of what their keywords really are, in the eyes of their potential customers.

Sometimes, the keywords that a company initially identifies are not bad, but simply need to be relegated to secondary status in favor of other more commonly used primary keywords. The point is that people use terms for your products and services that may be more everyday words than how you internally label and market your products or services.

Table 1.1 illustrates this concept better than a long-winded explanation. Some of these are real industry examples, some are imaginary (but realistic), but they all illustrate the point.

Table 1.1. List of Initially Proposed Keywords and Improved Keywords

Proposed Keywords

Improved Keywords

For a fast food company: creamy dreamy drink


For a real estate company: property

Home, house

For a rat-killing product: rodenticide

Rat killer, rat poison

For a security construction company: bullet-resistant divider

Bulletproof wall

For a clothing company: outerwear

Coat, jacket

For a leather goods company: handbag

Purse, pocketbook

For a clothing company: polar fleece pullover


For a dogcare company: doggie daycare


For a daycare company: childcare, education

Daycare, preschool

For an automotive parts company: battery maintainer

Battery charger

For a software services company: user's guide

User manual

Sometimes, the business management isn't sophisticated enough to make these keyword mistakes. We often hear things like "my customers can find me if they search my brand name." But what about the potential customer who's never heard about you? Don't you want to capture them, too?

Or worse, what if you have a famous name within your business name, such as Blackbird Shoes or Cayenne Footwear. Perhaps there's a big pro sports team named the Blackbirds, or the hottest new Hollywood actor's last name is Cayenne. You're lost in the shuffle... and even customers who do know your business name can't find you online.

You need to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never heard of your business, and then get visible on those search terms. The point is this: Choose keywords that generate both interest and revenue.

Paid Search Mismatches

It takes a couple of minutes to set up a new paid search advertising account, and a lot of effort after that to optimize it and your website so you're making money instead of spending it.

One of the major issues can be that keywords for ad campaigns are mismatched to actual search keywords.

For example, do a search on something like "pink snow boots" and click some of the paid advertisements. You'll go to websites of retailers, often major national ones, but won't necessarily find your pink snow boots. You might find snow boots (none of them pink) or pink leather boots.

Or maybe you're looking for a new suede coat, so you enter "women's suede coat" in your favorite search engine, only to find advertisers linking to women's down coats, or even men's coats, which is clearly off the mark.

With paid search, you can define rather narrowly exactly what the campaign will be, for which keywords your ad will appear, and which pages you'll link to on your website.

If you have this type of mismatch, you're

  • Not getting a sale from the ad
  • Paying for the keyword mismatch
  • Potentially negatively impacting your brand due to the mismatch, because of frustrated website visitors

It's a lose-lose-lose situation, and one that can be fixed easily. Our general rule of thumb is to use broad matches for keywords and website pages on organic search, and narrow the focus for both landing pages and advertising keywords. Focused is better!

Get the Fundamentals Right First

We talk a lot about tactics throughout the book that could be thought of as "eating your vegetables," basic fundamentals that will get you very far.

Yes, we know that there are many exciting things out there today, like working with social media, but we don't focus on those areas too much, even though they're "hot." We know that where most businesses are today is still at the stage of getting qualified people to visit your website (and converting them to sales). (When these basics are taken care of, feel free to move on to other Internet marketing tactics, such as social media.)

The tools and techniques in this book help you to transform your business and grow your business online. We believe that combining these fundamentals in this way creates a unique competitive advantage. Simply apply these "eat your veggies" basics in the way we propose and you'll find that you are light years ahead and can really get some traction.

Then, at that point, you can play around with social media and do more "fun" things along those lines.

Bigger Is Better

It's true, when it comes to phone numbers, calls to action, and Buy Now buttons on either landing pages or regular website pages, bigger is better. In fact, you can very rarely make it too big.

You can find more information about good landing page design in Chapter 6, "Putting It All Together and Selling Online," in the section "Designing Landing Pages."

Content and Inlinks

Everything in the world of search engines, algorithms, and visibility changes constantly, with two exceptions. The more pages of content you have, the more opportunity you have to rank in Google or other search engines. Using a tool like WordPress or another content management system makes it easy to keep adding fresh content. Do it.

The second constant is inlinks (links from other websites to your website's content). How many other people are listing your website, and how reputable are they? The search engine algorithms factor this in when they judge your website and calculate its ranking.

It might be boring, but you really have to do it. It works... so work on your content and inlinks regularly. Yes, it takes time and patience, but these fundamentals can ensure that you make enough money in the long run to make it worthwhile. (When it comes to an ROI analysis for content and inlink effort, you need to be in it for the long haul.)

Websites Are for Spiders and People

Another thing that's often overlooked is that websites need to be designed and developed for two main audiences: people and the search engine spider programs that analyze your website. Design for spiders and people with every step you take.

For example, create a Sitemap page for people to see how your website is organized at a glance, but create a separate sitemap.xml file on your server for the spiders to read and understand your internal website structure.

Figure 1.3 shows just one of many tools that Google makes available for webmasters to improve their website's ability to be read by the spiders.

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 Using Google Webmaster Tools is one way to learn more about improving your website for spiders.

Small Business Safety

A word to the wise, particularly if you are a small business and don't have an IT department continuously checking your back door for hackers: Use a tool such as WordPress to manage your website content or blog.

WordPress (www.wordpress.org) is free, but has a large community of both developers and users. You won't get in the situation where the person who's helping you with your website goes off and gets a full-time job, leaving you high and dry. Customizable themes and templates are easy to configure and can save you thousands of dollars over time.

What's more, many CMSs are susceptible to hackers. WordPress is too, of course, especially if you don't keep up with the latest version that corrects a newly discovered security flaw. With a large development community, however, it's less susceptible.

It's not fun if you're working with a subcontractor to maintain your website and they get hacked. You're left hanging with a hacked website only to discover that the work required to repair it is considered out of scope.

Budget for Marketing the Website Itself

A common pitfall is that a "website budget" is earmarked solely for design and development, with little to no funding left for marketing the website itself. Leave enough money (for example, half or more of your budget) to actually promote the website.

Try to avoid overspending on the website itself. Many small businesses find that no one is coming to their new website and they have no budget to fix it. If you consider this issue up front and budget for it, you should be in good shape.

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