January 3, 2018

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: Web Programming Principles

Internet Marketing 101: Web Programming Principles

InternetMarketing101When I began my career as a Web developer, I decided to create a document that simply statement my top programming principles that I would apply to every website I ever develop. This document was first created in 1995 and has served me well without too many changes. If you are a frequent reader of our “Internet Marketing 101” series, you’ll note that we frequently say to develop unique, compelling content for search engines and regular users alike to avoid any issues (ranking penalties) with future search engine algorithm updates. My Web Development Principles document is not much different, as it was written to encompass a core philosophy of programming without factoring-in the current technology. The following are some (not all) of the core Web developing principles we follow at Callidus Marketing (not in any particular order).

  1. Keep it Simple. In my opinion, Web developers get sucked into all the bells and whistles of things like JQuery, which are VERY cool, but not necessary on the site. Keep these questions in mind when deciding to add elements to a site: does it add value to the site, does it enhance the content of the site, and does it help explain your website’s message?
  1. Site Speed. In the era of slower Internet connections, every site loaded slowly. Now, in the era of broadband Internet, there is an expectation by the site user and the search engines (Google uses site speed as one of its ranking factors) that a site should come-up quickly. Before, I would advise site owners to avoid Flash and other high resolution, large file size graphics, and that’s still somewhat true. However, site speed, in my mind, involves sites like WordPress. If a site uses WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS), it can quickly become unwieldy to load, even for a pretty fast Internet connection (forget mobile connections). WordPress uses a lot of code to produce what you see on the screen, which is a violation of the “Keep it Simple” principle above. While WordPress does have its advantages, be careful with too many widgets and large, multimedia themes that takes an hour to render!
  1. Three Clicks to Gold. This is the principle of properly designed navigation. The idea is that you would like a user to traverse anywhere on your site to anywhere else on your site in three clicks or less.
  1. Use Space Efficiently. This can be a tough one, because everybody has an opinion on open space on the screen: some people find it clean and efficient, while others want to have every inch of the screen used in some fashion. Callidus Marketing believes that having white space on a page is a good thing, which allows for the content to be cleanly displayed. At the same time, that doesn’t mean you want a sentence or two on a page followed by a bunch of white space. If a page starts to look too crowded, ask yourself if what you’re putting in the space has value to you or your audience; this can be a good litmus test to help keep sites uncluttered.
  1. Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should. If there is one principle that we at Callidus Marketing adhere to when developing a site, it’s this one. Sure, it’s tempting to have graphics flying everywhere on the screen, large videos playing, etc. Yes, it would make a big impact, but what kind of user experience is it going to lead to? I’ll tell you: users not even waiting for your site to load before leaving or leaving quickly after it finally does load, because everything is so hard to follow. There’s always a better, more efficient way to do things in programming; even though the technology changes, that fact never does. It’s easier to setup a WordPress site and load some quick content in it, but is that always the best option? Maybe you need a custom-developed site to get your message across.
Website Design

Website Design

These are just some of the core Web development principles we live by here at Callidus Marketing. If you have any questions about these principles and all the other principles we use, feel free to contact us anytime!

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January 2, 2018

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: What are SEO and Pay-Per-Click?

Internet Marketing 101: What are SEO and Pay-Per-Click?

InternetMarketing101The question about the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a common one.  It’s easy to get the two mixed-up, because they both involve the placement of ads or organic (free) search links on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).  At the highest level, SEO is the optimization of a website to achieve the highest organic, or free, ranking in a search engine’s index.  PPC is the ability to bid on keywords to have ads be displayed at the top of search engine results and frequently on the right side of organic search results.  To sum up: SEO = free search placement.  PPC = paid search placement.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is considered a long-term process, because there is a process of optimizing a website, developing microsites, and back linking that take time.  SEO requires constant attention to maintain search visibility.  SEO involves many tools, including the ones I just mentioned to achieve that placement.  If you have a new site, it can takes weeks or months to achieve the desired organic search placement.

PPC is considered an immediate visibility process, but you have to pay for that visibility.  Since you’re bidding on keywords and ad placement, a daily budget is required for your ads to show-up on the search engines.  When either your daily budget has been exhausted or you simply run out of money for advertising, the tap is turned off and your ads disappear from the search engines immediately with no traces leftover.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

The fact that PPC can come and go so often is another reason why SEO is so important.  As you engage in an SEO campaign, the work you do is not lost in the search engines.  If you run out of ad dollars, your SEO work will still be there.  If you do just a PPC campaign, once the money is gone, your campaign is gone!

If you would like to learn more about SEO and PPC, please contact us anytime!

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December 28, 2017

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: Why is SEO Always an On-going Process?

Internet Marketing 101: Why is SEO Always an On-going Process?

InternetMarketing101When Callidus Marketing puts together an Internet marketing strategy for a new client, one of the first things we say is that this is always an adaptable, ever-changing strategy that adjusts to market trends and Internet trends. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key component of an Internet marketing campaign. A company’s SEO strategy one year may not necessarily look at all the same as the following year due to changes in the business market and/or changes on how the Internet views sites and their content.

Continuous Improvement: Change is Good.

Let’s think globally for a second. Think about technology over the decades. Technology advances so rapidly; businesses have to constantly evolve their technology strategy just to keep-up! Think about how the dawn of the personal computer age changed the world. Do you think IBM’s technology and business strategy changed during the 1970’s and 1980’s? The Internet changes just as fast or faster. The Internet strategy of 2010 is outdated and most likely going to do more harm than good, because of how search engines and users see the Internet. To keep-up, we are constantly improving and updating content to keep relevant on the Internet. In fact, one of the core principles the search engines abide by is “Continuous Improvement.” It’s simple: adapt or die. It’s important to never develop a strategy set in stone and make sure your strategy can adapt for the future.

Competition Changes, too.

When the World Wide Web first started taking off, there was a lot less competition on the Internet. Were you on the Web in 1995 when the WWW became “a thing?” Many businesses weren’t there yet. Now, if you have no visibility and no presence on the Internet you’re considered a dinosaur. As Internet technology improved, so did the competition for users’ attention. Now, when developing an Internet marketing strategy, businesses must account for what their competition is doing on the Internet or might do on the Internet. There are new websites popping-up every day, so your list of competitors is constantly growing, too! Make sure to keep an eye on what the competition is doing!

The Rules of Search are Game-changers, too.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Back in the early 2000’s, SEO was pretty easy. All websites had to do to improve their rankings was “stuff” a bunch of keywords on a page as many times as possible to see their rankings improve. The search engines have adapted to those strategies with sophisticated search algorithms designed to deliver the search results users are looking for. As a result, the content of sites has to be developed with TWO audiences in mind: search engines and regular site visitors. This is one of Callidus Marketing’s core development principles. Developing unique, fresh, and content designed for two audiences better position a site positioned to adapt to any algorithm change, which are frequent. As long as keep up-to-date with the latest algorithm, or rule, changes from the search engines, they will be successful long-term.

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December 11, 2017

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: Things Business Can Do Before SEO Campaigns

Internet Marketing 101: Things Business Can Do Before SEO Campaigns

InternetMarketing101The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process can be a long, exhaustive, and in-depth process. However, there are some quick and easy things all businesses can do before embarking on an SEO campaign to further the process before it even begins!

Google My Business

One of the first things a business can do is establish their Google My Business page. This is the meta data Google will use for your business, which includes address, phone number, hours (if applicable), photos, and your business’ story. This is the easiest way to spread accurate information across Google’s search platforms.

For more on Google My Business, go to http://www.google.com/mybusiness.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Establish Your Name, Address, and Phone Across the Web

Now that your Google My Business page is established, it’s time to get your business’ basic information indexed on other sites, especially business-related directories, chambers of commerce, local and business association websites. There are national sites to make sure your data is up-to-date and/or included: Yelp.com, Angie’s List, CitySearch, and InfoUSA. Also, make sure your site is properly listed in local sites and directories for data continuity.

Paying Attention to Reviews

One of the common features across all these sites, including Google, social media, and directory sites are reviews. Of course, everyone wants a positive review and it’s important to acknowledge the positive reviews. More important, it’s imperative to be proactive with negative reviews. Try to correspond with the negative reviewer. Find out what happened and what you can do to make it better. It’s customer service. It will show potential customers your business is engaged with their customers and will go the extra mile for them.

Hopefully, you will now have your business established on Google My Business, Yahoo, Yelp.com, etc. SEO is all about getting found by the right keywords. If you followed the above suggestions, you’ve taken the first steps towards SEO!

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November 3, 2016

Comments Off on Callidus Internet Marketing Commentary: When to Use WordPress?

Callidus Internet Marketing Commentary: When to Use WordPress?

If you’re a regular reader of our posts on this blog, you probably think we’re against using WordPress for anything!  While I can see why you might think that, the truth is there are some good reasons to use WordPress in certain situations.  I don’t think there is any one-size-fits-all solution to the WordPress/Custom Site issue; it really comes down to the business’ needs.  In this post, I’m going to discuss some situations where a WordPress site may be your best bet.

It has been our experience that the number one reason a WordPress site should be used is the client wants to update the site without too much HTML/Web experience.  Small businesses, in particular, don’t have the budget for a custom site with lots of bells and whistles; what may work best for them is a simple, clean WordPress template that they can easily update.  A typical site may be no more than information about the business, history, staff, hours of operation, location(s), etc.  In this situation, WordPress can be implemented effectively, so the client doesn’t have to worry a lot about the “guts” of the website.

Website Design

Website Design

Another common use of WordPress is for “Responsive” sites that can be quickly implemented and still look professional.  “Responsive” is a style of programming that allows a site to conform to the screen size of the device, which is especially important for tablets (iPads) and mobile smartphones (iPhone, Galaxy, etc.).  Due to the nature of WordPress’ programming, it conforms very well with the “Responsive” standard can be an efficient way to have a mobile-friendly site, which is something Google has been pushing.

Finally, WordPress’ most exceptional ability is blog management.  WordPress was created to be blogging software.  It has evolved over the years to blogging and a content management system (CMS).  Throughout this evolution, it has not lost its ability to create an effective and easy to use blog.  When it comes to blogging, there is no better software out there.  Many sites will be custom-coded and have a WordPress blog; that’s a good use of both words: custom programming and WordPress.

If you’re interested in WordPress or have any questions, please contact us anytime.  There are a lot of considerations that go into the decision to implement a WordPress site over custom programming and other software formats.

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October 25, 2016

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: E-mail Blasts

Internet Marketing 101: E-mail Blasts

InternetMarketing101E-mail marketing, or the sending of e-mail blasts to a database of e-mail addresses, is an effective method to market events and other notices about a particular business.  In this post, we’re going to assume you have a collection of e-mail addresses that are valid for the sending of marketing material to.  Of course, getting this database can be difficult and we have lots of suggestions on how to go about acquiring those addresses.  We’ll address that in a future “Internet Marketing 101” post.  Now, let’s talk about some things to consider about your e-mail blast.

The first thing a good e-mail blast needs is a catch subject line.  Most people get a lot of e-mail per day, so it’s important your subject is eye-catching.  At the same time, you don’t want your subject to be too long.  Something nice and catchy will work best.

Adding images to your e-mail blast.  Many e-mail blast services allow for the adding of images within the e-mail, but you should be aware that most e-mail programs automatically block images from downloading, unless the user tells it otherwise.  That means you’ll have a lot of “broken image” links that say the user should click to download them.  If your e-mail is heavily dependent on images to get your message across, you may want to consider using more text-based content.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing

It’s also important your e-mail has some sort of “call-to-action,” which means the user should do something.  This could be to register for an event early to get a discount, prize, etc.  This could be a contact phone number to call you for more information.

Formatting the e-mail is important, too.  You have to conform to federal laws to avoid being charged with sending spam.  Companies like Constant Contact, http://www.constantcontact.com/, do a very good job at walking you through the development of your e-mail and sending it out to users for a reasonable fee.  Callidus Marketing recommends Constant Contact for e-mail campaigns,

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October 15, 2016

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: META and Title Tags

Internet Marketing 101: META and Title Tags

InternetMarketing101We don’t often talk about individual tags in our Internet Marketing 101 series. Tags are the elements that make-up HTML, which is how websites display graphics, text, etc. in Web browsers. However, there are two types of tags that are HTML, but also considered a part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO): META tags and title tags. META tags offer extra information about a website: from keywords, a site/page description, copyright information, character sets, etc. Title tags, simply, display the title of the page/website on the browser. Coming-up, we’ll talk about why these tags are useful in SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

First, we’ll talk about the Title tag. This is a tag that goes in the “head” of a Web page. In about 75 characters (no hard and fast rule here), Web developers can describe (hopefully using top, clear keywords) what a page is about or possibly what the website is about. The search engines do monitor the title tags, because it gives their algorithms the opportunity to determine what the page is about and properly index that page within their databases. Because the search engines pay attention to title tags, you see why it’s important to have clear, concise, and keyword-oriented terms in the tags. META tags, however, offer different kinds of information about a Web page.

META tags offer information about a page in the “head” of a Web page that browsers and search engines use to help render and index a site. A Web browser might be interested in a copyright META tag or the character set META tag; for example, UTF-8 is a common Web character set. At the same, there are META tags designed for the search engines: keyword META tags and description META tags.

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September 29, 2016

Comments Off on Callidus Internet Marketing Commentary: What Is Responsive Web Design and Do You Need It?

Callidus Internet Marketing Commentary: What Is Responsive Web Design and Do You Need It?

logo1In April of 2015, Google introduced an algorithm update directed at mobile search. The objective was to determine if a site was “mobile-friendly.” Ahead of this algorithm change, Google let Web developers know what criteria it believed constituted a “mobile-friendly” site. This algorithm change, in Callidus Marketing’s opinion, was a strong-arm attempt to force Web developers to create sites that conform to Google’s standards so it (Google) can further monetize another revenue stream: mobile advertising, which is different from desktop/laptop search and advertising. There really isn’t a choice, at this point, other than to create “mobile-friendly” sites or “mobile-friendly” versions of sites, unfortunately. One of the key criterion for “mobile-friendly” sites is something called “Responsive Web Design.”

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is to have one site, but with different elements that respond differently when viewed on devices of different sizes. First, don’t get us wrong, RWD has a lot of benefits, but not every site in our opinion needs RWD. Not to mention, developing a site with RWD takes significantly longer than a “fixed” or standard website. However, if a customer specifically requests RWD or you are building a “mobile-friendly” site, here are the basic ideas behind RWD coding.

Website Design

Website Design

RWD sites use something called fluid grids. All page elements are sized by proportion (percent), rather than pixels. If there are three columns in a website, the code doesn’t specify exact width, it will use percentages: column one, for example, is half the page (50%), while columns two and three are 25% each for a total of 100% of the screen. Media images, which can be too large for mobile, can either be resized or not even appear on some devices for speed’s sake.

Now that you have an idea of what RWD is, you can see how it might be a benefit or harm. As programmers, the team at Callidus Marketing likes the accuracy of pixels. When forced to use RWD, sites just don’t have the graphical look and feel that “fixed” sites do. We can look at a site without fail and tell if it is Responsive by the way it looks (usually plain and uninspired). There’s nothing wrong with developing a fixed website and a “mobile-friendly” site that is separate from the main site. In our opinion, it gives users the best of both worlds: a graphically pleasing regular site for desktops/laptops and a “mobile-friendly” site for mobile users.

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September 15, 2016

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: Why A Pressroom Matters

Internet Marketing 101: Why A Pressroom Matters

InternetMarketing101One of the major tools used in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process is link building. This is the process of getting links to and from your site to other industry-related, popular sites. It’s definitely not an easy process and involves a lot of negotiation and back and forth with other websites. One good way to start a good back linking campaign is to create a “Press Room” for your site.

A pressroom is a one-stop shop for all things related to news and events for your company. The pressroom can offer media contacts for your business. As different events or newsworthy come about, your business can post quick press releases with details. The idea is that the press releases will get editorial links from stories journalists or other Web users are working-on. This is a good way to start building some links. The main focus of a pressroom is everything about your business, which allows a writer/journalists to write a good story about your company and its news and events.

Here are some things to include in a pressroom:

Blogs, Articles, and Press Releases

Blogs, Articles, and Press Releases

Press releases

PR contacts within your organization

Your business in the news (articles, blogs, magazines, other websites, etc.)

About your business (a summary of what your company does and is all about)

Articles your business has written on other sites

Links for potential customers

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August 28, 2016

Comments Off on Internet Marketing 101: How to Use Twitter Effectively

Internet Marketing 101: How to Use Twitter Effectively

InternetMarketing101When it comes to social media sites, there are a few sites that immediately come to mind as the most popular. One of the most popular sites that almost every social media campaign utilizes is Twitter. In this post, we’re going to discuss some simple tips on what to do and what not to do when you’re tweeting for your business (doesn’t matter what size)!

First things first, your Twitter profile should accurately reflect your business; preferably, it would be your business’ name. If you’re concerned about keywords as a way a customer might find your business, you can use them in your business’ description or with a link to your regular website.

Perhaps another obvious, but often overlooked issue, is spelling, grammar, and letter case. IF YOU TYPE EVERYTHING IN CAPS, IT IS CONSIDERED THAT YOU ARE YELLING THESE WORDS, SO DON’T USE ALL CAPS UNLESS YOU REALLY MEAN IT!!!  Also, you wanted to come across as professional; make sure to use correct spelling and grammar. You want to send the right message to your customers!

Twitter

Twitter

One of the biggest issues we have found with social media campaigns is outdated information; you have to continue to “feed the beast” to keep interest. If you want people to monitor your Twitter profile, consider letting them know about specials, offer discounts, talk about products (without hard selling), and keep customers up-to-date about the latest events around the community and your business. Consider sharing photos and video to spice-up your tweets with some multimedia.

The next thing not to do is don’t just repeat your tweets on Facebook or vice versa! That kind of thing just gets boring and predictable. Facebook offers a lot of different ways to engage your audience, so take advantage of them.

Social Media

Social Media

One thing Twitter can be effective at is getting feedback from your customers. Talk about the different products and services with your business and how your customers used them, both positive and negative. If your customer has a negative experience, you have the opportunity to show your other customers you care about ALL your customers and you are willing to listen and help them any way you can; it’s just good customer service!

This next one is important: think you before you tweet! Once you put something on social media, it’s hard, if not possible, to take back! Make sure you think about what you’re saying before you say it. Never put anything on social media you wouldn’t say in normal conversation or have published in some other media. No one believes it when people say their Twitter account was hacked!

Finally, it’s important to engage your community, customers, and your industry. You can do this by re-tweeting local events, engaging people by tweeting them; make sure that your tweets aren’t self-promotional (try to make half self-promotional). Make sure to use short links, like http://bit.ly/, so your posts can be re-tweeted and linked to easily. Social media is about building relationships.

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