Advanced Google Search Techniques [webinar]

Advanced Google Search Techniques Google’s mission is to make all the world’s information both “useful and accessible.” And, wow! have they certainly done that with much of the information on our planet. However, it’s sometimes a daunting task to find

Advanced Google Search Techniques

Google’s mission is to make all the world’s information both “useful and accessible.” And, wow! have they certainly done that with much of the information on our planet. However, it’s sometimes a daunting task to find just the right business information when you confront Google’s sparse Google Search home screen with that blinking cursor. Enter Virginia’s resident Google-ologist to save the day! Google provides you with many advanced Google search techniques that with the right mindset and a few instructions, you can find your way ahead of the competition in both business insights and professional knowledge. Join us for this Google-enlightening session!

This Webinar, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC, will be presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained, and President of W3 Consulting, a digital business strategy and training firm helping business owners learn why and how to use Web, mobile and digital technologies for greater marketing and management impact.

Who should watch?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
  • Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
  • Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
  • nonprofit executive directors and board members

Blogger, the Small Business Blog Tool by Google [webinar]

The Social Media Revolution started nearly 20 years ago! But, hands down the Social Web couldn’t have developed so quickly in the mainstream without the proliferation of the “blog.” And there’s no other blogging service out there that hasn’t had

The Social Media Revolution started nearly 20 years ago! But, hands down the Social Web couldn’t have developed so quickly in the mainstream without the proliferation of the “blog.” And there’s no other blogging service out there that hasn’t had as large an impact on blogging as Blogger. In this Webinar, you will be taken through the start of a blog and working behind the scenes to get your blog running smoothly and found by your target audience. We’ll also discuss briefly Blogger’s sister service, Feedburner, a tool to help Small Business bloggers manage subscribers to your blog’s RSS feed.

This Webinar, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC, presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained, and President of W3 Consulting, a digital business strategy and training firm helping business owners learn why and how to use Web, mobile and digital technologies for greater marketing and management impact.

Who should watch?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
  • Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
  • Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
  • nonprofit executive directors and board members

4 Lessons on Writing for Your Business’s Website or Blog

For a business looking to try something new or different on its website, it’s never been easier than right now.

Adding streaming video, real-time social media feeds and attractive design effects can be simple. And users have the bandwidth and savvy to handle it when they land on a more complex site. There’s never been a better time to experiment.

That said, the simplest element of every website has not lost its importance as web pages have gotten more sophisticated. That element is the text.

I’d like to think that the words you publish on your business website are the most important part of the site (although I understand that some photographers and designers might beg to differ). There’s no doubt that the words play a big part in the impression you make on potential customers and clients, not to mention the search engine spiders that crawl and classify your site.

With that in mind, here are four lessons about writing I have learned over the years. Keep them in mind them when you’re writing for your site — whether it’s the text on your homepage, the staff  bios on your “About Us” page or posts on your company blog. I think they’ll help you make just the right impression.

1. Write the Way You Talk

This is the foundation of all the writing and editing I have done since high school. I learned it from my mom, who suggested this approach as I worked on a term paper.

This lesson does not mean that all of your writing needs to be conversational — although on the web, less formal often works better than more formal.

What it means is you should read the words you are writing as if they are being spoken, and if they don’t sound like something anyone would ever say, try again. Depending on your audience and your goal, the voice you imagine speaking your words could be casual or formal. But make sure the words match the voice and sound natural.

2. Less Is More

There are very few sentences that cannot be improved by making them shorter. (In fact, the previous sentence is probably better written as “Almost every sentence is better when it’s shorter.” That edit cuts out five words — a 38 percent reduction).

This lesson applies doubly on the web, where attention spans are short and competition for information and entertainment is a click away.

In a way, this lesson conflicts a bit with Lesson 1. When we speak, we often use extraneous words — understandably, since we are turning thoughts and feelings into words on the fly. Perhaps Lesson 1 should be, “Write the Way You Wish You Talked.” That’s only two more words.

 

3. A Second Set of Eyes Always Helps

Reporters and writers have editors. Entrepreneurs who are writing blog posts about their business don’t always have that luxury.

But if you can get someone — anyone — to read what you’ve written for your site, either before you publish or after it’s live, it can save you headaches and embarrassment.

Whether you realize it or not, you will have blind spots about anything you write yourself. Readers notice the errors, typos and faulty logic that you miss — so why not have the first reader report them back to you?

If you’re in a pinch and can’t get a second set of eyes, I suggest you read your copy in a different way. Print it out and take a red pen to it. Load it on to your tablet (if you wrote on a PC or laptop) and read it there. Read it backwards (really, this works — you’ll pick up spelling errors you would have glossed over going forward).

4. Don’t Believe in Writer’s Block

You have limited time to write for your site or blog. If you stare at a blank page for long, you might convince yourself you have “writer’s block” and it will take too long. You’ll move on to other things — hey, you have a business to run — and you may never come back to the writing.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. I know, because every time I faced a newspaper deadline, somehow I found a way to get all the words written in time. If you make yourself write, you will write.

If you’re having trouble getting started, I suggest putting yourself on the clock. Tell yourself, “I have to have six paragraphs written in 30 minutes,” or something like that. It will happen.

You can also avoid the mythical “writer’s block” by collecting ideas. Start a notebook or file on one of your devices where you jot down ideas for good material for your business site. Then when it’s time to write, you have a place to start.

So there they are, four lessons that should help you write for your business site. As good content becomes more and more important on the web, I hope these tips help you make the right impression and explain your business to customers and clients.

I’ve written it before — a website can be beautifully designed, SEO-friendly and quick as Usain Bolt, but if the actual words on the page are sloppy, unprofessional or indecipherable, you’re losing readers (and business).

Jon DeNunzio worked in the Washington Post newsroom for nearly 20 years and now runs Squarely Digital, a consulting firm that aims to make the internet a little bit easier and a lot more profitable for your company. Contact him at [email protected].

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3 Things You Should Know Before Using Google AdWords

The reasons to use Google AdWords to market your business are numerous. The reasons not to are nearly as plentiful.

If you’re not sure whether you should use the popular search advertising platform, this post won’t go very far in helping you make that decision. There are too many variables, starting with your budget, your time and your product or service, for me to compose a “should I or shouldn’t I?” post that would apply across the board.

 

Google AdWords sample ad
A sample Google AdWords ad.

What I can do is save a little time for those of you who decide to try out AdWords. I didn’t know AdWords from AdSense from Words With Friends at the beginning of 2013. But now I know enough to manage AdWords accounts for five clients who spend a combined $4,000 on AdWords each month.

Many manage bigger AdWords budgets and I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have been able to get results. And I have learned a lot. What follows are three lessons from experience — hopefully they will give you an idea of what it takes to run a successful campaign.

(For readers who don’t know what AdWords is: It’s Google’s advertising platform that allows users to create ads that run on search result pages and a network of partner sites. Google offers pay-per-click (PPC) as well as cost-per-thousand impression (CPM) advertising, and advertisers can create text or display ads. Most of my experience has been with PPC text ads.)

Lesson 1. AdWords Campaigns Need Regular Attention

Especially in the early days of a campaign, it’s vital that you check in regularly to see what’s working and what’s not.

If you have keywords that aren’t attracting clicks, you’ll probably want to get rid of them. Or if a certain ad is are doing exceptionally well, you may want to create a few more that like it to try and get even better results. Adjusting your ad spending may make sense, as well.

Tweak and experiment, wait a few days to see results, and tweak again. You’ll find a routine that works for your campaign adjustments — but it almost certainly won’t be “set it and forget it.”

Lesson 2: If You Like Tweeting and Stats, You’re In Luck

Writing an AdWords ad is not unlike posting on Twitter — you’re trying to craft something people will notice in a very limited space (ad headlines are limited to 25 characters, and each of the two lines below the headline are no longer than 35 characters).

If you’ve worked in print journalism (I have), it’s also a lot like writing a good headline.

The difference is the amount of feedback you get. The AdWords interface is not always intuitive, but once you learn how to use it, you’ll find an impressive assortment of data to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. Impressions, clicks, cost per click and average ad position are just the beginning.

Being handy with Excel or Numbers helps, too. I find myself setting up regular reports and downloading more data on the fly to track progress, look for opportunities and create client reports.

Lesson 3: It Doesn’t End at the Click

This may be obvious if you’re focused on return on investment, but simply getting a click on an ad doesn’t equal success. Figuring out what the users who click ads do when they get to your site — and how many turn into actual customers — is the key to success.

That means the adjustments you should expect to make as data starts to pour in should include edits to your site, especially your landing page (the first page users who click on ads see).

A well-designed, engaging landing page increases the chances visitors will convert into customers, of course. But Google also positions ads and charges you for them based on the connection between keywords, ad copy and landing page content. The more related they are, the better you’ll do.

Those are the top lessons I have taken away from AdWords so far. If you have questions or comments, I encourage you to leave them in the comment section below or to send me an  email or tweet. And if you take the AdWords plunge, I wish you luck

Jon DeNunzio runs Squarely Digital, a digital consulting firm that aims to make the internet a little bit easier and a lot more profitable for your company. Contact him at [email protected].