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Online Marketing: 5 Things That Most Smart People Don’t Know

Online marketing is one of those things that’s easy to start, but difficult to do correctly. That’s because the internet makes it easy for people with little or no experience to present themselves as experts and give lots of bad advice. It’s bad enough when this bad advice doesn’t produce results, but in many cases, it can even harm your business for the long term. Just like with medical and legal decisions, it’s not what you know about marketing that gets you in trouble—it’s what you don’t know. The tips below will help you avoid making some of the common marketing mistakes that a lot of smart people make simply because they followed bad advice from someone who presented themselves as an expert.

Meta tags have no direct impact on ranking

Despite what most people believe, meta tags like the keyword and description tags have zero direct impact on ranking in the search results. In fact, so many people held this misconception, that Google made a formal announcement way back in 2009, yet the myth remains. I want to note that I said no direct impact; that’s because the contents of the meta description tag display in the search results and that can have an impact on click through rates, which can have an effect on ranking. I stopped using the meta keyword tag over a decade ago, and you should too. While I do still pay attention to the meta description tag, the only reason is to improve click through rates. You can stop obsessing about meta tags and put your energy into more productive SEO techniques.

Skip manipulative linking schemes

While we’re on the topic of SEO, the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm is quantity and quality of links from other websites pointing to yours. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there were no rules. Reciprocal link exchanges, comment spam, link wheels…everything was fair game. But as quickly as new techniques have popped up, Google has deemed them to be against their webmaster guidelines. The most recent example was a penalty they handed out to bloggers who linked to websites in exchange for free products.

Today, manipulative link building techniques won’t even work in Narnia, let alone in the real world.

narnia

Google’s algorithm has become so advanced that they can quickly identify attempts to artificially manipulate ranking, but they don’t just ignore those attempts—they now penalize both the website linked to and the site linked from by dropping them from the search results. Called the Penguin Update, this means even people searching for your company name in Google won’t be able to find your website! And don’t get the idea that you’ll try to get away with it until you get caught, and then fix it. Many websites that got hit with Google’s Penguin update are still waiting to recover several years later. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? Instead of “cheating” by using artificial links, focus on producing amazing content that other people feel compelled to link to.

Start building an email list now

You might have thought “there’s no point in starting an email list yet because my website doesn’t get enough traffic yet.” That line of thinking is backwards. What do you have to gain by waiting? Think about it like this—mail services like Aweber will cost less than you probably spend on coffee each month, and you can get everything set up in less than an hour. Sending out a quick email to drive subscribers back to your newest blog post might take 5 minutes, if that. So even if you just have a handful of subscribers, it can have a significant impact on your website traffic. More importantly, your email list enables you to contact your subscribers with special offers when you need to generate a quick influx of revenue. Your email list is one of the most powerful resources in your online marketing toolbox, and the sooner you start building it, the sooner you can start multiplying your results.

You don’t need to be on every social network

It’s tempting to try to build a following on all of the major social networks, but unless you have a marketing team and a hefty budget, you can’t do it effectively. Each social network has its own nuances to learn, and it takes time to find your flow and acquire followers. Spreading your time too thin by trying to build a following on every network will only hamper your long-term growth. You’ll achieve better results, and you’ll achieve them more quickly by focusing on one social network at a time. Build up a loyal and engaged following on one network, and only after you’re producing consistent results, can you replicate the process on another network while maintaining activity on previously established networks.

Never rely on your gut

A lot of business owners think they’ll just “know” how their online marketing is performing. The fact is that you simply can’t rely on your gut. Sure, it’s easy to identify exactly how many customers come in as the result of a coupon without using special tools, but online marketing is a lot more complex. Even with the proper tools, it can be difficult to track precisely. There are so many variables involved all at once; SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, banner ads, email marketing and more, and it can sometimes take weeks or even months to see results. If you’re relying on your gut, how do you know where a sudden surge in sales came from? Was it the result of a new Google algorithm? A seasonal change? A viral post, or particularly effective email subject line? Multiple activities from multiple channels could be a factor at the same time, which is why it’s so important to use the proper tools to track your online marketing efforts. That way, you can change or eliminate the underperforming activities while increasing the activities that are performing well. You have so many free tools available to track the performance of your online marketing efforts, including Google analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools, so it would be foolish not to use them.

 

About Jeremy Knauff

Jeremy Knauff is the founder of Spartan Media, a proud father, husband, and US Marine Corps veteran. He has spent over 15 years helping businesses of all sizes to make their mark online, and today, he’s busy building his own media empire. 

We’re proud to call him a Pinstripe partner!

Tips for Stress-Free Website Design and Redesign

Tampa Bay web design companyYour company’s website is the heart of your business. It’s where people go to find you, connect with you, contact you, and admire your work. It is one of your most important assets, the hub of all communication, and it should define your brand. Because your website is such a pivotal piece of who you are and what you do, you want it to be beautiful, functional – the best it can be. Thus, hiring a web design company is a big decision, and starting on that web design project can be a daunting task.  If you have a lot of content, images, and functionalities that add complexity to the project, the task may seem even more tremendous. However, it does not have to loom so large. Here are some tips for a smoother, quicker web design process.

The most important factor in determining the timeliness and simplicity of even the most complex web design project is organization. Each web design project manager may have a different approach, but the below are some basic ideas.

  • Organize your folder structure – you should have separate folders for content and graphics. Organize them by page and name them according to function and/or placement. Consult your design firm’s project manager to determine their recommended format for organization.
  • Communication – Conveying your ideas and your vision clearly and succinctly to your web designer or project manager is essential. Prepare for your first meeting by researching some sample websites  or elements that you admire. This is a crucial part of conveying your vision to the creatives involved in the process. They are inherently visual people and sharing visual cues – perhaps picking pieces of different sites that you really like – will give them ideas that will help them create the best possible site for you.
  • Read the contract – Every web design and development firm will have a unique contract. Fully understanding the contract is the first step to great communication. There may be time limitations and protocol for revisions. These are in place to ensure a timely, smooth project, so make sure you understand the process and ask questions if anything is unclear.
  • Ask questions – Another path to great communication is thorough understanding. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. This will keep communication flowing and eliminate the fear that comes with loss of control. However, be prepared to step back and let your design firm guide the process – this is why you hired them.
  • Stepping back – You hired a web design and development firm for many reasons. They know what they are doing. The good ones care about your business. They want you to succeed. They are creative. For all of these reasons and more, you should be able to trust your design firm when they offer advice. Sometimes this means you must take a step back from the minutiae of your design and see the bigger picture. Being able to do this will save you time and money.
website design

We recently finished a gorgeous website design for Southern Roots Realty at southernrootsrealty.com.

The web design process can be truly rewarding. If you hire the right design firm, you will have the opportunity to work with creatives who can make your vision come true, an incredibly satisfying process for all parties involved. Do your research and make sure you not only love the firm’s portfolio, but that you are able to communicate comfortably with the team. Next to organization, communication is most important! Good luck with your project, and be sure to check out some of our other articles about web design and development.

 

Tampa Bay public relations

Pinstripe Closes on New Web Site for Southern Roots Realty

real estate web site wolfnet integration

After years of working with big commercial firms, it was a special treat to work on a decidedly prettier real estate web site. And with a legacy that spans generations, it was a pleasure to design the Southern Roots Realty site to reflect their love and commitment to St. Petersburg.

real estate web site WolfNet integrationThe Southern Roots site highlights the home listings visitors expect from real estate sites, and through the custom integration with WolfNet, it also features robust search functionality and lead generation tools for the agency. What makes Southern Roots unique is their deep knowledge of and affinity for St. Petersburg’s diverse neighborhoods, so the Pinstripe team incorporated that into the site design. The agents regularly post insights about the most popular areas of the city, illustrating why buyers and sellers need the Southern Roots team in their corner.

Have a real estate firm looking for a new web site? Contact our team and let’s get to work!

 

The Importance of a Trademark Search

Florida trademark lawyer, intellectual property

Guest contributor: Monica Mason, Trenam Law

A trademark is a name, word or logo used to indicate the source of a product or service. While a “trademark” technically refers to a brand used on goods and products (e.g., coffee, sneakers, jewelry), a “service mark” refers to a brand used in connection with services (e.g., restaurant services, insurance services, accounting services). Almost every company imaginable has a trademark or service mark – either the name of the company advertised to the public or the name of its product.

Prior to using or advertising a new brand in connection with a business or product, it is critical to have a trademark attorney conduct thorough trademark searches to clear the potential trademark for use and registration. It is necessary for a business owner to know whether there are risks to the company’s use and registration of the proposed trademark. When first selecting a trademark, a business owner should conduct an Internet search or use the free search engine located on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website – Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) – to discern whether the proposed mark is unique or widely used.

Generally, there are two levels of trademark searches recommended: first, a preliminary “knock-out” search is conducted to determine if an identical mark has already been applied for or registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or with any state trademark office. This first and very important step helps determine the potential availability and registrability of a proposed trademark, and can easily determine whether a proposed mark is worth pursuing or should be eliminated from consideration due to conflicting marks. The preliminary search, however, is limited in scope as many companies do not register their trademarks; thus, there could be additional and extensive use of the same or similar marks at common law.

If no conflicts are found in the preliminary search, the next step is to conduct a more thorough, due diligence trademark search. A comprehensive trademark search helps determine any further risks associated with the use and registration of the mark, including possible infringement risks, and reviews the extent of non-registered use of the mark around the country. This second level of searching involves a trademark attorney ordering and analyzing a detailed report from a specialized commercial search firm. The comprehensive search gathers information from a variety of sources including federal trademark/service mark applications and registrations in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, available state registrations, and also searches an extensive database of trade names, trade directories, corporate filings, international filings, registered domain names, Internet usage, telephone books, and other non-registration sources. These searches can also search design and logo components, phonetic equivalents, and other variations of a proposed trademark. Although a comprehensive trademark search offers a more thorough discovery of potential conflicts and risks involved with the use and registration of the potential trademark, it is not exhaustive.

Once the trademark has been cleared, a trademark owner should protect its trademark by filing an application to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, with state trademark offices (e.g., Florida), and/or foreign countries, as appropriate.

Although U.S. trademark law does not require that trademark searches be conducted prior to using and/or applying to register a trademark, trademark searches are important because courts have held that the failure to conduct a trademark search prior to adopting a mark can constitute evidence of bad faith and/or willful infringement. Conducting a thorough trademark search and using a trademark attorney can help negate a charge of bad faith in a trademark infringement lawsuit.

While conducting trademark searches is not mandatory under trademark law, the searches can uncover substantial risks of which a business owner would otherwise be unaware, and save the company substantial expense, time, and headaches down the road.

 

Florida intellectual property lawyerMonica Mason is Senior Counsel at Trenam Law, one of Tampa Bay’s largest law firms. Monica practices in the firm’s Business Transaction Practice Group, focusing primarily on intellectual property law including trademarks, copyrights and domain names. Monica has vast experience with all aspects of trademark law, including trademark clearance and prosecution, cease and desist matters, and licensing. She represents clients in connection with sales and acquisition of trademarks, unfair competition, brand strategy, trademark watching and policing, and managing large trademark portfolios. She also assists clients in connection with copyright and domain name matters. Monica was recognized as the Tampa Trademark Law Lawyer of the Year in 2014 by The Best Lawyers in America.® 

 

 

Tampa Bay public relations

Marketing as a New Year’s Resolution

marketing new year's resolutions tampa bay marketing florida advertising agency

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to grow your business? To do more marketing? To be more strategic? To work smarter, not harder? You’re not alone! Each year, our phones start ringing on January 2nd with clients ready to start off strong.

If you need support to refresh your brand, launch that new web site, generate new content, shoot new videos, design new marketing collateral, build relationships with the media, or just to keep you on track – we’re here for you. Let’s set up a meeting and discuss your resolutions!

Be More Awesome in 2016!