2009 Could Rock Your Search World

There has recently been some buzz about what Google has in store next year. According to Bruce Clay, a well known search analyst, very soon you will see that “ranking is dead”.   Ranking is the position a website holds on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when you type in a search request in Google, or other search engines.  Those web pages with higher rank typically get visited more – so ranking is pretty important to those who depend on web traffic for their business’ livelihood.

According to Mr. Clay and other industry insiders, search engines are going to personalize your search results. This could be based on your past search history, your geographic location and perhaps even clues to your initial intent. For instance, if you are a computer programmer and search for “java” you will get different search results than another person in the same room who is a coffee importer. This is the first of many changes we may see early in 2009.

Third party tracking cookies and Google’s ability to research IP addresses are all key factors in what is to come. From your IP address, Google can (and in test markets, already does) return relevant search results that are close to home. For example, say, you live in Dallas Texas, and you search for a Toyota for sale, you will likely see dealerships in and around the Dallas area coming up first on your search page. This has the potential to be very helpful to business and searchers alike.

Another big change coming down the pike will be in the way of Universal Search. The “robots” used to crawl the web are going to become more complex. The variables in this new complex algorithm will tell them how interesting your site is. In other words, do you have video on your site? The ones that do are going to soar in rankings and those who do not… well; the only way left is down.
Web Surfers: Some Benefits/Drawbacks of Personalized Search

For the internet surfer you should see a lot less spam and irrelevant search results. That is good news, no more having to rummage through page after page of useless search results to find the information you want.

The drawback may be that it will be harder to get information outside of your “historical” search. Like the above example, what will the computer programmer do if he really wants to search for java, as in coffee?

There are also the few people left who still do not have access to high-speed internet connections. If the main results are going to be video-intensive, that could pose serious problems for those with dial-up’s infamously slow load times.
Business Owners: Changes will require you to integrate media and fresh content into your web sites.

The good news for local businesses is they will no longer have to compete for search results on a global level. It will be nice for the small business owner who is selling handmade baskets in Montana because he or she will not have to compete with someone in India!

The downside is everyone will have to get on board with video optimization in addition to SEO. This could prove challenging but not impossible. Video marketing is already becoming more common place on the web. The best advice from professionals is to create great relevant content, integrate video and other “sticky” content, and the customers will come.

Overall, it appears that Google is trying to improve web surfing for everyone, the surfer, and the merchant. When it all comes together and spammers have a harder time high skewing our results, we all win.

About the Author:
Ken Ivey, aka “the Web Czar”, is a veteran technology addict, consultant, author, and President of MidTN Technology, a marketing and web design firm.

The Case For Business Blogging

One of my favorite non-digital magazines is The Rotarian. (Yes, I occasionally read PAPER periodicals). An article in this month’s issue immediately caught my eye – it’s title… “to blog or not to blog?” I think we all know the answer to that one! OF COURSE you want to blog! One of the interviewed said “Business owners blog to demonstrate their expertise, project an image, show that they’re current, build credibility, and generate a sense of community”. All of those things are great, but some added benefits are:

  • Great PR – You control the content, so it can be fine tuned for your target market. Blogs should be more of informal marketing tool than an advertisement – which tend to turn your audience off. If you allow the posting of moderated comments on your blog, your visitors have a sense of ownership – and what many business owners don’t think about – people are going to talk about your business anyway. Good or Bad, it’s better if you know what they’re thinking. And with moderated comments, you can control – and if appropriate, respond – potentially turning a negative into a positive. Why not make disciples of your visitors?
  • Search Engines love your blog! With a little keyword strategy, you can bring your business to the top rankings very quickly.
  • Blogs are a powerful tool for marketing and promotion. Because the entries are short, and usually full of links, they contain more “keywords” than articles. That also makes them easy to read and write which adds to the “stickiness” of your website.

Blogging is very popular right now. And having a business weblog that provides good information while being timely and fun can add a new dimension to your Web site.

So how could you start using a blog for your business?

  1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Posting questions (and answering them) may provide a level of comfort to your clients. You might even deal with sales objections before they become objections.
  2. Promotions – List your “specials” or create an “online only” coupon for your blog to cement your relationship.
  3. News – The most common use for business blogs is news. Now, a little sage advice. Sure, you can post Company News, but your readers want to know that you’re on top of the industry news as well. Focusing on “Industry” topics creates instant credibility for you.
  4. What’s New Pages – If you add lots of new articles, information, or products regularly, it can be difficult for your customers to find out what’s new.

Blogs are an excellent method to share a company’s expertise, build additional web traffic, and connect with potential customers. We’ve only scratched the surface on the benefits of business blogging. We’ll certainly be revisiting this topic – going deeper into the mechanics, strategies, and idiosyncrasies.

In the meantime, if you’d like more information about business blogging, just call 615.278.webi (9324)

Domain Names: Rethinking your online marketing.

When you think of effective marketing, I’m betting the United States Postal Service doesn’t come to mind. For most, the USPS is just one of those things you take for granted. And with today’s many shipping options – and providers, they are making sure you think of them first.

USPS – online marketingSomeone at the top gets it. They have begun promoting new websites, targeting key marketing messages, the latest of which is www.rethinkyourshipping.com. This is a wise move on many levels, and they’ll gain a certain amount of web traffic from the SEO value of the domain name – but I think that more importantly, they put a little distance between them and the image of “snail mail”. The website touts many advantages, including online savings which will be very attractive to online merchants and eBay shippers.

Acquiring an additional keyword or themed domain name can only add value to your online marketing. Let’s face it. Everyone knows who the USPS is, and what they do. They didn’t really need another domain name for branding / name recognition. Likewise, if you don’t have an established relationship with your clients, or if you’re trying to add new clients – you may wish to add a few domains that establish the benefits of working with your firm, or one that incorporates popular search terms.

Once you’ve selected a domain, you’ll want to populate it with a mini-site that relates to your message, and link to your main website, adding value in the “eyes” of the search engines. You can also use the mini-site to collect visitor information, or sign them up for a newsletter or free report.

Ken Ivey is a veteran technology addict, consultant, author, and President of MidTN Technology, a marketing and web design firm. For more information about effective domain names or online marketing, call 615-278-9324 or visit www.midtntechnology.com

Murfreesboro, Web Design, Internet Marketing, and Social Media

Hello World. 🙂

Okay, if you’re a techno programmer geek, you get it. If not, Hello World is usually the first piece of software code you write as a beginner. I thought it fit, as this is my first blog post. Well, here anyway. The title of this post might seem a little cryptic, so please let me explain. I’m really accomplishing two things:

  • I’m letting you know what MidTN Technology is all about.
  • I’m totally exploiting the fact that search engines will pick up the keywords and this will help boost my ranking.

Does that make me bad? I don’t think so. As long as YOU benefit from visiting this site, all will be right with the world so let’s get started.

I’ve been fascinated by computers and the internet since the mid 1980’s, when personal computers were making their debut. Can you remember when the top of the line PC was a 286 Turbo, priced around $3500? That was just before Al Gore invented the internet. J At that time, the internet was not much more than an electronic bulletin board, with message turnaround time of about 24 – 48 hours, and a graphical interface like Prodigy was making waves.

At the time, I worked for Laser Computer, Inc., a computer manufacturer and subsidiary of Vtech (you probably recognize the name on your cordless phone, or kids Vflash. Since then, computers and programming have been my passion.

If you’d like to learn more about me and what I’m doing in Murfreesboro, visit the about page. But come back here for the good stuff.

We’ll be talking a lot about Web Design and Social Media, as that’s what we’re all about, but just so you know where we’re going, let’s clarify a few things. Some people call it Web 2.0, some call it social networking , and some call it New Media. But what is it? It’s communication. It’s marketing. It’s experiencing the internet in a more personal way. It’s developing a relationship with your website viewer. It’s a transfer of power from them to you, and more.

We’ll be discussing these issues and more, all in the hopes of helping you boost sales, increase customer retention, and incorporate this exciting new media into your business marketing in a way that is easy, effective, and profitable. Oh, and we hope you’ll let us help you with that. 😉

Murfreesboro Web Designer comments on USATODAY post.

Here’s a snippet on Web Video, and my thoughts.

Marketing gold could be found in Web video – USATODAY.com
By David Lieberman, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — You don’t need a pan and a stream in California to join the next gold rush. A video camera, computer and high-speed Internet connection will do.

The article’s first few sentences are where the real gold is. Beyond this, the article abruptly shifts to network advertising on video.

In my opinion, the ads on web video (interruption marketing) are what kills it’s effectiveness. Video is used most effectively when it builds relationship with the audience.

I don’t think the networks will ever get it.

Website Keywords – Are You Flushing Your Marketing Dollars?

We run across this all too often.  Someone decides to get ‘serious’ about marketing their website, desiring to give up their #629 ranking in Google for greener pastures – especially since the sleazeball in their SPAM email promises to get them to the top of the Search Engines.  Unfortunately, they don’t say which search engine, or for what keyword phrase.

Typically, the victim ends up on the first page of GOOBER with a keyphrase so irrelevant that it doesn’t get 10 searches WORLDWIDE in a month.

Web Design in Murfreesboro

As I watch the ranks of the Murfreesboro Web Design startups grow, part of me wonders – where is this coming from? Is every Tom, Dick, and Harry fresh out of high school going to hang a “Web Design” shingle on their door? 🙂

Ah, yes. I’ve slipped into the “Scarcity” mentality for a moment. The reality is, (now in Abundance Mode) that these new firms will only help Web Design in Murfreesboro. That’s because:

1. Competition keeps everyone on their toes.
2. More firms mean more help! Most firms are strong in most aspects of design, but not in others. For instance, we cater to small to medium sized businesses in Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee. Occasionally, we’ll have a client who requires extensive database integration – something we know we can do; but we know others who do it better. Or top-notch Flash programming. Our client will definitely benefit from some collaboration in these fields, and while we’d love to be able to claim to be experts in every aspect of web design, the reality is – no one is.
3. We’re growing by leaps and bounds – and our local economy is still strong, despite what you hear from the networks.

What a great place to live and do business! I’ve met many of the web design firm owners here in town, and most are very gracious and open to joint ventures on large or specialized projects. I love talking to business owner and entrepreneurs – and working with them to establish their online marketing goals – then putting together and executing a plan that meets their needs – all within today’s tight marketing budgets.

Here’s what Kathy Fix, Entrepreneur and Accredited Home Staging Professional says about us:

I’m a new small business owner, and although I had a web site set up for me by an acquaintance, it was very mediocre and limited. I met Ken Ivey through the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce .

After discussing what I was looking for and needing, Ken explained not only how what I had could be improved, but suggested many other ways I could get my business noticed on the internet – that I didn’t even know existed.

He totally upgraded my site … met with me in person multiple times … He always promptly returned any phone calls or e-mails from me.

His prices were also in line with my limited budget and I got more than got my monies worth …

I fully recommend MidTN Technology for not only the expertise, but also the personal service and professionalism. … and am happy to have been lucky enough to find some one to help me who really cares about my business needs.

Kathy Fix, Owner
Staging Dreams
Murfreesboro, TN

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Client Love

"As a small business owner, I knew how critical visibility on the web was, but didn't know where to start. Ken Ivey at MidTN Technology worked with me to upgrade my website... and taught me many ways I could get my business noticed on the internet - that I didn't know existed. I fully recommend MidTN Technology for not only the expertise, but also for the personal service and professionalism."

Kathy Fix, President, Staging Dreams, Murfreesboro, TN