Friday, March 5, 2010

Internet Marketing Workshop Notes

I recently attended a workshop on internet marketing.  While there were a few museum people there, I thought I'd post my workshop notes for the rest of you to enjoy.  If you're near Yarmouth on March 23rd there will be another workshop at the Mariner Centre - worth checking out.

Internet Marketing Workshop
Super 8 Hotel, Windsor
March 2, 2010

Effective websites are organized, have real and interesting content, and allow visitors to engage with the organization. 

Your website should greet people visually and verbally, giving them a “call to action”.  Aside from information gathering, visitors should be able to easily see how they can get more actively involved and participate with your organization.  Content needs to be broken up, using navigation buttons as titles that in turn serve as messages.  Remember to keep the navigation bars at 7 or less.  Otherwise it’s too much information for the visitor.  Images should be used strategically, letting them help send your message.  If you are lacking in images, focus on good verbal keywords.

When shopping for a web developer or designer, always ask for a portfolio of their work to gain a sense of their design style.  Make sure that you like what you see.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is simply aligning the design and content of your website with Google and the way in which people use search engines.  Tests prove that people only look at the first few websites in search results, so you want your website to appear at the top of the list.  The top ranked sites are well written, well structured, and have proven themselves to have informative content for their audience.

There are 3 main factors to SEO.  The first is the use of keywords, ensuring that the language of your site matches the way in which someone would search for information.  Use free keyword tools to see what words people are using, and make sure that a variety of these appear throughout your website.

The second factor is links.  These show Google how important your website is, so the more people who link to it, the better.  Government, educational, and other professional organizations are called authority sites and are recognized as being important, so by linking to them you will increase the importance of your own site.  Don’t forget about blogs, social media sites and forums though.  With so many people using these sites, this will increase your importance to Google by the extra links and by driving traffic to your site.

Other factors include the design of the site.  Java script, flash, and frames all pose problems for Google when they are indexing your site.  It may look nice on-screen, but if Google can’t see it, your website won’t be as effective.  Flash is not available on mobile devices yet, and with the increase of people using iPhones, Blackberries, etc., it is important that you keep things simple and visible no matter how they access your website.  This directly impacts visitor satisfaction, one more way that Google determines your importance.  Are people actually engaging with your site?  Navigating several pages?  Watching video or listening to podcasts?  Or are they just visiting the home page and leaving immediately?  The longer they stay and the more they participate, the better you look to Google.

Social Media
We’ve all heard about how Museums need to have a presence in the world of social networking – Facebook, Twitter, blogging...the list goes on.  But before we go charging ahead, it is important to have a plan first.  You need to decide which platforms you want to use, and how you want to use them.  Many successful businesses or organizations are using them to shatter myths about themselves or their field.  For instance, we are currently seeing an increased interest in traditional arts and crafts.  The marketing catch phrase?  Not your grandmother’s doilies, crochet, needlepoint, etc.