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McBuzz Communications http://www.mcbuzz.com Online Marketing Seattle, WA Mon, 01 Aug 2016 20:33:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.9 Powerful Marketing Via Mobile and Web: Use Your Target Audience's Short Attention Span to Your Advantage http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/marketing-via-mobile-web-short-attention-span/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/marketing-via-mobile-web-short-attention-span/#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2012 20:29:02 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1759 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]>
Mobile and Web Marketing - Your Audience Has a Short Attention Span!

Checking Email during breakfast? Maybe. Studies show that more people are browsing the Web more often via mobile device. Knowing this, marketers can create successful online content using a rule called "The Bottom Line".

Want to do Powerful Marketing via Mobile and Web? Here’s your target audience summed up in Three Magic Words: Short Attention Span.

Most people don’t read anymore. They skim. You already knew this. But are you applying this knowledge to your marketing efforts every day? Probably not. Instead, when you or your marketing team sets out to build a page of content, you go back to tried and true methods you have been using since high school: You write your Headline or Title (h1 tag), you write your Topic Sentence (or maybe not!), First Paragraph, Second Paragraph, and so on. If you really knock yourself out, you might add an image or a subheading.

Here’s the point (right here on the page you are now reading) where most readers have already decided if they will continue reading or not. If they don’t immediately see the value in what you are saying… they will quit and leave your site. Done. Over. You lost them.

The Solution: Get to the Point

You might think the people you really want to reach are the ones who will actually read what you have to say. Wrong. You don’t need to worry about them. If what you are saying has value for them, they will continue reading. You need to reach the people who want your product or service but they’re too busy or too distracted to see it unless you do your absolute best to help them get there. How do you do this?

Put The Bottom Line First – at the Top of the Page

Here’s a real example. A client of mine has an excellent value proposition for his business. We have been working to improve it over many months. He has a page on his website where he lays out the benefits of the services he offers. Originally, he had a section at the end of the page with the heading “The Bottom Line”. Of course, that’s where the bottom line should go, right? At the end. It sums up the benefits of what he does. Wrong. It should not go there. Why? Because I guarantee that 90% of the visitors that see this page will never read to the bottom. Even if they like what they are reading, 90% will not read to the bottom. Short attention span.

This is what I mean about the old ways of writing. They are so ingrained in us, whenever we write anything, we expect people to read just like we think. But they don’t. So why would we want to put The Bottom Line at the bottom? It’s too important. Put it at the top! Give visitors the chance to see and understand it. Some will see the point immediately and that will compel them to leave the page to look for more complimentary information to help them make a decision to hire you or buy from you. They are done reading about benefits! They want to know about pricing or testimonials or other things that give them the additional assurance they need to take the next step with you. You want the Benefits page to do its job. That’s all you want the Benefits page to do. It doesn’t matter if people read to the end or not. Put The Bottom Line at the top because that’s where most readers’ eyeballs go.

Use The Bottom Line as a Rule of Thumb Whenever You Create Content

This idea of The Bottom Line is a great rule of thumb. Use it as a metaphor for all your online content and the way you need to structure it. It does not literally have to be called “The Bottom Line”. Readers will know it when they see it. Any way you present it, telling readers the value of what you are giving them at the very top of the page, before you launch into any details, just makes good sense.

What’s more, when you treat your busy readers with respect and give them the bottom line first, there’s a greater chance they will read further.

The same thinking should guide the way you write online in general. Can you say something in one sentence instead of two? Do it. Can you cut out flowery language? Do it. You don’t have to write like a robot. Humans don’t like that at all. Search engines don’t like it either! Clean, concise writing is easier to read than bad writing. And check your spelling and grammar. People are busy and distracted. Tell them what you are going to do for them and make it quick! If you can show them that you are going to save them time or money or both, in a few words, you are making your value proposition clear. Now give them easy and obvious ways to take the next step: to contact you, to get additional information, to signup, to start a free trial.

What’s True for the Web is Even More True for Mobile Device

Readers need decision-driving information at the top of the page, called out in short, meaningful headlines and text. You’ll notice that most content management systems like WordPress or other website platforms typically take an excerpt from the beginning of a post or page, along with the heading or title from the page, when they include a snippet of that post as a feature on a home page. If you start your posts with the rambling equivalent of “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty…” without getting to the point, then, let’s face it, your snippet is not going to do its job of drawing people in and encouraging them to click. Give them the bottom line first. Why should they read your post? What’s it going to do for them?

Obviously this is even more important for mobile devices because of limited screen size. A recent study by Pew Research Center found that 17% of cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phone. Get to the point. At the beginning. Not at the end.

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Mobile Marketing Strategies: Think Like Your Customers with Maps and Tablets http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/mobile-marketing-strategies-maps-tablets/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/mobile-marketing-strategies-maps-tablets/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 01:07:30 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1745 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]> Three articles in the Seattle Times caught my attention today:

  1. Microsoft’s new tablet, called Microsoft Surface
  2. A technology feature column about Microsoft Surface and what it means for the future of Microsoft
  3. Apple’s new push to replace Google Maps with its own mobile mapping technology
Google currently owns most of the map data you see on your iPhone.

Google currently owns most of the map data you see on your iPhone. The fact that Apple will take control of its mobile map data later this year shows how important this data is for your business.

Each of these is a huge story in itself. Together, they tell us something very important about where personal – and business – computing and communications are going.

As a business owner or someone in marketing, you need to think of your business in terms of how users experience it on a mobile device. Think about building or redesigning your website for mobile users. You need a separate site for mobile, or you need a site that renders appropriately depending on the device of the user. In either case, this means designing with mobile search in mind.

Search engine optimization and usability (“user experience or UX”) are, more and more, becoming one and the same thing. Don’t just think of using keywords or getting links to your website. Think: How can I help users find what they are looking for? How can I make it easy to get there? How can I give them exactly the right information when they arrive?

I recommend you read all the articles above. The maps article is especially interesting because of the statistics cited about maps and mobile usage – the reasons that Apple wants to take maps in-house is the amount of info flowing in both directions between Google and Maps users. Apple wants control of this info.

If you thought the amount of information available on the Web was amazing, wait until you see what’s coming in the next few years as mobile geolocation gets integrated with that information and businesses realize how much they can make available to users.

The flip side, of course, is that there is going to be an unbelievable amount of data available to businesses about mobile users. Businesses and marketers need to get ready to harness that information.

UPDATE (July 2, 2012): More news to support the idea that maps, local search and mobile are supremely important to the future of your business: Amazon Buys UpNext, Will We Soon See Kindle Maps?

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Comparing Internal and External Visitors in Google Analytics http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/comparing-internal-and-external-visitors-in-google-analytics/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/comparing-internal-and-external-visitors-in-google-analytics/#comments Fri, 18 May 2012 21:05:57 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1737 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]> Recently, I got this question about tracking internal and external traffic using Google Analytics based on my post “How to Exclude Internal Visits/Visitors from Google Analytics Reports Using Asynchronous Code“.

Do you know how to filter internal and external visitors so you can compare the two visits? I don’t want to exclude the internal visits from being counted in GA. But, I do want to compare the number of internal vs external visits to pages. Is that possible? I’ve ready a bunch of articles on using filters for excluding internal visits. But haven’t found anything on how to separate the two in a comparison report. I’d like to have a simple report like the Visits that compare with New Visits metric.

The best way to do this is to create separate Google Analytics profiles.

When you use Google Analytics to track traffic on a website,… you should always have one profile that is “RAW” or UNFILTERED. There are a number of reasons for this, but let’s take that as a given for now.

By default, any profile you create will be unfiltered. If you plan to add filters to a profile, just be sure to create a new one first and name it something like RAW or UNFILTERED, and then just leave it alone.

Now you can create new profiles that filter different things like internal traffic/visitors or external traffic/visitors. You can create as many profiles as you want.

In Google Analytics, click on the Admin button. Find the Profiles tab. Click on that if it’s not active. Click on the New Profile button and create your first new profile, called “(website name) UNFILTERED”.

Exclude Traffic with Google Analytics Filter on a Specific Profile

Exclude Traffic with Google Analytics Filter on a Specific Profile

Now create another new profile. Name it whatever you like, “(website name) EXTERNAL” or just “(website name)”. Next you can apply the “no_report” filter as discussed in the post above, or you can apply a new filter for a specific IP address, your own IP address, say. (To find your IP address, just do a Google search for “what is my ip”.) These will filter out internal visits to your site.

Use a Filter to Include only Internal Traffic in a Google Analytics Profile

Use a Filter to Include only Internal Traffic in a Separate Google Analytics Profile

To see only internal visits to your site so that you can compare the two (external vs. internal), create a third new profile. Now add a filter to this profile, and select “include” instead of “exclude”. Then set the filter to include only traffic from your IP address.

Note that you can use a range of IP addresses for your filter, not just one address.

Now you can select each profile in the dropdown menu under the main Google Analytics profile for your website, and you can generate reports for whatever criteria you want to compare: overall traffic, landing pages, search engines, referring pages, you name it!

Select a Google Analytics Profile from the Dropdown Menu

Select a Google Analytics Profile from the Dropdown Menu

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Online Marketing Secrets: Driving Traffic to Your Website is Only the Beginning http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/online-marketing-secrets-driving-traffic-to-your-website-is-only-the-beginning/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/online-marketing-secrets-driving-traffic-to-your-website-is-only-the-beginning/#comments Mon, 14 May 2012 21:49:20 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1714 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]> Recently I received a question about driving traffic to a website in order to increase sales. Specifically, the question was, what do the “big boys” use to generate sales and leads on their sites? The big boys (and girls) like to use big advertising budgets of anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000 or more per month.

Like Online Marketing - Girl Studying Piano Learns Best with Instructor

Want to learn to play the piano? You'll be more successful with an instructor. Online marketing is the same. Hire a consultant if you want to do it right.

They spend this on traditional advertising, of course, like TV, magazines and newspaper ads. Online they spend their budgets on Google AdWords and other pay-per-click advertising, display advertising (graphical ads), search engine optimization, and professional graphic designers and “user experience” designers. They also spend good money on web analytics packages like Omniture, Webtrends, and the new Google Analytics Premium. In addition to their giant advertising budgets, they pay salaried employees and independent consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to plan, implement, manage and… 

monitor all these efforts.

High-end web analytics packages alone cost $10,000 a month or more, not to mention the cost of employees and consultants who know how to use them. So that stuff is out of reach for small and most medium-sized businesses. However, the benefits of a good web analytics package like the free version of Google Analytics are within reach. Google Analytics is something every business needs to have on its website – whether they are looking at the data or not – because, at some point down the road – they may wake up and realize the tremendous value of monitoring website traffic.

How Do You Create an Online Marketing Plan That Fits Your Budget?

The trick is coming up with an online marketing plan that fits your budget and the time and resources you have available for marketing. For a basic overview of what’s required, see Five Keys to Generating New Business with Online Marketing.

Some businesses, particularly small ones or “solopreneur” operations (businesses run by a single person), think that if they have a website, what they really need is just great search engine optimization that will bring huge numbers of visitors to their site via Google, Bing and other search engines. SEO is one important ingredient for online marketing success, but it is hardly a stand-alone solution. Why? Because no amount of traffic coming to your site is going to grow your business if visitors can’t see the value in what you do. That’s why your value proposition and business goals have to be at the core of everything you do online. Why should someone hire you or buy your products or services? If visitors can’t see this clearly after a few seconds on your website, your online marketing efforts will fail, no matter how big your marketing budget is.

Got a Compelling Value Proposition? Good. Now Make It Clear on Your Website

The importance of a clear and compelling value proposition seems obvious enough. (But you can find examples of weak and poorly executed value propositions everywhere!) The hard part is figuring out how to make your value proposition clear and compelling on all your online properties. When it comes to graphic design, web development and Google Analytics, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, as they say. Some businesses, large and small, try to do everything themselves. They figure they can set up Google AdWords themselves, do graphic design themselves, even manage search engine optimization efforts themselves.

But think of the cost. Why not pay someone who knows what they are doing to help you set things up right from the outset? A few hours of consulting time goes a very long way towards ensuring a successful online marketing campaign. It’s like the difference between trying to teach yourself to play the piano or having a professional instructor give you lessons once a week. Which method is going to reach the desired outcome sooner and with less frustration? The idea that you will save money by doing it yourself is misguided.

Contact McBuzz Communications for a free initial assessment of your website and other online marketing efforts. We offer a complete Online Marketing Assessment and Written Recommendation for $500. This will give you a complete overview of where you stand and where the most valuable improvements can be made.

Do-It-Yourself Online Marketing

For those who are interested in “do it yourself” online marketing, there are a number of great resources available. I still think the primary value of these resources is to give you an appreciation of what is important so that you know how to talk to a consultant when you are looking for help. It’s safe to say that 90% of small and medium-sized businesses are incapable of doing online marketing well on their own. They simply do not have the expertise or the staff. If you are one of the businesses trying to do things yourself, think about your business goals. How much money and time are you spending trying to figure things out without outside help?

A Collection of  Top Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing Resources

Questions or comments? Please let me know below!

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Five Keys to Generating New Business with Online Marketing http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/five-keys-to-generating-new-business-with-online-marketing/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/five-keys-to-generating-new-business-with-online-marketing/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 16:59:49 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1702 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]> Internet Marketing Strategy is Essential for Your Business

Recently I gave an online seminar on Five Keys to Generating New Business with Online Marketing. Here’s an outline of what we covered. A video of the seminar will be available soon.

1. Your Value Proposition and Your Business Goals

What is Your Value Proposition?

You need to be able to say what your business does, why people need it, and how it is different from competitors. Use % and $ to make this clear.

This is your elevator pitch. You need to be refining and improving it all the time based on feedback. If you don’t have a solid value proposition, no amount of online marketing expense is going to help generate new business. This has to be front and center on you website. Use it to help formulate your business goals and help visitors on your website to see that they have found what they need. Help visitors make decisions on your website that result in new business for you: contact form submissions, downloads, subscription to your newsletter, sharing your content with others, etc.

What are Your Business Goals?

General Goals
How much money do you need to make each month? How many leads do you need to achieve this? How many leads do you need to make a profit?

Online Marketing Goals
How many leads do you want to generate from your website? What are you willing to spend per lead? How much have you spent for other forms of lead generation?

2. Tracking Your Business Online

Tracking traffic on your website is essential and easy to do. How much money did you make last year? Will you make more this year or less? Unless you keep track, you don’t know if you are doing better or worse. The same goes for your website and all your other marketing efforts. Install Google Analytics. This will allow you to track visits to your site, where they came from, how long they stayed, and what the most effective keywords are for your business. Install Gravity Forms and the Yoast Add-on for Gravity Forms, and set up Goal tracking in Google Analytics. If you have a WordPress website, you can use the Google Analytics plugin by Yoast. With Google Analytics installed, you can benchmark your website performance to see if the improvements you make really work.

3. Optimize Your Website with Your Value Proposition and Goals Front-and-Center

Optimize your website for exactly what you do. Make your value proposition abundantly apparent on every page of your site – so that when people arrive on your site, they know immediately that they have found what they are looking for.

Home Page Design / Overall Website Design

People have become accustomed to seeing professionally designed website themes. These are easy to find and set up. So the fact that you have a professional-looking website and you spent $1,000 or more to have it built is not going to get you new business. What’s hard is creating an effective message and building that into your site. This is why a strong value proposition is so important. What do you want people to do on your site?

What do you want them to see immediately? Answers to these questions should guide the design of your site. You need an effective hierarchy of information. What are people looking for when they come to your site? Give it to them, front and center. In marketing language, this is called designing for a “persona”.

Calls to Action

Without a clear value proposition on your website, a call to action like a button that says “Free Consultation” will not work, because visitors won’t know what the consultation is about! And don’t just offer a phone number under your “Free Consultation”. You need to ease visitors into the idea of calling. Why not take them to a page where you tell them exactly what they will get with their consultation?

Blogs are often poorly optimized. The sidebar has things like links to Archives and Categories: practically useless! If you use a blog, people will find your site through Google search, but they need to be able to find your value proposition and calls to action on every page or post.

Look at Your Competition

Search Google for keywords that fit your business and see what kind of websites are on page one. If they are not the kind of businesses you expect, maybe you are searching for the wrong keywords! (This is another important part of understanding your business: knowing the kinds of keywords people use to search for your products or services.)

Try the paid search results as well as the organic search results. What kinds of differences do you see? Paid search (such as Google AdWords) is another way to increase traffic to your website.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is All About Detail – in the right places. Best example: default title tags, vs. optimized title tags using keywords. We will go over the basics of SEO, which is often enough to put you ahead of the competition.

4. Create New Content for Your Website Based on What You Learn from Google Analytics and Gravity Forms (GA Goals)

By tracking traffic on your website, you can see which pages and keywords bring the most valuable visitors to your site. You can add new content tailored to these visitors.

With Google Analytics and Gravity Forms, you can see which keyword searches bring the best traffic to your website. When someone comes to your site and looks at 5 pages and stays for 2 minutes or longer, they are interested in what you have to offer. When they submit the contact form, you have a winner. What keyword did they use to find you? Or did they come from a different website? LinkedIn? Another referring site? A guest blog post?

Armed with information you collect using Google Analytics, you can write new blog posts about specific topics that are bringing good traffic to your site. You can answer questions on LinkedIn. You can write guest blog posts on sites that bring you traffic. You can use Twitter and Facebook to bring in traffic.

5. Networking and Helping Others

Social media is new, but networking and helping others to grow their business is not. Face-to-face networking and working with friends and acquaintances to help grow their business is one of the best ways to reach your business goals and improve your chances for success. Good old fashioned networking is also one of the best ways to build your social media connections and optimize your website.

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SEO 101: When Bad Title Tags Happen to Good Websites http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/seo-101-when-bad-title-tags-happen-to-good-websites/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2012/seo-101-when-bad-title-tags-happen-to-good-websites/#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:15:30 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1577 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]> Some search engine optimization techniques are difficult. Others are not. It’s easy to find otherwise well-built, engaging websites with really bad SEO. By “really bad”, I just mean completely neglected or overlooked. HTML title tags are a frequently neglected aspect of SEO that, when fixed, can have an immediate impact on search rankings. On most sites built with content management systems like WordPress, fixing a bad title tag takes 2 minutes and a little keyword research.

Smashing Ideas sitelinks in Google search resultsHere’s an example. Smashing Ideas is a cutting edge digital media agency that makes smartphone apps and other cool stuff. Their website looks great. It’s well built, easy to use. Information is easy to find. One way to check the health of a website – its ease of use and visibility in search engines – is to see if it shows up with sitelinks in Google search results. It does. Click the image at right to see what sitelinks for SmashingIdeas.com looks like. (Read more…)

On the Google search results page, the main pages each have a separate listing and a link: Careers, ePublishing, Who We Are, What We Do, etc. Nice!

But look at the HTML title tag for the What We Do page. It’s “Mobile & Devices – What We Do – Smashing Ideas”. This title tag is the default. It’s automatically generated by the CMS (the content management system – whatever platform they are using for their site – It’s not WordPress. I can’t tell what it is.).

UPDATE: Since this post was written, Smashing Ideas redesigned their website; there is no longer a “What We Do” page. However, they apparently have not read my post! Shame on them. :) Because they are still using all the default title tags supplied by their CMS. The title tag of the About page? “About | Smashing Ideas”. Ouch. I wonder what their business does? I wonder what this page is really “about”. Well, Smashing Ideas, obviously! That is great SEO as long as I’m searching for “About Smashing Ideas”. :) And so on for every page on the site.

Smashing Ideas default title tag does not use words people search forTo optimize the title tag (which, as I mentioned, takes only a few minutes and a little bit of keyword research), it’s best to use keywords that people actually search for. When was the last time you did a Google search using the words “what we do”?

A better title tag would be “Mobile Phone Marketing Strategies, Mobile Device Marketing Strategy”. Those are phrases that people actually search for, and they would bring the right kind of visitors to the Smashing Ideas website.

Smashing Ideas - What We Do page in Search Engine ResultsRemember, the title tag is not on the visible page. You can see it if you look at the top of your browser window, and you’ll see it as the “title” of a listing in a search results page as shown at left (click to enlarge the image). Of course, the only way to see the What We Do page in Google search results is to search for something like “mobile device smashing what we do”. It’s definitely not going to show up for a valuable search like “mobile phone marketing strategies” because too many of Smashing Ideas’ competitors that know how to use SEO have used those words in their page title tags.

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Online Marketing & Gamification by Design http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/online-marketing-and-gamification-by-design/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/online-marketing-and-gamification-by-design/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:02:29 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1540 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]>

How Important is Marketing Gamification to a Robust Online Marketing Plan?

The following is an interview with Gabe Zichermann, author of the new book Gamification by Design. Every marketer needs to stay on top of trends. Gamification is a trend in web and mobile design that is big and getting bigger. My sincere thanks to Gabe for the opportunity to conduct this interview.

Mark McLaren: When I first read the title of your book, Gamification by Design, my reaction was, “Won’t be reading that!” I associated it with online games, “gamers”, massively multiplayer online games. I don’t know. Video games are not my thing. So I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate. But I clearly didn’t know what the word “gamification” meant! Do you have a short and sweet statement for people who think you are talking about gaming or video games or something only kids know about? The importance of gamification for marketers and business decision-makers is hard to overstate.

Gabe Zichermann: The definition I use to help folks better understand the term is this – Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems. We’re not talking about solving the next puzzle or level in a video game, but solving real world problems like how to keep employees engaged and motivated, how to keep customers coming back to your website, and more.

Mark McLaren: Most of my clients are just starting to realize the need to take smartphones into account when they think about marketing. Usually this means that they want to be sure visitors who find them online have a good experience when they view their website on a smartphone. Gamifying their website adds additional overhead to their web projects, and it will almost certainly add even more overhead if they want to give a similar experience across web browsers, tablets and smartphones. Do you have suggestions about how to approach this? Do you think businesses should design for smartphones first, for example, and then design for web browsers? Can you give any examples of how businesses that don’t have massive marketing budgets are dealing with the incorporation of gamification into their sites? Did you encounter problems like this when you built GamificationU.com (the companion website for the Gamification by Design book)?

Gabe Zichermann: It’s funny how quickly the mobilization of the web has advanced, isn’t it? It’s essential today that your site at least function on mobile devices and tablets. Better yet if it can be optimized for those devices and made to be beautiful and functional even in small real estate. Gamification has the benefit of a number of amazing technology vendors who have developed highly scalable (and often free or low-cost) solutions for implementing Gamification. In this way, the technical effort can be minimized – and it’s worth checking out folks like Bunchball, Badgeville, BigDoor and others. The design work is still incumbent on the site owner, but after all, you probably know your customers best anyway.

Mark McLaren: Gamifying a business website by adding a system of points, badges, levels, challenges and leaderboards has the potential to introduce a level of fun and engagement that’s lacking on most sites. You give examples in the book where this works, and the positive results can be measured (at least in terms of some kinds of activity on the site) with analytics. It’s clear that businesses are going to have to figure it out if they want to remain competitive in the long run. But I have many clients who cringe at the mention of this kind of “fun”. In fact, some of them have the same reaction to social media. They know everyone’s doing it, but they are still not sure why. When you speak at a conference like the Gamification Summit, you don’t need to convince people of the importance. But do you have a different talk you give to the gamifcationally challenged? the future averse? Kidding aside, I’d like your insights as to how to reach these folks.

Gabe Zichermann: One of the things I like to point out to folks who have doubts about why they should use Gamification is the impending exodus of the Baby Boomer generation from the workforce. The Millenial generation will take it’s place (and really this has already started) – a generation of consumers and employees who have either grown up with video game controllers in their hands or grown up exposed to a society and pop culture thats full of this type of interactive entertainment.

In the case of social media and Gamification for business, everyone is doing it because it works. I find that the most convincing way to approach “the gamificationally challenged” is with real examples of gamified campaigns that produced real results. This can be more than website analytics. It can be Ananth Pai, an elementary school teacher, raising the math and reading levels of his classroom by one whole grade level in a matter of months by gamifying his classroom. It can be Kevin Richardson and his Speed Camera Lottery project which showed how gamifying speed tickets by rewarding good drivers with a lottery of the proceeds from the fines speeders pay can enact real and positive behavioral change. Or it can simply be (and often is the case for older demographics) to explain the power of loyalty programs through a behavior lens.

One thing everyone can agree on is that games are a powerful force for behavior change. Knowing that Gamification doesn’t always (often) mean turning things into a “game” can go a long way toward easing this stress. And the success stories don’t hurt either. :)

Mark McLaren: One of the things that really resonates about gamification is that its success depends on constant feedback and testing. As you say in the book, “No gamified system should be built with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality.” Really, the same is true of today’s website. The tools are available to allow us to monitor users and make significant improvements based on their behavior. Businesses that fail to do so are increasingly out of touch with their customers. Gamification promises to increase basic metrics like time-on-site, return visits, social sharing and so on. Hence the appeal for marketers. Like social media integration, from a practical standpoint, unless we can integrate traditional web analytics like Google Analytics together with gamification analytics, marketers are not really going to be able to show a direct connection between gamification and business goals. If I have the budget for dedicated programmers who can incorporate different APIs into my web analytics software, then I’m in good shape. With enough time and money, I can show the connection. But what about smaller businesses? Are their ways to integrate gamification analytics on the cheap?

Gabe Zichermann: The aforementioned technology vendors can definitely help with analytics, and most of them come with an integrated analytics and tracking package that is one of their value adds. But one of the most interesting things I’ve found in working with major brands on Gamification strategy and design in my consulting practice (called Dopamine – or http://dopa.mn) is that in following our Gamification process, we often start with a discussion of metrics, success factors and analytics. This helps make Gamification very results-driven and effective, but also has trickle down benefits for the business as a whole (it’s often the first time the organization has tried to figure out the meaning of a “win”).

Mark McLaren: It seems like the obvious appeal for traditional marketers in all this gamification is still to do permission-based marketing: to get site visitors to tell you who they are so they can be added to a mailing list and contacted. Do you see problems with “players” – site visitors – wanting to play but still remain anonymous? Does gamification give us new, more effective ways to encourage visitors to give up their information? Or, alternatively, can we achieve business goals through gamification without asking for information like real name, company name or email address? Can visitors remain anonymous and still help us spread the word about our products and services? How far along the sales funnel should we permit anonymity?

Gabe Zichermann: I think that the key here is providing visitors with a web experience that is so fun and engaging that they don’t feel a need to stay anonymous. Specific tactics that can help a website turn it’s anonymous visitors into known community members include offering real-world rewards and perks.

But I do also think that websites, companies, and services can benefit from a community of users that stays anonymous. A big part of Gamification is the social nature of people and the web – so it’s important that social media be tied closely to gamified platforms, services, or websites. In this sense, if consumers are engaged and entertained by your offering, they may be more apt to share it with their Facebook or Twitter networks than they would be to share their personal contact info with a corporation.

As always, the key is to make things authentic and rewarding – if you can do those two things you can create powerful and lasting engagement with consumers. Gamification happens to have the best toolkit for making that happen, and that has had no small part in its phenomenal success.

Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps
By Gabe Zichermann, Christopher Cunningham
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: July 2011
Pages: 208

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Is a Listing in Yahoo Directory a Valuable Link? Yes. Worth the Cost? It Depends http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/yahoo-directory-listing-value-worth-cost-depend/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/yahoo-directory-listing-value-worth-cost-depend/#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2011 05:53:46 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1505 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]>

Yahoo Directory - Should you pay to list your site here?

One way to improve your site’s search engine optimization is to submit it to online directories. Some directories are more respected than others. One of the most widely respected online directories is Yahoo. Should you pay $300 – $450 a year to list your website in the Yahoo Directory? Probably not.

Just as there is debate about the value of being listed in another well-established, old-school directory called dmoz.org, there is debate among veteran search engine optimization pros about the value of a listing in the Yahoo directory. Michael Gray says Yahoo is one of four essential directory listings for any business.

Dr. Pete at SEOmoz says listing in the Yahoo Directory is not worth the cost for most businesses with established websites. For a site that is just beginning to build inbound links,

One solid-authority link [like the Yahoo Directory link] can make a big difference. If you have an established site with a few dozen (or even a few hundred) solid back-links, that $299 probably isn’t going to give you much SEO impact.

As Dr. Pete says, there are also many other directories worth considering, many of which are free.

Niche directories are especially useful for SEO as well as visibility to human readers. Take a look at ones like AllTop. McBuzz.com is listed in AllTop’s Social Media Directory. It has been a very valuable (free) listing/link.

Consider what else you might do with the $300 to $450 annual Yahoo Directory listing fee. There is some healthy debate about Yahoo Directory listing vs. content creation among SEO pros. You could put that money towards content creation: hire a writer or an SEO writer who could help with some excellent new blog posts that would be a source of new links to your site. Or hire an SEO consultant to review your site and give you many different suggestions about free directories, paid directories and other links to your competitor’s websites, for example.

Should medium and large businesses who spend thousands of dollars a month on advertising be listed in the Yahoo Directory? It certainly can’t hurt their search optimization efforts. But I’m with Dr. Pete. If they are looking for quality links, why not spend the money on content creation and promotion – combined with some aggressive AdWords advertising – instead? Those businesses should at least take the time to review inbound links to competitors’ websites first to see if there are niche sites and directories that are free and probably just as valuable, like a link from a .gov or .edu or .org site. Whereas a site like dmoz.org will probably never respond to your directory submission, niche directories are often the most responsive sites to give you a link. They are curated by people with an active interest in growing their sites, and they are committed to promoting quality content.

It’s hard to know the impact of a Yahoo Directory listing on search rankings. In an ideal case, you would list your site in Yahoo and do little else for SEO for 3-4 weeks to see if you got a boost in search rankings. But the reality is that if you have done any SEO work, the effects of those efforts are going to surface gradually over time, so there’s no real way to isolate the effects of a directory listing. For that reason, I’m skeptical about sites that claim to get great lift from any one directory. Now, if you are getting traffic to your website directly from a link in a directory (which is easy to track), that’s a different story!

The bottom line: I don’t recommend paying for a Yahoo Directory link when there are so many other SEO options available. Instead, spend the money on inbound link research, strategy, content creation, paid search advertising or some combination of these.

If you want to do a little inbound link research on your competitors’ sites yourself, you can use the handy Site Explorer tool from (none other than) Yahoo! Just put a URL / domain name in the box at the top of the page and click “Explore URL”. Then click the “Inlinks” button under Results. Use the “Show inlinks” dropdown menu to select “Except from this domain”.

And, normally this goes without saying, but some business have websites without any kind of analytics solution set up. So before you think about spending money on a Yahoo Directory listing, be sure to check to see if you have Google Analytics or some other analytics tracking software installed on your website. Definitely spend that $300 – $450 to get analytics and Google Webmaster Tools set up properly on your site! Those improvements will pay for themselves in no time.

(Note that the Yahoo Directory is not the same as the Yahoo Local Directory.)

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Using Footer Links for Search Engine Optimization http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/using-footer-links-for-search-engine-optimization/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/using-footer-links-for-search-engine-optimization/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 06:30:20 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1466 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]>
Footer Links on McBuzz.com - an easy way to boost Search Engine Opimization

Example of Footer Links on McBuzz.com: an easy way to boost Search Engine Opimization

Can you use links in the footer of your website to improve search engine rankings? If those footer links go to internal pages on your own website, the answer is absolutely yes.

I have read on some SEO sites that footer links are not as helpful to SEO as they once were. This is probably true, given that Google has become more adept at determining when links are being used as navigation on every page as opposed to an “editorial” link that appears in the body of a page and is being used by the author as a way to specifically recommend another web page or a piece of quality content.

However, I have direct confirmation of the power of a footer link to improve search ranking – and also to improve the click-through rate of the listing that appears in a Google search engine results page (SERP).

Another Example of Footer Links Being Used for SEO

Rand Fishkin has written one of the most popular posts about footer links: Footer Link Optimization for Search Engines and User Experience. He thinks footer links are no longer a great asset to SEO, but they do count for user experience. Still Rand concedes that links in a footer can be used to advantage if they are not abused.

One very good way to improve SEO for your blog posts is to add a Latest Blog Posts or Latest Comments widget to the footer of your site. You can see examples of these footer links at the bottom of the mcbuzz.com home page. These are effective primarily because the link text contains keywords that are highly relevant to the topic of the post.

Footer links still carry weight with Google as indicated in a post by one of the top authorities on Link Marketing, Debra Mastaler, where she says emphatically, “Avoid buying or selling footer links.” Linking from the footer of your website to another site, or soliciting or paying for a link from someone else’s footer to a page on your site, is not what I’m talking about here. But if you read Debra’s post, you’ll see there’s good evidence that, even though it may be true that footer links don’t have as much significance in the Page Rank algorithm as they once did, Google does continue to pay attention to the content of footer links and to the way those links are being used.

There is one case in which a footer link is almost essential to good SEO: if you are forced to use images or Flash for navigation links/buttons. In situations like these, you would be foolish not to put text links to the main pages of your site in your footer.

Does Google like footer links in some cases? Here’s proof that Google loves footer links when they provide a really useful clue as to what the page being linked to is about:

In SERPs for one of my client’s sites where Flash is used for the main site navigation, Google actually picks up the text of the footer link to create the title of the search result listing!

The actual text has been changed to protect my client. For my example, I’m using a keyword that’s kinda sorta like the keyword my client ranks on page one of Google for, but here’s what that looks like:

FOOTER LINK: luxury hotel seattle

luxury hotel seatlle – Seattle Hotel Accommodations

The words luxury hotel seattle are not in the page’s title tag or in the visible header on the page. There’s no doubt that Google is pulling the text from the footer link because it’s lower case, and there’s nowhere else on the site that the keyword appears in lower case but the footer link. The page the link points to is strongly related to all things “luxury hotel seattle” and – I know from Google Analytics – when visitors come to that page with a search on keywords related to “luxury hotel seattle” there is a low bounce rate. Visitors find what they are looking for, in other words.

Google sees the frequency of clicks on the result in the SERPs and the low bounce rate and is happy to continue to serve up the listing high on its search results pages. In fact, Google goes so far as to create a customized listing using text from the footer link. Obviously, this is good for users. They are more apt to click the listing, and when they do, they get what they want from Google and from my client’s website.

The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to use links in the footer of your website with keywords in the anchor text, especially if you have site navigation that uses images or Flash, as long as those links point to internal pages or posts on your site. Ideally, you should not use images or Flash for navigation, but you may not be able to change that. So, put those text links in your footer!

Even if you have text links in your main site navigation – as is the norm today, thank goodness! – you can boost search engine optimization for internal pages and posts on your site by including keyword-rich text links to those pages in your footer. Adding a Recent Posts widget is one easy way to do so.


Footer Links SEO: More Strong Evidence That Footer Links Improve SEO

For further strong evidence of the power of footer links, we turn to SEO guru and all around great guy, Joost de Valk, aka Yoast. “GoDaddy’s spammy link building techniques” makes an excellent case that, with enough keyword-rich footer links pointing at your website, you can improve search ranking spectacularly for those keywords – no matter if the content on the linking sites is related to the keywords or not! GoDaddy uses its Website Tonight software to insert links to its own web pages (and these links have carefully targeted keywords in the anchor text) into the footer of every website that uses Website Tonight to build its web pages. The outcome, as Yoast notes, is top ranking for GoDaddy pages for nearly all of the targeted keywords.

I agree with Yoast that Google should not reward this kind of practice. It’s a clear abuse of links as a factor in search rankings. The reason Google gives weight to link text is that many genuine links are an indicator or “vote” for the authority and usefulness of a web page. When I link to Yoast’s post above, I’m doing so because it serves my readers and it helps to make my case. GoDaddy’s links do nothing of the sort.

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Farewell Steve Jobs http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/farewell-steve-jobs/ http://www.mcbuzz.com/2011/farewell-steve-jobs/#comments Thu, 06 Oct 2011 05:41:19 +0000 http://www.mcbuzz.com/?p=1447 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.]]> Today one of the world’s greatest technologists and innovators passed away at the age of 56. Our sincere condolences go out to his friends and family. Farewell, Steve Jobs. You changed the world of design – for good.

Farewell Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs with the Apple lineup in 1984

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