by Arwa Jumkawala, TMMPDX Staff Reporter
On Monday I donned my long johns, packed up my pink netbook, and braved the chill to trundle down to the Internet Marketing Conference hosted by PSU, where I had a chance to meet up with the always-fabulous TMMPDX ladies. In order to give you the broadest possible coverage, we decided to divide and conquer the diverse workshop tracks; mine included: content strategy with Paul Wille (Swift Collective) and link building with John McPhee (Anvil Media).
Here are the favorite tips and tricks I brought away with me (and which should be useful to any small business owner):
Are you designing/redesigning your website a$$-backwards?
Websites are commonly built with awesome architecture, but without any real thought to content. Wille used the analogy of an art gallery that buys a bunch a beautiful frames and then tries to figure out what to fit in them. His biggest recommendation: Don’t be that gallery owner; your content should drive your design.
I haz no time to read!
People simply don’t read online; we scan to find what is relevant to us. So skinny down your text to the bare essentials. Wille suggested a tactic to get your text read by your audience: use less of it, “Take your content, cut in half, cut in half again.”
Go through your website with the eyes of your consumer
What are your consumers trying to achieve on your site? Are you making it easy for them? State benefits and not features. Wille presented the example of the American Airlines (AA) website versus Delta. AA had photos of their planes on the homepage. Delta had photos of destinations and cities. Do you think consumers care about the plane or about where the plane will take them?
The rule of five
You should be aware of the ROI and distribution potential of content you create. For example, when you write an informational article, you should not be writing it just for your newsletter subscribers, but thinking about where else it can be posted and reworked. Wille has the Rule of Five, as in, asking yourself whether the content can be used 5 times? E.g. posted on blog, reworked and syndicated etc.
Don’t underestimate the power of search boxes
About 20-25% of users will get your site and use the search box instead of the navigational links you spent 6 months perfecting. So make sure it points people to what they are looking for. If you’re looking to add search to your site, Will suggested Google Site Search which can be branded to match your own site’s look and feel.
Divebomb + self promote = Wikipedia fail.
Sure a link from Wikipedia would be awesome (despite the no-follow) but don’t sign up and post an entry for your business, unless your goal is to be deleted by Wikipedia’s vigilant editors ASAP. If you want to make a Wikipedia play for your site, you need to participate and add value to the community. Maybe there’s a way to reference your company in another entry that is helpful to others?
Stay out of bad neighborhoods when building links
All links are definitely not equal. Google judges you on the quality of the chums you keep. If you are listed on known spam sites or directories, your site will be penalized for it. My two cents: when trying to build links, always use your common sense. If a site or offer smells fishy, stay away.
Don’t have links that say “Click here”.
If you can specify your link anchor test, please do! They should contain relevant keywords, and make sure if points them to the relevant page (e.g.: a link for pugs should take users to the pugs page and not the dog homepage. Unless you want your pug groupies to get annoyed and bolt).