Lana’s articles on marketing, copywriting, and technology.

Are You Doing Everything? 5 Projects You Can Outsource Today to a VA

Many of my clients don’t know what project they could give a VA (Virtual Assistant) when I gift them with a 2-hour VA time bonus. From scheduling to web design, from billing to client services, they do it all!

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SEO and Your Website: 3 Questions to Ask Your Webmaster, part 2

In part 1 of the “Ask Your Webmaster” Series, I described how to maximize the use of meta data on your website.

Today I’d like to continue with another commonly overlooked “visibility blocker” on your site: images!

Question to ask your Webmaster: Do My Main Images Have <ALT> Text?

FACTimages are invisible to Google. Which may be ok. (Do you really want Google to index that picture of a lemon you used to go with your blog entry about turning lemons into lemonade? which was actually a post about breakups?)

It is NOT ok when your top SEO keywords are hidden inside those images. I just reviewed a brand-new website where the menu of services was one giant image.  Which means that an opportunity to let Google know what services you offer was wasted.

SOLUTION:  If you must keep this information inside an image, please ask your webmaster to add an <alt> tag with a description of what’s inside that image.

This will allow Google (and other search engines) to read the text and decide whether your website should be on page 1 or page 100 for your top SEO keyword.

SEO and Your Website: 3 Questions to Ask Your Webmaster, part 1

Just like victory, charity, and many other good things, SEO (or Search Engine Optimization – the process of making your website more visible on search engines) begins at home.

The biggest SEO surprise for many entrepreneurs is that SEO begins on their website.

Before you invest into linking and other “off-site” SEO strategies, make sure your “house” is in order.

In the coming posts, I will be sharing key areas to address with your webmaster or designer.

Today I’d like to start with the area most commonly associated with SEO: your meta data.

Please ask your webmaster:

What are the current site title, description, and keywords for my home page? And, how can I change them?

Your goal is to include your top SEO keywords — the way you want to be found by your ideal customers — in each of these areas.  If you sell modern diaper bags, your keyword is “modern diaper bags.” If you are a fitness expert in San Francisco, your keyword is something like “personal trainer San Francisco.” If you help your clients overcome ___ (fill in the blank), your keyword is ___ (fill in the blank).

Your site tile and description are prime SEO real estate!

Yet, by default these “meta” fields are filled out with your company name,  or even left blank!

[Meta Keywords, once the hallmark of SEO, are much less important as of late 2009, when Google announced it no longer took meta keywords into consideration when ranking websites. I still recommend filling out 5-8 SEO meta keywords because they still matter for other search engines.]

The good news is that meta data update is usually a basic task that should require no more than 30 minutes of your webmaster’s time. It may even be an administrative option that you can update yourself.

For bonus SEO points, repeat this exercise for every key page of your website.

Google AdWords As A Customer Intelligence Tool

If you use pay-per-click advertising to attract more visitors and buyers to your website, you are probably familiar with Google AdWords.

But did you know you can also use AdWords to get some cool intel on your customersand prospects? Google lets you get into your customers’ mind and learn what I call theirsecret buying language.

My favorite “sneaky” tip is to use the Search Query Report is to see EXACTLY what your prospects typed in when they saw your ad.

I tried it the other day for a college admissions coach. Her Google keywords included “top colleges” or “college essay help.” Google also picks up searches with similar phrases, so my client’s ad shows up for even more Google users. But who are these users and what are their top concerns and questions?

Using the Search Query report, I was able to show my client exactly what her prospects are typing into Google’s search box. My favorite finding was this phrase: “essays that help you get into top colleges.”

What can we do with this information? For starters, use it verbatim in a future ad.. or even a newsletter! Because what could be more powerful than using your prospect’s exact words to speak to attract them? It’s like you are reading their mind!

If you are a retailer, you can use this “sneaky” tool to learn how your customers look for specific products. Do they Google “where to buy gluten free dog food” or “cheap gluten free dog food.”  You can then adjust your AdWords settings, so for instance if your product is high-end, you may want to exclude the word “cheap” from your keyword list.

Note:  as tempting as this report is to use, I don’t recommend running it unless you are generating 500 or more clicks per month on AdWords.  It’s easy to get excited about the data, but keep in mind that it has to be statistically significant in order to be useful.

Google AdWords: Planning Your Way To A Higher ROI

A fellow Savor member asked for advice on spending her $100 AdWords voucher.  Is it worth playing around with AdWords? What should you expect?

$100 can actually be a decent AdWords budget, and could generate 100-200 new visitors to your website.  The tricky part is to plan what these visitors will do/see/experience on your site. Will some of them buy right away?

As part of my recommendation, I made a list of my top 3 factors to consider when planning a pay-per-click campaign, whether you are spending $100 or $10,000.

1) Your market and your keywords. Some keywords, such as loan modification, diet, or life insurance, are more competitive (read: expensive) than others. So a $100 might buy you 100 new visitors at $1 (which is decent), or 20 visitors at $5 each.

2) Your goal for the campaign. Is your goal to grow your email list or sell a $20 product?  If your expected average order size is $20 or less, it can be tough to create an AdWords campaign that is profitable right away. On the other hand, if your near-term goal is to add new prospects to your email database, AdWords can be quite cost-effective for that.

3) Your site:  once someone clicks on your AdWords ad, what do they see? What is the user experience? Is it clear what you expect them to do / buy? Is it consistent with the specific offer that was in your Google ad? Do you have a special Campaign page set up with that special offer, or do they need to wade through pages of content to find it? How many clicks does it take them to complete the purchase?  The easier you make it for them to buy, the higher your AdWords ROI.