Is your website successful? Does your site support your brand, drive business growth, and bring in sales leads? If not, it’s time to consider upgrading your business website. In the age of technology an informative, appealing, and accessible website has a direct correlation to business growth and credibility.
Marketpath CMS is the web content management and content marketing solution that can convert your website from a static billboard into a valuable marketing tool that can drive business growth. Here are just a few of the reasons why your business should choose Marketpath CMS:
Great Tool Set-
Marketpath CMS provides the perfect toolset to manage your website updates and content marketing. Our software gives your business a stress-free way to manage and update your site even for non-technical people. All updates and additions to the site happen in one place, via the web! Whether one is updating text copy, adding images or videos to a gallery, or creating calendar events, Marketpath CMS does it all! Businesses have the ability to create event registration pages, to build surveys and web forms via our form builder, to work with SEO tools, to create and publish blogs, and more. With Marketpath CMS’s breadth of tools and ease, it makes confusing and tricky website marketing effortless!
Selecting Marketpath CMS means you’ve chosen one of the easiest and highest rated content management systems available today – one that is currently used by hundreds of other large and small businesses. But that’s not all; you’ll all receive the constant support of the Marketpath team. With your Marketpath CMS subscription, you’ll receive unlimited support for all your website and content management needs. You can call or email at any time and we’ll be eager to help with any questions or needs. Need help uploading a case study or document for the first time? We can walk you through it. Forgot how to add a video? We’ll help you out. But it isn’t only technical support Marketpath can provide. We’re also available to provide marketing assistance and guidance when desired. Need advice on creating a landing page or on how to optimize a new page for search? Just ask and we’ll gladly provide marketing advice. For many small businesses, with limited technical or marketing resources, Marketpath can be a valuable partner that supports your internal team. One of our strengths is our availability and dedication to our customers.
Website Monitoring and Hosting-
In addition to our support, Marketpath meets all your website monitoring and hosting needs. We track your site to make sure it is up and running and our alerted if any issues arise. We also monitor your website to ensure it is always working at an acceptable speed, so that your users have a positive experience. As a small business it can be difficult to have enough technical resources that have both the time and experience to handle your growing website needs. When you work with Marketpath, you won’t need any internal technical support - Marketpath manages it all.
With Marketpath CMS your business doesn’t have to worry about keeping up with the latest technology trends and changes. We’ll add new functionality (new tools, enhancements, etc.) at least every quarter to your software. Your website will never get outdated technically because the Marketpath team works with evolving technology, constantly building it into our software, to improve your digital marketing capabilities. Any new functionalities or technology are automatically made available to your company, so you won’t have to worry about it. That's the benefit of Marketpath CMS's Software as a Servive (SaaS) or On-Demand platform.
Web/Digital Marketing Services-
Marketpath not only gives you a great software toolset and support, but also becomes your partner and expert in digital marketing strategy. Regardless of your online marketing needs, Marketpath is there to work with you. With expertise in web design (including responsive websites) and website development, content marketing, site optimization (SEO), and social marketing, the Marketpath team is there to give your business the online presence it needs.
The debate has raged on for years now about the value of an open-source Content Management System (CMS) versus the on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CMS model. Yes, Wordpress, which holds a large chunk of the market, is free. Anyone can pick a template and toss something up on the web. And everyone likes things that are free, right? Perhaps, but you also get what you pay for.
The concept of a free CMS is a bit misleading. Yes, it’s true that open-source code is developed by a community of people who offer it to users at no charge. But just because a technology is available doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do with it.
Suppose you get through the basic steps of getting a site up and running. Now what? Who do you turn to when you have a question? What happens when it’s time to update the source code? Free technologies don’t come with award-winning 24/7 customer service departments. Your likely options are suspect online documentation and Wikipedia. Not too comforting. How much time do you want to spend digging for answers? What’s that time worth to you?
Take the lack of help desk support a step further. Basic technical support is one thing; get hit by a virus or hacked, and you’re looking at a whole other set of problems. Security should be a primary concern for anyone carving out online real estate. Open source plug-ins can solve some security issues, but they’re not a guarantee. Worst case scenario, you get bugged, information is compromised, and the site comes crashing down. Again, who do you call? How much time do want to spend trying to fix the problem?
How about new functionality? With open-source systems you can find free plug-ins that add new capabilities to your site. But you’ll need someone to install them and hopefully understand them from a technical perspective. With Marketpath CMS, upgrades are included with your subscription and you receive them automatically – no hassle.
Take a few moments to consider the overall potential for frustration. If you’re a business owner, your focus needs to be building the company - and your website should be a strategic component of your plan to do so. You can’t afford to be bogged down in technical minutia. Marketpath’s on-demand, custom CMS eliminates these concerns so you make the most of your time, increase revenue, and reduce costs.
Your website isn’t maximizing its value if no one can find it- right? That’s why Marketpath includes on-site search engine optimization (SEO) services with every website design we provide our clients. But optimizing a new site is only the beginning. To improve your rankings with search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, you’ll need to have a living, breathing site that continuously provides new, relevant content for your target audience.
Marketpath makes it easy to add content to your site, but that’s just the start. Marketpath CMS also provides SEO tools that allow you, the non-technical user, to easily optimize your new content (pages, images, videos) for on-page search optimization. What our short video to see how easy you can optimize new content on your site.
Stayed tuned for our next installment to see how you can easily leverage Marketpath Blogging to create engaging, SEO friendly blogs.
The holidays and the Super Bowl are over, so it’s time to get back to our “How Easy is Marketpath CMS” series. This week, we’ll demonstrate how easy it is to create a brand new web page using Marketpath CMS, our web content management system for small businesses.
Think about it. Marketpath lets you create any type of new page in minutes: new product pages, promotional offers, event pages, news, resources pages, project galleries, and more. Now days, online success is all about content marketing - and we’ll let you easily create the content and calls-to-action your business needs to enhance customer engagement, increase credibility and create leads. In short- we’ll make your website and online marketing easy.
Keep an eye out for our next installment to see how Marketpath lets you easily manage your website’s on-page SEO.
Are you starting to outgrown your current web content management system or blogging platform? Migrating your website or blog to a new content management system can be an intimidating task, depending on how much content your current site has. But no matter what the reason for the move (capability, cost, support, etc.), there are a few steps that you should ensure are handled carefully while performing the migration. First things first:
Get Your Content
Whether this means getting into a database and downloading all of the previous content or posts, or copying the content manually, don’t shut the old site down until you have a copy of everything that you’ve done in the past.
Grab Your Old Sitemap
You may be building a website from scratch, so a lot of these pages might not be getting transferred to the new system. That’s okay, this step will make sense, I promise.
Set up New Pages/Posts
Within the new content management system, build out your website like its being built from scratch. When naming pages, consider the SEO value of each page name (be descriptive, but to the point). Copy the old blog posts into the new system and take note of how the URL is generated. (www.URL.com/blog/blog-post-title)
Set Up Redirects
This is probably the most important, and often times painstaking piece of migrating to a new CMS. Each blog post from the old system should be set up as a redirect to the new URL. For instance, if your old blog created URLs like this: blog.URL.com/blog-post-title, but the new CMS creates them like this: www.URL.com/blog/blog-post-title, then you want to make sure you redirect the old URL to the new URL as to not lose any link value. URLs from the old site (you grabbed that old sitemap, right?) should be setup as redirects to new, corresponding pages on the new site.
Migrating systems can be a daunting task. Have a plan before moving forward with any content migration to make sure each detail is preserved, and a whole bunch of 404’s aren’t created in the process.
This is our second post in our “How Easy is Marketpath CMS” series. Last week, our video showed you how simple it is to add SEO friendly images to your website using our easy CMS. This week we’ll demonstrate how effortless it is to add a video to your website using our web content management system for small businesses.
Stayed tuned for our next installment to see how you can add an entire new page to your website in just minutes! Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.
While this is a common feature of the majority of content management systems these days, if your current CMS doesn’t allow you to modify certain on-page elements, it may be time to start shopping around. Each page within your site should be crafted and optimized with the overall goal of higher rankings and increased traffic in mind. Here are a few elements to check:
Title tags are probably the easiest, yet most important, element of any page to modify with most Content Management Systems. Each page within your site should have a well-crafted title tag that you (or your web developer) have written. Alternatively, in the case of larger sites, or e-commerce sites with lots of products, the content management system should be able to help generate very-friendly tags based upon the page or product name and the overall brand of the website.
Meta descriptions help increase the click-through rate for search engine listings. Any given CMS should allow you to modify each page’s meta description within your site. These are great places for a few quick sentences involving key phrases you’re targeting and a call to action to entice the user to click.
A good CMS will allow you to simply highlight and style any text within your site with an H, or heading, tag. An H1 tag should be thought of as the headline of the page and should directly relate to the content on that particular page. Styling this text should happen automatically, making the job of the content creator much easier.
File Names and Alt Tags
Within your CMS, you’re going to be uploading content. This content should retain the original file name once upload (assuming that you named your images and videos with applicable key phrases). Also, when inserting an image onto a page, the option to add Alt Image Text should be presented. This text will help your odds of being relevant for Google Image searches.
The elements that should be automated within your CMS for on-page SEO purposes are things like the URL structure, XML Sitemap, and robots.txt file. The URL that is generated for any given page should be friendly, without creating session IDs, or other unnecessary snippets. The XML Sitemap and robots.txt file are pretty much strictly for search engines and automatically generated by your CMS.
There are other elements of on-page SEO that are important (content creation, internal linking structure, etc.), but those are at the heart of every CMS. The elements listed above are extremely important and shouldn’t be a daunting task if you’ve chosen the right CMS for the job. If you're a bit new to SEO, feel free to download our SEO Whitepaper free of charge.
Marketpath CMS was built on the foundation of simplicity. Everything we do is geared towards helping small businesses and organizations to be both more effective and efficient running their website marketing. In our opinion, the best way to do that is to make things easy!
That’s why anyone can manage and market their website using Marketpath CMS, our easy to use web content management solution. With Marketpath, you don’t need any technical expertise or knowledge of HTML. Anyone can successfully market their website, adding new pages, blogging, inserting images and videos, managing event and calendars, creating web forms, surveys, and landing pages. You can even manage meta data to drive enhanced SEO rankings! And the best part is that all the above tasks can be done in literally minutes.
Starting today, and over the next few months, we'll show you just how easy it is to market your website using Marketpath CMS. Watch our quick video and see how you can add search friendly images to your website in minutes!
Stayed tuned for our next installment to see how you can easy manage videos using Marketpath CMS.
Over the next few weeks, I will be quickly covering what we are calling "CMS Protips". This series will feature, in no particular order, a list of tips and tricks to get the most out of your content management system and your website. Let's get this started!
Protip #1 - Automate your Homepage's Content
Since your homepage is most likely the most important page on your website, automating a much of the content as possible makes a lot of sense. This automated content can consist of blog feeds, upcoming events, news, social media content, or any other type of data that may be useful to your visitors.
What Data can you Automate?
Your homepage should reflect the most current message from your company, not the same "Company Overview" paragraph that hasn't changed in years. This up-to-date content should drive traffic to inner pages of your site where the user is given the opportunity to convert to a customer.
Automating your homepage's content gives three distinct benefits:
1. Cleaner Overall Look and Feel After Each Update
Pulling in data and formatting it with the already existing content will ensure that the look and feel of your website is kept intact each time your homepage is updated. Manually editing this content can lead to errors, extra line spaces, and other minor issues that can decrease the effectiveness of your site.
2. Easier Content Management
Managing your content in one place in your CMS and having that propagate throughout your site is the optimal setup for any content manager. Changing one piece of content will be reflected in each part of the site that uses that data.
3. More Consistent Usability
Your website visitors will appreciate your website staying consistent throughout their visit. This is especially helpful if your website has a large ratio of return visitors as they know what information to expect and where to find it quickly.
Obviously there may be some pieces of your homepage that cannot be automated (image galleries, for example). When you're dealing with one of these, just make sure you're paying special attention when you are updating them.
Stay tuned for Protip #2!
The new website, designed and developed by Marketpath, is structured to provide up-to-date information on the church and the services they provide, while remaining user-friendly. The new website includes a calendar, allowing people to easily view future events. The site is now a responsive website, allowing the website to be easily accessible on all types of electronic devices. This is a major step forward for St. Dunstan’s, as it allows its churchgoers to quickly find service times and information using their mobile phones and tablets.
Marketpath worked closely with St. Dunstan’s to provide a high quality, user-friendly website, which will allow it to be more accessible to both the church and the parishioners. Additionally, Saint Dunstan also selected Marketpath, because they wanted a functional, user-friendly web content management solution (CMS), that would allow non-technical users to update and add new content to the church's site on a daily basis. The combination of a well designed site and Marketpath CMS, will allow St. Dunstan’s to continue their success and continue to grow its congregation.
Stenz Construction Corporation launched a new website this week to support their growth and to further position their organization as a leader in Indianapolis Construction Services.
Stenz is a full-service general contractor, construction manager and real estate services firm, headquartered in Downtown Indianapolis. Since their founding in 1973, Stenz has built an impressive resume of work throughout the Midwest and across a variety of project types; ranging from interior remodels to complex high-rise construction, and demanding historic renovation and adaptive reuse projects. Stenz's mission is to deliver quality, innovative and cost effective solutions to their partners and clients.
Beau Ansty, Director of Asset Management for Stenz, feels that the new site is a dramatic improvement over the company’s previous website and that it does a much better job communicating the organization’s heritage, expertise and capabilities.
“We have enjoyed working with Marketpath on the complete redesign of our website. Their expertise on the aesthetic and content strategy has been invaluable", said Mr. Ansty.
The new website, designed and developed by Marketpath, Inc. is structured around Stenz's construction services (general contracting, construction management, real estate services), while also hi-lighting their expertise with specific types of construction projects, including commercial, residential, historic, multi-family, retail, education, religious, and healthcare construction projects. One of the main areas of the new site is the Stenz Project Gallery, which features large, beautiful photography of various Stenz construction projects, showcasing the craftsmanship on display in many of Indianapolis' most significant landmarks worked on by Stenz.
The new site also features the Building Traditions Blog, which will provide information about significant construction projects around the state of Indiana, as well as best practices regarding general contracting, construction management, and historic building renovations and urban infill projects. The site was also developed with search optimization (SEO) in mind, so that Stenzcorp.com receives greater visibility within Central Indiana for their general contracting and construction services. The new site was developed using a responsive (mobile-friendly) web design framework, so that mobile users (phone, tablet, etc.) will have the best possible experience when viewing the site and interacting with Stenz Construction.
Finally, Marketpath worked closely with the Stenz team to develop an ongoing content marketing strategy focused creating credibility for the organization and greater online visibility. The content plan leverages the new Building Traditions Blog, to highlight the company’s expertise, while also leveraging visual content through multiple project galleries that feature imagery from Indianapolis area construction projects to hi-light Stenz's quality work. Content syndication via social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus) are also part of the plan. And because Marketpath CMS (website content management) is very easy to use, ongoing site updates and content marketing should be easy to accomplish for Stenz's internal staff.
To learn more about Stenz Construction Company, visit their new site at www.Stenzcorp.com and to learn more about Marketpath, visit www.marketpath.com. If you'd like to view additional responsive web designs and sites, visit our Mobile Website Project Gallery.
A locally owned family business that has been active in Indianapolis for over 10 years, The Peters Group is a leader in Indianapolis irrigation and lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor lighting services. Chris Peters, the founder and president of The Peters Group, feels that the new site is a dramatic improvement over the company’s previous website and that it does a much better job communicating the organization’s strengths and capabilities - to create and maintain beautiful and livable yards, lawns and outdoor living areas.
“I give Marketpath an A+ grade on their web design, development and marketing work. They helped to re-brand our company and also helped is develop an ongoing content marketing plan to showcase our leadership and expertise in irrigation and lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor lighting.”
The new site also features The Perfect Lawn Blog, which will provide home owners with tips and insight into lawn care, eco-friendly best practices, and ideas to help families get the most out of their yards and outdoor living spaces. The site was also developed with search optimization (SEO) in mind, so that The Peters Group receives greater visibility within Central Indiana for their irrigation, landscaping and outdoor lighting services. The new site was developed using a responsive (mobile-friendly) design framework, so that mobile users (phone, tablet, etc.) will have the best possible experience when viewing the site and interacting with the new Peters Group brand.
Finally, Marketpath worked closely with The Peters Group team to develop an ongoing content marketing strategy focused creating credibility for the organization and greater online visibility. The content plan leverages the new The Perfect Lawn Blog to highlight the company’s expertise, while also leveraging both written and visual content through multiple project galleries that feature imagery from Indianapolis area homes. Content syndication via new social channels (Facebook, Twitter) are also part of the plan. And because Marketpath CMS (website content management) is very easy to use, ongoing site updates and content marketing should be easy to accomplish for The Peters Group’s small internal staff.
To learn more about The Peters Group, visit their new site at www.thepetersgroupllc.com and to learn more about Marketpath, visit www.marketpath.com. If you'd like to view additional responsive web designs and sites, visit our Mobile Website Project Gallery.
KSM Transport Advisors (KSMTA), leaders in trucking profitability strategies and trucking consulting services, recently launched a new website to support their new branding and marketing initiatives.
David Roush, President of KSMTA, believes the new site does a much better of job of supporting the organization’s brand identity and communicating the organization’s leadership within the trucking industry.
“KSMTA needed a new website that looked polished and up-to-date, integrating our parent brand’s visual identity, while utilizing a flexible technology platform for content expansion and management. Marketpath successfully met our needs in these areas and more. Their professionals worked with multiple parties, including myself and our marketing team, in a seamless fashion. What’s more, the project came in on time and on budget and has received rave reviews from our clients.”
The new site, designed and developed by Marketpath, Inc., features new content focused on KSMTA’s two main trucking industry offerings:
- Carrier Profitability Assessments – Consulting assessments focus on industry best practices and benchmarks, providing a thorough analysis of the current situation and creating a roadmap so the identified issues can be quantified, prioritized and pursued.
- Carrier Profitability Products – Products that support and improve carrier profitability and efficiency.
The new site also includes KSM Transport Advisors’ new blog, Trucking Profitability Insights, where KSMTA will feature trucking industry expertise, insight and advice to help transportation and trucking organizations improve their operating efficiency and profitability. The site was also developed with search optimization in mind, so that KSMTA receives greater visibility within the transportation and trucking industry. It was created using a responsive (mobile-friendly) design and development framework, so that mobile users (phone, tablet, etc.) will have the best possible experience when viewing the KSMTA site and interacting with the KSM Transport Advisors brand. Finally, KSMTA is utilizing Marketpath CMS for ongoing website management – Market path’s easy-to-use solution for effective website content management and content marketing.
To learn more about KSM Transport Advisors, visit their new site at www.ksmta.com and to learn more about Marketpath, visit www.marketpath.com. If you'd like to view additional responsive web designs, visit our Mobile Website Project Gallery.
Franchises have an interesting dilemma when it comes to search marketing and website design. The corporate hub usually maintains overarching control of the brand, but local franchisees need a relevant website that connects with their nearby customers. To ensure that local franchisees are able to develop a robust presence in their market while adhering to corporate mandates requires a delicate balance. Below are the top 5 best practices for franchise website design and marketing.
- Defer to Corporate on Branding: Your franchise has likely built its multi-million dollar brand through years of trial and error. Though you have rights as a franchisee, even minor changes to the logo, color palette, vision statement, and font can have repercussions. You need to leave those elements alone and focus on the regional aspects of your positioning.
- Assess the Local Market: After you’ve accepted that there’s little you can do with company brand, you can focus on the pieces that will draw customers to your local franchise. Make sure your website has a section specific to your local market, where you can provide content that may be specific to your geographic region. Having the flexibility to easily feature different products or services can go a long way towards local success.
You may also want to build online campaigns that speak to problems and solutions in your area. If your business is an auto maintenance and repair company, for example, consider the value you can provide customers specific to your climate. Perhaps your organization sells water filtration systems. You could build a campaign around where your water is sourced. Or if you own a restaurant franchise, consider campaigns that connect to local events, teams or themes.
- Everyone Likes a Deal: The corporate franchise may have national offers, but as a franchisee, you probably have the leeway to offer specials specific to your market. When designing your website, make sure your franchisor includes a section for deals exclusive to your city or region. Consider including a subscription form to collect visitor email addresses for newsletters and coupons.
- Keep Control of Social Media: Headquarters will have its own content marketing collateral, which you should be able to use. Yet engaging with your local customers is even more important. If a customer uses social media like Facebook or Twitter to discuss your local franchise, you need the ability to respond and to develop ongoing communication with your customers and prospects. It’s corporate’s brand, but it’s your business and specific customer.
- Employ a Flexible CMS: Your website and content marketing system needs to meet the needs of both the franchisor and the franchisee while maintaining across the board consistency. Whatever website management or content management solution you choose should offer the flexibility to streamline corporate branding while enabling local franchisees to manage and update content related to their location or territory.
To learn more about ways to maximize franchise website design and marketing, contact Marketpath today.
The St. Margaret's Hospital Guild, one of Indianapolis’ most respected and longest running volunteer groups, recently launched a new website to promote their organization’s good works and their annual Decorators' Show House and Gardens project.
2013 Show House (April 27-May 12)
Proceeds from the annual Show House, running April 27th - May 12th, benefit Wishard Health (Eskenazi Health) and a variety of their services and programs. And this year’s house is extra special, featuring Indianapolis’ historic Schnull-Rauch House, located at 3050 North Meridian Street in Indianapolis.
Visit the new St. Margaret’s Guild and Decorators’ Show website to learn more about this year’s Show Home and to learn more about one of Indy’s most successful not-for-profit organizations. The new site, designed and developed by Marketpath, includes beautiful photo and video galleries of the past and present show homes, a blog that hi-lights historical information about this years’ Show House, as well information about Indy’s best decorators and designers that work to restore many of Indianapolis’ most beautiful homes. The site also features Marketpath CMS, an easy to use web content management system, so that the Guild’s non-technical memebers will be able to easily update and keep the site fresh.
And last, but not least, you can order your Decorators’ Show House tickets directly from the site. They’re perfect for Mother’s Day!
One of the core mechanisms with a web content management system is its publishing process. The process for Marketpath CMS is unique because we completely separate the content editing and site management tools from the actual live website.
I loved these things in my single digits. Heck, I would still love playing with them now if I had any because I truly enjoy building things. That is one part of my childhood I'm happy to say I've always carried with me into my (gulp) late thirties. Give me a bunch of sticks and I'll build something fun or useful out of them. And the name is perfect for these little guys, isn't it? Tinker Toys. Toys meant for tinkering.
And that's what made them so great. The tinkering part. Try this, then try that, then combine them. Forget about long term goals, planning, or any of that other boring, time-sucking gibberish.
Yeah, that was then. This is now.
We are marketers utilizing a medium we can see but can't touch and one that doesn't take its real shape until we start receiving data. So, tinkering takes on a whole new meaning. It's easy to tinker when you can see the immediate results, but a lot more difficult to tinker when it takes days, weeks, months, or even years to see results. In our world of instant gratification this bites big time. And we're adults now, most of the time. We know that good things come to those who wait. Right?
Wrong! That philosophy is BS and better suited for a 1920's catalog campaign. Today, we have the keys to the BMW and we're wearing our dancing shoes. So don't get caught sitting around watching the cockroaches race (true story from my dad, seriously). We have the tools in hand, or easily available, to make an immediate impact and all it takes is a little old-fashioned tinkering.
Whether you're adjusting your on-page SEO, posting a racy blog, adjusting your PPC keywords and spend, remarketing to abandoned cart visitors, improving site speed, or any number of other maneuvers, you should be tinkering. I'm not talking about changing your most successful call to action for all of your visitors or sending a politically charged email newsletter to your entire prospect base. No, you can tinker with just a small segment of your site visitors or your subscriber list or those who abandoned carts to find out what does and doesn't work.
There are a number of tools that offer A/B testing and your subscriber list can probably be segmented or sampled to your hearts desire. But there are so many options available for us to tinker these days that it's probably a bit overwhelming. Here are a few ideas to get you moving.
- Take a few more tutorials for your current CMS or schedule a brainstorming session with your vendor. You can probably do 90% of what you want but you just don't know it. Don't have a CMS? You should get one.
- Work with a company who can help you segment and target with current data. Right on Interactive (http://www.rightoninteractive.com/) here in Indianapolis is a fantastic company who can help you do all sorts of great things with your data. They love to tinker and explore data.
- Remarketing with another great Indy company - Smarter Remarketer (http://www.smarterremarketer.com/)
- Dive into Google Analytics more than you ever have. Here's a great list of resources from kissMetrics - http://blog.kissmetrics.com/50-resources-for-getting-the-most-out-of-google-analytics/.
- If you're not using a good email marketing toolset, start now: ExactTarget, MailChimp, Constant Contact
- Tame the social media frontier by using Hootsuite to manage all your accounts in one place
I'm sure you have your favorites too, so please leave your highly recommended tools in the comments for others to see.
Bottom line is that we are paid to tinker, even when our marketing tactics are working. Not enough to kill the golden goose but enough to prove we can do even better or prove that we can't.
We met with a prospective client last week to discuss their upcoming website redesign & development project. This prospect is your typical small business where the owners make all of the decisions without much input from the rest of the staff. There isn’t a dedicated marketing department, nor is there a “techie” on staff. If you’re a small business owner, this situation may sound familiar…and you can vouch that it’s not easy.
Any vendor selection process is an exercise in analytical skills. The two owners that we met with aren’t website guys. This whole process is new to them, and while they know they need a new site, they don’t exactly know how to go about getting the best bang for their buck.
After talking with them about the project, we discovered that we were one of three companies proposing a solution. After a bit more digging, it became apparent that the three solutions being offered were drastically different in nature, and in price. The decision on which firm to use is going to be a difficult one, as I’m sure we have all outlined our value proposition, highlighted strong points, and helped educate the two owners. Here are the three solutions that are common in this situation:
Different Paths to the Same End Goal
A Company like Marketpath
Marketpath designs and develops websites with our website content management system on the backend. We focus on enhancing the online brand, building an easy-to-navigate website, building an easy-to-update website, and creating the best “hub” possible for your marketing efforts. There are a lot of companies like us, some with their own CMS’s and some that use open-source platforms like WordPress, but you can rest assured that these firms are the experts in useable website design and development. There will usually be an upfront cost and an ongoing monthly fee for hosting/support.
An SEO Company
This option is similar to the firms listed above, except their sole focus is on gaining an ongoing SEO client. A new website that is “finely tuned and internally optimized” is the first step in their service offering, as a lot of the smaller SEO firms will claim that they need to code the website to be successful in the long run. After the website is built, there will be an ongoing, monthly “SEO Maintenance” fee of a few thousand dollars a month. If you like this solution, make sure you know the red flags to look for when hiring an SEO company.
A Full-Service Marketing Agency
This third option is the other player at the table. These full-service firms are typically very large in nature and can bring a lot of value to the conversation. They care more about overall branding efforts than rankings - they try to tie online and offline campaigns together. They are out to build you the best message possible. While they can build you a great looking website, often times these firms aren’t experts in the web. If you’re not planning on using them for more services, it could be overkill to choose this option.
During the meeting, I tried to explain to the prospect that, a lot of times, these three types of firms can work together. If you’re looking for a local presence (as these guys are), on-page SEO may be enough to gain the rankings you’re looking for. If you build a highly-optimized website (as we do), and don't achieve the high rankings, then you can bring on an SEO firm to help boost the efforts after you establish a baseline. Automatically assuming you need to spend thousands a month on SEO is one heck of an assumption. Also, hiring the mother ship of marketing to build you a website if you’re not planning on tying it all together with a major marketing campaign could result in a sub-par website. Full-service marketing firms aren't cheap, and they are looking for clients that take advantage of the entire offering.
It’s important, as a small business owner, that you ask questions and understand why there are three different approaches to the same problem. Understand the product and service offerings and select the best option for your company.
Have you experienced this same problem? What was your solution? Sound off in the comments below.
We’ve covered this topic a bit before on our blog, but recent data that has come to light makes it worth revisiting. The question is, being a small to medium sized business (SMB), is it time to take a hard look at software-as-a-service (SaaS) for your content management needs? The short answer – yes. The longer answer – SaaS CMS platforms have come a long way over the years and provide companies with flexibility and reliability that installed or open-source systems lack.
It's Time to Consider SaaS CMS
According to CMSWire, it is estimated that 34% of SMBs will become first time adopters, or switch their CMS platforms, to SaaS systems. This is a massive amount of companies that are looking to tap into the benefits of SaaS CMS platforms that are all willing to pay upwards of $500/month.
A Few of these benefits include:
No Extra Strain on IT Staff
By tapping into the SaaS model, your IT department can unload tasks associated with web hosting, updates, server patches, product patches, and security flaws to the provider. With SaaS, any problems that arise are on the shoulders of the provider to fix.
No Worries About Versioning
Ever worry that the outdated version of WordPress that your site is running has a security flaw? How about that widget that you installed that stopped working with the latest update to your installed system? With SaaS, these problems are a thing of the past, as updates are rolled out automatically and you don’t have to worry about versioning conflicts.
Open Source or Installed options can often times lead to unexpected bills and hourly charges for updates/fixes. With SaaS, the monthly expense that you agreed to pay covers all of this. No longer do you have to worry about budget wrecking invoices.
SMBs are always looking for ways to compete with the “big boys” that have seemingly unlimited resources. Over the past few years, the adoption of the SaaS model within email marketing, CRM, and social communications (among other verticals) has been huge. SaaS Content Management systems can (and do) provide the same flexibility, freedom, and power to the SMB market that these early adopted verticals have already shown.
If you’re in the market for a new website content management system, you owe it to yourself to take a serious look at a SaaS platform.
Google’s Matt Cutts let the cat out of the bag at SXSW this year and explained that Google would be rolling out a change to their algorithm that actually penalized overly optimized websites. While he didn’t say what Google was considering “overly optimized”, there has been some speculation as to what it could be.
"Stop trying to game the system...write better stuff"
First things first – Too Much Onsite SEO
This will actually be a pretty common find once Google rolls out the change. For years, people have been taught to put their top priority keywords in the title tags of the pages. This wasn’t (and still isn’t) a “spammy” tactic, so hopefully the penalty here won’t be too harsh. The thought process here, however, is that a title tag that is full of keywords isn’t exactly conversational, and therefore hurts the overall usability of the site. For instance, which one of these sounds better to a searcher:
Website Content Management & eCommerce System | Marketpath CMS
Marketpath CMS – The Easiest Damn Content Management System Available
Personally, I’d click through on #2, and I’d be willing to bet I’m not the only one. However, traditional onsite SEO (at least the past 5 years of it) would laugh at that title tag. Using words like “the” “damn” and “available” would be an amateur mistake. These words are filler words that don’t help my keyword strategy.
Other onsite items to review once the change goes live are things like internal links that all utilize the same anchor text, page structure that doesn’t make sense other than to create more places for keywords, and snippets of text that appeal more to search engines rather than users.
Next – Too Much Offsite SEO
If you’ve contracted with an external search engine optimization firm, there is a good chance that they have built links to your site to boost rankings. While there has already been a decrease in the importance of links in the overall ranking algorithm, sites with unnatural link profiles may be penalized even further with this update. I’d be willing to guess that 999 times out of 1000, sites with unnatural link profiles have contracted out and bought links (either directly or indirectly), which is technically against the Google Terms of Service, so it’s only fair to get penalized.
The thought process here is a natural one. Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant content for a search query. The most relevant content isn’t always delivered because other, less relevant sites may be optimized to rank better. Removing links from the algorithm and replacing them with other signals might help Google finally achieve what they are trying to do – rank content based on quality, not technical SEO.
Whether or not you agree that sites that are overly optimized should be penalized (we’ve had that argument internally), the change is coming. The best thing you can do at this moment for your site’s well-being hasn’t changed, however. Keep an eye on the changes as they are rolled out, read some blogs about those changes, and modify your strategy accordingly. The heart of your strategy will remain constant, focusing on good content creation and marketing
Search engine optimization, for many, can be an extremely daunting and intimidating task. Many of our own clients struggle with the very basics when we are building their sites, which is why we help them out in the beginning. In an effort to help SEO newbies and first-time website owners, I am prescribing the minimum effective dose for SEO. For anyone not familiar, the minimum effective dose can essentially be defined as the minimum amount of dosage or activity (i.e. change) needed to produce the desired effect. This term is often used in the world of exercise science or pharmacology, but I think that it applies to the world of search engine optimization as well. Here are three "easier-to-accomplish", but very important tasks that will help the foundations of SEO for any site.
Create an XML Sitemap
This is the easiest task that I can suggest. Simply put, a sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website that allows users and search engine robots alike to see the “map of your site”. An XML sitemap is preferred by Google and actually allows you to assign importance for specific pages within your website. Here is a hint, the homepage should be a 1.0 (the most important). If you are utilizing an open-source content management system, you can probably find a widget that will create an XML sitemap for you…just beware of what you’re installing (like any widget). Other content management systems, like Marketpath CMS, automatically create a sitemap for you, so chances are, you’ve already accomplished this step. Nice Work!
Optimizing the Homepage Title Tag
Arguably the most important piece of on-site architecture, other than great content to support it, your site’s homepage title tag is your first chance to tell users, and Google, the topic of your website. Implementing your keyword strategy here should be priority number one. Do some keyword research and make sure that the first words in your homepage’s title tag are the most important for your business, not your company’s name. Also, don’t exceed 65-69 characters (spaces included), as Google will begin to truncate the listing at this point. For more information on creating a great title tag, download our free SEO guidebook.
So you’ve just put in a bunch of hours designing and launching a website…congratulations! Now, it’s time to get to work. You may be thinking “wait, what? The company that built our site promised us 1st page rankings!” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s probably not going to happen without a lot more work on your part (especially if you have a brand new domain). Why is this part of the minimum effective dose SEO prescription? Because this is one of the least technical SEO strategies that exists. While it’s not necessarily easy to create good content, you are the expert in your business, so share some of that knowledge and post it via your blog. Commit to a content creation strategy and you’ll begin to see the desired results.
SEO is not easy, nor should it be. Search engines like Google are designed to keep out the lower quality sites and provide the best user experience for their customers. These three tips cover just the very tip of the ever-changing iceberg. If you have any other basic, or easy to accomplish SEO tasks, feel free to leave them in the comments section.
Mr. T's Online Tutoring recently launched their first website, selecting Marketpath for web content management, website design, and search engine optimization (SEO) services. According to Chris Travers, Mr. T's founder, he selected Marketpath based on Marketpath's expertise with small business websites and the ease of use of Marketpath CMS, their web content management solution. "Marketpath made it simple for us to launch our first website, providing the service and guidance needed to intoduce our brand to students in both North and South America," said Mr. Travers.
Mr. T's Online Tutoring provides personalized, convenient and and affordable math, SAT, and Spanish tutoring, all online for high school and junior high school students.
If you keep up a blog then you are probably well acquainted with comment spam. This is an inevitable fact of life if you allow comments on your blog (which you should in most cases). At Marketpath, we reached a point with our blogging platform where we were receiving a great deal of comment spam for our own blogs and many of our customers' blogs. Here's an example:
Notice how well-written this comment is? Notice its perfect grammar and its amazingly descriptive word choices? That's sarcasm, of course.
The good news is that if you are using Marketpath CMS, you don't have to worry about this type of comment rearing its ugly head on your blog. Every comment must be reviewed and approved before others can see it and it's very easy to do so. You'll receive a notification about the comment and can quickly jump into CMS to approve it.
Most other CMS platforms provide some sort of comment moderation as well and may even run comments through an detection engine to determine how likely they are spam. The best tool for this, however, is using good ol' fashioned eyeballs. Not everyone who comments writes well so you'll want to be careful not to ignore legitimate comments.
Why do people spam your blog? The biggest reason is that they are trying to improve their own website's search engine position by creating backlinks to their site. They will embed keywords and utilize the URL field to create the link.
Marketpath helps eliminate spam not only by requiring approval of comments but also by using a REL="NOFOLLOW" tag in the links. This tag tells search engines to ignore the link and alerts most spammers (those with a decent understanding of SEO) to avoid it because they know they won't get any credit for the link. Marketpath also strips HTML tags from the actual comment. If a spammer tries to embed a link into the comment, it will be stripped and removed completely. And the final tactic we employ is requiring visitors to enter a number verification (captcha) so automated spamming systems won't get through.
All in all, comment spam is a fact of life and will continue to be for quite some time. Simple measures, like I discussed above, whether you're using Marketpath CMS or some other evil CMS platform, should be a standard part of the technology to keep these comments from ever seeing the light of day.
Here are a couple more posts about comment spam that may interest you:
As a Software-as-a-Service website content management system (CMS) provider, we have to be cautious of trying to be everything to everyone. The fact is that no CMS is the perfect fit for every website. We have our niche, WordPress has its niche, and there can even be a place for Microsoft’s SharePoint (if you have the budget and technical staff, of course).
We have realized that there is a point at which sites grow out of the WordPress niche and graduate into our niche. We have been pretty successful migrating these sites into our content management system, training users on how to use our CMS, and then supporting them along the way at no extra cost. This seems to be a perfect fit for small-to-medium sized businesses across the country that need a little more than WordPress can offer. We are more than happy to play in this space, and our customers seem happy to have found us.
And while we are continually adding features to Marketpath CMS, either because of new trends on the Internet, new technologies, or customer requests, we realize that, at some point, our customers may grow out of our system – and this is a good thing. It means that our software probably played a small part in their successful growth, and we’re happy to have been a part of it.
This lesson can most likely be applied to more than just our business. Have you ever had the problem of trying to add too many features/services/products to meet the demands of a potentially large account instead of sticking to what has made you successful? Remember, jack of all trades, master of none - right?
A mobile website or mobile ready website is simply an internet site optimized for viewing on mobile devices or smartphones such as the iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Because mobile gadgets are smaller than computers (with smaller screens), full websites are often difficult to view and navigate via mobile devices.
Mobile websites provide a better way for consumers to learn about your organization when they’re on-the-go and typically consist of a “stripped down” version of a website, with less information, prioritized or more important to the mobile user.
So why should your organization develop a mobile site?
1) Because your current site doesn’t work well or look correct on mobile devices
I mentioned this briefly above. And while it may be obvious, it is also the most significant reason you should consider a mobile site. Maybe the fonts are too small, or the images too large, or the navigation and layout are too complex or awkward. Roll over menus that work and look great when viewing from a computer, might be tedious or impossible to use via mobile. Or, possibly, the site downloads painfully slow on a mobile device. Regardless of the reason, if your prospect or customer can’t easily use your site or find what they’re looking for (without getting frustrated), they may just try your competitor’s easier to use mobile site!
2) The needs & behavior of a mobile web user are different from a traditional Internet user
While it is critical that your site be easy to view and navigate via mobile, it is also important to realize how mobile users are different from traditional computer web users. Phone or mobile users are often away from their home or office (or at least away from their computers), with less time to spend surfing or looking for information. Many times, they have a goal in mind and are looking for very specific information such as a location, news or event, contact, map, product, or schedule. And often, they only have a few minutes to find what they want.
Because of these differences, your mobile design needs to focus on simplicity, presenting prioritized content that is relevant for the mobile user. The Mobile Marketing Association suggests a less-is-more design philosophy for mobile web sites, focusing on the 3-5 most important reasons someone will visit your mobile site, and making those items visible upon entry, at the top menu level. Eliminating side-scrolling and reducing down-scrolling also enhances ease-of-use via mobile.
Whether you like it or not, more and more people will be accessing your website via mobile devices. In fact, as of last month (July 2011), 50% of all connections to the internet are from phones and mobile devices.
Microsoft Tag recently developed the infographic to the right to summarize the explosion of the mobile web, which is already a large market, but growing more rapidly by the minute. If you are still skeptical as to the importance of the mobile web, I’ve included a number of interesting statistics.
- 70% of the world’s population now have a mobile phone; 87% in the U.S. (per Experian)
- U.S. children are now more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, with 85% of kids owning a phone as to 73% having books! (National Literacy Trust)
- 55% of US consumers who purchased a new phone in 2011 bought a smartphone, up from the 34% last year (Nielsen)
- 38% of US consumers owned a smartphone as of May 2011
- Daily internet usage via handheld devices jumped from 29% in 2009 to 43% in 2010
- In the last year Google has seen a 400% increase in the number of mobile searches
- The #1 access method for local information is now the mobile browser
Despite the growing importance of mobile, less than 5% of businesses have mobile enabled websites today. In fact, 50% of small businesses have never even checked the appearance or functionality of their site on a Smart Phone!
4) It’s fairly easy to create a mobile website
Assuming the functionality and content from your current site are up to snuff (you know what they say about ASS-U-ME), creating a mobile website is reasonably easy. This is especially true with tools like Marketpath CMS, or other web content management solutions, that allow you to leverage both your existing website content and content management processes, without having to start from scratch or add new processes to update your mobile site.
Marketpath allows you to easily manage your mobile websites within Marketpath CMS, updating content for both your regular and mobile sites at the same time, while delivering to traditional and mobile formats.
So why not give mobile users what they want and enhance your brand equity and reputation at the same time?