We all know that the
(To be continued in Part Two)
We all know that the
(To be continued in Part Two)
The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. Last weeks Blog started describing the “Commitment” section. This week’s Blog will continue this description. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!
To help you get started in the commitment process, the following are some of the questions that need to be asked and answered:
1. Why do you want to hold an event?
This is the BIG question. You need to answer this question first. Do you want to raise money for a project? Is it to celebrate an anniversary? Is it just for the fellowship of your organization? Is it a community awareness project? Or is it a combination of some or all of these? Whatever the answer, there must be solid agreement by everyone involved that it is a project that they want to participate FULLY in. If not, you’d better re-evaluate the “WHY”, otherwise you will never obtain full commitment.
2. Who makes the final decision as to whether or not the event is held?
The people who make the final decision have the biggest responsibility. They must take all the information gathered and then make an educated guess on the future of the event. It is important that they consider all questions and concerns before making their decision. Make sure all potential stakeholders are heard.
3. Who else needs to be involved in the decision making process?
It is not enough to ask the immediate members of your group if they want to proceed with your event. There are others who should also be consulted and considered. Have the spouses been asked what they think? If the community is to be involve, have you talked to community officials to see if you have their support? If it involves food or alcohol, can the necessary licenses be obtained? I think you get the picture. Everyone who are or could be involved should be questioned and opinions solicited. You don’t want to get halfway through the planning of the event only to find you’re stopped by some unknown factor.
(To be continued - Part Four)
I can remember many years ago being approached by someone who asked me what I knew about planning and running an Art Festival. It may seem like a strange question, until you realize that I was participating in a consumer show and my booth was selling art. It was a simple question, but it was the beginning of a life long journey into the world of planning and managing events. Being naive, I thought all we needed was a great idea and the rest would follow. How wrong I was! My partner in crime (the fellow who had approached me at the show) and I started off pitching the idea to the local community services manager. He was all for it and thought that the mayor would like it too. Then he asked 2 big questions! Who’s going to pay for it and who’s going to organize and run it? Fortunately, my partner was a Lions Club member and he thought his organization might be interested in participating. They were, but they had A LOT of questions. They were hard but necessary questions. It took a long while to answer these questions to the clubs satisfaction, but finally they, along with their Lioness Club, agreed that they would take on the project.
Their agreement was not only for money, but more importantly; their membership was COMMITTED to making the Festival a success. Over the last 17 years this commitment has never wavered and as a result, the Festival remains one of the top art festivals in the country and has allowed the clubs to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars back into their community.
(To be continued in Part Three)
Some time ago, I started writing about “Website Construction”. I hope that the articles will help festival and event organizers create better and more productive websites! Now I would like to share some thoughts on “Event Development”. In the weeks that follow I plan on writing about the different stages of developing a successful festival or event. I believe that there are five key development areas, “Initial Development”, Research and Preliminary Planning”, “Leadership”, “Action Planning” and “Event Day Management”. It is my hope that festival organizers and planners will enjoy the articles and will give me feedback about their ideas and concerns! So, here is the first article:
When you start thinking about developing a festival or event, after all the questions have been asked and answered, “to be or not to be…” really is the final question.
It may seem like an unnecessary start, but if you don’t ask and answer the questions, your event is likely doomed to fail right from the start.
(to be continued in Part Two ~ Commitment)
Social Media Optimization (SMO)
Although I haven’t mentioned Social Media Optimization previously, it is an area that seems to be gaining more and more importance. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media) explains Social Media as follows: “Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.” Social Media with regards to the Internet includes Blogs (this article is a blog), Microblogs (Twitter, Pownce and Jailu), Social Networking (Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn and My Space), Photo Sharing (Flickr, Zooomr and Photobucket), Social News Sites (Digg, Mixx and Reddit), Video Sharing (YouTube, Vimeo and Viddler) and Livecasting (Ustream, Justin,tv and Mogulus). All of these and more can be used to increase your website’s popularity and ranking. These have to be used carefully and I would suggest that you study its use before embarking on Social Media Optimization. Check it out on the Internet, there are many articles on the subject. Remember, knowledge is power!
Traffic, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Optimization (Part 2)
Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing is used to help websites increase their visibility. There are several methods of doing this. The best and least expensive is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is also the slowest method of SEM. I have discussed SEO in previous articles, but, to explain is simply, it is a method that builds your website in such a way that Search Engines will find the website, investigate it (crawl) and rank it. The better you optimize, the higher your ranking will become (given time). Other SEM tactics include “paid placement” and “paid inclusion”. The following is a brief explanation of each.
Paid Placement – This is a definition provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_per_click) “Pay per click (PPC) is an Internet advertising model used on search engines, advertising networks, and content websites, such as blogs, where advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on an advertisement to visit the advertisers' website. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. When a user types a keyword query matching an advertiser's keyword list, or views a webpage with relevant content, the advertisements may be displayed. Such advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and appear adjacent to or above the "natural" or organic results on search engine results pages, or anywhere a webmaster or blogger chooses on a content page. Content websites commonly charge a fixed price for a click rather than use a bidding mechanism.”
Paid Inclusion - This is a definition provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paid_inclusion) “Paid inclusion is a search engine marketing product where the search engine company charges fees related to inclusion of websites in their search index. Paid inclusion products are provided by most search engine companies, the most notable exception being Google.
The fee structure is both a filter against superfluous submissions and a revenue generator. Typically, the fee covers an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. A per-click fee may also apply. Each search engine is different. Some sites allow only paid inclusion, although these have had little success. More frequently, many search engines, like Yahoo!, mix paid inclusion (per-page and per-click fee) with results from web crawling. Others, like Google (and as of 2006, Ask.com, do not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listing (advertisements are shown separately and labeled as such).”
Remember, these methods will cost you money, but with them, you are able to control or limit your costs. It is a quicker way to have your website seen by targeted visitors, but not a way to guarantee search engine rankings. If you use the paid SEM method prudently, with an eye to Search Engine Optimization, it can be win win situation for you and your website!
(To be continued in Part Ten ~ Social Media Optimization (SMO))
Traffic, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Optimization (Part 1)
The goal of every website has to be getting people to visit their website (Traffic). Why have a website that no one visits? So, the main object is to have traffic, good traffic, visit your site! But, how do you do this? Good question! Frankly, it starts right from the beginning! Actually, the process begins before you start your web construction. You have to decide why you want a website and what you want it to offer visitors. Once you have a very clear picture in your mind of that, you have to figure the best way of getting there. The first questions to ask yourself is who do you want to come to your website and how are you going to get them there. This, in essence, is the whole process of constructing a website! “Determining who you want to come and how to get them there.” From there it’s just a matter of following tried and true web building steps. I have outlined most of these steps in previous Blog articles, plus there are tons of article that can be found on the Internet. Building a great website, right from the start, will make all your “Web” dreams come true!
(Continued in Part 2)
Contact Information and Linking
A number of the websites I have visited over the past year have had either no contact information or incomplete information. I believe that this is a real mistake! When someone visits your website they are looking for answers. Most websites are designed to give as much information as possible. However, there will always be someone who has a question that is not answered on the site. When this happens the person will want the question answered. If they don’t get it an answer they will likely become frustrated and not visit the site again. A lost opportunity! This is why I always recommend that a website contain complete contact information. For me this includes telephone numbers (phone, fax and, where possible, cellular), a mailing address and, most important, an e-mail address. An e-mail address is important because, after all, the question is coming as a result of your Internet website. Communicating via the Internet only makes sense! Finally, it is imperative that once a question has been asked, no matter what mode of communications, that it be answered as soon as possible!
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), search engine companies (especially Google, Yahoo and MSN) are attaching more and more importance to websites having quality, compatible external links! Before search engines “smartened up”, Search Engine Optimizers use to “load up” websites with questionable external links. Most had no relevance to the sites they were linked to. This was all in the name of optimization! Fortunately search engine companies have become more sophisticated and are now recognizing when sites are trying to trick them. As a result, websites who use this practice can be penalized by Search Engines and have their rankings reduced or eliminated completely. When this happens, it is very difficult to earn your ranking back! In a word, Search Engine managers don’t like to be tricked or taken advantage of! It is important, right from the start of Building Your Website, that you and your web designer create a plan for attracting compatible, quality external links. This process may be time consuming, but doing it right, from the start, will pay huge dividends in the future! Remember that the object of all Search Engines is to provide quality and accurate searches for their customers. So if you plan your website accordingly, you can’t go wrong!
(To be continued in Part Nine ~ Traffic, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Optimization)
Simplicity and Website Layout
The best advice I can give when building your website can be summed up in one word, “simplicity”. If you want people to visit your website and then stay, simplicity is the answer! Let me explain. Search engine crawlers and very particular! They like simple things. They don’t like “flash”. They don’t like “digging too deep” into a website. They want a clear, simple path to find all that your website is offering. If you make it too difficult for them, you will loose your chances of high rankings. So what you might say! Well, without high search engine rankings, people will have a difficult time finding you. Of course, if you only want your friends to visit your website, you don’t have to worry. However, if you want new people to find you, search engines and their rankings are very important! The other reason for simplicity is that people, like search engine crawlers, don’t like complicated! If you make your website too complex, people will quickly become turned off and will leave your website quickly to find something simpler! If your object is to have people visit your site, stay for a while and then buy your products or services, keep it simple!
Like “Simplicity”, Website Layout is very important. This is true for many of the same reasons stated above. You need a nice clean layout that allows visitors (human and electronic) to easily travel around your website. Well marked page links, concise text and descriptive photos all make for a better site. Having accurate, uncomplicated information on your entry page (normally your “Home” page) gives your visitors a clear picture of who you are. Giving visitors the ability to easily look through your website will keep them on it for a longer time. If you are selling products or services, having well written descriptive text is imperative. Easy to follow instructions on how to make a purchase will help you make more sales. Always remember, when building your website, it is for the benefit of your customers, not a monument for you and your web designer!
(To Be Continued in Part Eight ~ Contact Information and Linking)
Page Content and Site Updating
Web Page Content
As search engines become more sophisticated, web page content becomes more important. Content should be written in an interesting informative way. It should relate to your website and its purpose. One way of relating is it is by using your keywords and key phrases, but not too often. According to Mike Small, a veteran SEO specialist (http://www.seopartner.com/), the rule of thumb is not to mention your keywords more than 4 times per page and to split them equally between paragraphs. Two mentions of your most important keyword in the first section is the only exception. He goes on to say that there should be between 150 and 250 words of text per keyword. Finally, he says to mention each keyword towards the end of the page. This shows overall consistency and topic authenticity.
Keeping your visitors interested in your website and having them stay on it for several minutes will help increase your site’s search engine rankings.
Another way of promoting your website is to update your pages frequently. Adding pages can also helpful. The pages must be added for a meaningful purpose, not just for search engine show. Keeping you website up-to-date and accurate shows search engines that your website has substance and is important to its visitors! Besides, it you don’t keep your contents up-to-date all the time, why would people want to visit your site more then a few times, even if you have an interesting site? I think the key to having a great site is to put you as being one of its visitors. What would you like to see as a visitor? How often would you go onto your site if you were a visitor and why? Answering these questions will help you think about your site more often and will help you manage it better! Remember the old saying “Treat others as you would have them treat you”. If you and your site “treat” visitors well, your website will be a great hit!
Building Your Website - The Importance of Text
Use of Keywords in Text
Just as the selection of keywords is important, making sure that they are seen and found is also important! In order to optimize your keywords, they need to be mentioned several times throughout your text. However, their placement must make sense. As I have previously said, search engines are becoming much more sophisticated each day and can tell when a site is trying to fool them into giving a higher ranking then is deserved. They don’t take kindly to this and can penalize. The penalization may or may not be warranted, but regaining ranking is a Herculean task. Assuming you are creating a legitimate website, let your information and expertise be your “Calling Card”. Ultimately this strategy will become the benchmark for website ranking.
As it stands right now, web crawlers are sent out by search engines to find keywords. Just including the keywords in your text will help, but won’t make them outstanding. Highlighting keywords (bold, underlined and italicized) will really help. Remember, though, this is how it works now, but likely, not in the future. You need to either keep up with internet technology yourself or find someone you trust to do it for you. Like the Boy Scout motto says, “Be Prepared”!
(To be continued in Part Sis ~ Page Content and Site Updating)
In my previous articles I mentioned the importance of keywords. Keywords act as your 24/7 electronic “Business Card”. They are part of what search engine crawlers are looking for. Because they are important, it is imperative that you and your website designer consider them carefully. Keywords can either be a single word or a “string” of words. They need to reflect what people, who are looking for your kind of website, will type into the search engine for their “search”. The more specific your keywords, the more qualified the visitors to your site. Well thought out keywords can also increase your chances of being on the front page of search engines. When you are thinking of what your keywords should be, think what you would type in to find your kind of product or service. In other words, become the visitor!
It should be additionally noted that
each “important” page in your website should contain both keywords and
(To be continued in Part Four ~ Use of Keywords in Text)
I mention in my previous article, building you website so that it attracts
Search Engines is an absolute must! There are many things within a website that
search engine “web crawlers” look for. (Wikipedia describe them as follows: A web crawler (also known as a web spider, web
robot, or—especially in the FOAF community—web scutter) is a program or automated
script which browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner.)
“Crawlers” are what search engines “send out” to gather up-to-date website
information. Search engines use this information for each website to categorize
it and to rank it. Some web designers think that all they have to do is to
insert some keywords and search engines will love them. This may have been true
a few years ago, but, “times, they are a changing!” Search engines are becoming
much more sophisticated and are now looking, in addition to keywords, at
(To be continued in Part Three ~ Meta Elements)
Building Your Website ~ Site Construction
Over the past year or so, I have talked about the importance of festivals and events having good websites. In my last blog I described a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a website designer/marketer. Over the next few blogs I am going to expand on what my friend told me. I don’t pretend to be a website expert, but over the past few years, in developing our website, https://ontariovisited.ca/, I have learned a few tricks. Some were by design, but most were by accident! The results, however, have given us a successful website.
1. Site Construction: Having a website is easy! With the right tools or the right amount of money anyone can have a website. However, having a website is like owning a car. If you have a poor engine you may or may not get to where you want to go. If you have a great engine, you will get to where you want to go with ease! If you have no engine… while you get the picture! Having a great “engine” is the only way to go, so make sure you find out how to get a great engine! Experienced web designers build websites to attract two types of visitors, human and search engines. Search engines are the most important because they direct humans to websites. Each visitor is looking for different things and so, as I said before to have to appeal to both to succeed. The construction of your website needs a sound foundation that includes all the fundamentals of successful sites, that is well written code. Search engines can and will penalize sites for poorly written code. So, if you are designing your website yourself, check with an expert to make sure your site is constructed properly. There are website evaluators out there who can help you and set you straight if need be. If you don’t want to design your own site, make sure you hire someone who has all the necessary skills to construct you site properly. Remember, a website that doesn’t attract search engines or humans is a site without an “engine”!
(To be continued ~ "Optimization" in Part Two)
I have been thinking a lot lately about my websites. I have three active festival and event sites. I want to know if they are as effective as I want (need) them to be. In talking with a web designer friend, I realized that they all needed to be re-evaluated! I asked him to explain what the key ingredients where for a successful website. He started to answer me in another language, techno speak! I told him to slow down and talk to me in a language I could understand, English! He did and we covered a wide range of topics. Here is a summary of our conversation. In future blogs I will try to explain his ideas more fully and hopefully in “plain” English! (continued)
6. Web Pages – Each important page (home, about us, products, etc.) should be optimized (keywords, description, highlighting).
7. Updating – Sites should be frequently updated and the information must be correct and consistent.
8. Simplicity – Simplicity is best, especially the home page, in web design, page layout and contents.
9. Website Layout – Sites should be easy to maneuver. Complicated site discourages visitors from surfing through your site’s pages.
10. Contact Information – Make sure that visitors to your site have a way of contacting you. Since the contact is being made via the internet, e-mail contact is a must.
11. Linking – Encouraging another website to link with yours is important. However, the linked sites should have relevancy to you business or site. Linking for the sake of linking is not a good move.
12. Traffic – Finally, the goal of every site should be increased traffic (visitors to your site). How you design and manage your site will determine its popularity and thus traffic.
How many times have we heard politicians and special interest groups call for drastic legislation as a “knee-jerk” reaction to a problem? You don’t need a fish net to catch a fly! Unfortunately, many make far reaching demands without worrying about the consequences. And the problem is, once a law is on the books it stays there! Rarely, if ever, is a law, good, bad or outdated taken, off the books! So, poorly thought out laws either create havoc or are just ignored! Most of these groups and politicians are well meaning. They see a problem and want it corrected. That’s fine if it really does solve the problem, but too often the solution goes way beyond the actual problem, thus the net to catch a fly analogy. New laws must be thoroughly thought through and all of the ramification must be considered. Consider the banning of all plastic water bottles. I have heard towns and groups advocating banning them entirely. Why not work jointly with water companies and plastic bottle manufacturers to come up with a safe acceptable solution. Similarly, I have heard some groups want paper coffee cups banned. The same applies here get all the interested parties together and fine a solution.
(Continued in Part Two)
I have been thinking a lot lately about my websites. We have a number of active festival and event sites. We want to know if they are as effective as we wanted (needed) them to be. In talking with our web designer friend, we realized that they all needed to be re-evaluated! I asked him to explain what the key ingredients where for a successful website. He started to answer me in another language, techno speak! I told him to slow down and talk to me in a language I could understand, English! He did and we covered a wide range of topics. Here is a summary of our conversation. In future blogs, I will try to explain his ideas more fully and hopefully in “plain” English!
1. SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” – Simple put, getting search engines to recognize your site. Once a site is recognized it is categorized (keywords) and then listed in importance.
4. Use of Keywords in Text – In order to emphasize keywords, they must be used often in the text of the web page
5. Highlighting Text – Once keywords are chosen and inserted, they must be shown as being important. This is accomplished by highlighting (bold, italicized, underlined) each keyword.(To be continued in Part 2)
How many times have you made a promise to do something and then forgotten to do it? Or, how many times have you asked someone to do something for you and they have forgotten? How did you feel when it happened to you? It’s definitely important to keep your word when family, friends and bosses are involved, but what about casual contacts? I believe it’s important to keep all of your promises. Have I ever messed up? Yes, but I really make a conscientious effort not to. I can’t tell you how many times Gary and I have asked someone to send us information about their event or product and not received the information! It’s not only rude, it’s very poor business! I have participated in many events, where people have asked me to send information. I do, and most times I don’t get any response. It can be and is frustrating, but do I stop sending information? The answer is, of course, no. I guess some people become stilted and only go through the motions of promising to do something even though they have no intention of following through. They feel that they are just “wasting” their “valuable” time, responding to someone who doesn’t really want the requested information! It’s too bad, in our case, because we usually want to promote their product or event on our website for free! If we don’t hear from them, we don’t promote! Look at the Babe Ruth. He struck out many more times than he hit and yet he was considered the greatest Baseball Player of all time! If you can’t or won’t follow-up, be honest, tell that to the person who requested the information. They may not like it, but they will at least respect you for telling them the truth! So, when you say that you are going to do something, “Step up to the plate” and follow through, you may hit a HOME RUN!