Saturday, March 26, 2011

Competing to Win Online in 4 Easy Steps

by Carl Weiss

Like it or not, if you own a website, you are forced to compete for exposure online.  With 234 million websites already in existence and nearly 130,000 new sites coming online every day, is it any wonder that being found is getting harder and harder to accomplish?  Well, the good news is that while it may take a little sweat equity to put your web presence in the winner’s circle, the task can be accomplished in short order if you follow the four simple rules below.

  1. Don’t look “Old School” and expect to be considered current.

If your website still has an entry page that reads “Click here to enter our website,” or if your site is 100% Flash, or if the last update you performed on your site was back in 2005, then don’t be surprised if your site is languishing on Google page 122.

If the Internet is going to become a real asset to your business, the most important first step you can take is to update your website on a regular basis.  This means embracing new technologies such as social networking, blogging and video. It means changing your web mantra from “Set it and forget it,” to “Feed the need.” 

I personally make it a habit to publish at least one new blog per week and add two new videos per month.  Why?  Because I want my web presence to keep pace with my growing business enterprise.  I want my websites, blogs, vlogs, social networks and newsletters to bring prospects and clients back to check up on my latest events and updates.  I also want to make sure that I either embed or link these blogs, vlogs, and social networks to my homepage.

You’ll notice I said “websites.”  There is no law that states that you can only employ one website to promote your business.  In fact, it behooves you to employ a number of sites in order to get the word out, particularly if your business markets a number of different products and services.

  1. Since you don’t have months to wait for results, why would you?

While SEO is an important part of developing your web presence, it isn’t the only way to generate exposure.  Some would argue that isn’t even the best way to generate exposure.  Why?  Because virtually every search engine in existence routinely alters their algorithms from time to time.  Have you ever seen your search engine listing go from page 1 to page 5 overnight?   This was no doubt due to a search engine “update.”

Besides, even the best SEO firms on the planet can’t guarantee that they can deliver Google Page 1 for every search term you desire.  And every one of them will tell you that it can take four months or more before you find your links on page one of Google.  That doesn’t mean that you should neglect SEO by any means.  It’s just that there’s more than one way to skin a search engine.

Case in point: My firm was hired by a prominent real estate broker to help him sell units on a condo complex his firm had acquired.  After researching their keywords, we decided to create a 4-page microsite and a series of 4 videos that could be used to leverage SEO potential.  We then optimized the videos and embedded them on the site. As a result, the videos started appearing on Google page 1 within 30 days and the website url was on page one within less than 60 days.  As a result, not only did the broker sell the development in short order, but the site and videos continue to steer leads his way to this day.

Another client hired us to help her improve her online visibility.  After researching the keywords, we discovered that there was only one keyword that was going to cost more than $3 per click.  The rest could be had on the cheap. So we registered a url that contained the keyword and created a properly optimized site that targeted this particular keyword.  For the remainder of the keywords we created a series of landing pages, employing Adwords to generate page 1 placement.  As a result, the client started seeing traffic and lead generation within two weeks instead of having to wait months for SEO to take effect.

  1. Once you get someone to click onto your site, you need to get their attention fast!

If the first brush a prospect has with your company is your website, they don’t know who you are, they don’t know what your reputation has been and they aren’t going to take the time to wade through 15 pages of prose to find out.  In fact, it’s a statistical improbability that they will scroll down the screen to the bottom of your homepage.  With that in mind, why do so many companies insist on wasting the valuable real estate at the top of the page by cramming it full of nebulous graphics and the company logo?

If you really want to capture the prospect’s attention and more importantly have them contact your firm or even better, make a purchase, what you need to put at the top of your homepage is a video.  Video is the perfect ice breaker in that it introduces the visitor to you and your business.  In 60-90 seconds you can show newcomers to your site your staff, demonstrate products and even include a testimonial from a satisfied customer.  You can tell them about your years of experience and give them a reason to do business with you.  Most importantly, you can increase your credibility and reduce a prospects hesitation to buy.

(In a previous blogpost, “The Keys to Getting Your Videos to Go Viral,” I showed you how you can use short videos to create added traffic to your sites.)


  1. Don’t complain about a lack of results if you offer no reason to act.

Having been an online marketing consultant for more than 16 years, it never ceases to amaze me how many website owners lament a lack of leads and sales when their homepage clearly doesn’t offer much if anything in the way of a call to action or incentive to do business.

The other “Must Have” items on the top of your website that go hand in hand with your video should be your phone number and an offer.  By offer, I don’t mean, “Click here to sign up for my newsletter.”  What I mean is one of the following:

a.       Free sample or service -Since the most powerful word in the English language is FREE, this kind of offer is obviously going to draw the most attention.  Offering a free sample of a product or service is going to make a huge impact on converting browsers into buyers.  Even though you are going to have to provide a free taste, the result is that you are going to generate more of a result if all the prospect has to do is click or call to get the freebie.  This means you will now have a viable lead to work and that your ROI will be much higher using this tactic than any other, provided that you work, work, work the lead generated.

Being an online marketing expert, I personally offer prospects a free Top-to-Bottom analysis of their entire web presence.  This provides the prospect with a chance to see how their web presence stacks up against the competition.  It also provides my firm with an opportunity to create a rapport with the prospect and ultimately offer to deliver a solution that will help improve the prospects visibility and results online.  This is what’s known as a win-win situation.

b.      Discount coupon - The second most powerful inducement to getting a prospect to take action has to do with a discount offer.  In order to make the offer truly attractive, the purveyor of a product or service needs to dig deep in order for the offer to really work well. I mean, an offer good for only 10% off a $2 item isn’t really going to project the “Wow Appeal” needed to make someone pull the trigger and make a purchase. 

The following are the most powerful discount calls to action, in order:
1.      Buy 1 Get 1 Free
2.      50% Off
3.      Free Shipping

Remember, while you will be taking a hit on the initial purchase, the objective is to acquire a new customer that will continue to purchase products and services from your company hopefully for years to come.  Just like printed coupons, these inducements are meant to spur a buying decision.  Unlike print media, the value of employing coupons online is that if properly targeted, you know for a fact that the prospect is looking for your product or service before they enter your site.  Therefore the object is that once you get them there you need to provide an offer they can’t refuse as soon as possible.

c.       Enticement to even more free information - If you are still reluctant to give a prospect a free taste of something that costs you money, then the other way to hook a prospect is by offering them an intangible that has a value to them.  What I am referring to is the Free Webinar.  A webinar is a lecture presented either live or via podcast or video that presents prospects with information that can help solve a problem or provide industry secrets. 

Sample webinar topics have included such offerings as:
·        The Secrets to Setting Up a Successful Online Business
·        Google Page 1 in 30 Days or Less
·        The Top 5 Free Ways to Advertise Online
·        How to Turn Your Blog into a Cash Machine

Whether you present the webinar live or canned, the most important thing is that you need a grabber title and the expertise to back it up.  If you can accomplish both of these tasks, then you will accomplish three vital steps toward turning a prospect into a client:
1.      You will capture the prospects email.
2.      You will become in the eyes of the prospect an authority figure.
3.      At the end of the webinar you will get yet another opportunity to pitch the prospect to purchasing a product or service from your firm.

With the Internet getting ever more crowded, it is vital to your online success that you do everything in your power to give your web presence a competitive edge.  After all, this is one competition you can’t afford to lose.

Carl Weiss has been helping clients gain a competitive edge online since 1995.  If you are interested in tuning up your web presence, call Carl at 904-234-6007 for a Free Web Presence Analysis.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Keys to Getting Your Videos to Go Viral

By Carl Weiss

So you finally created that kooky corporate video that has everyone at the office laughing out loud.  Then you posted it on YouTube figuring that the clicks would start pouring in.  The problem is that after weeks and weeks of languishing on YouTube, your video still has yet to break 100 views.  Is that what's bothering you, Bunky.

Examples of humorous videos that promote a product or service:

Well, if you want your videos to go viral, you have to work just a little bit harder.  Once you've uploaded your videos to YouTube, you must put on your marketing hat and begin to promote your video online.  One of the best ways to accomplish this task is via article marketing. 

The beauty of article marketing is that it couldn't be easier.  All you need to do is write articles related to your videos and then submit them to the top article directories, websites and ezines that accept articles.Such directories include:  EZine Articles, Article Base, EZine Art, and Article Click, just to name a few.  

No matter where you submit your articles, the important thing to keep in mind is that in order to produce the desired result, your must provide unique, high quality content that solves at least one piece of a problem. However, in order to convert readers to buyers, you must not give the reader all of the answers necessary to solve the problem. Instead you want to tease them with some of the how and top it off with why it's important that this particular dilemma gets solved.

This sets you up as an authority figure in the eyes of the reader and also provides the perfect segway for you to dangle clickbait in the form of a call to action and an offer the reader can't refuse.  The key to creating an irresistible offer is to hit the reader right between the eyes.  The last thing a reader wants to see at the bottom of an article that has them sitting on the edge of their seat is a paragraph describing the last ten years of the author's life.   Now that you have set the stage, deliver a call to action that is hard to ignore.

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Now that you have crafted your article and killer offer, the next step to submission success is to come up with a grabber title that will make people want to read and most importantly repost your article. Titles that start with leads such as. "The 6 Best Ways to...," "How to Guarantee...", and "The ABC's of..." are just a few of the many ways to grab a reader's attention and make your articles stand out from the crowd.  

 An added bonus to submitting articles to the top article directories is that it also helps you build links and improve your search engine optimization. What a deal!

 Just like your website, in order to increase your YouTube Video's search ranking on Google, you must increase the number of inbound links to the page. The higher you climb in search results the more unique visitors you will get.  By submitting articles to the top article directories like, you will instantly receive a guaranteed link to your YouTube page as long as you follow each directory's specific editorial guidelines.

 Keep in mind that for best results on the search engines you can't just have any link. You must have links on high-trafficked websites with high Google Page Rankings and high Alexa Traffic Rankings. Plus, by placing your articles on highly-competitive, targeted websites like, instead of just second tier article directories that will publish anyone's articles, you will win trust in the hearts and minds of your targeted audience before they even see your YouTube video.

By following these tried and true techniques, you will be able to promote your video, bump your website's ranking on the search engines and most importantly generate leads for your growing business.  Not a bad deal for a little bit of sweat equity.

Online Marketing Expert Carl Weiss has been helping companies large and small take their web presence to the next level for more than 16 years.  Now you can add him to your team by taking him up on his offer of a FREE Web Presence Audit by clicking on the link or by calling him at 904-234-6007. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Give Your Website the Hollywood Blockbuster Treatment

By Carl Weiss

Ever since YouTube first launched its groundbreaking site back in 2005, the buzz online has been about how video has been changing the face of the Internet.  Yet while millions have posted video clips to this and other portals such as And, many website owners still haven’t figured out the connection between online video and online success.  With the low cost of entry into this multi-media promotional extravaganza, there are a number of ways that you can use video to give your website the Hollywood blockbuster treatment.

When It Comes to Video, Size Matters

In the first place, if you want to create online videos that people will want to watch and pass along to their friends and family, the first thing you have to understand is that when it comes to riveting online video, short sells.  This means that you don’t have to shoot a feature film or documentary to make the scene with online viewers.  In fact, if you have spent any time on YouTube, you will quickly come to find that most of the clips that generate the highest clickthrough are only 30-90 seconds long. 

Lights, Cameras, Viral Video

The most important factor to getting your videos to go viral is to start off with a catchy title that hooks the viewer into giving your clip a whirl.  Then you need to back it up with a clip that is either humorous, thought provoking or otherwise visually appealing.  The last thing that websurfers want to watch is your last board meeting, or a 30-second commercial promoting your business.

While production value on video portals tends for the most part to be quite low, this doesn’t mean that you should post a clip with audio or video quality that is so poor that the clip is more annoying to watch than Rosanne Barr singing the National Anthem.  So while it isn’t necessary for you to spend $5,000 on a pro-level digital video camera, don’t try the opposite tack by trying to produce compelling video on that $29.95 webcam either.  The good news is that there are a number of consumer digital video cameras in the $500-$1000 range that will give you the ability to capture video and audio of reasonable quality without breaking the bank.  Post production software is even a bigger bargain, since most computers come complete with video editing software that is up to the task.  If you want to take your postproduction ability to the next level, there are some terrific packages in the hundred dollar range like Video Studio or Adobe Premier that provide even greater editorial prowess. 

How Do You Create Great YouTube?

One of the beauties of video portals like YouTube is that you can do all the research you want by simply entering keyphrases and perusing the videos that pop up.  For instance, if you are in the mortgage business, entering mortgages will pop up thousands of clips.  By scrolling down the list of the first dozen or so, you will notice that there are some clips that have gotten thousands of views and some that have garnered precious few.  By researching the clips at both ends of the spectrum, it will become readily apparent why some clips do better than others.  Before you spend any time in front of the camera, you need to decide exactly how you plan on hooking viewers into watching your clip.  Or, as we say in the video biz, “Every hour of preproduction saves five in post.” 

Now That I’ve Got It, What Do I Do With It?

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to put all your viral video eggs in one basket.  Once you have bit the bullet with regards to production costs, you have to remember that distributing your products online doesn’t cost you one penny.  So the trick to getting your clips to go viral is to shoot, shoot and shoot more video, continually adding new clips to every video portal you can find. 

Using YouTube as a Search Engine Optimization Tool

Another technique that you don’t want to neglect is the fact that since Google acquired YouTube, it is possible to generate Google search engine links with the use of standard search engine optimization practices.  In order to optimize your clip for Google, make sure you embed the title with keyword phrases that will help optimize your clips much as meta tags do for your website.  For instance, if your company is offering a business opportunity that you are going to showcase via video, insert the keyphrase “Business Opportunity Video” in the title.  Another technique that’s useful in turning your clip into clickthroughs is to add titling to every clip you produce in order to provide viewers with your website’s url.

Jazzing Up Your Website with Video

Also, don’t forget that your video doesn’t have to reside exclusively on the video portals.  You can also embed every clip you produce into your existing site.  To do this, you should either convert the clip into flash format before loading it onto your website, or you can simply use the html code that YouTube will provide you once you upload your clip.  This will allow you to employ YouTube clips on your website without having to concern yourself with the bandwidth issues.

Either way, adding Hollywood blockbuster appeal to your websites could soon be coming to a PC near you.

If you are considering adding video to your website, call the viral video pros at (904) 234-6007.  Carl Weiss and his staff will show you how effective and affordable video marketing can be to your growing firm.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The ABC's of a Dynamic Web Presence

by Carl Weiss

If you are looking to go beyond merely being online and are instead looking to dominate your area of the Internet, you need to do more than simply create a website.  The Internet isn’t as simple as it was ten years ago.  During that time it has gone from being a text-driven marketplace to a multi-media juggernaut that offers everything from audio and videocasting to social networking.  In order for you to get your share of the Web 2.0 pie, you need to provide viewers with something more than a static website.  What you need is to embrace the ABC’s of creating and maintaining a dynamic web presence.

A = Acquire the tools of the trade that will put your business on the map

Let me ask you, when was the last time you updated your website.  If the answer is two or more years ago, it’s high time you gave your site an extreme makeover.  What I mean by that is  you need to update your site’s technology by including such things as a blog, podcasting and video.  Sorry to say this but for the most part, today’s audience isn’t going to take the time to go beyond your homepage, unless you hit them right between the eyes with a reason to do so.  Industry statistics show that most people who click over to your site will in all likelihood not go below the fold on the homepage.  That being said, what you need to do is stop wasting all the valuable real estate above the fold with meaningless graphics and instead plug in your most dynamic information where your audience can’t miss it, at the top of the homepage.

Look at it this way, if the first contact that a client has with you is via the Internet, they don’t know who you are, they don’t know what kind of experience you have and they don’t have a reason to contact you. They sure as hell aren’t going to click through a dozen or more pages on your site to find out.  This is where online video works like a charm. 

What I refer to as the “elevator pitch,” this video provides a viewer with the opportunity to get to know a little bit about you and your business.  You can show them your facilities, introduce them to your staff, and you can tell them what makes your business special.  You can even provide video testimonials that allow your clients to tell prospects what you have done for them and why someone should consider doing business with you.  Best of all, you can also hit the prospect right between the eyes with an inducement to contact you NOW!

Granted, your website is only the tip of the iceberg today when it comes to your web presence.  However, for many prospects, this will be the first brush they have with your business, so it is vital that you not waste this opportunity to provide them with a reason to do business with you.  You should also provide links to your blog, along with quick connections to your social media conduits.

B = Be where your audience searches

Ten years ago when people wanted to find an accountant, a plumber, or a roofer, they thumbed through the Yellow Pages.  Today, they use search engines like Google to search for vendors and contractors, or they peruse sites such as Craigslist and Angie’s List.  There are also other specialized portals and social networks that are set up to assist the buying public in their search for reliable firms with which to do business.  You need to Google these portals and social networks in order to add them to your marketing mix.  Best of all, these sites charge little or in some cases nothing at all to add your business to their site.

Speaking of Google, if you want to effectively employ this online juggernaut as part of your advertising mix, you need to get page 1 results. Being on page 2 is going to mean that your competitors are going to continue to eat your lunch online.  Industry statistics show that 97% of searchers limit their searches to page 1.  It also means that you will be sure to get your share of the more than 90 billion searches performed on Google every single month. 

C = Convert traffic to sales

Understand going in that the average web browser will spend less than a minute on any given site.  That being said, what you need to do is hit them right between the eyes with an offer or inducement as soon as possible. Your offer or inducement should be tailored to get the prospect to either call, walk into your business, or fill out a short form that will provide them with a coupon or intangible item of value.  By intangible, I am referring to an ebook, prerecorded webinar, or something else of perceived value.  Either way, this generates a lead complete with email address and phone number on which you can follow up.  (In a future blog, I will show you how to convert these leads into an automated drip marketing program.)

If all of the above sounds like a full time job to accomplish, bear in mind that companies like Access JAX are ready, willing and able to jump into the fray and help you create and manage a web presence that generates both traffic and leads.  When you consider that in the next 5 years it is predicted that 42% of the $155 Billion that was spent by local vendors in 2009 is expected to be spent online, this isn’t an advertising venue that you can afford to ignore.

Want to find out how you stack up against the competition online? Access JAX offers a no-cost, no obligation top to bottom analysis of your online presence.  To take advantage of this offer, call us at 904-234-6007