Larry BraunerWhile building my online presence and working on small client projects over a three year period, I devised, tested and evaluated a wide variety of web-based marketing, branding and communication strategies and techniques, and discussed them on Online Social Networking.

In November 2010, I seized an opportunity that arose to join a major luxury goods company and test my strategies and techniques in a competitive real-world environment. The results were outstanding. Not only was enormous buzz created, the business was able to dramatically increase its authority and credibility within the trade and with the media.

I credit just five very simple ideas with our success:

  1. Building a core group of websites around which the company’s entire web presence was built.
  2. Fully aligning web content with the company’s mission and message.
  3. Creating a great quantity of top quality, expertly edited and search engine optimized content.
  4. Using plenty of images and videos to enhance our written content.
  5. Leveraging numerous online and offline sources, such as SEO, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, email, print ads and word-of-mouth, to generate a flood of targeted traffic to the company’s web content.

Of course the details of implementation were far from trivial. They needed to be worked out along the way, and yours will too.

I shall elaborate on these five web strategies in future articles.

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Larry BraunerThe four-day International Watch Fair on Facebook, which begins Tuesday,  is a free Facebook page event that’s open to the watch industry, the media and the public. Several hundred will attend this unique event at which luxury, fashion and sporty watchmakers will display a wide variety of timepiece collections. You’re welcome to join me there.

The objective of this Facebook watch fair is to increase Gevril Group page membership and member engagement. Importantly, however, the fair is just one of many web-based strategies and techniques I’m using to build the company’s brand. My strategies include search engine optimization, social bookmarking, business networking and email campaigns, as well. It’s the synthesis and synergy of all these strategies that create an ever-growing buzz around the brand.

Since launching the Gevril Group website this past December, the company’s online presence has grown considerably. During the nine-month period since the launch, there were 53,128 visitors to the site and a healthy number of inquiries from consumers, job applicants, the trade and the media. At the same time, I’ve drawn conclusions I shall share with you.

Overall monthly visits grew from 2,221 in December to 8,572 in August as illustrated below:

Gevril Group Website Visits Months 1-9 - All Traffic
Gevril Group<br /> Website Visits Months 1-9 - All Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Initially, there was substantial traffic from social media, particularly StumbleUpon. However, during the nine month period, social media traffic failed to increase:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Social Media vs. Non-Social Media Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Social Media vs. Non-Social Media Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Facebook traffic grew from 113 to 338 monthly, but while a remarkably useful networking tool, Facebook hasn’t yet become an important traffic source for Gevril Group:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Facebook vs. Search StumbleUpon Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Facebook vs. Search StumbleUpon Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Unlike social media traffic, SEO traffic grew exponentially from 119 to 4,979 monthly and now accounts for 58% of all monthly visits:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Search vs. Non-Search Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Search vs. Non-Search Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Search traffic for Gevril Group related keywords grew from 51 to 343 monthly as the company became better known. However, search traffic for other keywords grew much faster from 68 to 4,636 thanks to the ongoing addition of rich content to the website:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Gevril Group vs. Non-Gevril Group Search Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Gevril Group vs. Non-Gevril Group Search Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Since the inception of the Gevril Group website, 19,591 visits were from SEO; 16,894 from social media; 8,548 from browser bookmarks, links in emails, typed in URLs and untraceable social media; 8,095 from referrals from other non-social websites:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Traffic Types
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Traffic Types
Click to Enlarge


These data are consistent with something I’ve known for a long time. The greatest source of website traffic is search engines, and if a site’s pages are optimized for relevant keywords, search visitors will find those pages’ content relevant. Social media helps to build and solidify relationships, but SEO will attract more traffic in the long run.

Hope you’ll join me at the International Watch Fair on Facebook this week. :)

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Larry BraunerYou’re creating content for your blog or website. You can create content haphazardly, or you can laser focus your web content to advance your site in the search engines.

A website consists of one or more web pages. Search engines index web pages individually.

For each keyword phrase that you care about, create a web page on your site dedicated to that keyword phrase alone.

Your Keywords Don’t All Need to be Popular

For example, your company name is probably a low volume search term, but it’s meaningful to you, all the same. It’s you who decides which keyword phrases deserve focus and assign each of those phrases its own page, either a static page or a blog post.

Real Time Web AnalyticsIf your website has been online for a while and you notice from your web analytics that certain pages are already receiving substantial traffic for certain keyword phrases, then those pages are evidently already focused on their associated keywords.

Throughout your site, link occurrences of your keyword phrases to their associated web pages, thereby helping those pages gain authority and climb the ranks of the search engines. When generating external links into your site, make a keyword phrase your anchor text and link to that keyword’s special page.

Edit Previously Published Blog Posts

Don’t hesitate to edit your previously published blog posts. If they’re your pivotal keyword pages, try hard to enhance them. However, review all your pages and update their links in order to sharpen your site’s keyword focus.

Stick with it, since search engine optimization takes time. However, with consistent effort, you’ll dominate the search engines one keyword phrase at a time.

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Comments are welcome — of course. :-)

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Larry BraunerI would love to spend my entire workday blogging, social bookmarking and business networking. However, long ago I discovered that combining these activities with other outreach is both more efficient and more far reaching than relying on social media alone to build a web presence.

Not only social media but search engine optimization, press releases, email marketing — and even advertising — all figure in my web strategy.

Salvatore Ferragamo WatchesOur company represents luxury watch brand Ferragamo Timepieces in the US and Caribbean markets. Industry leader Paul Ziff was appointed US and Caribbean Ferragamo President, and I was responsible as Social Media Director for spreading the word about the appointment and about Ferragamo.

I had about a week to implement a plan and capitalize on the news before it became stale and irrelevant. Our company was ready to host numerous sales meetings in Las Vegas, and I needed to create adequate buzz before the start of the meetings.

The effort consisted of writing and publishing web content related to Paul Ziff and Ferragamo, distributing press releases about Paul’s appointment, and emailing the news to a very large list. We were able to impact several thousand people, thanks to excellent resources and superb teamwork:

  • Marketing expert, blogger and watch enthusiast, John Sealander, did a marvelous job writing all the web content. I merely added a few links and images.
  • Paul Ziff wrote the press release, which was effectively distributed by eRealeases — via PR Newswire — and through their own channels. Our story was picked up by several hundred news websites.
  • Our huge quantity of email messages were delivered and tracked by Green Wave Email Marketing, under the direction of software guru, David Alexander, my good friend of more than 40 years. I use Aweber to manage my blog subscribers, but I prefer Green Wave for my email marketing because David’s service provides greater flexibility and more personalized attention. In my opinion, Green Wave is more geared to mainstream business than Aweber.
  • I leveraged search and social strategies and techniques to drive additional traffic to John’s content on our company website and blogs.

Please subscribe to my blog and share ways in which you’re going beyond social media. :-)

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Larry BraunerI wrote back in November that I was launching a website and building a web presence for a small business that makes luxury watches and that also handles distribution for other upscale watch brands.

Generating website traffic is a key aspect of any online initiative, and I devised a four-part plan for attracting website visitors:

  1. Company Contact Lists - Mailing to existing lists of company business contacts.
  2. SEO - Posting search optimized web content six or more times per week on the company blogs.
  3. Social Media Sites - Reaching out on Facebook, Twitter, Small Business Network, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Amplify, Business Exchange, Posterous, etc.
  4. Community Building - Using website widgets and TweetAdder to grow a following on Facebook and Twitter, as well as an RSS and email subscriber base.

After 13 weeks of effort, I’m pretty satisfied with the growth of website traffic. However, I am very subjective, so I welcome your feedback.

Weekly Website Traffic from All Sources

Website traffic started to explode around week 9 or 10, and reached 1,741 website visits in the 13th week.

Weekly Website Traffic from All Sources
Weekly Website Traffic from All Sources
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Weekly Website Traffic from StumbleUpon

Website traffic from StumbleUpon has been fairly flat all along, averaging around 400 visits per week. I don’t know how to quantify the benefit from StumbleUpon traffic, but I’m hoping that such traffic, weak as it is, still contributes something to added awareness of the company’s watches and their brands.

Weekly Website Traffic from Stumble Upon
Weekly Website Traffic from Stumble Upon
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Weekly Website Traffic from Search Engines

Targeted website traffic from search engines is, according to my thinking, the most important form of web traffic. The effect of search engine optimized content can be both far reaching and long lasting.

Weekly website traffic from search engines to the company domain has been growing all along, but it really took off in the 9th week and exceeded 500 visits in week 13.

Weekly Search Traffic from Search Engines
Weekly Search Traffic from Search Engines
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Weekly Website Traffic from Other Sources

Website traffic from other sources including direct traffic and email traffic was substantial.

On the other hand, with the exception of StumbleUpon, none of the social media sites are yet providing large numbers of visitors, although several are providing high quality inbound links that help off-page search engine optimization.

Weekly Website Traffic from Other Sources
Weekly Website Traffic from Other Sources
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Additional Website Traffic Strategies and Techniques

Phase two, which begins tomorrow, will feature additional website traffic strategies and techniques that will accelerate website traffic growth and increase website stickiness. I look forward to presenting the results of this phase three months from now.

Please subscribe to my blog, “like” my Facebook page, and leave me a comment or feedback. :-)

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Larry BraunerSearch engine optimization professionals usually have a few tricks up their sleeves. Of course, they want to generate lots of website traffic for their clients or employers.

Most so-called SEO tricks are actually legitimate techniques for tackling complex search problems, while some, like the recent JC Penney website traffic scheme — no, Penney didn’t purchase this link from me :-P — are totally reprehensible.

Every sordid detail of the JC Penney search scandal — and how JC Penny allegedly racked up much unjustified website traffic during the holiday shopping season — are spelled out in Dirty Little Secrets of Search on the NY Times website.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Google “changed its mathematical formula late Thursday in order to better weed out ‘low-quality’ sites that offer users little value,” said Amir Efrati in Google Revamps to Fight Cheaters on the Wall Street Journal website. Hopefully, Google’s new algorithm will improve its search performance and deliver traffic to deserving websites.

My Dirty Little Secrets of Search and Website Traffic

My Dirty Little Secrets of Search and Website TrafficLike other webmasters and website owners, I too want to generate truckloads of website traffic, and as you might guess, I have a bag of tricks at my disposal — my dirty little secrets of search.

I share with you four of my top secrets of search and website traffic:

  1. Help the Search Engines - Lay out your site, tag your images and your posts, and embed your internal and outbound links in ways that make it easy for search engines to determine the subject, thesis and nuances of each of your articles.
  2. Help Readers - Write articles that are easy to find and read. Doing so will help your readers and help you remain honest with your on- page search engine optimization.
  3. Don’t Cheat - As much as you’re anxious to get more website traffic, don’t do anything on-page or off-page that you wouldn’t be willing to shout out to Google, because the search engines are listening. All your tricks should be legit. If you buy links, buy relevant links from reputable sites and directories. Avoid any form of linking scheme.
  4. Keep it Simple - If you can’t explain your strategies and techniques to an intelligent layperson, they’re probably too complex. Seek ways to simplify your approach.

Honesty and transparency are at the core of my dirty little secrets of search and website traffic.

Search gurus will likely call my way simplistic, but it has permitted me — with plenty of hard work posting content, of course — to take a new watch company website from 0 to 75 search visits per day in only 12 weeks with more web site traffic on the way.

Please subscribe. A nice comment will earn you a free dofollow link back to your website or blog. :-)

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Larry Brauner3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011 discussed the decline of open networking on Facebook, the revival of Ning networks and the continued relevance of websites and SEO in building your web presence.

Here are several more social media marketing ideas for the new year that can be especially helpful for small business marketers and entrepreneurs.

Bigger Long-Term SEO Objectives

GoogleOne of the most serious social media and web marketing mistakes I’ve ever made was choosing Online Social Networking as the name of this blog.

I considered naming my blog Social Networking Sites but decided not to, because social networking sites seemed too competitive a keyword phrase for the newbie that I was. Online social networking is searched for 12K times monthly compared to 250K for social networking sites. 12K per month seemed like more than enough traffic to me at that time.

Online social networking was a “reasonable” keyword term. Since it was much less popular than the often searched-for term social networking sites, I hoped to rank for it relatively quickly. However, in the long run, I believe that social networking sites would’ve brought me both greater and more profitable traffic.

My blog probably wouldn’t have yet hit the #1 spot in the search engines for the search term social networking sites as it has already for online social networking, but it would’ve ranked much higher for social networking sites than the present #32 and might have still placed close to the top for online social networking.

I should have considered long term potential and selected more ambitious keywords, just as I have for Gevril, for whom I’ve chosen tough keyword phrases, such as luxury watches and mens watches.

In month one, Gevril Group received 150 search visits. I’ll let you know what happens in month two.

Ning Network Groups

Ning Social NetworksNing groups function like Facebook groups with a few welcome exceptions:

  • Your potential emailing list is unlimited. You can broadcast to Ning group members even after their count exceeds 5,000.
  • The content of your Ning group can be indexed by Google and other search engines, and the greater your group membership, the greater your authority with the search engines will tend to be.
  • Group activity is displayed in your Ning network’s activity feed and transmitted to Ning group members who elect to follow you.

I’m ready and able to assist any group owner on my new Small Business Network who’s dedicated to building a large and influential Ning group, and the group need not necessarily be business-oriented.

Connecting One-to-One

SkypeYour personal network will be strong and prosper if you focus on networking one-to-one. Speak on the phone or over Skype even one time to each person, and you’ll surely build solid online relationships.

If you’re growing a Facebook page, a Ning group or a Twitter account, individually adding one-to-one connections can amount to a large number over time — and perhaps these connections will even help you make many more.

Hope you’ll find these social media and web marketing strategies useful.

Wishing you a successful year. :-)

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Larry BraunerThe social media and web marketing space is evolving, and we must therefore continually revise our social media and web marketing strategies and techniques.

Here are several cases in point that affect social media and web marketing practice, especially for small business.

Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking

FacebookFor years, Facebook was an open social networking site that permitted members to befriend people whom they didn’t know despite mounting privacy concerns.

However, in 2010, Facebook tightened its friending policies in order to combat phishing and spamming practices.

It appears that Facebook now evaluates friend requests based on degrees of separation and profiles users who repeatedly go out-of-bounds, restricting their friending capabilities.

Consequently, we must regard Facebook as a closed networking site going forward, despite the Facebook Freedom to Share and Connect principle, and find approaches to building our Facebook networks that don’t raise red flags.

Hello Ning Open Networking

Ning Social NetworksSince the Ning shift earlier this year from free or paid networks to paid-only networks, protest from disgruntled free-site creators has subsided and, as promised, Ning has come through with improved functionality upgraded periodically.

While Ning cannot compete with Facebook based neither on popularity nor functionality, Ning is nevertheless a great platform for creating niche social networking sites and for open networking.

I’ve dedicated the Small Business Network, my own Ning networking site, to the pursuit of open social and business networking, and I would be delighted if you would join me there.

You can still share via broadcast any of your Ning content, like blog posts or pictures, with all your Ning friends, a feature not found on the Facebook or LinkedIn social networks.

Search Engine Optimization Still Pays Big

GoogleNotwithstanding my remarks in The NEW Search Engine Optimization, search engines are still the mightiest source of website traffic, and SEO is still the most vital web marketing activity.

Social media sites send thousands of visitors per month to Online Social Networking. However, Google and other search engines send much more. Having a website or blog site and optimizing it for search engines and humans is of paramount importance if you want to market successfully on the web.

Put website development and optimization at the very top of your to-do list for 2011.

Please accept my sincere wishes for a healthy, fulfilling and peaceful New Year. I look forward to growing and sharing with you in the years to come.

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Larry BraunerYou’ve created Ning networks or belong to Ning networks started by others. What next?

In 10 Ways to Brand and Market on Ning Networks, I examine a variety of Ning network features that are useful for promoting yourself or your business.

Ning Social NetworksHowever, what if you’re interested in promoting a Ning social network itself?

Here are 10 ideas for promoting the Ning networks to which you belong:

  1. Your Contacts - Send personalized emails to people you know. (Ning’s invite feature is not effective, since the emails Ning sends are impersonal and will be treated by many as spam.)
  2. Network Content - Share your Ning network, your network’s groups and all your network’s content on social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon. This approach is my personal favorite, since it promotes the Ning network and the network’s content at the same time.
  3. Articles and Blog Posts - Discuss your Ning network and your network’s content in blog posts and articles you write.
  4. Badges or Widgets - Place your Ning network badge on blogs and other websites. Even if badges attract few new members, they’ll help with SEO efforts by providing inbound links. A badge on the sidebar of a blog is in effect a link from every page and blog post on that blog.
  5. Links - Build inbound dofollow links to your Ning network and your network’s content.  Links, like Ning network badges, help with SEO, even if they don’t send much direct traffic. Use relevant anchor text in your links.
  6. SEO - Optimized keyword-rich blog posts on your Ning network will attract visitors who are looking for your content. Building links as previously mentioned will improve SEO results.
  7. Connectors and Influencers - Ask networking connectors and social media influencers to help by referring new members to your Ning network. These types of people love to help others.
  8. Comment on Blogs and Forums - Use insightful comments to pique interest and drive traffic to your Ning network. Avoid spamming!
  9. Classified Ads - Craigslist and other advertising sites can drive traffic to your Ning network. Experiment to learn what works best.
  10. Business Cards and Fliers - Experiment with offline marketing, as well. I suggest you keep it simple.

I encourage you to add your own ideas to this list.

Join my Small Business Network (promoting my Ning network ;-) ), and if you’re new to this blog, please subscribe.

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Larry BraunerI envisioned when launching my social media consulting practice spending my time creating and executing traffic generating and branding strategies using a wide range of social media sites. I did not envision spending my time optimizing clients’ websites and blogs.

Your Website or Blog

What I found, however, was that clients’ websites had not been designed to appeal to visitors and convert them into subscribers or customers, nor were they set up to attract search engine traffic.

This problem concerned me very much. As I’ve written numerous times, the core of a social media marketing campaign is always your website or blog. Consequently, I decided to offer a full range of services to help clients make more effective use of the web.

Social Media and Web Marketing in Action

Welkin Capital GroupI was asked very recently to market the website of Welkin Capital Group, a high-end real estate finance company. When I accepted the assignment, I knew that my work would encompass more than social media and search engine optimization. It would include a total website makeover, as well.

The transformation of Welkin’s website has been dramatic. The best way to appreciate the changes we made is to compare the new website to the old website. We still plan to add a newsletter and a blog but already, the new site has a better look and feel, more room to maneuver, additional content and a social component.

While working on the Welkin site’s new design, we began optimizing the site’s content for search engines — and for human visitors too:

  • During the first six weeks, March 7, 2010 to April 17, Welkin received 51 unique search engine visits from 25 search terms.
  • During the next six weeks, April 18 to May 29, the company received 152 unique search visits from 63 terms.

We’re still working on the website’s content. Writing and tweaking content is an ongoing aspect of web marketing.

If you’re interested in real estate, you can follow Welkin on Facebook and Twitter.

Conclusion

Your main takeaway from this article:

Web marketing begins with your website or blog, the core of your web presence, and without which your social media marketing plan isn’t complete and cannot succeed.

Please subscribe to Online Social Networking and leave a comment telling me what’s on your mind. :-)

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