Internet Marketing Matters
Thoughts on website design and Internet marketing for Milwaukee, Waukesha and southeastern Wisconsin.
Marketing executive Jim Gribble is owner and founder of Javelin Communications. He blogs on Milwaukee web design, search marketing and all things Internet.

"Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride"

ticketticketThe quote is from Hunter S. Thompson, who felt an ironic contempt for our propensity to complain about the consequences of our own bad choices (a topic he knew well). Which brings me to the latest Facebook uproar. People are so shocked  - SHOCKED! - to learn that Facebook was gamed by a digital agency working for Donald Trump.

My take is that it's far from shocking. Something like this was bound to happen. In using Facebook and other social media sites, you should know that you are taking on a high degree of risk.

Nothing that you do or say there is private. Everything is catalogued by the site owners for the purpose of creating a consumer profile. Having millions of consumer profiles on inventory gives Facebook the ability to narrowcast ads based on user affinity. It's all about precision delivery. That's what Mark Zuckerberg is referencing when he uses this vague term "your data."

You pay for the use of Facebook with what I'll call your retail identity. It's an in-kind transaction in which you participate - wittingly or not - in the creation of your individual consumer profile. The profile is based on your posts and your clicks, plus any personal details you may choose to reveal in your account settings. And now it's also going to include dating profile information volunteered by millions of users participating in the company's new hookup service.

So in this sense Facebook is the most sophisticated surveillance system ever built. But no you musn't compare it with Big Brother, because you are surveilled only if you opt in. You have to open the door and invite Big Brother into your house. Facebook is actually fairly transparent about all of this. The Terms of Service which you didn't read tells all about it.

This system allows Facebook to serve you ads based on your logarathmically modeled profile affinities - including your political leanings and hot-button passions. Hence Facebook can efficiently target you for political ads which challenge your views or reinforce them, depending on the needs of the advertiser.

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Sometimes, You Want Professionals

Sometimes you need an Internet marketing professional.

Sometimes nothing will do except a true Internet marketing professional.

With all the cheap options for building template-based do-it-yourself websites, why have it done professionally? I'll boil it down to just two words: "distinctive" and "effective." Those 20 total characters are the difference.

Let's take on Wix websites for a moment. To my eye they all share a generic look. You don't have to look inside the source code to know that you have landed on a Wix website.

As opposed to that paradigm, a custom website will look "distinctive," conveying the idea that your company offers a completely unique value-added proposition. There's no one else quite like you. You are in a class by yourself. Your competitors? A bunch of third-rate wannabees.

You're a future Milwaukee web design customer of ours if you place a value on distinctive. If you don't think that being distinctive matters enough that you are willing to pay for it, you'll go to Wix.com right now.

Be aware though that their websites are not free, as the ads tout. You'll be paying $50 a year for a site that's wallpapered with Wix ads. So really, at the low end of the price range, you are renting space on an Internet billboard. Ad-free Wix websites start at about $110 per year.

Right now, the only add-on app is an e-commerce module. Serious business users will go with the so-called "unlimited" plan at $150 per year. First-year domain fees are covered, but you will pay for subsequent renewals.

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Relativity Theory of SEO Purchasing

A relativity theory of SEO investmentSEO investments: a new relativity theoryThese days anybody who owns a website is going to be besieged by aggressive SEO sales pitches. You'll be told that your SEO pretty much sucks, and it's damaging your business. Let's get a few things straight.

SEO is an advertising tool which exists alongside and complements all your other marketing channels. Your investment in SEO needs to be apportioned relative to all your customer engagement strategies. The level of investment also should be apportioned relative to measurable traffic goals which you set.

Those goals in turn have to be set relative to other related goals in the arenas of revenue and profits. In other words, investing in SEO needs to be contemplated relative to the entirety of the puzzle. Salespeople shoving this one piece in your face and telling you that you need it are just blowing smoke.

Making SEO decisions rationally is a challenge for many companies because SEO often resides in the domain of IT and is hidden in the budget of IT. Things get done just because they're possible, wasting time and money.

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SEO Optimize Your Page Titles

Less is All

Website owners who sell online rely on web surfers finding their pages through organic searches. The title of a page is less important nowadays with the advent of structured-data markup ("rich snippets"). But it still matters a great deal, and the rules have changed. The so-called "long-tail title" clings to a stubborn fan base among many SEO consultants. My own experience leads in the opposite direction.

Whenever I build a new site with the SEO built in from the ground up, I closely regulate title length and I check it in Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools will list all pages that have titles Google regards as too long. When Google flags something, Google means business. This system is their way of discouraging brazen keyword stuffing. It's not possible to stuff a mile of keywords into 55 characters. Those 55 characters are now the optimal length of a page title, for the purposes of organic SEO.

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Loving Joomla For Web Design

Ten Reasons Why

Especially for Small Businesses

Ten reasons to love JoomlaLoving the Joomla CMS website building systemWhy do we love the Joomla content management system, especially for Milwaukee small business websites? Here are 10 reasons.

1. Joomla Is Free

That's because it's open-source Internet software, continually improved by a worldwide community of public-spirited software engineers. Being free to us, there's no charge to you, radically lowering the cost of website development. 

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How Branding Informs Web Design

Maybe We Should Call It Web Branding

People in my business talk about web design as if it were a separate, distinct, stand-alone profession. One that invites wild, almost garish creativity. To the point that you see crazy calls to action such as "Let's get funky." It's true that today the graphic possibilities are limited only by the developer's creative imagination.

But here at Javelin we believe that raw creativity must be rigorously disciplined. Because "web design" in fact belongs to a long-established, mature marketing discipline called branding.

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How Much Is Enough | Milwaukee SEO Services

Buy It With Your Eyes Open

Seems like everybody is selling SEO. You wake up one morning, and your dog has a new gig selling SEO door-to-door. He's partners with a pony. You're already getting robo e-mails from SEO companies. Soon they'll be robo-calling you 24/7. I haven't yet seen my first SEO billboard. It's coming.

But really, do you need it? Not necessarily. If I were you, I'd look at this just like at any decision to put money back into the business.

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Reaching for the Holy Grail

The Power of Plus

Review after review of Google+ has missed the mark by light years. Folks can't wrap their minds around the reality that this isn't just a social media site. Comparisons to Facebook are almost beside the point.

Because Plus is nothing less than the Holy Grail of Internet marketing: social media integrated with a powerful online shopping and research destination. These synergies make it imperative that you get involved with Google+ if you're a business owner selling product and services online.

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Organic Food for Your Google Ranking | Milwaukee SEO

Slow-Cooked Feast

To hell with it if it's not instant. So goes the mantra of this our brave new world. That's why it's always a bit of an uphill battle to sell something that by definition takes its own sweet time: organic SEO. Whereas PPC is fast food cooked in a fryer, you cook organic SEO slowly in a crock pot. Takes way longer, but the nutritional value is so much higher. And the health benefits so much longer-lasting.

"Organic" Google listings are much more credible to users - three times more credible than paid PPC search results, in fact. But it's neither cheap nor fast. Success requires time, dedication and patience. Think of PPC as a battle-winning strategy, and SEO as a war-winning strategy.

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Linked Up | Milwaukee Social Media Marketing

Should You Advertise on the New LinkedIn?

We go to Google, Yahoo and Bing to shop. We go to social media sites to network and wise off. So here's the 500-lb. gorilla question. Why would you ever pay to advertise to people who by definition are neither shopping nor primed to purchase?

Most of them are going to just shut out the message. Or, if they notice the message, it will make the shallowest of impressions. The message blends into the background noise of the mind, becoming invisible in plain sight.

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The New Mandatory: Responsive Design

Have Website, Will Travel

Worldwide sales of tablets will top 100 million this year. Next year, if the trend continues, tablet sales will surpass notebook sales for the first time. Right now among US mobile subscribers, smartphones outnumber cell phones. With young people leading the way, the way we use the Internet is changing at lightspeed.

Enter the new "mobile-responsive" web design. Pioneered by Twitter, this amazing new technology allows construction of websites that work equally well on all handheld Internet devices. By automatically detecting which kind of device is querying the site, the site cleverly resizes the layout. It's based on a dynamic grid system operating behind the scenes of the desktop view of your website.

We're talking universal optimization of the viewing experience. On any device, wherever there are bars, the site will be easy to use with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling. The secret? A fluid layout system which sizes elements proportionately, in percentages, rather than absolute pixel measurements. As an added benefit, pages load faster, and overall functionality improves.

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Normalizing The Vocabulary of Web Design

Simplifying the Vocabulary of Web Development

You're in business, maybe shopping for a Milwaukee web designer. You don't speak a word of Geek. Why, then, are people like me talking Geek at you on their websites? I really don't know. It doesn't make sense. They must be assuming that you're a marketing director or IT person from a big company. Folks like that do at least know enough Geek to pay the rickshaw boy and order the Ming Chau Singha Dofu.

At www.javelincommunications.com, we never assume any insider knowledge on the part of visitors. Sitewide, we bend over backwards to avoid Geek speak. If there's absolutely no way around it, we try to explain it in clear, simple terms. See, just like you, I gag on jargon. My eyes are just as apt to roll back into my skull. I've always had this violent reaction when people make things more complicated than they need to be.

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Open Source Web Design = Freedom

The Upsides of Open-Source Content Management Systems

Once upon a time, all websites were hand-made. Someone sat at a screen and wrote miles of HTML text. The miles of code were uploaded to the Internet to take the site live. Then, for ease of use, an expensive, bad-tempered content management system (CMS) got grafted on. Plenty of ugliness often ensued. It was the best way to go about it at the time, but thankfully times have changed. You the client now possess unprecedented freedom.

Today websites are built from the ground up with a CMS. It serves as the site chassis – its technical backbone. Other programs are plugged in to control the overall look and feel of the site; and perform specific tasks such as e-commerce. When you build websites like that, CMS headaches go away. Everything works together in harmony.

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