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Archive for June, 2010

Virginia Tech’s Prefab Lumenhaus Wins Solar Decathlon Europe

June 30th, 2010 No comments

LUMENHAUS is Virginia Tech’s entry to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon competition. From its inception, the creation of LUMENHAUS was documented in this ten-minute video, produced by Summer Productions, an award winning television production company.

A few more words on keywords

June 28th, 2010 4 comments

A few posts ago, I wrote about shaping your keyword selection for your website around your customers perceptions. In The best keyword is not always the most desired term, we discussed that even though the term “mobile home” has not been the official term for a manufactured home, it was still ingrained (by better than 2:1) in customers consciousness and needed to be addressed when optimizing web pages in order to not miss out on those customers.

This time we’re going to enlarge on that a bit and explore just what keywords you’ll want to optimize for.

We’re going to go back to the Google Keyword tool and check a few more keywords related to our industry.

Term   U.S. Monthly Searches
Manufactured Homes   550,000
Manufactured Housing   60,500
Modular Homes   450,000
Mobile Homes   1,220,000
Pre-fab Home   49,500
Prefabricated Home   14,800
Factory-built Home   6,600
Factory-built housing   590
Manufactured Homes for Sale   40,500
Mobile Homes for Sale   450,000

In the comments of my last post, John Thalacker posted the stat that the term “Clayton Homes” pulled 165,000 searches, far and away the most searched brand.

Here are a few more manufacturers (definitely not an inclusive list) and the keyword search stats for them this past month.

Term   U.S. Monthly Searches
Clayton Homes   165,000
Redman Homes   9,900
Oakwood Homes (Clayton)   33,100
Cavco Homes   4,400
Karsten Homes   5,400
GoldenWest Homes   390

If you’re in the process of optimizing, and you are a dealer for a manufacturer, be sure to optimize for the best keywords and for the manufacturer you represent. Make it easy for customers to find you.

Let’s try one more set of keywords – what they call “long-tail” keywords. Long-tail keywords are multi-word phrases that further qualify and narrow the search. They often contain a location. They are commonly used by people looking for a local business that has what they want. They tend to be more qualified than short-keyword searchers because they are looking for a specific product in a specific location.

Optimize for “long-tail keywords” that are pertinent to you and you’ll will get less – but much more highly qualified – leads.

Lets have a look at a few:

Term   U.S. Monthly Searches
Manufactured Homes, Kentucky   720
Manufactured Homes, Florida   14,800
Mobile Homes Indiana   5,400
Florida Mobile Homes   74,000
Manufactured Homes, Texas   6,600
Mobile Homes, Texas   33,100

Using a blog in your marketing efforts has an added advantage of using “tags.” Tags are very much like the old “keywords” Meta tag that has been deprecated by the search because of abuse.

You can optimize a blog post for a set of keywords much the same as any other web page. But then, using more variations of your keywords as “tags” will cause your blog post to show in results for those keywords.

Last week, I launched a website for a local limousine service here in Danville, KY. We used keyword specific pages and optimized for long-tail (localized keywords).

Within 4 days, we had grabbed the #4 spot in Google results for the keyword “Limousine, Danville KY” an ideal placement for the company. The #3 search result is my blog post announcing the launch of the website, so he is in effect holding the #3 and #4 positions.

Here is the Google SERP for that keyword set:

Google Search Engine Results Page

We’ve had some astounding results in ranking well for multiple keywords using WordPress software installed on the clients webs server. Much better result than we’ve had with WordPress.com or Blogger.

I believe that is because of the plugins that are available to self-hosted blogs. We’ll get into that more in the future.

How do you optimize for more keywords?

The best way I know of is to create more pages for your website, using each of them to optimize for a specific keyword set. As an example, visit my landing page for Danville, KY Online Marketing. You’ll notice in the navigation for this site that there are links to landing pages for each keyword for each city in my area. This page – in addition to serving as a landing page – ranks #1 on Google for its keyword set.

This is even easier to do and more effective using a similar technique in a WordPress self-hosted blog.

Start thinking about how you can better your Search Engine Ranking for specific keywords or get with us for a consultation.

WOT about web safety?

June 24th, 2010 No comments

Web of Trust (WOT) logoMany of us spend a good deal of time online – marketing, listing properties or products, blogging, social networking or just surfing the web. It’s that last one that can cause some problems.

When you conduct a search for something on the web, how can you be sure that the site you are about to visit is free of malware, viruses and worms or actually has the content you are looking for – not just another Viagra ad or surprise porn?

And how do you influence what your kids see when they click try to visit a site or a link on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP)?

Web of Trust (WOT) is a community-powered web rating service that I wrote about in Safer Surfing – That’s WOT it’s about at BobStovall.com this morning.

They give you a free add-on for Firefox, Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. Once you’ve installed the add-on, every website you visit and every Google search result will display the WOT “donut.”

(If you use Safari or Opera, there is a bookmarklet that you place in your bookmarks toolbar. Clicking it brings up a window in which you can rate websites.)

If enough WOT members have visited the site and rated it (on trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety) the WOT donut will show green for highly rated sites, yellow for sites with some reservations and red for sites you should avoid.

One great feature – if the child safety rating is low, you can use WOT to block viewing the site.

Screenshot of page blocked by Web of Trust

You can even see a site’s rating before you go there as WOT ratings will show up on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Here’s an example of a search term that tends to draw red flags.

If you or your company have a website or blog, you want to ensure that you have a green rating for all four rating criteria. One idea for doing that, is to get your WOT add-on, rate our website – then, add your website’s URL in the comments below and ask other readers of this post to rate you.

Because there is no influence over others rating your URL, we don’t have to worry about bad sites wasting our time asking us to rate them.

You can get your WOT add-on at the Web of Trust Downloads page. While you’re there, take a few moments to find out how the system works and how you can put it to work for you.

The best keyword is not always the most desired term

June 13th, 2010 4 comments

Mobile vs. Manufactured HomeOptimizing your website for the best keywords is one of the most important building blocks of your online marketing strategy.

But how we see or describe our business can be very different from how our customers see us. And knowing how our customers see us and search for us online spells the difference between lackluster performance and booming success in our online marketing efforts.

Let’s take one example. “Manufactured homes” used to be called “mobile homes.” The industry has gone to a great deal of effort over the past several years to upgrade it’s image by re-branding with the better descriptive term “manufactured homes” or “manufactured housing.”

But the effort expended hasn’t produced the desired result because the majority of customers still uses the term “mobile home.” And they use that term for single- and multi-section homes, new and old, in a community or on ten acres. I’m sure most retailers and community managers are well aware of this.

A keyword analysis using the Google Keyword Tool reveals that searches in the U.S. on the keyword “mobile homes” out numbers searches for either “manufactured homes” or “modular homes” by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

Term   U.S. Monthly Searches
Manufactured Homes   550,000
Modular Homes   450,000
Mobile Homes   1,220,000

Obviously, ignoring the “mobile homes” keyword could have a large negative effect on the number of potential customers who find you via a search on Google.

In terms of keyword usage, Google users are not much different than users of Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine. So you can expect results to be very similar across the board.

So, how do we continue to seek to upgrade the industry’s image while tapping into the huge numbers for whom “mobile home” is the preferred terminology?

That depends on whether you a manufacturer, retailer, supplier or community owner.

But no matter who you are, the numbers outlined above indicate that we have a ways to go in customers minds to replace the “mobile home” image with the “manufactured home” one.

There’s an old quote that says you can’t break an old habit – you need to replace it with a new habit.

Manufacturers need to keep plugging away at changing the perception. Trade associations need to help, perhaps by running local education programs aimed at consumers with the object of substituting a new habit for the old.

Retailers, suppliers and community managers need to address this issue from the viewpoint of their customers. They need to use the more desired term when communicating with customers, but recognize that to draw the widest range of prospects, some homage must be paid to the term “mobile home.”

This is where “online marketing” shines above all other forms. Your website, email marketing, etc. can be primarily optimized for “manufactured homes” while pages are created specifically for buyers who search using the term “mobile home.” You can even have separate email lists for those who locate you using either term.

After all, who wants to throw away over a million lead opportunities every month?

Once again, this brings us back to MHMSM Solutions, which has the expertise to set this up for you. Taking advantage of every opportunity is how we will thrive as the market improves.

Some Businesses Just Don’t Need a Website

June 10th, 2010 3 comments

I posted this partially tongue-in-cheek Top Ten list to my blog at BobStovall.com on Tuesday. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback that I decided I should share it with you as well.

It’s amazing to me the number of small businesses serving local markets that still don’t have a website. Or, they have one but it hasn’t been updated in months or years.

But not ALL businesses need an updated and dynamic website. So I’ve carefully compiled a list – in Top Ten fashion – of businesses that don’t need a website. I hope you aren’t one of these:

10. Businesses that are closed.

9. Businesses that are about to close.

8. Businesses that will hold their head just above water for a time and then close.

7. Businesses that don’t need customers.

6. Businesses that don’t need money.

5. Businesses that are afraid of success.

4. Businesses that don’t want to plan a future.

3. Business owners that will win the lottery.

2. Businesses backed by a Sugar Daddy.

1. The Mob

No matter how bad your current (or non-existent) website is, it’s never too late. Resolve to fix it now so you can begin reaping the rewards of a fresh, updated website now.