Dec 02

My MKTG 470 Reflection

internet marketing treeMKTG 470 Reflection- Why is it Important?

This post highlights what I have learned from Dr. Theresa Clarke’s MKTG 470 course at JMU. This reflection is important, because it gives me the opportunity to utilize tools I’ve learned about and used over the semester and to share the knowledge I’ve gained.

Analyzing Google Analytics

Google Analytics has been a great online tool for tracking how well my site has been doing. Using Google Analytics, I can see that the number of site visits throughout this semester was quite scattered; it is possible that I had more visits whenever I posted a new blog and less visits when I lacked blog activity. In total, I had 160 visitors, with 128 of them being unique visitors (unduplicated visitors who are only counted once). My homepage received the most page views (178), while my “JMU Experience” page received the second most (140). I was glad to see that my “JMU Experience” page received the second most views, because I was trying to optimize that page in order to increase its rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). I also discovered that 42 of my page visits were acquired from paid search, 27 of my page visits were acquired from organic search, and 24 were from social media. It is clear to see that my PPC efforts had more success than my organic search, which doesn’t surprise me.

Mastering Google Webmaster

Another great tool to utilize is Google Webmaster Tools. This tool is useful, because it gives you better insight on how well your website is doing and what improvements can be made. There are many tabs/components of Webmaster Tools that help a site owner evaluate and analyze their site’s performance, but for length’s purposes, I’ll only list a few that I have found useful.

One thing I learned from the search queries tab is that the phrase “jmu experience” was the top search query for which my site appeared in search results. The search queries tab is beneficial because site owners can see what words and phrases people are searching for and then appropriately add or subtract any key words/phrases from their ad groups. From the HTML improvements tab, I learned that I could improve my HTML, because I have repeated title tags and non-informative title tags. This HTML improvements tab is very helpful for site owners because they can see how to fix their HTML, which will look better to Google. Webmaster Tools also informed me that I have 4 links to my site; this is useful so that site owners can see how well they are connected to other sites, because these connections will improve traffic.

My Overall Experience in MKTG 470

Taking MKTG 470 at James Madison University has been an interesting and informative learning experience that can be useful at any company. My favorite part of the course was using Google AdWords, because it showcases just how far marketing has come and how much it is continuing to grow. Google AdWords has helped advance marketing, because it shows evidence of a site’s success and its strong points or shows evidence of a site’s failure points. With all of the information Google AdWords provides, people and companies can reconstruct, build, and improve their sites in order to drive more traffic and gain loyal customers/readers.

Another part of MKTG 470 that I have enjoyed is building my own blog site. I have learned how to construct and maintain a site, which was an fun and interesting experience. I liked learning how to properly set up a website and learning how to bring in readers and keeping them interested.

My Future With Internet Marketing

After taking this class, I have come to realize just how little knowledge I had pertaining to Internet marketing. I know I have only scratched the surface with Internet marketing, even after this class, because it is a much more in depth science than people may realize. This class has left me more intrigued and interested in this field, proving to me that having skills in Internet marketing can be applicable and helpful in any career. I love using the Internet and learning more about what it has to offer, but I’m not sure if I would want a career solely based on Internet marketing. I would definitely enjoy a career where Internet marketing is part of my job, but not my only or main job.

Although I have enjoyed creating my blog site, the fate of my site looks a bit grim. I do not plan to continue my site, because it is targeted to current JMU students, which I will no longer be after next spring. I know that if I were to have a site, I would want it to be up to my standards, which I would set very high since people would be reading it; I don’t feel as if I will have time to update my site next semester, thus it wouldn’t be up to par.

Once the semester ends, I intend to keep up to date on Internet and social media trends. I have a separate marketing-related Twitter account now, which I can use to stay up-to-date. I know that Internet marketing is an endlessly growing field, where people will continue to come up with new and creative ways to reach others through the Internet.

 

 

 

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Nov 20

How to Improve Your Organic Ranking

organic rankingHow Did I Optimize My Page?

*This post is most beneficial to those who currently have knowledge about SEO*

There are many strategies that I used in order to increase my organic ranking on Google. For starters, I made sure to include the the words “JMU” and “experience” somewhere in my heading and description. This is beneficial for my site because when people search for “JMU experience”, it’s more likely to show up. Another strategy I used was to make sure that my images had alt tags. Utilizing alt tags helps Google to better organize your page because it tells Google a description of what your image is. In addition, I made sure to have a few good, keywords that were relevant to “JMU experience” (since that’s what my page is about and what the searcher is looking for).

Off-page Strategies

One important off-page strategy that I should have utilized more is link-building. Link-building is when other blogs or websites provide links that lead back to the page you’re trying to optimize. I had one link from Dr. Theresa Clarke and another from myself via my Twitter account.

Did My Page Improve?

Fortunately, yes! After running some diagnostic tests, I discovered that my “marketing grade” (calculated on Marketing Grader) increased by 4%. In addition, my site showed up on the 2nd Google results page, which is a big improvement since I wasn’t even on the first 20 pages when I started! My Crawler FX report also said I had excellent scores for social media mentions, image summary, top 3 anchor text terms, and server info. In addition, I had good scores for title tag, heading summary, and keyword page density.

How Can I Do Better in the Future?

There are many other strategies I could have utilized in order to improve my organic ranking. For starters, updating blog posts or adding new ones are a great way to show Google that you are staying active and providing recent information. I did not update my blog as much as I could have and that probably would have helped me out a lot. In addition, I did not optimize my site so that it is compatible to mobile devices. Many people use phones these days to surf the Internet, so having that capability would have been helpful. Finally, I should have promoted my page more through social media, because that is a quick and easy way to gain exposure.

In The End…

I have learned tons of beneficial and applicable knowledge in my MKTG 470 class this semester; I hope to utilize all that I’ve learned in order to help benefit a company and  excel in my career!

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Oct 28

How to Understand and Incorporate SEM

SEMLast Thursday, during my MKTG 470 class, Silverback Strategies’ employees, Andrew Nelson (Director of Search) and Shay Meadows, came to discuss how their company utilizes and profits from SEM. Andrew and Shay talked to my class for about an hour and only just barely scratched the surface of SEM. There are many components of SEM that I am unaware of, but this post intends to share some of the basics that I learned from our guest speakers.

 

What is SEM?

SEM, or search engine marketing, involves promoting websites by increasing its rank on search engine results pages. This can be achieved through properly utilizing optimization and advertising. SEM has been around for about 10 years now, but is still continuing to grow and thrive during a time where companies are actively pursuing consumers through the Internet.

Silverback Strategies

Silverback Strategies, located in Alexandria, VA, is a highly revered SEM agency that specializes in SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click); Toptenreviews.com ranks it the #1 PPC Management firm. This company continues to succeed in the digital marketing industry, an industry that is ever-changing. Andrew and Shay, both James Madison University alums, shared some of the important factors that go into SEM, how SEM works, and how SEM can greatly improve a company’s search engine rank (which can lead to an improvement in sales, ROI, customer retention, etc.).

Skills Needed 

In order to succeed in a career with SEM, it is crucial to be skilled and experienced with the following:

-Google AdWords
-Google Analytics
-Data driven
-Being organized
-Being tech savvy
-Being able to maintain client relationship
-Goal oriented

Ways to Increase Search Engine Ranking

Two crucial parts of a successful SEM campaign are paid searches and search engine optimization (SEO). Both of these methods are more in depth than what I am sharing, but before you try to fully utilize them, you must first understand the basics. Since there are many different ways to go about SEO (it would make this a never-ending post), I’m just going to focus on the basics of paid search for this post.

Paid Search (aka sponsored search): Paid search is an advertising platform that is typically driven from search engines and/or directories. This strategy usually goes hand-in-hand with PPC, where advertisers are charged a fee whenever someone clicks an ad and arrives on a landing page.

Paid search begins with an advertiser creating an account and then deciding which keyword phrases searchers are most likely going to type in to find the advertiser’s product or service.

The advertiser then creates relevant ads that go with the keyword phrases; Andrew used a great example to explain what this step means. He said if the keyword phrase the advertiser uses is “candle wicks” then the ad the searcher should see when he/she clicks on the link should be a picture of candlewicks and not candle jars. The ad must be relevant to the keyword phrases, because that is what the customer is looking for.

After creating a relevant ad, the advertiser sets a bid on each keyword, where these bids are placed into an “auction” that will decide who will be ranked higher on the search engine results page. The advertiser will then only have to pay the search engine when his/her ad is clicked on.

So, how important is SEM?

Very! Knowing and understanding how search engine marketing works, is a very useful and profitable skill that can greatly improve a company’s marketing. SEM not only helps to build brand awareness, but it can also help to bring in new customers. Properly utilizing and incorporating SEM is a very beneficial strategy that all companies should be aware of so that the company can stand out against the competition and continue to build and maintain a strong customer base.

I’d like to thank Andrew and Shay for coming into our class to discuss what they do and love each day! It was a very informative and applicable discussion that taught me a lot!

For more information on how to understand and incorporate SEM, please feel free to contact me.

 

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Oct 21

How to Have Fun in the Fall at JMU

Fall Fun for Everyone

fall

Do midterms, colder weather, or allergies have you feeling down about the middle of fall? Do you miss the sunshine, shorts, and sunbathing? Although you might miss the summer sun, here in Harrisonburg, VA, there are many ways to enjoy the middle of fall and the middle of your semester.


Places to See

There are many places around Harrisonburg for you to visit and have plenty of fun.

  • Back Home on the FarmBack Home on the Farm is one of the best places to bring friends and family to pick pumpkins, to enjoy many activities (i.e. corn maze, carousel, pig races, etc.) and to take in the beautiful scenery.
    pumpkins
  • The Natural Bridge Zoo: At the Natural Bridge Zoo, there are many different and exotic animals for you to see. In addition, there is a petting zoo where elephant ridingyou can pet and feed some adorable animals. One of the most appealing attractions is being able to have the opportunity to ride an elephant or to take a picture with a baby tiger!
  • Skyline DriveIf you’re an outdoorsy kind of person, taking a hike on Skyline Drive is a great way to take advantage of a perfect fall day. The view from the top is amazing and it’s a great workout to enjoy with friends!Skyline Drive
  • Gap View Ranch & Kennel: Three words: golden retriever puppies. I’m not Gap View Kennelsure much more needs to be said other than this is the one of the most popular and fun places to visit. Who doesn’t love playing with dozens of cute and fluffy puppies?!

People to Enjoy

You don’t have to go to one of the above places to have fun with friends. There are many other ways to have fun with your autumn days.

  • Check out the Halloween store: Located at Spotswood Valley Square, there’s a Halloween City store where you can go with friends to look for Halloween costumes!
  • Make Halloween costumes: If you don’t want to spend too much money, check out Pinterest or Buzzfeed to find some DIY (do-it-yourself) costumes. For Pinterest, simply typing in “DIY halloween costumes” into the search bar is all you need to do to find hundreds of costumes you and your friends can make.
  • Carve pumpkins: If you don’t have time to go pick your own pumpkins, go to Walmart and find one! Grab a carving kit while you’re there, and have a pumpkin-carving day with your friends!
  • Bake a pie: Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin, apple, or cherry pie in pumpkin pie and candleautumn?! You and your friends can go on Pinterest to find out how to bake many different kinds of pies of different sizes with different designs!
  • Decorate your home: Get into the fall spirit by getting your roommates together and decorating your home with fall-related items! Any pumpkin or apple pie scented candle is a great addition to your home. Putting your carved pumpkin outside your door or even decorating your door with a fall wreath or Halloween decorations can really get you excited!

Plans to be Made

Now that we’re in the middle of fall, there are many upcoming holidays that we are all excited for.

  •  Halloween: With Halloween about two weeks away, it’s time to start planning what you’re going to wear! It can be stressful trying to come up with a good or clever costume, but talking it over with friends and doing research can get you excited for this holiday. If you want to team up with friends or roommates, there are plenty of group costumes you can do (i.e. the 4 seasons, 3 blind mice, minions, etc.). If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, there are tons of couples costumes you could do as well (i.e. Batman and Catwoman, Pocahontas and John Smith, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, etc.). As I said above, if you don’t want to spend money on overpriced costumes, check out Pinterest for DIY costumes!
  • Thanksgiving: I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I know my sister and I like to plan our Thanksgiving meals ahead of time! We like to plan out what new recipes to try, where to go to get the best turkey and ham, which dessert to eat and more. Since we haven’t seen each other in a few months, it can be fun to figure out what to catch-up on such as TV shows, movies, and shopping trips (watch out for “Black Friday”).
  • Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa: No matter what December holiday you celebrate, most of them involve religion, gifts, and decorating. Planning out what gifts you are going to give people can be time consuming and expensive. Start budgeting now and making your holiday lists so you’re prepared when you go to the mall and won’t go over your budget. Organize your box of decorations and prepare for any traditions you may have ahead of time.
  • New Year’s Eve: Now I know the new year seems far away, but even this holiday requires planning sometimes! If you’re over 21, many people enjoy going to bars or going to all-inclusive events. This requires planning ahead because you have to gather your friends and budget for this as well (tickets aren’t cheap). Some people might even like going out of town for this occasion, so that would require planning ahead too.  If you are under 21, you can celebrate with family or gather friends at someone’s house. Finally, if you’re like me and like to ring in the new year looking your best, then planning out your outfit is always a fun time!

For more tips on how to make fall fun at JMU, please contact me!

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Oct 16

How to Stay Social on Social Media

social media figuesThese days social media is a popular way to communicate with friends, family, or potential employers. With sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, people are continually finding new ways to express their thoughts and personality. Although these sites are great ways to capture readers’ attention, it is important that you do not abuse these sites by cluttering them with too much information.

So what’s the problem with posting your every thought? A lot. To begin, social media should be utilized as a tool. This tool can be used to be witty, pose a new thought or idea, or share an important event in your life; however, many people use this tool to rant, to vent, or to try to get attention (i.e. inappropriate pictures or other posts). When social media is used for these reasons, sooner or later their followers/friends will unfollow/unfriend those people (or employers will see and not hire you!). Now, I’m sure no one who actively uses social media wants to lose these friends or connections, so it’s important to know how to properly manage your social media so that your friends won’t delete or unfollow you.

Below are some tips and reminders on how to keep your social media sites enjoyable and appropriate for your friends, family, and future employers.

  • Keep statuses/tweets/posts short, sweet, and to the point. No one wants to read a novel about your life!
  • You know that picture of you on spring break? The one of you drinking…in a bathing suit…at a club? Delete it! Maybe spend a day filtering those photos you’d never want grandma to see. Employers are on the prowl and those kind of pictures are definitely frowned upon. Not to mention, all of those older family members who view you as the precious angel in the family, will no longer feel that way about you (that could get awkward).
  • On that note, don’t make drunk posts. Just don’t.
  • Your statuses/tweets/posts should be described along the lines of: funny, witty, thought-provoking, cute, important, or informative. They should not be described along the lines of: stupid, annoying, lengthy, angry, crazy, or mean (people will unfollow/delete real fast!).
  • Nothing looks more ridiculous than seeing some social media drama! If you have an issue with someone, refrain from starting an argument via social media. Though at times entertaining for third parties, it’s ultimately embarrassing and stupid, and more chances than not, people are making fun of you for doing it in the first place.
  • Last, but not least, just be you! Have social media be a place where you can express yourself and show off your personality. Make your statuses/tweets/posts real to who you are, but know the time and place to make certain posts. If you’re angry at something, it’s normal to want to get it off your chest (especially with Twitter these days); however, be mindful of what you say so that you don’t scare your friends away! No one will want to socialize with you on social media if you’re a big debbie downer!

I personally believe that social media is an excellent phenomenon that has grown over the past few years. It is a great and fun way to stay in touch with everyone and I can only see it continuing to grow in the future. Overall, if you have fun with your social media site(s), then your friends and family will want to continue their connections with you and you can continue to socialize another day!

For more tips on how to stay social on social media, feel free to contact me.

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Oct 13

More Than a Theme

colorful daisy

When selecting a theme, I wanted to choose something that showed off my personality and fit the topic of my site. The new theme that I have incorporated is called Sonar by Brad Thomas.

I selected this theme because it is simple, yet has multiple color features. I wanted to choose a theme that was not too complex and did not have too much going on, but still had fun features/colors. I like how I could modify my menu bar so that when I scroll over it, it is yellow and when I click on it, it is highlighted purple. However, I wish that I knew how to modify the background of my posts so that it isn’t just white. I usually like a lot of colors and I would’ve liked if there were a bit more design to this theme (it’s a little too simple for me).

The only real change on my site is that my menu bar is higher up; my menu bar was out of order, but it was easy to change. I searched a long time for a good theme, but many themes had too much design/decoration or they were too complex to work with when editing.

Although it is not my ideal theme, I still feel as if it represents what this site is about. My site shows readers “how to” do things as simply, efficiently, and effectively as possible; this theme is simple and has enough colors to go along with my JMU theme!

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Sep 24

How to Practice Blog Posts: MKTG 470 at JMU

MKTG 470 at JMU

Welcome to my blog about MKTG 470 at JMU.

I am currently enrolled in MKTG 470 at JMU taught by Dr. Theresa B. Clarke.  As one of the course requirements in MKTG 470 at JMU, all students will be completing some of the assignments as blog posts.  This is my first official blog post for Dr. Clarke’s course in the JMU Department of Marketing.  

 

Three reasons to take this class:

  1. Very interesting, current, and useful for the real world!
  2. You become more knowledgeable on internet trends and how to keep up with them
  3. You learn the ins and outs of a website and how to properly utilize it

Since this is just a practice blog post for class, I don’t have the “how to” steps for creating this post. For more information on how I created this post, please contact me!

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