Real Web Marketing Articles Blog

Critiquing Your Own Website

By John Eberhard

I’ve written two articles recently on how to make a response-driven website, i.e. a website that gets people to respond to you. So this article could be considered the third in that series, as I am going to show you how to critique your own website based on how well it gets people to respond.

  1. Is the site mobile friendly? This is one of the first things to check. You can check that here:
    https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly?utm_source=mft&utm_medium=redirect&utm_campaign=mft-redirect
    Over half of all web visitors today are visiting your site on a mobile phone, and if the site isn’t mobile friendly, then it will be displayed tiny on a mobile and the visitor won’t be able to read it. That would mean that half the visitors to your site can’t use it.
  2. Does the site have a prominent phone number? The best place to put this is in the upper right on every page.
  3. Does the site have forms for visitors to respond? If not you are missing out on possible responses. Some people would rather fill out a form than pick up the phone, particularly if they are browsing late at night.
  4. Does the site have a good call to action? You have to tell people what to do. But some calls to action are better than others. “Contact us” is weak. Better to say “Get a free inspection,” or “Get a free consultation.”
  5. Does your home page scroll down forever, with 6 or more items on it? Consider simplifying the home page. It’s kind of considered chic today to have a ton of things on the home page and the visitor has to scroll forever. Try focusing the content on the home page on getting someone to respond to your offer.
  6. Is the site mainly all text with few pictures? Pictures can add reality on what you are talking about and can break up big long blocks of text (which are hard for the reader to confront). And today you need to make those pictures BIG for more impact. No tiny pictures.
  7. Is the text all about you? Try focusing the text on your reader – his problems, his needs. There is an old maxim in marketing that you focus on benefits rather than features. In other words, make it about the prospect, what he’ll get out of buying your product or service, not just on the product’s features, and not just all about you.
  8. Does the main headline on your home page speak to the visitor, his problems or needs, does it tell what you do, and does it contain any keywords? Headlines of “Welcome” or “We’re the Best” are weak.

If you need help critiquing your site or help fixing up things you found, give us a call.

A Conversion-Focused Website, Part 2

By John Eberhard

In my last article I introduced the concept of a conversion-focused website, with a conversion being defined as someone who responds to you, either by filling out a form or calling you. You could also call this a response-focused website. The overall idea is that you want to get a decent percentage of people visiting the site to respond.

So how do you do that? How do you get more people to respond on a website, rather than just wander around the site and then leave?

There are typically two types of conversions/responses that we are going for:

  1. One is a response that will lead fairly quickly to a sales process, or to an actual online sale.
  2. The other is a response where the person is giving you his email address, in exchange for some type of content that is available only when the person gives you his email.

Lead Response: The first type of response is a lead or an online sale. With companies that are doing lead generation, there are a couple of different forms this can take. For example, with a healthcare practice like a plastic surgeon or dentist, you are often going for a consultation, whether free or paid. With a contractor, you are often offering an inspection of their home, or a free estimate or something like that.

Notice that with these types of leads, the person knows he will be interacting with a live person in a meeting either on the phone or in person.

List Building: In this case we are building the email list, usually by offering some kind of content (sometimes called a “lead magnet”) where the person has to give you his email before he gets it. This is very important because an in-house email mailing list of people who have responded to you is a very valuable item in your marketing tool chest.

The key here is to come up with some type of offering that will be valuable enough to your target public, in order for them to give you their email address. This is not as easy as it used to be because most people have signed up for various things, then got inundated with email, then had to go through a big unsubscribe process with a bunch of companies. So they are more reluctant to sign up for things than they used to be.

You have to come up with something that is very appealing to your target public, usually that speaks directly to their “pain points,” i.e. their pains or problems, that buying your product or service would solve. This means you have to have a good idea of exactly who your target public is for your product or service, and what their pains or problems are. A helpful step here can be to sit down and work out a customer “avatar” for your target public – who they are, what they are like, where they hang out, what problems they have, etc. It is a common error in business to assume that your target public is “everyone,” and thus never work out how to target the right people who will buy your product or service.

Some possible types of lead magnets you could create to build your email list could include:

  1. A “white paper” or special report about the target public’s pain points and how these can be solved. These are usually 1,500-2,000 words long, are mocked up as a 2-4 page piece, and downloadable as a PDF.
  2. A webinar about the target public’s pain points and how these can be solved
  3. A video or series of videos that the person can only view if he gives you his email
  4. A quiz that the person takes and has to give you his email address to get the results
  5. A library of templates of use to the target public
  6. A demo version of software (if software is the final product being sold)
  7. A cheat sheet that shows solutions to something they are interested in
  8. A toolkit or resource list
  9. An assessment, test, or “grader”

A Response-Focused Site

Many sites today are not set up to be response-focused. And so they do not get many responses. Many business owners with this type of website may begin to feel that the site is worthless to them or that it is impossible to get responses from a website.

This is not true. It is totally possible to get a website to produce volume responses, both leads and names added to the email list. But to do this you have to have multiple offerings on the site for both lead generation and building the email list. And you have to have a good idea of who your target public is, and you have to craft offerings that will appeal to that target public.

A Conversion Focused Website

By John Eberhard

At Real Web Marketing Inc., one of our primary services we have delivered since the beginning has been web design. And we feel we are very good at it.

Our approach or our philosophy on creating websites, is creating conversion-focused websites.

So what is a conversion-focused website? Well a conversion in this case is defined as someone who visits your website and then contacts you in some way, either by filling out a form on the website or by calling you.

So a conversion-focused website is one that is set up in order to maximize the number of visitors coming to that website, and getting the most number possible to become a conversion.

How About Your Website?

So is your website a conversion-focused website? Chances are that unless you have worked with a marketing consultant who has this approach, that it is not. But really the main question you need to ask yourself, is whether or not your website produces leads for your business on a regular basis.

If the website does not produce leads on a regular basis, you may have started to consider the site to be just a cost (hosting, re-design every few years) instead of being a marketing asset.

But a website CAN be made into something that can produce regular conversions for your company.

How Do You Do It?

This article is a short answer to that question of course, but the basics for creating a conversion-focused website include:

  1. The site has all the basic functionality in. In other words, it works, has adequate security so it doesn’t get hacked, it has decent loading time, and is error-free.
  2. The site looks modern, doesn’t look 10 years old. Good design.
  3. The site has Google Analytics on it so you know how many visitors are coming to it every week, and what pages they are going to.
  4. The site is set up to be mobile friendly, so it displays correctly to over half of the people who are visiting your site, who are doing it on a mobile phone.
  5. You have clearly identified your target public for this product or service, and the site is set up to appeal to that public.
  6. The site has quality content.
  7. The site has a phone number prominently displayed and has a contact form.
  8. The site has one or more items on it that are referred to as “lead magnets.” These are items such as a free download where the visitor has to give his name and email to get it. This builds your email list. If you have more than one product or service, you may need more than one lead magnet.
  9. Once a person fills out one of the forms on your site such as on the contact page or for one of the lead magnets you have, they receive a series of pre-prepared emails that give them more info on and sell your product or service. They also go onto your list to receive your email newsletter.

Lead magnet download items are typically a report of some kind, that speaks specifically to the “pain points” that your target public has, i.e. problems he experiences that are solved by your product or service. The lead magnet can also speak to the benefits he would receive from getting your product or service, but should not just be a list of features.

Lead magnets, by their topic, will attract people who are the right public for your product or service. Then, you have their email and so can communicate with them repeatedly until they are actually ready to buy your product or service.

Summary

So the moral of the story is that your site CAN be set up to get conversions, get leads and make money for your business. But it has to be set up as a conversion-focused site.

My SEO Journey, Part 5

By John Eberhard

I recently started doing heavy research on SEO (search engine optimization) again. The SEO landscape seems to change significantly once every 1-2 years, or even more often than that. A couple weeks ago I wrote Part 4, and that continued the saga of this story which began with Parts 1-3 in January 2016.

Parts 1-3 | Part 4

Links and Link Diversity

Every source that I have seen across the web that lists out the various factors that improve your search engine ranking for any given keyword, includes near the top of the list, the number of links to your site coming from other sites. And in the last 2-3 years, the focus has grown to also include the quality of those links.

Google doesn’t want you to do anything proactively to create links to your website. They have been preaching that same sermon for 4-5 years now, that you should just put up good quality content, and people will naturally link to it.

I have written numerous times before about how this Google sermon is flawed. They tell you this because it is better for them. If you proactively create links to your website, it makes the job harder for them. But if you believe them and just put up quality content, but don’t do anything else to promote that content or create links to it, for most small to medium sized businesses, exactly nothing will happen. No one will link to it and it won’t improve your rankings.

There is also the fact that for most topics, there is a saturation point that is happening now, because there is so much content on the web, it is getting harder and harder to be noticed.

And we have the fact that for certain types of businesses, what are they going to write about that will get people to link to them? Let’s say a plumber writes articles about plumbing? Who is going to care and who is going to link to them?

Anyway, despite the controversy on link building, most SEO consultants would agree that you have to do something to build up links.

One factor that I have discovered to be extremely important in link building is a concept called “link diversity.” What this means is that Google or other search engines, when someone does a search for a specific business, likes to display a variety of different types of listings related to that business.

What do I mean by different types of listings? This is a very important question. It means that there are different types of things Google or other search engines can display, and they don’t want to give you several pages where all the listings are the same type of thing. Let’s look at some of the types of listings Google could display:

  1. The business’s primary website.
  2. Microsites. These are sites that a business will put up, that are related to one aspect of their business, or perhaps one of their locations if they have multiple locations. Microsites are usually done for SEO purposes.
  3. Press releases. There are numerous online press release sites and if you post releases on these sites, your release should have a link back to your primary website.
  4. Business listings sites, such as Google My Business, MerchantCircle.com, Manta.com, Yelp.com, Hotfrog.com, InsiderPages.com, etc.
  5. Social media sites. This is where you have listings for your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
  6. Newspaper and magazine sites. This is different from press release sites, which will usually post your release in full without much or any editing. An actual newspaper or magazine will have reporters that could write an article about your company. If they do these will rank very well and the listing will usually stay around forever.
  7. Listings on professional membership organization sites.
  8. Review sites, where customer/clients can write reviews on their experience with a company.
  9. Interview sites. This is a relatively new category of site where the whole purpose is to interview company owners and executives.
  10. Employee review sites. These are sites where employees or past employees can write reviews on their employment experience. Unfortunately these sites mostly contain reviews where past employees complain.
  11. Videos from YouTube or other video sharing sites.

So link diversity means that if a business has 55 press releases that have been posted online, Google will not display all 55 in the first two pages of results. They will display perhaps 2 or 3 in the top two pages of results. They will show perhaps 4-5 of your primary social media listings on the first two pages, but not more than that. And if you have 25 microsites, they will not all appear in the first two pages of results. They will show 2-3.

Now bear in mind that if you have 55 press releases that have been posted online, and 10 social media accounts, and 25 microsites, those will count as links to your site.

But with link diversity, we are talking about what Google will show near the top of the listings, say in the top two pages. And their algorithm somehow categorizes the different types of listings, and dictates that they display a variety of different types of listings, not all or mostly one type.

So this concept becomes very important in a reputation management situation, where a company is trying to move one or several negative listings about them, down in the rankings, or at least off of page one. It tells you that you need a multi-pronged program of creating links to your site. You can’t just do one thing because that won’t add enough positive stuff on page one to bump those negative listings off. You might see a lot of those links down on pages 4-8, but that won’t help you with page one. So a multi-pronged approach is the answer to link diversity.

My SEO Journey, Part 4

By John Eberhard

In January 2016 I published a 3-part article series on SEO and what I had discovered doing an extensive amount of research on what is effective in search engine optimization (SEO).

I have just completed another major research project on SEO in order to update my service offering to clients, i.e. what I do for clients on SEO.

The point in this series and in this new article is that SEO is constantly changing, largely because Google keeps making significant changes to their search algorithm, that greatly affect SEO.

Competitor Research

I started doing an analysis of the SEO of the competitors of one of my top clients. This started by entering our top keywords and see which competitor sites came up high in the search results. I then looked at their links, the number of links they had, and what sites were linking to them.

If these competitors were coming up high in the search results for important keywords, I concluded that that meant that the links they had were important. So I could work to get my client to be linked to from those same sites, thus gaining high quality links in the process.

By researching this further, I found that one SEO expert recommended doing this. He called it “stealing links,” but of course it is not really stealing anything. It is just observing what your competition is doing and copying what works. This expert also advised to make a list of competitor links, evaluating them according to high Page Authority and high Domain Authority. There is a tool available from Moz, a browser plugin that adds a strip at the top that shows Page Authority and Domain Authority for any page you pull up (it works only in Chrome).

So the idea is:

  • Take links that your competition has, which have high Page Authority and Domain Authority
  • Go to those sites and figure out how the competitor got a link on that site
  • Do what is necessary to get that site to link to your site (This may require simply listing your site there if it is a business listing site, posting a press release there if it is a press release site, etc. Basically you have to figure out what to do to get a link, based on the type of link your competitor has.)

This whole action is based on the idea that the quality of links is more important than the quantity of links. So with this type of action we are zeroing in on high quality links that our competition has, and getting our site linked to from those sites as well.

HTTPS

When a site has an https:// at the beginning of its web address, rather than http://, that means that the site is encrypted with something called an SSL certificate. That means that hackers can’t intercept your data. This is something you buy from your hosting company and it typically costs between $60 and $150 per year.

According to an ebook by Hubspot entitled “18 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2017”:

“In August of 2014, Google announced that it had started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms. This means that if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result.

“This time last year, HTTPS remained a “lightweight” signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries (according to Google). It wasn’t time to freak out just yet. But in September 2016, Google announced that Chrome will flag HTTP pages as potentially unsafe starting in January 2017. This is part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure. So if you haven’t thought about encrypting your site, now’s the time to get moving.”

So this is now an important thing to consider for your website, especially for e-commerce websites that handle credit card info or other sensitive information.

Part 5 coming soon.

12 Marketing Things You NEED to Do in 2017

By John Eberhard

As shocking as it is, 2017 is almost upon us. Many (including me) think that the economy will be better in 2017. So what do you need to do with marketing your business in 2017, to get the most benefit from improved conditions? Here is a list of 12 suggestions.

  1. Get a new website. As I detailed in a recent article, if your website is old and worn out looking, you really need to get a new one. Particularly if your site was designed more than 4-5 years ago, it will look hopelessly out of date. Is this the impression you want to give to your prospects? A great looking website is a necessity, not a luxury today. And it has to be mobile friendly.
  2. Do SEO (search engine optimization) on your site. This is the best way, long term, to build up traffic to your website. This includes keyword research, putting up unique titles and descriptions on every page of the site, and then doing a monthly link building program. You are losing so much value from having a website if you don’t do SEO for it.
  3. Get on Yelp (for local businesses). If you have a local business, you NEED to get a free listing on Yelp, and if you already have a listing, you should consider doing paid advertising on Yelp. I have put a number of clients on paid advertising on Yelp and they have all done well with it.
  4. Get a presence on social media. You should minimally have a Facebook fan page for your business, a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn account. And link to these accounts from your website. Then work those accounts by getting fans, followers and connections. Then post things about your business or industry REGULARLY. Facebook advertising is effective for certain types of businesses (not everyone).
  5. Get out a newsletter. If you’re not already doing this, you need to start developing an email list of clients and prospects, then get out a regular email newsletter to those people. This is a great way to keep your business in front of people, remind them that you are there, and build relationships with clients and prospects.
  6. Start blogging. If you’re creating content for a newsletter, you should also post that content to a blog or blogs. This is great for SEO purposes.
  7. Respond to anything negative about your company online. This is called reputation management. Reviews have become a really important thing online and it is really important to respond to negative ones. Contact our company to work out the appropriate strategy to any problems you may be encountering.
  8. Pay attention to online security. Hacking of websites has become more of a widespread problem in the last year. You need to do regular backups of your website, and take measures to thwart hackers. Because they are trying to get into your website. I have set up software on client websites that notifies me when someone tries unsuccessfully to hack into one of the websites, and I get hundreds of these notifications each day.
  9. Do pay per click advertising. This is particularly relevant if you sell a high ticket product or service, and it still works very well.
  10. Get into doing remarketing. This is where you have code on your website that puts a cookie on the computer of every person who visits your website, and then they will begin to see banner ads for your business on many other websites. This is a great way to hit people again who have already visited your website but didn’t yet respond to you. And you can do it with a modest budget.
  11. Get on every channel you can. It’s important to promote your business on as many channels as possible, not just one or two.
  12. Be consistent. It’s most vital to be putting out promotional messages on a regular basis, not just as a one shot deal or every once in a while. You should develop a promotional strategy and a schedule and make sure you keep sending things out on that schedule. I would say this is even more important than what media you use or even what you say (although what you say is important too).

I have decided that 2017 is going to be a great year, the best year ever for my business and for yours. So let’s get going on effective marketing and making it the best year ever.

Why You Need SEO

By John Eberhard

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically it is a series of actions you do to drive more traffic to a website, from search engines.

If you have a website and have never done any SEO, then chances are you are not getting much in the way of traffic to that website. And if you are not getting much traffic, then you probably are not getting any responses from that website.

Having a website is not an end in itself. For most companies, the reason you have a website is to present your company to people, and convince them to respond to you. But if you have hardly any visitors to the site, then you will get no one responding.

It IS possible to drive people to come to your website, and thus respond to you. There are several ways to do it. But SEO is one of the best long-term ways to drive website traffic. And you NEED to do it.

What’s Involved?

SEO has basically two parts, with typical IT mumbo jumbo names: 1) On-Page Optimization, and 2) Off-Page Optimization. Sounds like something you do to a jet engine or something, right?

To make it simple, On-Page Optimization includes things you do directly to your website to make it better able to attract traffic from search engines. Off-Page Optimization is what you do with other sites to create links back to your site.

On-Page Optimization: What’s Done On Your Site

First you do keyword research. You come up with a list of 100-150 or so potential keywords that people might type in when looking for your products or services. Then we do research on those keywords to find which ones have a decent number of people searching for them regularly, but don’t have a million sites competing for them.

The goal is to find keywords with decent traffic but low number of competing sites. Because you might be able to rank well for keywords that have little or no searches, but it won’t do you any good. And if you try to get your site to rank for keywords that have large numbers of sites competing for them, you will never be able to rank well for those keywords.

So the sweet spot is: good number of searches, low competition.

Once those sweet spot keywords are selected, we write titles and descriptions for each page of your website, then input those into the pages in the hidden areas of the pages, called “meta-tags.” These titles and descriptions are what shows up on Google or other search engines when someone searches for something.

So that’s a one-time action, which can be completed fairly quickly. It should be repeated every 2-3 years or so.

Off-Page Optimization: Building Links

Once you have your titles and descriptions entered into the site for every page, you now have to create links coming to your site from other sites. Why? Because Google says that links coming to your site from other sites is one of the most important criteria in their deciding how your site will rank for any given keyword.

So how many links do you need? That depends, to a large extent, on how many links your competition has coming to their websites from other sites. If most of your competition has hundreds of links, then you need hundreds of links. If most of your competition has thousands of links, then you need thousands of links. That’s if you want to really compete in the arena of search engine rankings and website traffic.

So how do you build links to your site from other sites? Well the methods used to do that have changed a lot over time.

First of all, Google says to never do anything to create links to your site. Just put up great content on your site and people will naturally link to it. I have written extensively in the past on why this self-serving advice from Google is not good for YOU. But to summarize, there is so much content on the web now that if you do not actively take steps to get other sites to link to you, no one will. So if you hear someone tell you that you can’t build links because Google says not to, ignore that advice.

I wrote a series of articles last year about what you need to do (and what you can do) for link building these days. Google has taken actions in the past few years to actually stop people from doing certain link building actions. So it is important to know which actions are still working. Here’s what you can and should do:

  1. Writing a press release about your business, and posting it to multiple free online PR sites, and at least one paid online PR site. The release should have links to your website within it. These online PR sites usually rank well themselves, so a link there counts for something. The paid online PR sites will usually get your release into multiple sites for newspapers and magazines. I have seen no evidence that these links are negative in any way, or that they don’t work anymore.
  2. Creating online business listings. You can create listings for your business on multiple business listing web sites, such as Google My Business, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Merchant Circle, Manta, Insider pages, Hotfrog, etc.
  3. Links to your site on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter now count as links to your site.
  4. Contacting the owners of blogs and asking to write a guest post for their blog, with a link back to your site, is good. Then you have to write unique content for that blog only. And obviously it has to be a topic you are actually an expert in. The challenge here is that there is a saturation aspect to this activity as well, as a lot of people are trying to do this, and so blog owners are getting a lot of these requests.
  5. Post your articles, releases or other content to your blog or blogs.

Commitment

I saw a billboard the other day for the Marines that said “We don’t take applications, only commitments.”

The concept of commitment is relevant to link building. It is not something you do for one month or three. It is something best done for a minimum of 6-12 months. I have clients where I have been doing link building for them each month for 6-7 years. And those are the clients that get the best benefit from SEO, because they know it’s something that they have to do continually. I have doubled, tripled or quadrupled website traffic for clients that have worked with us over a period of time.

So you don’t have to join the Marines. But you do have to do on-page SEO and then commit to an ongoing program of link building. And that’s when the traffic starts coming.

10 Reasons You Need a New Website Now

By John Eberhard

If you have an old, out of date, not fully functioning website, it’s time to get it updated. Not only is it absolutely necessary to have a website in the modern business world, it is absolutely necessary that the site looks great. A website is a representative of your company, and also the best tool for attracting new business to your organization.

If your website is old, out-of-date, boring or clunky looking, here are 10 reasons why you need to get a new website now.

  1. First impressions: Your site is the first exposure that many people will have to your company. If your website is stale and looks like it’s stuck in the 90s, then guess what: everyone will assume your company is too. Or they will assume you just don’t care about your company’s image. You want people to know you’re doing well, staying current, and growing. Get up to date and celebrate your newness with a sharp, current website.
  2. Customers expect you to be on the web: If you don’t even have a website, that’s an instant hit to your credibility.
  3. Your competitors have great looking sites: If you’re competition is looking new and you’re not, that’s a problem. In today’s competitive marketplace, having a great looking website is not a luxury, but a necessity. And in most markets today, you need every competitive edge you can get. Check out your competitors’ websites and honestly see how yours compares.
  4. Answer prospect questions: Your site should be set up to answer prospects’ questions easily, so you don’t have to field all those questions.
  5. 24-hour access: A great looking site is up and accessible to prospects 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even when your business is closed or you are on vacation, people can still find out about you and respond to your offers.
  6. Your site isn’t mobile friendly: Google estimates that over 50% of all searches are now done on a mobile. And as of April 2015, Google is penalizing sites in their rankings that are not mobile friendly. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you have lost ground in Google’s rankings. And your site will appear tiny on that screen and be unreadable.
  7. You could be selling products directly on your site: It’s relatively easy today to set up a shopping cart to sell products on your site.
  8. Your website copy (text) is old, out-of-date, or poorly written: If you have poorly written, stale or incorrect text, then the site is not doing the sales job that it should be and could be doing for you.
  9. You’re not getting many (or any) responses from the site: Websites are supposed to get people to respond to you. If your site isn’t getting any people to contact you, it’s time for a facelift.
  10. You can’t make any changes to the site yourself: WordPress format allows you to make changes to the site easily yourself. And most of our clients have been able to get up and running with making content changes themselves.

If you are afflicted with an old, lousy looking website, stop procrastinating. Stop back-burnering. It’s an essential part of your company’s image. Time for a new website.

Website Hacking is on the Rise

By John Eberhard

I recently had three client websites get hacked. That means someone managed to log into my client’s hosting account or their WordPress account, and put their own (the hacker’s) content there, or put malware there. According to Google, this is done by people to somehow make money. I’m not sure how they make money from this but apparently they do.

There are several bad effects that can be caused by this:

  • The site could now show other content, not your content
  • The site could be taken down by your hosting company because they detect malware on it
  • When someone searches for your site by company name, Google will put a notice there saying the site is probably hacked
  • When someone searches for your site on a search engine, they could see Japanese characters or other content
  • Malicious malware hidden inside the files of your website
  • Your hosting company taking down your site because of "excessive CPU usage" caused by the hackers

Obviously this is an emergency when this happens, so I had to take fast action to handle the hacking on these sites. Because any benefit the client is getting from their website will be reduced or eliminated while this is happening.

There are several actions one can take to prevent this from happening, or to handle it if it does happen.

Prevention

The first thing one should do to prevent this is to set up an automated backup of your site. With WordPress sites, there are backup plugins one can install that do an automated backup of the site database, and email it to an email that you specify. I set them up to backup once a week and I have set up a Gmail account for all my client backups.

This way, if the hackers take down your site completely, you can restore it from the backup file. A couple months ago, a client’s site was hacked and all his content taken down and other content put up. My having the backup file allowed me to restore his content to the site.

I have started using the free Sucuri Security Auditing, Malware Scanning and Security Hardening WordPress plugin, and have installed it on all my client sites where they are on a monthly marketing retainer with me.

One of the things that this plugin does is it sends you an email notification when someone tries to log in to your WordPress account and fails. Amazingly, I am getting in the neighborhood of 40-60 of these notifications per day, for all my client websites where I have installed this plugin. That means that hackers are VERY active in trying to hack into sites everywhere. If you don’t have this plugin or a similar service, you could have people trying to hack into your site and not know about it.

One other thing that is important is to keep your version of WordPress and the versions of all your plugins updated to the latest version.

Restoring a Hacked Site

On two recent site hackings, I installed the Sucuri Complete Website Security and Malware Removal service on the sites. Unlike the free plugin this is a paid service – $300 per year. This service includes:

  • Malware & Infection Removal
  • Website Hack Repairs
  • Google Blacklist Removal
  • Google Warning Removals
  • Brand Reputation Monitoring
  • Malware Analysis & Research
  • Prevent Future Website Hacks

I don’t usually pitch services in my newsletter but this service totally handled the two recent hacking incidents, including getting rid of the malware, and getting the Google “your site may be hacked” message down. I think this is important enough to let people know about a good solution I have found.

Summary

I recommend all website owners take some steps to prevent hacking. If the site is a WordPress site, update versions, set up weekly backups, and install the free Sucuri plugin. If you routinely make money from your site, it is totally worth it to set up the Sucuri paid service.

PR for Small Businesses

By John Eberhard

Even before I started working in the marketing field, I worked as a public relations person for my church. I traveled all around New England holding events, and getting newspaper, radio and TV coverage on our activities.

Public relations means to make your works well publicized. In practical terms, one aspect of PR is to get news media to write articles or do broadcast segments on your business or activity.

So how should a small business approach the subject of PR?

One of the first things you can do is to start writing press releases about your activities and sending these out to media outlets and online PR sites.

  1. The first thing you should think about is that you want to get media coverage on the things your business is already doing. In other words, coverage on the services you offer, what you are doing for clients, on anything unusual your business offers, etc. These could include:

    a. Offering a new product or service
    b. Releasing some new version or improvement to a product or service
    c. I have often written press releases for clients stating that they offer _____ service (not a new service), not stating that it is a new service. Just stating that they offer it
    d. Moving to a new location
    e. Hiring a new person for an executive position or promoting someone to an executive position
    f. You just delivered some noteworthy service or product to a client
    g. Opening a new office somewhere
    h. Holding some kind of event, such as a client meeting or conference
    i. Holding a performance, such as music or dance, or a showing of art
    j. Receiving some kind of award or recognition
    k. Signing some kind of large service contract with a client
    l. Announcing you are going to be exhibiting at an upcoming trade show
    m. Announcing a business anniversary
    n. Releasing a book or some publication

  2. Offering Information. Another thing you can do with press releases is to offer some kind of information to the public, giving advice on your topic, warning the public of a danger, alerting the public to something that is happening, etc. Often this will include linking in the release to some kind of information online, such as an article or blog post, or a free report that you offer for people to download. You can link to information you have written, but you can also alert the public to and link to information written by others, such as government agencies, research companies, etc.
  3. You can do some kind of charity where you give away something or donate money to some cause or create some charity yourself. I personally think this is something that is appropriate for larger businesses, not for small business. Most small businesses cannot afford to donate a lot of money to something. But you can give away some relatively inexpensive service and get some PR coverage on that.

For examples and to see what other people are doing you can go here:
http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press_releases_by_category.php?tc=7

Once you have something you want to promote with a release, then what? Next you have to get the release out, to these types of places:

  1. Free online PR sites
  2. Paid online PR sites
  3. Send to local newspapers
  4. Send to local radio
  5. Send to local TV

With 1 and 2, the free sites will either post your release or not. They are kind of arbitrary about it. Paid PR sites will usually take your release. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $600 or more, depending on what type of distribution you want.

With 3 through 5, you will have to track down who handles press releases for your type of news at that media outlet. Then you get the release to that person, and you will need to follow up on it to get them to run something on it.

You can see examples of releases we have written for clients here.