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The Relationship between Website Navigation and SEO

Refining site navigation and structure is so important when it comes to search engine optimization. The idea that you could just put up your web site and never change it has become prehistoric. Today web sites need to revised at least every two years. Not for an aesthetically please purpose but for speed, video, and most importantly search engine rankings. So what does an optimized web site navigation look like? Here’s an example of navigation in its most basic form.

Your home page filters into header tabs, then header tabs filer into subcategories, which are, related to the header tabs. Each of the lower levels supports the higher levels from a linking perspective. The lines are indicative of potential cross-linking relationships, the implementation of which would be assessed on a site-by-site basis.

 

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 Search Engine Optimization and Navigation

 So what are the benefits of an optimized site? By creating straightforward and simplified navigation that access internal pages of a website are beneficial in the following ways:

  • Users are able to navigate the site easier
  • Search engines web site crawlers can easily crawl the site due to simplified navigation
  • Bringing exposure to subcategories within the site
  • Increases web site rankings

The above navigational structure is vital when it comes to users who have no idea the depth and size of your web site. Compared to a brick and mortar store, more than often, the consumer knows how large the store is before they walk in the door. Having a simple and straightforward navigational outline, an user and a search engine like Google will breeze through each component or department after department of your web site without a second thought. The goal here is to the make the user experience effortless. Making it so natural for the user simply allows the user to loose track of time and enjoy the entertainment.

As search engine optimization and usability experts, we often find that a website’s navigation can be simplified. By doing this, and creating a hierarchy of content supporting specific sections, we are improving navigation. But we are also creating a relationship which supports the sites linking, an absolutely critical component of SEO.

Ultimately, refinement of your navigation benefits the amount of pages Google and other search engines can locate on your site, allows you to increase your rankings, enhances your sites usability and improves your bottom-line. When you are creating your navigation, or refining an old one, make sure to take your time. In addition, consider the main keywords you are targeting to determine traffic and hub value. The bottom line is think about the end-user and how their experience on your site makes the most sense to find information. In addition, consider what common themes run through your site. This will allow you to accurately determine the correct paths and which links you would like to promote at the top of your navigation hierarchy.

Links pointing internally from the home page and globally on your website play a large role in your SEO success. Make sure your site makes sense from a usability and keyword traffic perspective and you will be a step ahead of many websites online.

 

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Video Testimonials – Most Powerful Marketing Channel

Video is a powerful tool for persuasion. We are now talking, sharing, producing and consuming in a mobile world and video content has a greater impact in all of these areas than anything else. The ease of distributing video content has also resurrected the art of personal persuasion- real people, to whom you can relate, expressing their true feelings about something and suggesting you do the same. There is nothing more powerful than a real satisfied patient, client, or customer expressing themselves to other real people.

 

 

The production is first class, and the message is simple, short, unscripted, and compelling. It meets all of the communication demands of today’s consumers. It is also a component of a larger campaign in promoting Cataract Awareness Month. As part of promoting Cataract Awareness Month on behalf of our client, we are rolling out testimonials on laser cataract surgery that will be distributed throughout the various digital media channels. The above video is one of many that will be used to help with SEO ranking and consistent messaging throughout the digital media channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and the web site.

Social media channels are now awash in video content. It was only a matter of technology catching up to our insatiable appetite for moving images. Today we expect to be talked to, entertained by, and persuaded with video. If there is one phrase that optimizes our rules of engagement it’s, “If you want to tell me something, say it, don’t’ write it”. YouTube is a perfect example of how popular videos are used by businesses for messaging. The stats on YouTube alone are staggering.

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  • YouTube has grown to be the largest social media site surpassing Facebook in 2014
  • YouTube has more than 1 billion users
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine behind Google
  • Every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views
  • The number of hours people are watching on YouTube each month is up 50% year over year
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • Half of YouTube views are on mobile devices
  • Mobile revenue on YouTube is up over 100% y/y

 
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With the exception of brands and businesses that cater to millennials, the rest of the world of commerce lags behind their respective markets in the video medium that is the most effective with consumers. I began to approach my medical clients a year ago about integrating video content into their social media marketing. My suggestions weren’t met with reticence as much as a sincere lack of understanding why a video medium would be desirable to market products and services. The reaction lead me to do a bit more research on the web to see how doctors and their practices were using video in the digital world.

Most of the doctors that had a presence on Facebook, You Tube, and on web sites, although positioned professionally, had a remarkably unprofessional quality to them. Many of them were self-produced and consisted of a doctor talking into the little imbedded camera on a computer screen, under florescent lights, and talking at length. I felt like I was sequestered in some digital dungeon being force fed content for CME credits. The lack of quality reflected poorly on them as professionals and they clearly didn’t understand that this was probably their worst foot forward.

Today that’s beginning to change. Medical professionals recognize they are in an ever increasing competitive market that demands authenticity and excellence. Recording rambling video in something that resembles your mother’s basement doesn’t cut it. Consumers expect the highest quality services and products in the field of medicine and they want to hear about it from people like them. Make your happy patients your best sales people.

Creating excellent video messaging is becoming an imperative for marketing success. I would love to help you achieve that. Feel free to contact us at 702.682.8300.

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Think Before You Click

Major news events bring out the worst in people whose judgment often exceeds their common sense. Social media sites light up like the Fourth of July as millions of users share their unfiltered emotivity on whatever late breaking topic du jour is rattling the universe. Never mind the old adage, “a penny for your thoughts”, most postings in the heat of the moment aren’t worth half that. In fact often times they are a liability.

Events of the last two weeks have given the social media users enough fodder for a year. The police beatings and protests, professional athlete peccadilloes, political turmoil, and Kim Kardashian’s obsession with our obsession with her butt have fueled opinions and comments that certainly don’t go unnoticed. What you don’t want to see, is an unauthorized post from your company’s social media page, or a stupid social media comment from someone in your employ.

warkprofileprofessionalIf you own a business, you certainly don’t have to be located in Ferguson to see everything you have worked hard for, destroyed. A stupid Twitter or Facebook post can bring your business to a grinding halt. Use these event super storms as teachable moments for yourself and your employees as to the proper use of social media as it pertains to your business.

Don’t let employees wonder about the appropriate use of social media. Make sure that you have firm policies in place that are applicable to everyone, including managers and officers. Last month the well- respected President of the prestigious Professional Golf Association was fired by the Board of Directors after he made rude personal comments about some of the golfers on the Tour. If your policy is going to work then employees need to be confident that the rules will apply to everyone.

It’s also important to make it clear as to the proper procedure for posting content on your company’s social media sites, as well as an employee’s responsibility for content with their own personal social media.

Ensure that all content on your business’ social media pages is vetted before it is posted. Where problems usually occur is in response to a posted criticism on a review site, and the posting of proprietary information. Both of these problems can be devastating, but they are easily preventable.

The other aspect of your policy, as it pertains to an employee’s personal social media, is a bit tricky because you have to trust the discretion of the employee. Perhaps the simple rule of “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see” would be a good baseline.

Where most employees get in trouble, pictures. You might start with a “No Selfies at the Office” rule, and certainly make people turn off their smart phones at the office Christmas Party.

If your business would be adversely affected by the personal publishing of certain behavior or comments, then let your employees know that. For example, tweeting photos of some hard weekend partying if you are a kindergarten teacher may not be looked upon kindly. Or an expletive laced opinion on an elected official could be frowned upon if your business relies on government contracts.

Common sense is unfortunately, too uncommon. It’s imperative to get everything in writing in the employee handbook and understood and appreciated by your entire team. Sometimes that simple act of due diligence will be the one thing that a person will remember before they are about click SEND.

If you have questions about your social media strategy, call me directly 702-374-1944. Having compelling content and a strategy are the keys to a successful social media campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeing is not necessarily believing

Rumors would be a source of great joy in life if they were really nothing more than a Fleetwood Mac mega-album from my youth ( the album was actually spelled “Rumours”, in order to make the Brit half of the band the super-cool half.) Of course rumors aren’t orphans, they are nurtured along by half- truths, and hearsay but unfortunately in this modern world they thrive in the fetid swamps of the Internet.

Don’t get me wrong, the web has transformed our world, much of it in a positive way. It has democratized the creation and distribution of information in amazing ways that make us all creators, consumers, and gatekeepers. It also tends to make us sloppy intellectually and slight in our ability to discern what is real. The advent of social media amplified this phenomenon by allowing us to propagate information instantaneously for all the world to see. Right or wrong it’s out there. Businesses however, are held to a different standard than consumers in their conduct on social media, and the web.

warkprofileprofessionalIn our present hyper-regulatory environment where a business and a business owner’s words and deeds are measured and weighed at every turn, a responsible, closely monitored social media marketing plan is a must. Everything that is posted and distributed needs to clear a heightened bar of veracity. The challenge is that your office, or practice, is filled with employees (including the boss) that have probably been playing under the consumer rules during every minute that they aren’t on premises. Social media is invaluable to the success of a business, but eternal vigilance in the veracity of everything that goes out is imperative.

Social media thrives on late breaking news, little known facts, provocative and evocative images, and exclusivity. These are all things that if used correctly, can make your business soar. If you are passing on information, or cheerleading a new product/service make sure that it’s true. Poor old Dr. Oz got dragged through the Congressional meat grinder last month because he was a little lazy in checking out the claims made by products that he was promoting.

Passing on information before it is vetted, isn’t only irresponsible, it can have a damaging effect on your business. Again, it’s imperative that professional discipline be applied on anything that carries your brand. For most of us the internet is too much like a global sewing circle. We casually pass on all kinds of drek without any regard for accuracy, as if we were compelled to share the last thing we read before we hit the check-out counter.

By the way, I heard from a friend that Elvis was seen in the women’s bathroom at Mandalay Bay on Saturday night doing a line on the soap dispenser. I can’t wait to tell my clients. 🙂

 

 

 

Helpful advice to ensure your professional social media is alive and thriving

Revisiting Zombie Land

Helpful advice to ensure your professional social media is alive and thriving

Back by popular demand is a reprise of my critically acclaimed, highly popular series, The Curse of the Facebook Zombies. (I actually received a few notes from friends lamenting the absence of the provocative social media allegory.)

If you are new to this audience, or you weren’t paying attention last time, The Curse of the Facebook Zombies chronicled the rather painful journey of realizing that the web site and the social media portals for your enterprise have become so neglected that they actually are killing your business.

Your web site, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed are technically alive. But they are dead. They are Zombies. And they are killing your business.

Before I offer up some ways to resurrect and rejuvenate your online presence, I need to remind you again of what your Zombie online presence is doing to your business. Your social media is your real estate on the web. If you have old information or have left your sites moribund, it is the equivalent to a boarded up brick and mortar. You message to the rest of the world is, “keep walking, nothing to see here”.

It’s a brand new day and you can breathe new life into all things Zombie. Let’s start with your web site and let’s aim a little higher than simply updating your contact page (to the correct address of the business that you relocated two years ago). Make it your goal to optimize your web site. Get it on the first page of Google and Bing. Supercharge your online marketing plan and leave the Zombies in the dust.

There are no real short cuts to SEO anymore because it’s tough to game the Google Gods these day. You have to commit yourself, your staff, and your hired guns to create great content.  Content continues to be the key to success not only for SEO but for gaining and keeping clients.  Here are some quick suggestions for content that gets SEO results.

Commit to filling your website with content that people will want to read and pass on to others through their social media. Search engines reward your website for content that is shared as this is one of the hallmarks of a quality site, and search engines are all about promoting quality sites up the SEO food chain. Great content also includes pictures, graphics, and video. If you feel like you are on the verge of being overwhelmed by all of this wonderfulness then take a deep breath and breathe new life into some of your old content by rewriting it.

warkprofileprofessionalThere are quite a number of other things that should be addressed in a successful SEO plan, but get started on creating new content and we can drill a little bit deeper on the stuff next time. Rescuing your website and social media from the netherworlds of Zombiedom is tough but rewarding work. Don’t hesitate to call in a bit of professional help to accomplish the task. A living, breathing web presence is well worth it.

 

 

 

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Sales start with a conversation

Unless you are independently wealthy, or an egomaniac with a very expensive hobby, all of the money, time, and resources that your business is spending on an internet presence and social media needs to create a return on investment. In short, at the end of day a significant number of all of your likes, and followers, need to become paying customers. You need more conversions.

The path to conversion is seldom a straight one. The only people that will immediately jump to your online shopping cart, or shoot you a quick note on your contact page are the good folks that were looking for you in the first place. The reality is that you are going to have to “sell” almost everyone that finds your business.

Look at it this way: If someone walked into your business the first thing that you would do is engage them. Hopefully this is would be a conversation where you ask them if you can help them find what they are looking for and they respond with an explanation or perhaps a series of questions. Sound familiar? We have all been on both ends of that conversation a million times. Your on-line presence needs to mimic that.

Conversions most often require Conversations.
One of the best conversation starters is “gated content”. Gated content refers to the screen that pops up asking a user for their contact information. Social media is ideal for gated content, because people that have allowed themselves to be lead to your contact page have been motivated enough to get that far. They probably were lured by your brilliant marketing tease to access “a secret report” or perhaps get a generous time sensitive coupon. But in order to get their grubby little hands on those goodies, you need to find out who they are so you can continue conversing and converting them.

Be gentle with your gate. People are concerned these days about how much and to whom they share their information. They are also fed up with getting pummeled with emails, texts, and push notifications. Make your gate a simple friendly handshake instead of an interrogation. People don’t like being shaken down for info when they walk into a brick and mortar why would they like it online? Name and email is all that’s needed. Make sure that you tell them that you are not going to use their information to introduce them to a thousand of your best friends, and be sure that you don’t destroy this new relationship by bombarding them with information that they have not asked for. Give them a separate place to sign up for other information if they desire.

Conversions are about relationships and gated content is a perfect way to create that first conversation.

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How to Make Your Employees Brand Ambassadors

Just when you thought you had won the battle over employee productivity, along comes a perfectly good reason to encourage your employees to get on their social networking sites at the office and at home. There are still a significant number of businesses, one in five, that block social networking sites on their employee’s computers. Some of these reasons have to do with security or proprietary information that a business deals with and don’t want them leaked out. Others look at social media in the work place not so much as a danger but a huge distraction that pulls employees away from their essential tasks in the workplace-until now.

In the spirit of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, many businesses now are leveraging their employee’s social networking obsession into effective branding campaigns. The first large company to do so was MasterCard. In an effort to get ahead of the digital media curve, and ahead of the competition, they embarked on an effort to turn their eight thousand employees into Brand Ambassadors.

MasterCard set up training and parameters for employees that wanted to participate. Every department participated in setting up branding goals, rules and guidelines, and training. What was particularly important was that the most active users in the organization, the “Millennials”, were able to be in the center of developing the branding effort and even mentor the older management employees as to how best utilize the social media platforms.  it illustrates how even stodgy, corporate giants can see the light and intelligently utilize cultural shifts to their advantage. Small businesses, yes, even stodgy one, can also walk boldly into this brave new world of coopting their employees incessant social networking.

As you turn your employees into Brand Ambassadors make sure that it includes everyone in your office, not just the kids in the corner. Look, your mom is on FaceBook and Twitter now so you know that it’s not age inhibitive. Employees will be positively giddy with anticipation knowing that they can turn something that has been up to now verboten in the workplace, into a daily must-do. So, use that excitement as a motivator to launch the effort.

You need to get a plan in place just like you would with a regular marketing plan. Set goals and objectives for what you need your employees need to accomplish as Brand Ambassadors and make sure you include your rules of engagement as part of the employee handbook to maintain order. Training is also essential in making sure employees understand how best to fit your marketing efforts into their everyday social network.

Now unblock the social networking sites from your office computer and give everybody their smartphones back. It’s time to get to work.

 

 

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Reshaping the Traditional Medical Practice

You can’t teach an old doc new tricks. Sorry for that play on words from an old saying…and I apologize to all of the old docs. The medical profession is one steeped in tradition and historically it’s been slow to change. Why, they even have a professional oath that practically dates back to the Great Flood! While the progress of medical technology and the practice of medicine have been utterly amazing, the business marketing of a medical practice is treated like a brave new world that is rarely understood and seldom trusted. Many medical professionals feel far more comfortable embracing a more traditional role of the doctor and leave the confusing, awkward, business of the business to some poorly underpaid office manager. And who can blame them?

Perhaps the age of the new medical practice is one that is understood and accepted based on a generational shift. If ObamaCare doesn’t chase them away, there is a younger generation of medical professionals and a generation that is entering the profession who are totally unaware that telephones once had cords attached to them. Their entire frame of cultural reference has been shaped by an “always on” way of life. Their words, habits, thoughts, and life decisions are created, played out, and terminated on a mobile device that is a virtual umbilicus. As the always on doctors set up shop and hang out their shingles, they are re-shaping the modern medical practice.

Many physicians that are determined to survive and even thrive in this current day regulatory morass are doing two things, and they are doing them without abandoning their Hippocratic Oath. They are expanding their medical practice beyond their original specialties to include aesthetic and wellness treatments and services. They are also incorporating a modern day marketing paradigm into their business models. This is wonderful news for the millions of always on consumers that make their choices and communicate their desires at the flick of an app. It’s downright frightening to an older generation of physicians who are just now getting over patting themselves on their backs for getting their websites up.

Physicians who are jumping on the always on marketing bandwagon because “everybody is doing it” are missing the point. It might be a good explanation for why the medical communities’ best practices included blood-letting and leeches for four hundred years, but it’s a bad reason for producing a modern marketing plan. It’s important to understand how your prospective patients make their choices in a mobile social media world, and how they expect you to communicate and “sell” them on your products and services.

warkprofileprofessionalI have counseled countless numbers of physicians who are frustrated that their marketing plans aren’t producing their desired effect. They have their web sites up, their social media accounts open, and they even have patient email addresses sitting in a half dozen different data bases. After all, they are doing everything that their competitors are doing and they wonder what’s wrong.

Your modern marketing plan is like a new shiny Sciton BBL that sits in your aesthetic treatment room. It is only worth having if you have someone that knows how to operate it so that the results meet a  patient’s expectations and they tell the world how wonderful it was.

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Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

The Old Fashioned Buzz in the Digital Age

Are you ranking on the first page of Google when you do a search for your specialty?  Why do some web sites show faces of the prospective authors and others don’t. Staying on top of the Google Search engine is a lot like playing “King of the Mountain” when we were kids. We could push and shove our way to the top but maintaining the top position could be even more of a struggle than moving up the mountain.  Well SEO and ranking high on search engines are a lot like the struggles of King of the Mountain. Shoving and pushing our way to the top has been replaced with web sites, blogs, forum comments and social media channels.

10.ophthalmologyLong gone are the days where a doctor, lawyer, an accountant or any other professional could hang out a shingle to let the world know that new services are available. And sadly, the old way of joining the country club, attending the sports leagues for his/her children or patronizing local eating establishments to build a practice on word of mouth has become a footnote in the digital marketing world. Or has it?

Teeing up a practice with word of mouth these days is very difficult. We live in a world full of more choices than ever. Establishing your footprint in the community includes securing the digital real estate that people will access with mobile devices. Enameled dangling shingles are now flashing electronic signs on social media forums and search engine pages. In the midst of all this, a personal comment from a person you trust continues to be the greatest influence on a patient conversion.  While it would always be nice to walk down the street and have everyone recognize and greet you, it only happens on Andy of Mayberry reruns. However, it’s important that you create your daily messaging with a little “Mayberry” word of mouth strategy.

warkprofileprofessionalUse your digital world to give people something to talk about. If you plan on marketing a new product or service, roll it out on a limited basis to a limited number of people. Exclusivity creates buzz, and buzz is the great sound of countless mouths, or texting fingers, spreading the personal, persuasive good news about you and your business.

“Giving them something to talk about” requires a good digital marketing plan with a creative, and a well thought out hook. Watch your shingle become the talk of the town.

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Is your social media an afterthought in your practice?

One of the great things about running a business is that you get to make all of your own decisions. Good bosses make more good decisions than bad ones. Bad bosses,(often mysteriously matriculating in a rapid upward career path), will inevitably lead a company into a constant daily rhythm of miscues. Much of this begins at the point of delegation, giving the wrong people in your business the wrong responsibilities. Before you take great exception with what I just said, consider this simple question about your business, “Is the person in charge of your social media marketing the one that is most familiar with the integration of communications and marketing of your company?

In all fairness to the lousy bosses, good bosses often trip and fall over the proper roll and skill required of the individual to whom they are entrusting their crucial social media skills. Most business owners acknowledge that social media is important to the success of their enterprise, but they are too busy trying to run things to initially give enough time and attention to pick the right person or consultant who will truly make social media a valuable asset for the business. So, the person that ends up in charge of this vital spoke in the wheel of success probably ends up being an aesthetician that is in and out of treatments and perhaps “that is really really good on the computer”, or perhaps “that new person that comes in on Saturdays to cover the reception desk”.

warkprofileprofessionalThis works out for about two weeks until they post an embarrassingly inappropriate message that is wrong on so many different levels. But whose fault is this? Your social media is important to you, not because you read somewhere that it was. It’s important because you, as the boss, know how important it is to have a winning marketing and communications strategy that is competently executed every day by people that understand how to make your business successful. The person that you designate to run your social media should have an in-depth understanding about what you need to communicate and why you are communicating it, on a daily basis. It’s a big deal.

Whatever you say through social media and whatever is being said in social media about your business will be amplified. It spreads virally, often times in a matter of seconds. That’s what you want to harness your social media conversations, for your success, and it’s what you should fear the most if you are treating your social media like an afterthought.

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