Dos And Don’ts When Making Your Venture Capital Pitch

Getting a meeting with a potential investor is the first step; now you’ve got to get that presentation perfect and make your pitch. The good news is that venture capital companies are run by real people looking for specific information and expertise from you. Show that your proposal has the potential to become a money-making business by talking about the things that your potential investor deems most important.

Do emphasize the strength of your team

An under-equipped, passionless team can stop a startup cold, even if the product is brilliant and the market is ready. A VC is looking for a team that is passionate (enthralled by the idea and ready to share the passion), complete (able to cover all the necessary areas of the business), committed (you don’t want a key team member walking away at a crucial moment), and motivated (the business should offer them payback, too).

Do demonstrate your understanding of the market

Know your target market inside and out. Do your research, do it again, double-check it, and then do some more. If you’re not able to accurately identify and describe the market you’re attempting to get a share in, a VC will immediately hear warning bells. It’s not enough to have a great product; you’ve got to have a market ready to pay for it. And it’s not even enough to have a great product and a great market; you’ve got to demonstrate your understanding and ability to reach that market, get its attention, and then get its business.

Do demonstrate the profitability of the market

Some markets are saturated; some markets are new or underdeveloped. Show what your target market has to offer in terms of money-making potential for your investors. Get data on annual spending, demographics, growth and any other factor that influences the buying power of your market. Then show how your business will get a share of that buying power.

Don’t ignore or underplay your competition

A VC knows that competition is part of business. Pretending you don’t have any, or that they don’t matter, is the mark of an inexperienced (and overconfident) startup. Be prepared with detailed information about your competition: who are they, what is their size, their growth, their market share, their weakness, their strength? How are they like you and how are they different?

Do show how you will gain competitive advantage

Competition definitely doesn’t mean that the business is a bad idea; you just need to show your understanding of the competition, and then your strategy for growing and gaining despite the competitors you will have in the market. Identify your competitive advantage and show how you will articulate it and convince customers to come to you instead of to your competitors.

Don’t be afraid to ask for adequate funding

You’re at the VC firm to get money, so don’t be shy about asking for it. Talk in realistic figures about what you’ll need to fund all aspects of your startup. Don’t throw out low numbers that show an inadequate knowledge of what it will cost to make your business succeed. Big numbers may scare you, but they won’t scare away an investor who is convinced of your business’s ability to succeed. Low-balling, however, will make you look like an amateur.

Do assume that you will succeed on revenue projections

Be as cautiously optimistic in revenue projections as you can be, because investors will cut your numbers by some percentage to get their own version of realistic revenue projections. Don’t make numbers up. Be positive and don’t be afraid to assume success. If you’ve done your research as thoroughly as you should have, you can afford to be positive.

Don’t underestimate the timing on your break-even target

Some businesses will take longer to reach break-even point than others. As with the funding request you make, it’s better to be realistic and show you understand all the factors involved than to be naive about how long it will take your business to break even. Create a realistic time line that fits with the actual progress your business must make to reach the break-even target.

Don’t ignore key risks

Investing is a risk, no matter how sure a thing a particular investment may seem. VCs understand this, and they aren’t afraid of risks, in general, just of unidentified and overlooked risks. Be ready and able to identify the key risks your business will face.

Do show that you have a plan for each major risk

It’s the role of business leadership to know the risks ahead and to have a plan in place to overcome them. What will you do if you face the potential setback? What is your contingency plan for each key risk?

Don’t get too detailed on the technical side

Be ready to answer detailed questions about the technical aspects of your business, but don’t make them the bulk of your presentation. At most initial meetings, VCs are looking at the technical concept in general and the business model in particular. If the business model is strong, the next step may be to dive into technical questions. Don’t put the tech side ahead of the business side, however.

Do take time to research your audience

Gather as much information as you can about the people who will be watching your presentation. You may discover pertinent information, trends or questions that are normally asked by particular people. The more prepared you are, the better your presentation will be.

Do target your presentation to the firm/audience

Take another step beyond knowing the individuals in your audience and find out about trends in the VC firm which will be hearing your presentation. They may have a track record of supporting business startups such as yours, or your idea may be something out of the norm for them. Knowing about the firm will allow you to tailor your presentation to what they value most in potential investments.

Do leave time for questions

Plan for your presentation to take about 2/3 of the time you’re given, and leave the rest of the time for questions. This time is when you may find yourself explaining in more detail about technical aspects of your business, or when you’ll have more opportunity to show your team’s expertise, your knowledge of the market, the profit potential and the preparation you’re making for all the competition and risks you will face.

Really good article. A couple additions:

1. For VC funding, it’s not enough to “know your market”. You need to demonstrate that it’s a very large market. VCs don’t fund great companies that serve small markets, they need BIG outcomes so they only fund ideas / companies that attack what at least appear to be very large markets.

2. What can really differentiate you from the thousands of other pitches a VC sees is some sort of proof that you have an unfair advantage developing the business: a critical patent, a set of relationships that are hincredibly vital to getting launched properly (LinkedIn and the way Reid founded it are a perfect example of this), or a team that is exceptionally well-suited to execute the strategy.

3. Barriers to entry. VCs fund businesses that don’t have barriers to entry all the time, but they always want you to have barriers to entry explained in your pitch. Have answers to this.

Annie Mueller is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. She covers small business topics with a focus on lean/zero budget start-ups, business blogging, and simple (sane) ways business can use social media without selling their souls to Facebook. Her work can be seen online at Investopedia’s Financial Edge blog, Young Entrepreneur, Wise Bread, Organic Authority, Modern Mom, and her own site, AnnieMueller.com. Find her on Twitter: @AnnieMueller.

SEO Audit Checklist

This checklist is extremely comprehensive and can aid new and existing SEOs on preparing a technical audit for their clients.

The checklist goes through the following areas:

  • Content
  • Duplicate Content
  • Accessibility
  • Site Architecture
  • Technical Issues
  • Canonicalization
  • URLs
  • Internal Linking
  • Title Tags
  • Meta Tags

 This might be a great start for those looking to really tear apart their site from a technical and web developer point of view, when considering SEO challenges.

We all want to deliver actionable site audits, but doing the research can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t have a process in place to systematically go through a site. I have created a site audit checklist that will walk you through how to do a site audit. This will work for most sites – in many cases you will need to customize the checklist a bit as some aspects won’t be relevant or are unable to be changed.

Make sure to look at really important pages (high priority landing pages, pages with a lot of links, pages flagged by crawl tools, or pages that the client has specifically asked for help with) in addition to the template pages.

At the end of your audit, don’t write a document that says what’s wrong with the website. Instead, create a document that says what needs to be done. Then explain why these actions need to be taken and why they are important. What seems to be really helpful is to provide a prioritized list along with your document of all the actions that you would like them to implement. This list can be handed off to a dev or content team to be implemented easily. These teams can refer to your more thorough document as needed.

——————————————————————————–

Quick Overview

Check indexed pages
•Do a site: search
          •How many pages are returned (this can be way off so don’t put too much stock in this)?
          •Is the homepage showing up as the first result?
          •If the homepage isn’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty or poor site architecture/internal linking, affecting the site.

Search for the brand and branded terms
•Is the homepage showing up at the top, or are correct pages showing up.
          •If the proper pages aren’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty, in play.

Check Google’s cache for key pages
 •Is the content showing up?
          •Are navigation links present?
          •Are there links that aren’t visible on the site?

PRO Tip:  Don’t forget to check the text only version of the cached page.

Content

Homepage content
•Does the homepage have at least one paragraph?

Landing pages
•Do these pages have at least a few paragraphs?
          •Is it template text or is it completely unique?

Site contains real and substantial content
•Is there real content on the site or is the “content” simply a list of links.

Proper keyword targeting
•Is the intent right?
          •Are there pages targeting head terms, mid-tail, and long-tail keywords?

Keyword cannibalization
•Do a site: search Google for important keyword phrases.
          •Check for duplicate content/page titles in the SEOmoz Pro Campaign App.

Formatting
•Is the content formatted well and easy to read quickly?
          •Are H tags used?
          •Are images used?
          •Is the text broken down into easy to read paragraphs?

Good Headlines on Blog Posts
•Good headlines go a long way. Make sure the headlines are well written and draw users in.

Amount of content v ads
•Since the implementation of Panda, the amount of ad-space on a page has become important to evaluate.
          •Make sure there is significant unique content above the fold.
          •If you have more ads than unique content, you are probably going to have a problem.

There should be one URL for each piece of content
•Do URLs include parameters or tracking code – This will result in multiple URLs for a piece of content.
          •Does the same content reside on completely different URLs?

Do a search to check for duplicate content
•Take a content snippet, put it in quotes and search for it.
          •Does the content show up elsewhere on the domain?
          •Has it been scraped? – If the content has been scraped, you should file a content removal request with Google.

Sub-domain duplicate content
          •Does the same content exist on different sub-domains?

Check for a secure version of the site
          •Does the content exist on a secure version of the site?

Check other sites owned by the company
          •Is the content replicated on other domains owned by the company?

Accessibility

Check the robots.txt
           •Has the entire site, or important content been blocked? Is link equity being orphaned due to pages being blocked via the robots.txt?

Turn off JavaScript, cookies, and CSS
          •Use the Web Developer Toolbar
          •Is the content there?
          •Do the navigation links work?

Now change your user agent to Googlebot.
•Use the User Agent Add-on
          •Are they cloaking?
          •Does it look the same as before?
          •Check for 4xx errors and 5xx errors.

Site Architecture

Hierarchy
          •Are category pages set up in the appropriate way to flow link equity to key pages?

Landing pages
          •Do they have landing pages high enough in the architecture to receive enough link equity to compete for competitive terms?

Number of category pages
•How many category pages are there?
          •Have they been scaled out too much?
          •Category pages should be built out only when there is enough demand for new or sub category pages.

Pagination/Faceted Navigation
•Is pagination or faceted navigation more appropriate? Or, should they be used in tandem?
          •Does pagination exist to help long tail content get indexed?
          •Is the pagination prohibitive to crawling (uses JavaScript).

Number of clicks to content
          •Pages targeting really competitive head terms should be one or two clicks from the homepage.
          •Pages targeting moderately competitive keywords should be 2 or three clicks from the homepage.
          •Pages targeting the long tail should be 5 clicks away (obviously exceptions must be made here for sites with a ton of content).

Prioritized content
          •Most important content should be higher up in the pagination

Proper use of 301’s
          •Are 301’s being used for all redirects?
          •If the root is being directed to a landing page, are they using a 301 instead of a 302?
          •Use Live HTTP Headers FireFox plugin to check 301s.

Use of JavaScript
•Is content being served in JavaScript?
          •Are links being served in JavaScript? Is this to do PR sculpting or is it accidental?

Use of iframes
•Is content being pulled in via iframes?

Use of Flash
•Is the entire site done in flash, or is flash used sparingly in a way that doesn’t hinder crawling?

PRO Tip:  Flash is like garlic. A little bit of garlic in your food can make it taste better. Eating a plate full of garlic would be quite terrible. Likewise, Flash can be added to a site in a way that improves the user’s experience, but creating the entire site in flash is not a good idea.

Site Speed
•How long does the page take to load – Is it significant for users or search engines?
          •What improvements can be made?

Alt text
•Is alt text present?
          •Does the alt text use keyword phrases?
          •Does the alt text reinforce the topical themes presented in the content?

Check for Errors in Google Webmaster Tools
•Google WMT will give you a good list of technical problems showing up on your site that they are encountering (such as: 4xx and 5xx errors, inaccessible pages in the XML sitemap, and soft 404’s)

Canonicalization

Canonical version of the site established through 301’s

Canonical version of site is specified in Google Webmaster Tools

Rel canonical link tag is properly implemented across the site
•Make sure it points to the correct page, and every page doesn’t point to the homepage.

Uses absolute URLs instead of relative URLs
•This can cause a lot of problems if you have a root domain with secure sections.

URLs

Clean URLs
•No excessive parameters or session ID’s
          •URLs exposed to search engines should be static.

Short URLs
•115 characters or shorter – this character limit isn’t set in stone, but shorter URLs are better for usability.

Descriptive URLs
•Get your primary keyword phrase in there.

Internal Linking

Number of links on a page
•100 is a good target, but not a rule.

Vertical Links
•Homepage links to category pages.
           •Category pages link to sub-category and product pages as appropriate.
           •Product pages link to relevant category pages.

Horizontal Links
•Category pages link to other relevant category pages.
          •Product pages link to other relevant product pages.

Links are in content
•Does not utilize massive blocks of links stuck in the content to do internal linking.

Footer links
•Does not use a block of footer links instead of proper navigation.
          •Does not link to landing pages with optimized anchors.

Good internal anchor text

Check for broken links
•Link Checker and Xenu are good tools for this.

Title Tags

Unique title tags
•Every page should have a unique title tag.

Keyword rich
•Pages should contain the primary keyword phrase.
          •Is possible to use the secondary keyword phrase in a non spammy way?

Primary keyword phrase at the beginning of the title tag

Page titles include branding
•In most cases the brand should be included at the end of the page title to help build a brand or entice users if you are a well known brand

65 – 70 characters in length
•If the title is longer than this, the entirety will not be displayed in the SERPs.
Have they been keyword stuffed by someone else?

Meta Tags

Meta keywords tag used
•This data should be removed as competitors can scrape this data.

Meta description is appropriate
•Each page has a unique meta description.
          •Meta descriptions are representative of the content and entice users.

Rewrite meta descriptions for key pages
•For key landing pages, write meta descriptions by hand instead of systemically implementing.

Meta robots tag
•Noindex pages only appropriate pages.
          •Not blocking important pages.

Compliments of Geoff Kenyon

Different Ways To Get Google To Rank Your Content

Lindsay Wassell owner at keyphraseology.com came across this handy Google page of 36 tools for submitting different content types. She merged a few and eliminated others to come up with a list of 21 interesting content types for your consideration. Take a look and try to think outside the box. Hopefully by the end of this read you’ll have a hit list of a few new channels to explore.

 

 

 

1. Webmaster Tools (link)

In Google’s Words: “Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. To get started, simply add and verify your site and you’ll start to see information right away.”

My Take: If you aren’t already registered with Google Webmaster Tools get on over there and get it done. Use it to do things like diagnose crawling issues, upload sitemaps, and obtain another perspective of linking metrics.

2. Gadgets (link)

In Google’s Words: “Building a gadget that people will want to see everyday requires thoughtful planning. Our 3-step process – Create, Promote, and Track & Optimize – will guide you through all the steps needed to make your gadget a success.”

CNN Gadget

My Take: What we’re talking about here are gadgets for iGoogle homepages. Promotion of a gadget is up to you. If done right your fans will install your gadget and you could get some nice direct referral traffic out of the deal.

3. RSS & FeedBurner (link)

In Google’s Words: “If you have a website, blog, audio/video content, or even photos, you can offer a feed of your content as an option. If you are using a popular blogging platform or publishing tool like TypePad, WordPress, or Blogger, you likely publish a feed automatically… FeedBurner’s services allow publishers who already have a feed to improve their understanding of and relationship with their audience. Once you have a working feed, run it through FeedBurner and realize a whole new set of benefits.”

My Take: If you take a look up at the top right hand corner of this webpage you can see that SEOmoz has 90K+ FeedBurner subscribers.

4. Blog Search (link)

In Google’s Words: “The Google Blog Search Pinging Service is a way to inform Google Blog Search of weblog updates. These updates are then published and shared with other search engines to allow them to discover the changes to your weblogs. In addition, Google Blog Search will add submitted weblogs to the list of blogs it needs to crawl and index.”

My Take: If you aren’t on one of the major blogging platforms this is probably worth a look.

5. Subscribed Links (link)

In Google’s Words: “Subscribed Links let you create custom search results that users can add to their Google search pages. You can display links to your services for your customers, provide news and status information updated in near-real-time, answer questions, calculate useful quantities, and more.”

My Take: Hmm. This one looks like it has died a slow death. In order to make it work, you’d have to create something interesting and useful, inspire ‘subscriptions’ and hope that your users browse the web while logged in once and a while. I wasn’t able to find a quality implementation example worth sharing here and it seems that most of the original adopters have abandoned their submissions and allowed them to break including Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Roundtable.

6. Google Places (link)

In Google’s Words: “97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business – a free local platform from Google. Help your business stand out. Add photos, videos, and offers to show customers why they’ll want to choose you. Highlight special promotions, post live updates, and respond to reviews from your Places for business account.”

My Take: If you have one or more brick and mortar locations, you really need to get on this… yesterday. If you haven’t actively added you own listing, Google may have done so on your behalf – and incorrectly! The example below seems to display the home addresses of dentists in the 33556 zip code. If I were a dentist I sure wouldn’t want crisis dental issues showing up on my doorstep in the middle of the night. How about you?

Really though, Google Places is an extremely important marketing channel for brick and mortars. Don’t even finish this article. Head on over to Google Places and get started right now.

7. Rich Snippets for Local Search (link

)

In Google’s Words: “Beyond improving the presentation of your pages in search results, rich snippets also help users find your website when it references a local place. By using structured markup to describe a business or organization mentioned on your page, you not only improve the Web by making it easier to recognize references to specific places but also help Google surface your site in local search results.”

My Take: Basically, Google wants to take your content and republish it on their pages. You’ll want to decide where you stand on this issue before jumping on this bandwagon.

8. Base Map Partner Program (link)

In Google’s Words: “We recognize that in order to provide our users with the best, most up-to-date map possible, we must partner with the most comprehensive and authoritative data sources. If your organization has authoritative vector data that would substantially improve the base map in Google Maps and Google Earth, we would like to hear from you.”

My Take: Does Google have your cities critical infrastructure like hospitals misrepresented? This is how you’d go about getting this type of thing fixed up.

9. Imagery Partner Program (link

)

In Google’s Words: “Does your organization have higher resolution or more current aerial imagery than we currently offer on Google Earth? Would you like citizens of your jurisdiction to benefit from your imagery when navigating on Google Maps or their mobile phone? Do you have historical imagery to share?”

“Through our Imagery Partner Program, you can make your imagery useful to residents of your community, professionals in the private sector and local governments.”

My Take: No sense reinventing the wheel right? If you recently painted a giant logo on the roof of your office building, perhaps you can lobby to have local resources redo areal imagery and submit the updates to Google. Just kidding! Kinda…

10. Transit Partner Program (link)

In Google’s Words: “Currently over 500 cities world wide make their information available in Google Maps. If you provide a transportation service that is open to the public, and operates with fixed schedules and routes, we welcome your participation.”

My Take: If you are in command of this kind of data, you’re looking at a no-brainer here.

11. Street View (link)

In Google’s Words: “If you manage a unique property, such as a park, pedestrian mall, or university campus, you can request for the Street View team to visit your location. With the Street View Partner Program, we can visit your property and collect imagery using a car, trike, or even snowmobile. Once the images are added to Street View, people all over the world will be able to explore your property virtually.”

San Diego State University Street View

My Take: If you can convince the Google Street View team to visit your location, which is going to be the difficult part, I can’t see why you wouldn’t go for it!

12. SketchUp (link), 3D Warehouse (link) & Cities in 3D (link)

In Google’s Words: “With Google’s Cities in 3D Program, your local government, community group, or educational institution can share this 3D data with the public by adding a model of your city or community to Google Earth.”

Boston University on Google Earth

My Take: Looking to promote your city or physical landmarks? Learn how some are using this (paid) tool to build and then showcase their landmarks and cities with 3D models shared with Google Earth.

13. KML (link) &  KML Gallery (link)

In Google’s Words: “KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser, such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. You can create KML files to pinpoint locations, add image overlays, and expose rich data in new ways.”

Nuclear Plant Evacuation Radius

My Take: You know how all us Search Marketers keep talking about how you should publish quality and link-worthy content? Check out what geodesicdev.com has done with KML and Google Earth. If only they had a Search Marketer supporting the effort.

14. YouTube (link)

In Google’s Words: “YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”

My Take: YouTube can be an excellent marketing avenue if you have the right kind of content. There are also some nice links to be had if you’re able to secure yourself a YouTube Channel. You can apply for one here.

15. Video Search (link)

In Google’s Words: “Are you a content publisher? Video Sitemaps are the best way to tell Google about your online videos so that they can be included in search results.”

My Take: Take this bull by the horns. It is often easier to rank in the search results with a video than it is to rank with a traditional webpage. You have a Flip, right? See what you can whip up. You might be the next weblebrity! Be sure to submit a video sitemap, host or at least embed your videos on your own site, and see what you can do about transcribing the content to provide more contextual relevance.

Oh, and try to avoid risking your life.

16. News (link)

In Google’s Words: “If you’d like your news site or blog to be included in Google News, please send us the URL and we’ll be happy to review it. Please note, however, that we can’t guarantee we’ll be able to include your site in Google News.”

“Hey, I know you!”

My Take: Once you get passed the approval barrier for inclusion in Google News, be sure that you’re submitting a sitemap in the correct format for news. News sitemaps will help you bypass some bizarro nuances with this vertical, as outlined in the third paragraph here.

17. News Archive Search (link)

In Google’s Words: “News archive search provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. Users can search for events, people or ideas and see how they have been described over time. In addition to searching for the most relevant articles for their query, users can also see a historical overview of the results by browsing an automatically generated timeline.”

“If you’re a content provider with historical content that would be a good fit in News archive search, we’d be interested to hear about it. We’re looking for all the world’s primary sources, and the older, the better.”

My Take: With all this focus on the fresh web and what is happening this instant, lets not loose sight of historical value. If you are a primary source of some dusty old content… goodie!

18. Book Search Partner Program (link) & Magazines (link)

In Google’s Words: “You’d sell a lot more books if a lot more people knew about them. We can help make that happen.”

My Take: First, you’ll need to have qualifying content. Next, you’ll need to decide what side of the fence you’re on with this one.

19. Scholar (link)

In Google’s Words: “Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.”

My Take: If I was scholarly, I’d totally been up in there.

20. Panoramio (link)

In Google’s Words: Google really doesn’t say much about Panoramio but I will.

Panoramio Example

My Take: In the example above each of the images displayed in the SERPs for a location name are pulled from Panoramio. Commercial buildings, such as one owned by Cola-Cola are included. Consider photographing your physical buildings and optimizing the tags in Panoramio with location names. I’d love to see what the smart readers of this blog can make happen. Go, go, go! 😀

21. Google Product Search – Base (link) & Product Reviews (link)

In Google’s Words: “Google Product Search helps shoppers find and buy products across the web. As a seller, you can submit your products to Google Product Search, allowing shoppers to quickly and easily find your site.”

My Take: If you sell products and aren’t already optimizing a feed into Google Product Search, hop on over. Make sure that you are on-top of evolving requirements and that your data is continually. Also, see about rolling in Product Reviews powered by BazaarVoice or PowerReviews.

 Need a site review/audit to understand the potential of your site to acheive higher rankings?  Go to www.localleadsonline.com and request an initital free ranking report and schedule a time discuss your options.

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What is SEO Success?

seo success

Understanding SEO is knowing the algorithm

What is SEO Success?

A well-executed SEO strategy requires crafting and generating valuable content, promoting that content, and finding ways for trusted resources to link to that content. Organic results are not instant. It takes time to to watch them mature and get the rankings they deserve. This process is an ongoing experience that needs nurturing. Proper SEO is about influencing buyer behavior not just optimizing the html. Here is a list of some that I consider the most important:

Site Structure. There is nothing more confusing to the web visitor than a confusing site structure. So many sites today have to much activity, to many call to actions, graphics and colors just to impress. This confuses the web visitor and they click out. Navigation must be clean and exacting. Too many sites leave the web user wondering “if I click here what will I find” or worse they can’t find what they think is the next click to get what they need. Site structure must be intuitive for the end user not the web owner. I see this mistake all the time.

Purchase Influencing. Quality content that is generated is positively influencing buyer behavior. Whether or not the content is found via a search engine (at the beginning), the content is still pushing website visitors closer to being buyers. By “content”, I don’t just mean written text (which is of course valuable) – great content will take many forms, including video, images, graphical depictions (including info-graphics), webinars, contests & promotions, local search assets (e.g. Google Places, Yahoo Business, Bing Local), and many other forms of great, creative, and convincing content.

Usability. Great SEO is what it takes to be #1 on the search engines. But great SEO without great usability means you can be number one and have traffic that fails to convert. Usability is about the user experience once he lands on your site. You got the traffic here and now how do you keep it here? What does you site say to the end user in that split second they make the decision to stay or leave. If the immediately leave this is called Bounce. What content creates instant trust making them want to stay and see more? What are your marketing promises that are instantly recognizable in that first split second? Is their next click instantly recognizable? Is your content accessible and easy to understand from the end users perspective?

Creating A Voice. In order to promote the content, you need a voice. That voice is a combination of social media engagement, press releases, mailing lists, industry groups, direct mail, and traditional link building. These traffic channels, and communication processes, will be there even when Google changes the search game on us all again. People will be finding you not just via search, but through good-old-fashioned communication. This is a part of the groundwork to improve SEO results.

Awareness. Visits from long-tail keywords, even if not the best-converting keywords, are building brand awareness, and planting the seed that your site is there for them to come back to. You may see this traffic come back to you in future visits in your analytics as “Direct/Bookmark” or search queries for your brand name. But, it was the initial visit, for a very specific phrase that even gave you the opportunity for that second visit.

Competitive Keywords Will Come To You. Your quest for ranking for the best-converting, and more competitive, keywords will provide results. Without making the investment in organic search, your competitors will keep taking your customers away from you.

Pay Per Click Campaign for Brand and Product Awareness. In educating the web presence in a new niche market offering it is important to utilize the instant recognition in a very specific Brand and Product keyword campaign that will drive highly qualified end users to your site.

As your organic search traffic, pay per click traffic and traffic from related sources flows in you begin to build brand and product identity/integrity. Now all your marketing efforts are pushing the traffic to your site and revenue to the bottom line. This is successful SEO and measureable within the ROI construct.

I need to redesign/remodel my website, Now What?

Does Your Website Need to be Remodeled/Redesigned?

The good news is you have a website; the bad news is that you haven’t done much with it in a while and it needs to be redone. Part of the problem is that many businesses think of their website the way they do a brochure. Once it is written and printed, they don’t change it until the supply is used up. Unfortunately a website can’t be used up—it lives on and on. The internet is littered with out-of-date sites and many abandoned ones. To keep yours from embarrassing you we’ve compiled a list of things to consider as you review your existing site with thoughts of improving it.

1. Why do I want to remodel this site? Is it the look, the functionality, the difficulty of editing, or all of the above?

2. Who is going to use the site and how? What is each constituency looking for when they come to the site?

3. Is there anything you need to add to your site to better facilitate your marketing efforts such as a blog, lead generation support, resources or surveys?

4. Who is going to keep the site up-to-date and what skill set do they have?

How to Get Started

The first step is to plan out what you want to do. Just like building a house you need to sit down with an “architect” and talk through all of what you want on the site and how it is going to be used. The architect is someone who has managed website remodeling projects before and understands the potential benefits and shortcomings of particular choices. Unless you have been through a similar process before, be cautious about taking the architect job on yourself.

The next step is to assemble your team. You will need a writer/editor, a graphic designer, an HTML programmer, an SEO specialist and a marketing person to help you build your site. Some of these positions you may be able to fill yourself, but you need all of them. Be careful about hiring just one of these folks and expecting them to fill all the positions.

Before you complete your plan, test it on key members of your executive team or even a trusted customer or two. Now is the time to find out if you have missed something important. Don’t think you have to incorporate every request or idea. Some things need to be put off and implemented as additions to the site once it is live.

Next, Build It

Once you have your plan developed and you’ve tested it and you have your team assembled, plan out the execution and develop a realistic timeline for completion of the site. It is important to decide what to include in the first iteration of the site and what to leave to the first revision. With this in place develop your timeline with milestones that everyone is aware of. Make sure that you get started on the content early in the process. You want all of the text and images you will use to be available when the platform and template choices are complete so you don’t slow down your programmers.

Build your site in a test location so you can look at it as it is being developed. Use this location for you and certain key personnel to review the site before it is ready to go live and replace your old site. During this period, train your personnel who will be updating the site in the platform you have chosen so they are ready to make edits and post new information shortly after going live. (This is a key consideration in choosing a platform).

Go Live

Go live with the new site and take down the old site. While you will try to think of everything, this is when you will find out if you haven’t. Be sure your team is available and ready to respond with any needed quick fixes. During the design phase make sure you installed the analytics tools you plan to use so that in this post-live phase you can monitor visitors to the site and pages visited. Schedule your site with the search engines for indexing and begin monitoring your position for various search terms. Be patient as this will take some time. Record your results so you can measure progress.

Finally…..

The process isn’t rocket science, but there are a lot of moving parts. Plan, plan, plan before you jump in and start programming or designing; select the right team and give them the information and tools they need to do their job and you are much more likely to be happy with the results.