Odds are you’ve heard of Google+ but haven’t used it unless you are just in love with social media or technology in general. I’ll be honest, I’ve been very skeptical of it and have yet to really embrace it. Why would you or me want to be on yet another social network?
Well, as usual, Google has made it nearly impossible to ignore Google+. As I’ve talked about in a previous post about Google search personalization, Google is making their search results more personalized to your searching history. Nobody gets the same search results anymore if they use google regularly. They track what you do whether yo are logged in or not. A high percentage of people have gmail.com email accounts that they check on a regular basis. Many of these people never log out. Well, everything at google is tied together (gmail,calendar, docs, maps, news reader, etc) and now they are tied to google+. Soooo….?
Well, they have made +1 part of their ranking algorithms. When you +1 a site, you are giving your vote of confidence for that site. Additionally, anybody in your google+ circle tha toes a similar search will get an even higher weight in the algorithm to see the site you gave a +1 to. Basically, this means that websites that have more +1 will rank much higher and if you have a large number of people in your circles, like customers and possible customers, then they will get them at the top.
Google+ is growing very rapidly. Its not as large as Facebook, but because of their ties to search results, it is making it more and more important, one that organizations can not afford to ignore unfortunately.
Let’s take an example of a local business like a church. If some goes on google maps and searches for a church (common practice these days folks!) they will get a list of churches with pins on a map. Right now you see the name of the church, phone, website, a review and a review rating. Very soon, the +1 is going to show up next to that rating. People, for better or worse, trust these ratings and will trust the number of +1 as well. The number of +1 will also put you at the top of the list.
Another example would be if they did the same search on google itself. Google determines where the person that is searching geographically and provides local results to them for their search. Those churches with the larger number of +1 will have a significant advantage over those that don’t. The unfortunate part of this is that the big churches will win out oer the small churches. The ones that have embraced google+ early will win over those that start later.
Google is definitely building an empire that we are forced to be part of. Kind of a love/hate relationship. Anyway, in the spirit of this blog post I’ve added a +1 to each of my blog posts. If you have a Google+ account, I would love it if you clicked on it of course or joined the Meeklabs Google+ circle!!
When you build a website, everyone of course hopes that lots of people will visit because it is simply awesome! Gone are the days when you could put up a website and expect lots of visitors. I remember those days and all that traffic was great, but in hindsight, most of it wasn’t good traffic. Most people were just curious and less interested in what you had to offer.
Ignoring for the moment how to reach your audience, where does web traffic come from?
- Search Engines. A large portion of your traffic will come from search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo). People will either search for your company directly, or they will be searching for something related to your organization and not know you exist.
- Online Advertising. There are many forms of online advertising. Usually it is either buying a banner ad or something similar to an Adword at Google. It is sometimes surprising to me just how much traffic can be delivered through online advertising, but you have to be careful, it may not be the quality traffic you are after. Much more on this in other blog posts.
- Offline Advertising. This is what is considered traditional forms of advertising including your business card, pamphlets, radio ads, TV ads, billboards, etc. This is the kind of stuff most typical advertising agencies are good at cranking out in volumes. The problem with it is that is extremely difficult to track and you are shouting to a wide audience, few of which are interested in what you have to offer.
- Social Media. Traffic from social media is usually high-quality traffic. Most come from the biggies: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. But an increasing amount is coming from Google+, Flickr and Pinterest. Don’t ignore social media as it can account easily for over 30% of your traffic.
- Word of Mouth. Always the best type of traffic. This will usually cause someone to come directly to your site or use a search engine because someone else (your loyal customers) told them to. This also can come through social websites and discussions other people are having that link to your website (hopefully in a good light).
- Email Marketing. This has been around awhile and it comes in two flavors. Requested and spam. Requested email is usually when you have signed up on someones website that you want more information sent to you by email. They’ll always be more than happy to add you to their list, in fact, it is automated. Usually a real person doesn’t know you ever signed up, you’re just a number. The other type is spam. Someone has bought a list that has your name on it. Again, they do not know you, but whoever sold them the list does. The problem with email marketing is that it is extremely effective, which is why so many spammers exist.
- Market Awareness. If you own a market space, people know you from all of your marketing activity and will remember you. They’ll typically come straight to your site, or click through any of the above marketing campaigns you are conducting much more readily. If you don’t have any market share, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Once you get to the top, you have to fight everyone else trying to climb that hill.
The type of website you have can help you define the goals for your site. We’ll take a quick look at the different types of websites. Later posts will focus on the unique needs for each and common goals between them.
- Informational. This type of website only exists to provide information. The Informational site doesn’t try and sell anything, its not making a point, it is purely for information purposes. Good examples of these include:
- Photo sharing sites
- Personal sites
- Social sites
- Wikis and forums
- Transactional. The purpose of a Transactional website is to convince you to purchase something while you are there on the site. This type of site is either trying to sell a product or a service.
- E-commerce. An e-commerce site can sell a product or a service. The product may be a download (such as a music file or software) or something that has to be shipped to the customer.
- Service. A service website is usually selling online access to some form of information or service. Box.com is a good example of this. When you purchase an account, you can start storing your files on their service rather than your desktop computer. Twitter is another example of this even though it is free to use.
- Marketing. The marketing website is much like an informational website except that it is trying to create market awareness in its visitor’s mind. It is probably that this site also has some form of transaction taking place such as filling out a form, watching a video or downloading a product. There are many different types of Marketing website, but we’ll focus on the two most common.
- Online Brochure. The online brochure is the most common website found on the web. It is merely there because the company hasn’t embraced what online marketing can do but they felt they had to have something. It may be the company doesn’t understand how to use the web or they feel their business model doesn’t work well online. Either way, it is not effective for them.
- Marketing Tool. This type of website is common with larger organizations that understand the web and how it can be used. They are using the website usually as the core component of their marketing efforts to support and reach their customers (whether you are profit or non-profit) online.
Most companies and organizations have not been able yet to truly adapt their business model to working effectively online, so they opt for just hoping that if they create it, you will come.