For years now there have been web design firms that specialize in building sites for certain industries. For instance a lot of doctors groups get their web sites designed by “medical web site specialist” firms.
I’m not sure why this is, I suppose it’s has something to do with the specific issues that medical web sites need to consider that other sites don’t. Making appointments, billing, patient privacy laws, and whatnot, are things that not many other sites would have to deal with.
So it makes sense from both a practical sense as well as an economical sense. A firm who has already developed dozens of other web sites for your industry, whether that’s medical services or HVAC installations or sporting equipment, would be able to design your industry-specific site in less time and with less aggravation, and probably for less money.
In theory that would be a good thing.
But what I’m seeing is that all of these sites look the same. Although the colors may be different or the photos have different formats or the banner has a different graphic, or one has video and another doesn’t, the essential structure is exactly the same. Even the copy is the same… “We are proud that we have the best physicians in the region working at Metro Women’s Health Center.” Gag.
It reminds me of my housing development. There are 6 basic floor plans but an almost unlimited number of combinations of front porch styles and window frames and siding colors and landscaping and the list goes on. So when you drive down my street all the houses on first glance look different. But after you’ve lived here and driven these sames streets a hundred times you realize they’re really all the same. (Remember Mr. Potatohead?)
Maybe I only see this (back to the industry web sites) because I live in this world day in and day out. Do the every day visitors notice? Do they go to a doctors office web site to check their hours and think, “Hey I just saw a site that looked like this the other day?” No, I’m sure they don’t.
The point is that if you are getting one of these sites and you think you are getting a deal for an amazing web site, think again. It’s the same old thing churned out with different colors and photo frames and header graphics.
One more point, and it’s a pretty major one: If your content is the same as 1,000 other competing sites, you will never get any organic search engine traffic. Content needs to be unique and fresh. The best thing you could do for yourself in this situation is start keeping a blog on your site to attract traffic.
Better yet, spend a little extra money and get a custom design created by a non-industry-specific designer. It will be totally worth the price in so many ways, and most importantly, your site really will be special.
I’m feeling rather guilty that I haven’t posted in over a week. But I have a good excuse, I promise!
Last week I went on hiatus in order to put the finishing touches on my recently released E-Marketing 101 Video Training Course. Basically the technology needed to be fixed in order to deliver the lessons automatically to each subscriber every week.
And I did it!
Yup, I finished the job, and in celebration, I have posted an amazing offer on the web site. Until the end of this month, you can get the program for just $47 per month for five months. It’s a 21-week program that teaches you step by step how to plan and implement a complete e-marketing program for your small business.
The best part is it’s totally risk-free! If you cancel within 60-days you will get your money back. You can watch every single video and implement everything you learn and even keep all the handouts that come with it, and we’ll still give you your money back. You don’t even have to tell us why. Just cancel your account and ask for a refund and you’ll get it. It’s that simple.
You can’t lose!
How can we offer you this? Because we’re convinced that you will see the same amazing results that our other participants have seen who have gone through the program.
Check out the web site at www.LearnEmarketingNow.com.
If you have any questions, post them here and I’ll answer them as quickly as possible. Or email me directly at lpecunia[at]avarrasolutions[dot]com and I’ll answer them privately.
In my last virtual workshop session, we were talking about search engine optimization.
One of my students had just been through a redesign of his company’s web site and they had put it on WordPress. WordPress lets you implement what’s called a “tag cloud,” which is a block of variable-sized words that visually represent the frequency of tag words as they appear on your site.
If you look at the bottom of this page in fact, you’ll see a rather ugly tag cloud (I know, I have to fix that.) It kind of looks like the image here on the right.
So my student asked me if this tag cloud feature on his new site would affect the search engine optimization of the site. Hm… interesting question! I decided to investigate.
I did some research on tag clouds and SEO initially read several articles and blog posts that completely conflicted with each other (so what else is new?). Then I found this video, straight from the mouth of Google’s Quality Search and Web spam team member, Matt Cuts.
Essentially what Matt says is “It depends”. The main criteria for Google’s spam team is “does this tag cloud seem spammy”? Of course they don’t come right out and tell you exactly how they determine this. But knowing what I know about Google’s intentions, it would be logical that the following things would be considered spammy, and might negatively impact your page rank.
Matt suggests it would be better to just have a side bar with links to your individual posts, since a tag cloud link essentially goes to a search results page, not a specific post page.
Anyway, watch the video and decide for yourself.
I spent quite a bit of time this week researching and playing with different options for displaying video.
Even for somebody fairly technical, I have to admit this stuff is pretty complicated. I want to help you by simplifying things a little bit. If you are thinking of putting a video on your web site and you either don’t want to or can’t afford a professional video person, I hope you will experiment with some DIY options. I hope this helps guide you.
Caveat: As with any attempt to simplify something complex, there are things I am glossing over, and other things I am omitting altogether. In some cases I’m using some “creative license” to illustrate a point, which I hope will make a complex concept easier for most of my audience to digest.
If you have questions please post a comment below.
Video comes in a variety of formats. The format is defined by the extension on the end of the filename of the video file. For example, if you are using a Blackberry or an iPhone to take video, you will end up with a .mov file extension. If you are using a Sony Flip camera on the other hand, you’ll have a .mp4 file. Flash video has a .flv extension. Different formats were developed by different companies or organizations, and each format has it’s own set of parameters, settings, and issues.
If you have a choice, it’s best to go with .mov or .mp4 as they are most compatible with all the browsers, including mobile devices. If you think your audience might be looking at your video with an iPhone or iPad however, stay away from Flash because it’s not supported on those devices.
The easiest way to get your video on your web site is to put it on YouTube (or some other video sharing site). Create an account if you don’t have one, and log in. In the corner of the screen is a link for “Upload a video”. Click that an it walks you through the upload process. It’s really easy. Just make sure your video is less than 10 minutes long (actually I recommend 5 minutes or less, just so you don’t bore your audience).
Once you have your video up on YouTube, you’ll see a box labeled “embed code”. That field has some html code in it, which you can copy and paste into your web page code. If you don’t know anything about HTML, just paste it into an email message and send it to your web guy or gal and tell them where on your web page you want it to display.
If you have a WordPress site, they make it even easier to put your video into your page. Here’s a screenshot of me writing this blog post in my WordPress “Edit Post” page:
See at the top of the screenshot, where it says “Upload/Insert”? Right next to it is a set of four icons. The second icon looks like a little film strip (well, sort of). If you click that you get another screen where you can either upload your video right to your web site host, or choose the “From URL” option and paste in the location of your video on YouTube. Like this:
Note that the “Video URL” value is an actual browser url, not the embed code as in the previous example.
If you don’t have a WordPress site, it’s pretty easy to convert an existing web site to WordPress. If you are interested in having someone do this for you, email me your web site address and I’ll give you a quote or point you to some resources to fit your budget.
I’m planning to have a complete online workshop that covers the entire process of creating and uploading a video. In that workshop I will demonstrate the basics, and then cover some of the more advanced topics like optimizing for search, promoting, how to write a good script. I’ll also cover different options for low-cost equipment, free format converters, editing software, and how to create a slideshows with voiceover.
If you’d like to be notified when the advanced class is available, please join our newsletter mailing list. When you join you’ll also get a copy of the abridged (free) version of my eBook, The Small Business Website Design Guide.
In my workshops I talk about “channels” a lot. A channel is simply a method of communicating with your target audience, a conduit so to speak. It’s a way of reaching out and creating a connection, building a relationship, or exposing your brand.
All advertising mechanisms are channels, so are social media, e-newsletters, blogging, video marketing, and lots of others.
Well, I found a new one that works amazingly well. Free webinars.
I have a free trial to a site called iLinc, which is a webinar/online training service. I’ve been using it for an online version of my E-Marketing 101 Workshop, and decided to try it out for my free webinar, which I’ve been promising people for a while.
I set it up the webinar event on the iLinc site which was pretty easy. I created my PowerPoint presentation, and then started promoting the webinar via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Merchant Circle. I started promoting it about a month ahead of time and then made a big push the last week, and ended up with 60 registrations.
After talking about the presentation format with a colleague, I decided to use the following approach:
One important factor I think was the bonus material. The participants were told they would get the bonus material at the end. They were also told I had a special offer for them. I think this was an important point because it helped create anticipation as well as encourage people to stay to the end to make sure they got everything out of it that they could.
The promotional portion was for a new program I am starting that I wanted to promote, to get pre-orders for. In included a special offer with some very juicy free bonuses that came with the purchase, including a huge price reduction. So it was a very compelling offer, and out of the 35 people who attended, 6 people signed up for the promotion. I got one more signup afterward from someone who watched the replay based on a link I sent out in my newsletter the following week.
I also sent another follow-up email to all the participants telling them that the replay was available. I’m hoping for one, maybe two, additional orders from that.
Not including the building of the presentation materials (which I can fully leverage by promoting the replay of the webinar over and over again), I spent about four hours in total promoting, testing, and delivering the webinar. The seven (so far) orders represent about $1,300, and on top of that I’ve added about 40 new people to my mailing list. Not too shabby for four hours of work. Everything else is just gravy.
I think I’ll do this every month.
EMarketingConnection.com is the place to go for support, community, and resources for your internet marketing programs.
Focusing completely on small businesses, EMarketingConnection.com is a membership site exclusively for those of us who understand the power of the internet and want to successfully leverage it to promote our business and boost sales.
With three membership levels (starting at free!) there is something for everyone at EMarketingConnection.com.
See you there!