7 SEM Trends for 2011

8 02 2011

After spending the last month reading list after list making SEM predictions for 2011 I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.  When you truly look at predicting anything, the best case scenario is you’re right and the worst case scenario, well at least you made an effort.  So, without further ado, here are my top 7 SEM predictions for 2011:

1.  Above the Fold Content Becomes Less Crucial

One of the biggest things to take away from the infographic craze is that users are willing to scroll if you have engaging content.  Virtually every mouse has a scroll feature; create amazing content so I want to use it.



2.  HTML5 and CSS3 Will Begin to Go Mainstream

The general population is afraid of change.  Most tech people are early adopters and embrace change.  Now we just need the people building sites for clients that are still using IE6 to let them do it the right way.  Listen to Smashing and start using HTML 5 and CSS3 today.

3.  The Death of Foursquare: As big players integrate location-based services better, the smaller pioneers will fade.

Let me start by saying I’ve never been into letting people know where I’m at so they can go to my house and kidnap my dog while I’m out drinking.  Therefore, I may not be the authority on any this issue.  However, I do hate having to juggle four different apps in order to let everyone know what I’m having for dinner, where I’m having it, that I just became the Mayor and that I checked in to save 20% on appetizers.

4.  Google’s Disdain for RSS Will Continue to Grow

With rumors already swirling about Google moving resources away from Google Reader, it’s likely that support for RSS will fade overall.  Personally, I used to be into RSS as it’s an excellent way to keep abreast to the latest news and industry blogs, however that all went away when Twitter became my professional social vehicle and Facebook became my personal social vehicle.  Using Twitter and using it right helps to filter out all the fluff and only read content that is valued by people who know more than I do.

5.   Blekko Will Become an Important FREE Tool for SEO Professionals

Blekko has already made efforts to supply SEO data to users.  I think the next step in the process is to allow the data to be exported and manipulated.  Stay Tuned…

6.  Local Search Will Drive More Customers to Brick & Mortar Stores

Yelp reported that in December of 2010 35% of all searches on Yelp.com came from a mobile app. Please take into account that this number doesn’t even include the people who go directly to the site through their mobile browser instead of using the app.  People are searching locally and on the go because they want to spend locally.  Looking at Google’s shift towards local content only reinforces the fact.

7.  Customer Reviews Will Take Center Stage

One of the biggest obstacles working with companies that are just now jumping on the local bandwagon is that it’s difficult to get an influx of reviews.  As local businesses begin to optimize for local search, expect to be asked to review a business more and more as you’re walking out the door with your lunch.

In the end, there were a million different predictions I could have thrown out there. Check back next year and we’ll see how I did.

 

What are your thoughts/predictions for 2011 and beyond?

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Formic Media Free Seminar Series: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Fundamentals

26 07 2010

Formic is dedicated to building relationships with the community and helping small businesses succeed.  As such, our team has created a free monthly seminar for area businesses, covering a variety of online marketing topics including local SEO, social media marketing, website design clinics and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) fundamentals.

Up next, the Formic team is presenting the Formic Media Free Seminar Series: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Fundamentals. Learn how to generate targeted leads through desirable search terms for increased visibility.  PPC advertising can be very cost-effective, when managed properly, due to the ability to target keywords, specific geo-locations, messaging and landing pages. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have the time or resources to effectively manage PPC campaigns, which can lead to costly mistakes.

We encourage local businesses to join the Formic team as they walk you through PPC campaign research, planning, implementation and management.  You will leave this seminar with sufficient knowledge of how to optimize your existing PPC campaigns or create a new campaign from scratch.

Join us 5:30 Wednesday, August 11th at Formic’s offices (300 NE Failing St., Portland, OR, 97212) for this special event.

Visit our website for more details, and sign up as space is limited.





Forms: Making them Better

9 12 2009

More often than not, the form is overlooked and rushed; with the thought “as long as it’s in there, it’ll work.”  But why?  Why would you drag your customers through the mud to buy a product or contact you when instead you could send them through Disneyland for a magnificent experience!  As stated, the form can be many things, such as a buying or customer service experience.  So why not make that experience as good as it can be, so that they’ll look back on it and you positively!

Here are some simple steps to help you conquer forms:

  • Style your form!
    • CSS works on form elements, such as form, input, label, button, etc… you can fully customize these. Don’t overdo it, just aim for clean.  Clean = Professional, Professional = Trust.
  • Try not to use tables.
    • They’re detrimental to usability as screen readers cannot identify elements in them.  They really shouldn’t be used for layout purposes in this day and age, use them for tabular data as they were originally designed for.
  • If it’s huge, break it up.
    • Generally if you have more than 10 fields or are dropping below the fold, it is good practice to break this information up onto multiple pages or into steps.  This helps to avoid overwhelming a client, and can make for a less painful form experience.
    • Amazon’s buying process is a great example of this.
  • Validation is great.  Too much is annoying.
    • Definitely cover server side validation to avoid sql injection.  Don’t overdo field validation as it can impede people through your form process.
  • Use label tags.
    • Labels provide usability hinting for the browser, thus helping ease users through your form process.
  • Reassure your customers.
    • When you are collecting sensitive data, make it clear that you are using it explicitly for business purposes.  The internet can be a frightening place and it means a lot to customers.

Need a form with all these options fast?

Nothing beats a homemade customized form. But if you aren’t versed in web languages or are simply in a hurry Wufoo and jotform offer well made forms with a drag and drop interface, as well as hosting on their own servers(so you don’t have to get down and dirty with the backend).

<!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[endif]–>

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Need a clean form fast and free?





Power of LinkedIn: Real Life Example

15 05 2009

One of my LinkedIn groups is the Portland Radio Council. Paul Allen recently sold two local Portland radio stations to Larry Wilson, an industry icon. Mr. Wilson sold his radio empire Citadel Broadcasting in 2006 for over 2 billion dollars (selling high). Now he is reentering the business at the height of the recession (buying low), with plans to grow.

The Oregonian, our local daily rag in Portland, wrote a reasonable article about the transaction and reemergence of Larry Wilson into broadcast. I posted a response on LinkedIn voicing my disapproval of the radio industry rock stars messaging: there was no mention of radio’s unlimited digital opportunities for growth.

Within 24 hours I get a personal response from the decision makers, defending their new boss. With a couple emails back and forth, soon I received and invitation to meet. Maybe this leads to a partnership between Formic and Larry Wilson’s highly financed, growing broadcast company?

My message Wilson’s group is simple: traditional media creates awareness and demand, and search engine marketing is the catcher’s mitten for the prospects created by radio, television, direct mail and outdoor advertising. Integrate of loose.

The message to Formic blog readers is that social media is a powerful tool for business to business sales.





Fun and Games Friday

17 04 2009

It’s Friday!  Which means, your office is probably only ½ full of your coworkers, and you are looking for something to do, or rather… a place to goof off.

We here at Formic would like to help, so we would like to offer up our top 10 list of best places on the web to waste time (besides Facebook and Twitter).  Yes, you all web-waste and you know it!

For your consideration and surfing activities, here is our snazzy list:

  • www.perezhilton.com – sassy, SASSY gossip blog by the queen of all media.
  • www.disapprovingrabbits.com – thought provoking captions attached to cute bunny pictures.
  • www.hotornot.com – this is self explanatory – Hot or Not?
  • www.youtube.com – seriously, you know you want to see clips from Drew Carey’s “whose line is it anyway?”
  • Do you miss the original Pacman? Pine away for Donkey Kong? Then surf on over to http://www.ultimatearcade.com . You can find classic games built in flash and the like, there are also new games added each week.
  • www.cuteoverload.com – too much cuteness contained in one website. Don’t explode from the fuzzy cuteness that abounds.
  • http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/all/ – seriously, some of the best postings to craigslist of all times. You will realize that four hours has gone by in seconds. Then your boss comes around the corner and you are kind of screwed. Whoops.
  • “Ugh, who was that one guy in that one movie”… http://www.imdb.com/ rules for this kind of burning question. More time has been burned here just researching that latest water cooler question “who was that guy who was in “the Fast and the Furious”‘?
  • Are snow sports your thing? Get cheap gear at www.tramdock.com and watch for new deals as soon as the last one sells out! Just keep refreshing your page until the newest deal comes up…it’s fun and can take hours. More daily deals: www.steepandcheap.com.
  • Gadget-y deals: www.woot.com.

With that said, don’t bother us (we are very busy) – we are playing Donkey Kong.

See you on Monday!





Welcome to Tweetsville

15 04 2009

In our last few blog postings Formic has talked about social media.  What is it, how can you use it effectively and how can you tie it into your overall marketing strategy?  Hopefully we have answered a few of those over arching questions for you, but we would like to take it a step further and talk about a few of our favorite social media hot spots.  Today, let’s talk about Twitter.

Let’s Twitter!

You have heard the talk, but not quite sure what it is.  What’s a tweet?  Why should I tweet.  How can it keep me in touch with my customers?  What are the rules of good, effective tweeting?

  • 1. Learn about Twitter. Get an account, lurk for a while and get a feel of the environment. See what other small businesses (or larger) are tweeting about. Follow some people that you know in your industry, market or perhaps something that you do outside of “work”. See who your followers and those you follow are following – then follow all those that apply to your business goals and objectives. I tend to be a news junkie, and most of my favorite reporters and journalists are online with Twitter accounts. I started following them and seeing how they tweet and respond to other tweets. And to be honest, I asked my 17 year old and her friends what it was all about. Don’t have a teenager? I’ll loan you mine for a small fee.
  • 2. Decide why you want to Twitter? Have a strategy in place. Travis Campbell of Small Business Internet Solutions.com has come up with some great rules of the road for a small business to hop on the Twitter on-ramp http://smallbizinternetsolutions.com/rules-of-using-twitter-for-business/ . Having a simple strategy or goal in place as to what and why you want to twitter for your business is a great place to start. Twittering just for twitter’s sake can ruin your brand.
  • 3. How can Twitter keep me in touch with my customers? The blogosphere, ecommerce and the internet in general is a pretty impersonal place to be. Tweeting unique, newsworthy and special things about you and your business keeps your customers interested. You can interact and find out what they are thinking. How is this important? We all know the cable giant Comcast and how badly perceived their customer service has been blogged, reported, listed and the like. Comcast chose to fight the perceptions online using the same resources that their customers were using on the internet. Comcast responds to customer complaints via Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. They have done a pretty good job turning around a pretty bad perception of poor customer service, while reworking their brand by using customer interaction.
  • 4. Be a good tweeter: Be careful not to over tweet or people will start to get annoyed and tune your messages out, and certainly watch what you are tweeting. See rule number two – stick to your strategy and goals.

Here are a few other articles that can help you develop your own plan for “Tweeting”:

And don’t forget to add us to your follow list:

Happy Tweeting!





A Small Business Can Do More, With Less

13 04 2009

“Ringing the cash register” or bringing in new clients is undoubtedly what makes or breaks the bottom line for any business and particularly those of small to medium-sized businesses.    However, getting your target audience to become aware of your product or business offering takes quality marketing, which costs big dollars. But here’s the catch.  If you are a small to medium sized company without an in-house marketing department and a small expendable income to dedicate to marketing your business, how do you stretch a limited budget and get the most out of each dollar?

The answer is simple, move your advertising dollars online.  In this case, less really is more.  Below, take look at the top roadblocks that small business owners report they are facing today, according to a poll of US marketers by Bredin Business Information.

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Many of these challenges would be scalable for a larger business, backed with millions of dollars in funding and the ability to utilize all advertising mediums from direct mail to TV ads.  However, over 90% of all businesses in the United States are small to mid-sized companies with much smaller budgets.  By using online marketing tactics, small businesses (SMBs) can still achieve influential results and send a powerful message to their target audience, without emptying out their pocket books.  Online marketing strategies are highly measurable and designed to target customers even more effectively, so that advertising dollars are spent more wisely.

In 2009, the switch to online marketing efforts is already on the rise and trending significantly upwards.

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Headquartered in Portland, OR, Formic Media, Inc. was designed specifically for the +90% of businesses in America today – your small to mid-sized business.  Formic Media offers customized Search Engine Optimization, Social Media and Pay-Per-Click advertising packages designed to get your business better results for much less.








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