Band Websites: Improving Bad Website Design

Ok, so your favorite band doesn’t suck but what about their website? After browsing some sites, I found that many artists, bands, labels are missing the point when it comes to good search engine friendly website design. Besides being esthetically unappealing or having a loop of the same blaring songs, these bad band sites also share other similarities:

Overdoing the Flash
Super long to load on slower internet connections and it can be really annoying. Yes, we’re looking at you, The Strokes (and tons of other bands). Your site may be fancy and look really cool, but it’s 100% flash dependent. Flash sites aren’t indexed by Google and you can’t add any keywords in your content. More popular bands are just lucky that they don’t need to rely on this as they’re already getting traffic from fans.
Instead: A little flash here and there is fine. You want to concentrate on engaging and informative keyword rich content. You should also put a little time into your link building strategy and incoming links.

Just Too Much
As an artist, you want to accurately convey your image to your fans. Because of this, many artists go overboard with too many pictures, too much text, too many widgets and just way too much clutter. Lady Gaga’s bio is an eyesore with a page full of CAPITALIZED white text on a black/grey background. Surely, no one will really care to read this except for the super fans.
Instead: Have a section that is short and sweet. New fans want to get straight to the facts. You might want to include a more detailed bio page or even include a video to accompany the reduced text.

Ignoring Your Fans
Many band sites that aren’t updated frequently are static and dead. With Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook, band members are finding it easier to update on the social media platforms. Don’t forget about your site! Fans want to stay in touch and just small updates here and there will make them feel special. NIN is especially known for their fan interaction. Their website features a members area, an extensive photo gallery and even an area where you can mix your favorite songs.
Instead: Use Analytics to see where your fans are spending the bulk of their time. Are they interested in your lyrics, merch, or media? Now that you know, integrate a blog, photo blog, or even your social media profiles to appeal to those likes. Even a simple band Q&A once in awhile will help your website from dying out.

These are just some of my peeves, any other tips for bad band websites?

Tips from a Site Reviews Webinar

If you have an SEOmoz Pro account, you can submit your site for review and they just might include it in one of their upcoming webinars. There were about 100 people on the call and it was nice to see something different – analyzing user submitted websites. It’s a change of pace from other webinars who use Zappos and other big companies that make it hard for small businesses to relate to.

Definitely learned a lot from today’s webinar. Very useful info and I’ve bookmarked some tools for future research. These are definitely some things that you want to consider looking into:

  • Use Open Site Explorer to check the link popularity for your site
  • Learn how changing your meta tags strategy can be beneficial
  • Consider promoting embedded graphs or graphics as a way to get some link love (like Mint)
  • How to use hashtags to connect to more than one anchor link

The favorite part of these webinars is the Q + A section. I found it helpful that Rand Fishkin provided links and resources during the call. The chat box also allows attendees to directly communicate with each other. An hour and a half is a bit long for a webinar but I’m definitely looking forward to more helpful resources.

3 Social Media Problems

Social media marketing isn’t as easy as it’s cracked up to be. I’ve recently ran into a couple problems and it’s taken me awhile to

1) Problem: You want to clean up your Twitter account but are stuck with too many inactive, irrelevant followers. Maybe, you’re following too many people who aren’t reciprocating.
Resource: With ManageTwitter, you can quickly go through your followers and weed out the inactive ones. It’s a handy tool and sure beats doing it manually.

2) Problem: Your business isn’t showing up right in Google’s Local Business Center.
Resource: Check out the Google forums and you’ll see how many other business owners are in the same boat. We haven’t figured out a better/fast solution so if you have any insight, please let us know!

3) Problem: You don’t know where to start with link building
Resources: Look no further than Lee Odden’s open letter to spammers and 101 ways to build link popularity

The Evolution of Blogging and SEO

The History of Blogging
Web + log = Blog. According to Wikipedia, early-blogging dates back to around 1983. What evolved from a personal online diary has become a helpful tool that can be as powerful (or more powerful) than a website. Let’s take a quick look at some interesting tidbits:

  • Cameron Barrett compiled the first of blog sites in 1998
  • Peter Merholz coined the term “blog” in 1999
  • Pyra creates Blogger in 1999
  • Twitter introduces the world to microblogging in 2006

What’s Changed?
LiveJournal, Open Diary, Xanga, Blogger. The dot-com bubble paved the way for companies and individuals who wanted to make a name for themselves via blogging. Nowadays, blogggers are more dynamic and it’s more than just detailing the mundane facts of your everyday life. From online marketers to large corporations, blogs are now considered to be a serious for of entertainment, news, and information.

Business Blogging Webinar

This morning’s webinar with Chris Baggot and Duane Forrester was about business blogging and how to apply SEO. They distinguish the difference between how personal blogging has evolved into a more sophisticated form of corporate blogging. Chris shared insight about organizing several different blogs dedicated to specific topics, while Duane talk about the importance of tracking your success. Here are some things to keep in mind as you establish your own blogging strategy and best practices:

  • 66% of blog traffic comes from search engines
  • Companies that utilize blogs generally get more traffic
  • Frequent and recent – successful blogs are updated regularly and contain relevant information

Making White Papers Fun

If there’s any way that white papers can be interesting, Mike Stelzner found a way to do so. His webinar with Marketing Profs this morning was about “Maximum Search Results with Rich Content and Social Media”. In the hour, Mike explained how he successfully conducted the survey and shared the finished product.

Focusing on the Industry Report
If you haven’t heard of it already, this is the social media marketing industry report that we’re talking about. Nearly 900 social media users participated in this survey and here are the results – five stats from the report that caught my eye:

  • 61.83% people who invested a few months in their social media marketing report new partnerships were gained
  • 72% of marketers are newbies (have only just started using social media)
  • 64% devote roughly 5 hours a week on social media
  • 81% of participants agree that social marketing has generated exposure for their business
  • 94% of marketers use Twitter

Spreading the News with Fire Starters
Getting people to participate in a survey is one thing, but how do you engage them in finding interest in your results? Mike passed the word along to a few key friends who have a lot of influence in the social media world aka fire starters. In Mike’s case, it was friends who had many friends or followers. Kinda like a ripple effect and things took off from there through word of mouth. Mike also took advantage of scheduling Tweets during relevant times of the day to catch the eye of his many followers. Well, it really worked as over 40,000 people read this report over the span of 1 month. Hundreds of blog comments and other mentions throughout the online community helped put Mike’s report on Google’s coveted first result for ‘social media marketing’.

Social Media: What’s in a Name?

In the social media world, going viral is gold. It’s hard to get people riled up about something and when it happens, the spontaneity of word of mouth is unstoppable. Today, we’ll take a look at how some notable name changes have helped in going viral. Sit back, take some notes and get ready to change your name.

Making a Splash for a Good Cause
Courtesy of this short clip, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian shows us how effective the right name can be. As he explains it, social media helped out for a worth cause in 2007. Greenpeace held a contest to name a humpback whale and raise awareness about protecting these gentle giants. Mister Splashy Pants won out above the other names and helped attract attention to this cause.

A Foodstuff Gets More Fans than The Worst Band in the World
Can this pickle get more fans than Nickelback? Yes, it can. If you haven’t heard, Nickelback is arguably one of the worst bands in the world. An anti-Nickelback enthusiast decided to create a Facebook Fan Page and gather fellow fans for this cause. You may have seen it pop up on your friend’s page and it’s too funny not to follow! Here are some other things that this Pickle beats: MTV, Glenn Beck, and naps. As of now, the Pickle is still in the lead.

Shameless Self-Promotion
Are you a fan of Chad Javon Johnson? Maybe Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals rings a bell. In 2008, the football player legally changed his last name to match his jersey number 85, in Spanish. The word “Ochocinco” is actually displayed across his uniform. There were some rumors that Chad wanted to change has last name to “Himself”. Just picture the announcer saying, “And Johnson throws a pass to Himself”. Hilarious, but no. Chad has recently announced that he is planning to change his name to “Hachi Go” – which roughly translates to 85 in Japanese.

A Yelp for Help: Alleged Extortion

As a consumer, it’s only right that you can to take to the internet to share your good and bad experiences at certain establishments. Some prefer personal blogging but Yelp provides a standardized platform for consumer-based business reviews. Yelp is pretty great. I’m continually surprised by the hole in the wall restaurants and have even managed to find a new dentist. Then again, there are times when you stumble upon some horrible reviews and wonder how owners feel or react to this type of criticism. I’ve heard of lawsuits against Yelp before, but not like this.

Last week, Yelp was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging “extortion schemes”. In short, many business owners are claiming that Yelp hit them up for $$$ (so-called advertising packages) after they received bad reviews. Some claim that Yelp offered to remove the negative reviews in exchange for convenient monthly payments.

Of course, Yelp’s CEO has a different story. In the way Jeremy Stoppelman explains it, their marketing tactics are completely legal albeit, a little “weird”. Things are looking more than weird for Yelp right now as more cases are rising against their favor. Time will tell what will happen, but can Yelp’s credibility be fully restored after this case? CEO Stoppleman claims they have nothing to hide, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

There are a lot of cases where small businesses have benefited from Yelp reviews. I’ve even seen negative reviews completely reversed when owners take the time to reach out and contact the negative reviewers. Everyone deserves a second chance at correcting their mistakes but maybe, Yelp has had one too many?

What do you think about Yelp’s current dilemma?

Add Pieces of Flair

Office Space ignited our love for adding tacky buttons to our uniforms in a vain attempt to convey a persona. Let’s stop to ask ourselves, are we limited OR are we only limiting ourselves? Take some time to find your own source of inspiration. After all, no one wants to end up like a Milton… (spoiler: he’s the one that burns the office building down).

So, what are some of your favorite ways to add a little panache to your work/workspace?

Personalize Your Browser
Calling all Firefox fans! Their Personas toolbar has been out for awhile and it allows you to apply different themes to your internet browser. Not feeling any of the designs? You can create your own, of course. Create a header (3000px wide x 200px high) and footer (3000px wide x 100px high). Next:

  • Install the tool bar
  • Click on the fox icon on the bottom left of your browser
  • Preferences > Show custom Persona in menu
  • Custom > Edit > Locate image locations, apply and you’re done!

Jazzing Up Your Facebook Fan Page
Do you need to create a custom box or tab for your Facebook Fan Page? Don’t waste your time with other useless applications – Static FBML is all you’ll need. Check out Mashable’s latest showcase of 5 interactive Facebook Pages. Isn’t GAP’s campaign cute? With this application, you can also add picture galleries, videos and more. I really like how business-friendly Facebook is becoming.

Travel to Another Era for Inspiration

Sometimes, there’s nothing like a blast from the past to get our creative juices flowing. If you love vintage print ads, this is a collection that you can’t miss! Don’t know what it is, but there’s just something that is so exciting. Maybe, it’s the technicolor and lack of Photoshop! I’m not just talking about ads – literature, films, and movies can always help you feel inspired if you’re in a rut.

The Can and Can’ts of Social Media

There is much more to social media than just building up Twitter hype. Nowadays, businesses may be excited to implement a new social media marketing plan, but have unrealistic expectations of what it can really do. Like anything else, you can’t expect it to help bring you success if you don’t put in enough time and effort. Here’s a look at what social media can and can’t do for your business:

What It Can Do

  • Target your audience: If you’re looking into running ads on Facebook or MySpace, these two sites allow you to target specific demographics of your audience. This will be helpful in identifying your goals, as you can reach users by age, location, interests etc.
  • Improve customer interaction: On the surface, the point of social media profiles is to be social. You’ll want these connections to translate into something deeper but you can’t unless you can improve customer involvement. Social media allows you to do so by consistently involving the audience via blog posts, Tweets, and status updates.
  • Keep customers informed: Awhile ago, Bausch + Lomb recalled their contact solution because it was linked to eye infections. As a recipient of their newsletter, I got an email about the recall and a coupon for a new (untainted) product. Luckily, no eye infection for me! Social media can help with damage control just as well as it’s used to announce local events or new products.

What It Can’t Do

  • Have a short-term mindset: Your marketing plan consists of ongoing efforts, so why wouldn’t your social media campaign? Many people make the mistake by neglecting their social media profiles over time. Social media requires the three C’s: consistence, commitment, and creativity.
  • Replace your entire marketing plan: Although it’s successful for very few companies, a marketing plan solely based on social media is not realistic. Instead of looking at social media to replace your marketing plan, think of it as an additional tool you can use to complement your more traditional strategies.
  • Guarantee success: You may be popular on Twitter, but what does it really mean? You can’t guarantee success on any social media site if you don’t tie it back to your goals – this may be increased visits, clicks, purchases etc. Being popular doesn’t mean that you’re successful, but it can help!

How To Connect on Twitter

Your Plan for Victory
When it comes to your online marketing plan, there is no one route that will guarantee your success. The hard part comes with analyzing your brand and how you want to portray yourself to your audience. Luckily, Twitter and social media internet marketing allows you to have better control of your online reputation. One of the hardest obstacles a business faces is getting new customers and Twitter can help you get started.

A Better Way to Circulate

Don’t underestimate the power of a coupon! Direct mailing and printouts can be costly nowadays, but there are alternatives. In this example, a local chain restaurant more than doubled their foot traffic by advertising a $3 burrito on Twitter. Whereas they usually get 350 customers come in with the coupon, they got an influx of 900 customers when they turned to Twitter.

Find Relevant Followers

If you’re a local business with a physical location, you’ll want followers who are from your surrounding areas. Have more followers is great, but you’ll gain more from customers that are more likely to frequent your business. You can use tools like Mr.Tweet to join relevant communities and connect with others. Whether you’re into psychology or politics, there’s a place for that. Don’t be afraid to use Twitter’s trending topics and to participate in conversation. You can also search hashtags (#) to look at what others are saying about a particular topic. If you like something someone is saying, check out their profile. Once you follow them, you can initiate conversation and they may do the same to you.

Get the Right Attention
We’ve all heard about Kevin Smith’s recent fat fiasco. Not all of us will face a situation of this capacity, but it’s interesting to see how things played out. Twitter is good for damage control, but you can get the right attention too. If you’re an expert in your field, why not start some Q&A? Maybe you do taxes or know some good cooking tips. Your knowledge will benefit your followers and they’ll trust you. Or maybe, you’re looking for new employees. Twitter is a great way to give a shout out to open positions and find people in your relevant field.

It’s Not Just Twitter
If Twitter doesn’t work out for you, don’t fret. There are other social platforms that you can try. Facebook, WordPress and even MySpace works wonders. My hairdresser gets great business from their MySpace and Yelp page. She goes on to share that they continue to get more customers each month! If you haven’t gotten started yet, what’s there to lose? As the old saying goes, “You`ll never know unless you try”.