WordPress – Answer to Your Digital Marketing Prayers?

Wordpress for organizations

So, you want the ultimate WordPress website and accompanying blog to represent and market your organization.  Great idea!  It’s true, a well designed search engine optimized website is an amazing digital marketing tool. Before you embark on this exciting, new adventure, understand what a WordPress website can do and be aware of the the good and bad that comes with it.

We are in the midst of a digital Renaissance.
Something big is happening online inspiring organizations and those they serve to interact in a totally new way.  Today, it’s all about sharing as much useful information as possible in order to educate current and potential customers. Marketing has transformed and the lines which once separated PR, marketing, and sales are blurred. In the not so distant past, what used to work was push marketing or forcing ads on customers.  Today it’s pull marketing or the sharing of useful, search engine optimized content in an interactive manner which generates leads and conversions. Your website and blog are the hub of your pull marketing endeavors.

What can a WordPress website and blog do for my organization?
The real question is what can’t a WordPress website and blog do?  When used correctly, the two make an unbeatable digital marketing team, spreading the word about your organization and creating a “top of mind” effect.  Google loves WordPress blogs because they’re fresh and filled with links and blogging is the number one – yes – number one way to get found on Google and drive traffic to your website. Your blog is where your organization interacts with your clients in a friendly manner encouraging affinity toward your brand.  Your website is your home base – the place where people may register for a class, give feedback, make an appointment, download information, request a quote, make a donation,  interact on a forum, or apply for a job.  Analytics play a strong role in how to best update your site, increase your traffic, and generate additional leads and conversions.

What about WordPress?
WordPress is dynamic open source software.  It’s both flexible and friendly as well as rigid and challenging. A site and blog constructed in WordPress requires special consideration before, during and after the design/construction process.

The WordPress design challenge
Design and functionality are NOT mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, one cannot have an outstanding website without both. Yet, more often than not, many WordPress sites appear homogeneous and boring. This reason for this – WordPress’ pre-programmed design constraints combined with a lack of artistic ability and experience.   An interest generating WordPress site demands a legitimate artist who knows how to transform the WordPress template into a stunning, visual EXPERIENCE. This is marketing step one: Get their attention. Your design sets the tone and is your the first impression: Make sure you hire a real artist who knows WordPress.

WordPress set-up matters – a lot!
WordPress is dynamic, which means it’s always changing.  It’s also open source software which means WordPress code is free to anyone.  Poor, outdated set-up will hinder your marketing.  Many WordPress templates are not URL friendly and must be expertly upgraded in order for your URL to be indexed by the search engines.  Your set-up determines whether or not visitors can share your posts with others,  view your site on a smart phone, or sign up for your RSS and email feeds. Because WordPress (just like all open source software)  is sometimes vulnerable to security issues, your marketing company must install updated security plugins as well as provide you with a web host who automatically backs-up your database.  Accept nothing less than a professional with a successful WordPress site of her own to create your WordPress site.

Compelling content and SEO required
The most important and least understood element of digital marketing is search engine optimization or SEO. In the U.S. alone, there were 10.5 billion Google searches in the month of July 2009! Think about these numbers. They represent only one month! Great SEO is created by combining compelling content with keyword research and marketing to the long tail.  This means your site and blog text must be infused with passion and creativity as well as keywords gleaned from keyword research.  WordPress’ Platinum SEO pack is a great tool which should be used on every blog post and website page.  Your quality marketing company must be able to create compelling, search engine optimized content for your site as well as teach you how to accomplish this.  This requires real writing and SEO talent. In addition, your quality marketing company should submit your site and blog to the search engines and directories and train you in linkbuilding.

Working with WordPress
If you never worked with any kind of moderately complicated software or you just aren’t technology savvy then you need training to effectively use WordPress. Bring a notebook and take copious notes as you learn so you don’t burden your trainer and yourself with sluggish progress. Practice using the software over and over until it becomes easy.  Expect to run into little obstacles.  WordPress, like any software can be glitchy.  A quality marketing company knows how to effectively train your organization via webinar or in person, and should include homework – homework that must be completed before advancement.  Knowing how to use WordPress is a fantastic skill and worth every second of study.

Your social signal strength reflects your commitment.
Social signal strength is your social influence rating. Google and Bing both integrate their evaluation of your social signal into your standing on search. In other words, if you’re influential on your blog, Facebook and Twitter,  then you receive more search engine attention.  Understand successful digital marketing requires hours upon hours of  your time and energy.  You must write and optimize one useful blog post a week as well as spend time every day posting on your Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  10 years ago one would just buy advertising and move on. If you want results, you have to make and keep the commitment. All the training in the world isn’t going to give you and your team the diligence required for top results.  If you can’t keep the commitment, hire a quality marketing company to keep it for you or risk missing out on the most important conversation of all – the conversation about your organization.

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About Catherine Lockey

Catherine Lockey @oz2designs | oz 2 designs LLC

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23 Responses to WordPress – Answer to Your Digital Marketing Prayers?

  1. Catarina Alexon December 10, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Great post Catherine – I learned a lot. Had no idea that “Google loves WordPress blogs because they’re fresh and filled with links and blogging is the number one – yes – number one way to get found on Google and drive traffic to your website”. Maybe that accounts for over 60 percent of my readers coming straight from Google and other search engines, or direct?

    In your opinion, is Word Press Platinum SEO better than All in one SEO pack? Actually maybe I can use both?

  2. Jeannette Paladino December 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    Excellent post and I, too, have been toying with the idea of replacing the All-in-One SEO pack with the WP Platinum SEO plugin. Would appreciate your opinion on that. I would like to emphasize how important it is to have a PROPER backup of your WordPress site. Do not depend on your host company — when I had problems upgrading to WP 3.0 I learned that Hostgator did not have a full backup. Luckily, with the help of a great IT consultant I met on LinkedIn, he was able to get me back online (too complicated to describe here) and configure proper backups. I had BackupBuddy but naively was having the backup emailed to me — too large so only part of my site was coming through in the email. I now receive an email every day from BackupBuddy that my site is backed up (to Amazon S3 which is just a storage “room”). I can’t emphasize too strongly to have a professional check to see that your site is indeed being backed up regularly and properly.

  3. Keyuri Joshi December 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Wow! What an informative post you’ve put together for us. I really like and appreciate the concept of “pull” marketing instead of “push”. Also, while I understood the value of web presence I didn’t value “social signal strength” and how important it really is to tweet and post to facebook as often as you suggest. Oh dear… I have a lot to do!

  4. Catherine Lockey December 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    @Keyuri – Isn’t the new connection between social and SEO amazing?? I’m truly fascinated by it and looking forward to watching it evolve.

    @Jeannette – Another guaranteed way to make sure your database is safe and secure is to use Slicehost. Your emphasis on proper backup is right on target.

    @Catarina I prefer the Platimum SEO plugin but can tell you that the AIO is great too. As far as using both – I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not. Here is a little writeup I found about the two plugins: http://crunchmeme.com/all-in-one-seo-pack-vs-platinum-seo-pack-wordpress-plugins/

  5. Julie Weishaar December 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    What an informative post – thanks for sharing. I knew that Google liked WordPress – even more than it likes Blogger which is bizarre as Blogger is a Google product – go figure! When I first started out I had a separate web site from my blog using a sub-standard product/template (and the design was just as bad). Many suggested to me back then that I combine both and work off the WordPress platform – which I eventually did and am glad I did. I have a lot more to learn and am grateful for posts like yours. I do have a strong WordPress plugin phobia though – with good reason. I have been bit more than once! Thanks Jeannette for the reminder about having the proper backup!

  6. Susan Oakes December 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks for the information. One thing I like about wordpress is that it appears many developers are making them upfront to be compatible with WordPress or to develop them specifically for WordPress, like WishList member. I also think using Premiun templates like Thesis or Headway which can be customised are a way to make sure it is not like all others.

    As there are still many small businesses that do not have a web presence, WordPress makes it so easy to start online.

  7. Judy Cullins December 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Catherine, I too appreciate your information here. I use my handy long tail key word list whenever I write a blog post. My titles that have the key words in them are likely to be listed on page one. I love the results I’ve gotten from WordPress too. By posting my new blogs on my Linkedin groups, my targeted traffic has soared in the past 6 months.I test these results each month using Google Analytics and check my Alexa rating that is going down each month. Lately, we have put up more blog categories that also boost comments and traffic.

  8. Charles Herrera December 14, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    Great post, Catherine. Interesting bit about social signal strength; I knew Google and the like got data from Twitter and Facebook, but how all that data fits together to determine the amount of search engine “love” a particular site gets is particularly interesting.

    Great point about backups- fortunately I haven’t had to rely on mine yet, but the peace-of-mind factor alone makes it worth doing it even once a week; never mind when the time comes to actually have to use it! This is even more appropriate to those of us who provide information as the primary focus.

    As far as SEO goes, not to add a curveball to the discussion, but I seem to like SEO Ultimate. It appears to be at least based off of All-in-One, and though I’m still watching for more data from posts using it to compare to before, it seems to be working out fairly well. What are your thoughts on this one versus the others out there?

  9. Rob Berman December 14, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    I use All in One SEO and find it works. As Judy noted I check Alexa each month and post to LinkedIn groups. A WordPress professional is the way to go for a new or revised site. I have built two sites myself and it takes a while. I know I got some right and some wrong. A key point is that siloing the work is not the way to go. Have one firm do the work.

    Rob

  10. Diane December 15, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    Great article I learned alot. I already knew that Google loves WordPress. And thanks for admitting that although it is realatively simple there still is a learning curve. I need to switch from .com to .org, to take full advantage of all that is available.

  11. Julie Lichty December 15, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    The power of SEO is amazing. From a paltry 11 hits a month when my site was not only not ‘optimized’ but was unknowingly designed in a way that was BLOCKING hits (yikes!) to a current 2,000+ hits a month and counting– thanks to the expertise of oz 2 designs and their SEO efforts on my behalf.

    Julie recently posted…Career Transition — 10 Top Truths

  12. Catherine Lockey December 15, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    @Judy Absolutely – the more you drill down your categories and write for them with optimized content the greater your influence. This is one of the keys to content marketing.

    @Charles Thanks for the compliment – the best part of all, all of those FB likes and Twitter retweets you’ve been getting make a difference in your blog’s search rank – Google and Bing algorithms have been more complex than any of us knew. Truly remarkable.

  13. Catherine Lockey December 15, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    @Rob – Thanks for reiterating it’s best to hire one quality marketing company to handle the construction and design of a WordPress site and blog. I agree, posting to Linkedin groups is key to building an audience. Your groups clearly see who is producing and who isn’t. Great content creation is complex, creative work and most people just aren’t up to it which is why they hope for better results from Twitter and FB alone.

  14. Catherine Lockey December 15, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    :) I’m glad to hear about your success right here Julie. Results, in part, give me job satisfaction. I look forward to watching your audience grow.

  15. judy cullins December 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Catherine and all. A note of caution on your vocabulary.11 or 2000 hits is not what you want! Instead, you want an increased # of unique visitors (those in your target audience) who really want what you you offer. I’ve spent the last 10 years updating my site with SEO and great free content on business writing and marketing, along with auhtoring 13 business books and give coaching services on skills sets for book projects and social media marketing plus article writing–where I got noticed as and expert 11 years ago. It’s this winning combination and my almost daily interactions on Linkedin that have boosted my traffic over 50% in the last 6 months. So I check with Google Analytics to see where my best traffic comes from and my bounce rate( how long they stay at site) As the bounce rate goes down for these “Unigue visitors” my sales go way up. Where does my best traffic come from? After my name and my website, Linkedin wins out over all others.Just wanted you all to know about these mistaken interchanges of hits vs. unique visitors. Aim for 100 unique visitors a day at first.

  16. Catherine Lockey December 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    @Judy – good advice about unique vs. non-unique visitors. You may find my Digital Marketing 101 slideshare helpful: http://www.cyclonemarketing.info/2010/11/04/digital-marketing-101/ As mentioned in earlier comments, Linkedin is definitely a great way to build your following.

  17. Sherryl Perry December 17, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Great post as always Catherine. You covered a lot of ground here! I especially appreciate the link to the article about both Google and Bing confirming that links to social networking sites have an impact on SEO. I had recently read a post that “liking” an article helps. This just confirmed it for me. Thanks so much!

  18. Paul Novak December 20, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    Very good piece here Catherine. I would add though that although there is some concensus about the importance of a “social signal”, how that is evaluated by the search engines is not much different from their normal methods. Particularly organic linking and authority. Very good advice about getting WordPress set up properly as well. While it’s a great platform, there is a lot of room for improvement.

  19. Catherine Lockey December 21, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Glad you like it Sherryl. I agree it’s nice to know all that “social love” we’ve been giving and getting is actually worth something in search. Exciting stuff for sure.

  20. Catherine Lockey December 21, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Yes on all accounts Paul. Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your compliment. Did you get a chance to check out SEOMOZ’s predictions about social authority and search rank: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/google-bing-confirm-twitter-facebook-influence-seo According to them there’s quite a bit of mystery surrounding the subject.

  21. Diane January 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    This is a great article on wordpress. I think it is a great platform but the learning curve is definately there. I liked the fact that you didn’t gloss over that.

    I want to switch from .com to .org and merge my website and blog together but haven’t managed to get myself in gear yet.

  22. Catherine Lockey January 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Thanks for the visit Anne. I’m glad you find this post helpful. :)

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