Facebook? Yes. Or Maybe No.


Should your business have a Facebook fan page?
By Lori Bratz

There’s a fun little web thing that people are doing now called Facebook. Facebook. It’s really neat because everyone on earth is “on it” and statusing (status-ing) about things they like, places they go, how they feel about their lunches, recalcitrant children, how annoyed they are to have woken up before the alarm clock went off and other important information about themselves and their daily lives. Everyone is a huge celebrity now and they are obligated to share their opinions with the world. Hooray for Mark Zuckerberg! Totally LOVE that guy. ANYWay.

They’re also “liking” things like Chapstick, sweet kisses, lion-head bunnies and businesses they know. I think I’m being clear. Facebook is where people are gathering. Sometimes people are spending their entire days with Facebook.

So, that being said, why would ANY business NOT have a Facebook fan page?? Here’s a reason: You cannot have a Facebook fan page if you won’t actually PARTICIPATE on Facebook. You can’t build a fan page and walk away. You have to manage it, build a fanbase, communicate, always be updating with good, relevant information. It can be a challenge, but heck, even King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls has an active Facebook fan page. How much is there to say about bread? Plenty, fellah. If you’re thinking it through.


How To Write Effective Web Content

picture of business associates pleasently meeting

How to write effective content for your website
By Lori Bratz

The best advice I can give you is to stay focused on your message. Be sincere. Be helpful. Help the people that you can and have a focused “call to action”.

Be focused. What is your product or service? Specifically? Write about your product in detail. What size is it? What are the benefits? Being specific and describing your product or service carefully will help you in your search rankings. People aren’t looking for “the best darn sewing machine company in the world”. They’re looking for a Husqvarna sewing machine dealer in Paducah.

Be sincere. When you write about your product or service, write about it truthfully. Be honest. If you truly ARE the leading business in your industry, add backup information to your claim. Don’t just throw words around about how awesome you are. That just makes you look untrustworthy.

Be helpful. Let your customers and potential customers know that you have a business or service that can be helpful to them, and why. Your content should PRE-ANSWER the questions that a potential customer might have. Why should they have your service/attend your class/buy your program?

Accept that your product or service is NOT for everyone. There are some people who are not interested in or who will not benefit from your product. Don’t try to “trick” people into buying your product or service by making misleading statements. What you have to offer may not be the right fit for some people. Accept it and move on. Focus on reaching out to the people you CAN help.

Have a “Call to Action”. That is to say, have a statement that tells your visitors what you want them to do. “Buy Now”, “Sign Up Here”, “Call For an Appointment”. If a customer has found your website and is interested in buying your product or service, let them know how to do it.

Good luck and remember, nothing speaks to customers like a sincere attitude!






Professional Website Help or DIY? Tips and Trips.

Do you need professional web help or can you go it alone?
By Lori Bratz

Yes, you CAN build your own website. It’s not really that hard. You can build it using Google Pages, WordPress, blog site, etc. and it may look as pretty as your business card. A pro writes and organizes your content in a logical, SEO-rich, intuitive way and does all the valuable behind-the-scenes stuff that makes your site a functioning, search-engine-indexed, income-generating entity on the web.

Building your own website can be a lot like stuffing your business card in the mail slot at the public library and expecting it to magically be a part of the card catalog. Let me give you some tips and their associated trips.

DIY Tip: If you decide to go it alone, do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Bells and whistles are like jewelry. Less is more. Remember, the goal of your website is to be your company’s first impression. It’s your business’s eHome and people are dropping in at all hours. And they’re judging. Keep it simple, well-organized, clean and for goodness sakes water the plants. (Don’t have dead links, broken images, outdated info.)

DIY Trip: Simple is good – but it’s ok to add some razzle-dazzle. If your site is TOO sparse, then it can look weak and unprofessional.

DIY Tip: Buy a domain name and buy your own hosting. My recommendation, GoDaddy, and Dreamhost. Choose a plan, pay your bills on time, remain on top of those things.

DIY Trip: Don’t just buy your domain name and hosting and walk away. Make sure you renew your domain name AND make sure you pay your host. Otherwise, you will lose your domain name and/or your host will take your site down for non-payment. Seems pretty basic but I’ve seen this happen over and over and over again to smart, well-meaning business owners.

DIY Tip: Start a blog. You can use your domain name as your blog name. It’s nice because blogs already have databases and other handy infrastructure. And the big bonus is that they can be updated by YOU any time you want!

DIY Trip: You can’t really customize your blog without technical or programming knowledge (because you need to get at the CSS to make changes and customize layouts, etc.). So, you choose any available template and just try to be happy. Also, you might not know how to manage the comments that people and spammers leave. Be diligent about monitoring for inappropriate comments and keep the moderation cue tidy. Deleting 3000 spam messages gets to a person. (A pro can run a script thru the SQL and clean those nasty things out lickity split.)

DIY Tip: Content Content Content. Remember, your target audience is a search engine spider looking to find out what your website is all about.

DIY Trip: Unnecessary content. Repeating and repackaging your elevator pitch over and over on your website is a huge waste of 1’s and 0’s. Unless you are talking about Marie Antoinette, do not overuse words like “revolutionary”. If you have a store that sells boulders, please clearly state that you sell boulders, which are a lot like rocks and stones and gravel…. You get the idea.

Good luck! Let your creativity flow!

Wikipedia. Why Do We Care About Wikipedia?

Wikipedia.  Why Do We Care About Wikipedia?
By Lori Bratz

Wikipedia is such an amazing community!  Who hasn’t spent hours poring over article after article about March Madness or The Russian Space Shuttle?  Wikipedia is a BIG DEAL.  When you’re searching for something on the internet you’ll notice that a vast majority of the time the first or second entry on Google’s search engine results page will be a Wikipedia entry.

Why create your own Wikipedia article? Reputation management. Your Wikipedia article will probably rank on page one for your company name.  You want to get in front of that and control what information is being featured about your company before someone else decides to write a page about your company that features a lot of info you do not want to share.  While it is true that your Wikipedia article can be edited by ANYONE, they need to validate their info with sources.

What should you do if someone edits my company’s article and it’s NOT flattering??  This is truly a case of the pen being mightier than the sword.  If you find yourself being cast infamously on Wikipedia, you can fight back by editing the article to show all your GOOD works, citing all your good deeds with their published sources!

Why have a professional writer create your page for you?  Simple.  Wikipedia can be complicated.  The community may edit or even delete your article if you don’t follow their tone, formatting and style guides.  If your article fails repeatedly, your business page can be BANNED from Wikipedia. And that would be terrible.

Proper Website Management

website maintenance

What is Website Management?
by Lori Bratz

Adding a slideshow, changing information, posting an article, listing an announcement, responding to blog comments, monitoring and managing your online reviews. Those things all fall under the category of website management. Those are the tasks required to keep your website up-to-date with what is happening with your business. Search engines give your website more attention when you update the information more frequently. That is to say, they visit more often, and they list your site higher on results pages when they “learn” that your content changes frequently and is relevant. Read the Official Google Blog on “Fresh Content is Like Warm Cookies” from Nov, 2017. “If I search for [olympics], I probably want information about next summer’s upcoming Olympics, not the 1900 Summer Olympics (the only time my favorite sport, cricket, was played). Google Search uses a freshness algorithm, designed to give you the most up-to-date results, so even when I just type [olympics] without specifying the year, I still find what I’m looking for.” Proper website management = frequent updates.

Website maintenance, on the other hand, is more structural and behind-the-scenes to fight downtime and hackers. It’s visually checking your directories and files for errors, it’s frequently changing your passwords, it’s checking that links on your site aren’t broken, it’s checking the mail server, it’s checking your tools and web services (like WordPress, Concrete5, Drupal) for upgrades, it’s keeping on top of the latest news and information about your website’s technology and knowing when and how to fix those things when fixes are required.

10 Things You Need To Know About Your Website

If you don’t have an interactive presence yet, a knowledgeable consultant can help you get started on the right foot. If you do have a website, a consultant can help you to examine your situation and help you get the best value for your money.  If you fall into the latter category, take some time to do an inventory of what you have to show for the investment you’ve made.

Here are a just a few things you must have if you have an interactive presence.  Without a thorough understanding of these 10 key components, you will waste thousands of dollars in time and money trying to upgrade or edit your website.

1. A professionally written technical specification. This is a document that details exactly how your interactive project was built, the code, the images, database structure, etc. A technical specification is the DNA for your interactive property.

2. A professionally written user’s guide.  This document is a manual that helps users know how to perform routine editing to your interactive property.

3. A professionally prepared design document.  This document defines the hexadecimal colors, fonts, sizes, etc. used in the design of your website.

4. Thorough understanding of your service provider’s SLA’s (Service Level Agreements): This is the agreement you have with your service provider that defines the amount of uptime you can count on.  The goal is 99.99% uptime each calendar month.

5. An agreement with your service provider about what penalties they will pay if they violate the SLA.

6. Thorough understanding of your service provider’s security policies, emergency escalation plan, backup & recovery processes, and server maintenance schedule.

7. A non-disclosure agreement with all staff and vendors who have access to your interactive property.

8. Clear, clean, concise, keyword-rich copy and content. Hire a professional writer with SEO experience.

9. Disaster recovery plan.  In case of technical disaster or site attack, you should have a plan for immediate site recovery.  In addition to frequent site backups by the service provider, you should have a clean electronic copy of your site available.

10. Information and permission to access your website.  You may need any of the following: FTP access, HTA access, database access.

The help of a professional, knowledgeable consultant means a better return on the investment you’ve made in your interactive property and overall bottom line.

Keyword Advertising: 10 Things You Need To Know Before You Spend Money on Keyword Advertising


10 things you need to know before you spend money on keyword advertising
By Lori Bratz

The best customers are the ones that come looking for you. I could sit and cold call businesses all day long and try to explain why they need me, but it’s much easier to pay search engines or strive for high organic placement to send me qualified leads: people who are looking for my services already. It’s good to strike while the iron is hot, and when keywords turn into hot customers, send them to me.

What do you need to know to buy keywords that actually convert to sales?

#1. Know your bottom line. An alarming number of business owners have NO idea what percentage of their money is being spent on essentials or how much profit they are earning, consequently, they don’t know what they can afford to spend on advertising. Do not start buying advertising (or anything else) until you know your bottom line.

#2. Know your customers. Who are the people that want to buy your product or service? Where do they live? Target those people in that area only. Highly targeted ads are more expensive, but they also deliver more qualified leads.

#3. Know your sales cycle. How long does it normally take consumers to purchase your product after they decide they may want or need it? Usually, the more expensive a product or service is, the longer the buying cycle. If you’re selling a $50 radio, you will probably see lots of conversion right away. If you’re selling a $15,000 roof repair job, the sales process will take a lot longer. Your audience is taking time to make an informed decision, gathering information, talking to experts, financial institutions, insurance companies, etc. If you stop advertising before the buyer completes the buying process, then you wont be there when they are ready to make the purchase. Be prepared to go the distance.

#4. Have a realistic advertising budget. Remember the old saying, “You need to spend money to make money.” I always tell my clients that if the conversion is there, they should spend as much as they can on their advertising. That is, if it costs you $10 to make $100, why wouldn’t you do as much as you could? Throwing just a few dollars at advertising is like throwing it out the window.

#5. Know your acquisition cost in order to get started. That is, how much it costs you right now to get a customer. For example, if you spend $200 mailing out flyers, and you get 10 customers in your store, then your acquisition cost is $20. It costs you $20 to get a customer. Online advertising works in much the same way. Don’t expect the internet to magically send you customers for nothing. Anything worth having is worth working for. It’s a numbers game. Go go go.

#6. Know your availability and inventory. Are you advertising so aggressively that you can’t keep up with your orders?

#7. Know your industry. If you are selling a product or service that is in a highly competitive market with major, corporate-backed budgets, consider niching. A niche is a specialty product or service. If your market is highly saturated, your keywords will be far less effective than a new or un-tapped market.

#8. Know your competition. Study your competitors ads to see how they are representing themselves and then make your ad more inviting to customers. If you see that your competitor is offering your main product for less, then offer free shipping. Note: You must NEVER click a competitor’s ad. That is plainly and simply stealing. When you visit your competitor’s site, type their URL into a browser. There’s plenty of customers out there for everyone. Fraud click is the lowest, most reprehensible behavior on the net.

#9. Know when to try something else: You can learn what keywords people are searching to get to you by studying your search engine account page and you own website statistics. If you have keywords that aren’t converting, then simply stop spending time and money on those keywords.

#10. Hire a professional: There are lots of people who claim to be SEO specialists, but only a few truly deliver on these claims. You truly get what you pay for. Look for someone with proven results.

Search Engine Optimization – 5 Things you Need To Know

The internet is now the #1 source consumers turn to to buy products and services. 

Are You Ready? The first place your customers go to find you is the web. Your internet presence will most often be the first impression you give to a potential new customer. Make sure it’s great. Can You Be Found? Millions of business owners and consumers use the internet to find information, research companies, and make buying decisions. If you have a website, you need to be loud and clear.

Here are the 5 basic steps for website optimization:

Step 1 is site optimization (proper page titles and descriptions, meta tags, labeling images with alt text, etc).

Step 2 is listing you in key places on the internet.

Step 3 is narrowing down keywords: getting down to the nitty gritty with who are target audience is!  

Step 4 is optimizing your site’s content (articles and info) with those target keywords.

Step 5 is writing up style guidelines for the site (rules that your writers, web helpers, contributors should follow:  ex: always use alt text with an image).

Write Good, Effective Web Content

picture of a girl wearing glasses

How to write good, effective web content
by Lori Bratz

Everyone knows someone who knows how to turn a nice phrase. Beware of turning your web content over to someone who doesn’t have relevant experience or the discipline to research your industry. I had a friend who owned a construction business who hired a “professional writer” to write content for his website, but that content never came. His “professional” was a lady who spent 10 years writing (and publishing) articles about toddler issues. The writer was just out of her comfort zone so the content never came, the customer got frustrated and the website never launched. A good lesson for everyone. Get qualified professionals who know how to incorporate valid, searchable keywords with relevant content. Remember, no one is searching for keywords like, “Pretty Flash Image,” or “proud to serve the good people of our community” to find you.

Good, effective web content
1. is information that is relevant to your business.
2. is filled with the keywords that people are using to find the product or service you offer.
3. is not information to trick visitors to your site to get them to buy something totally unrelated.
4. is not rocket science.

You don’t need to hire a professional writer to write every last word of content. You do need to acquire professionally written information, but, unless your product or service is new to the marketplace, the smart way to go is to buy prewritten information in the form of articles or data feeds unless you have the budget to actually hire a writer who specializes in your industry. There’s nothing wrong or unethical with turning to your manufacturers to ask if you can leverage some of the work they have had professionally produced. Most often, manufacturers produce their materials specifically to help distributors sell their products.

Always approach content with the intention of offering solid help and information to your readers.