Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

Social Media Won’t Fix A Product That Sucks

In Inbound Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Strategy on October 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Using Social Media, SEO or any other form of Internet marketing cannot fix a product that sucks. But of course, we must be talking about other products: yours couldn’t possibly suck with the numbers you sell. “The advertising investment and distribution channels are creating plenty of healthy sales. The economic downturn has affected us but it will pass.”

Or is it just another economic downturn? What if this economic downturn is combined with a shift to a new age – a whole new mindset in business. At no other time in the history of our world have we seen a Company go from zero to the largest in the world within 10 years. I was in awe when I recently read that Facebook had 200 Million users (April 14, 2009), absolutely shocked on July 10 when they announced 250 Million and scratching my head when on September 19,2009 they announced 300 million! They increased 50 Million users in 75 days, which means they added 670,000 users every single day!

These numbers are unlike the numbers we have been used to dealing with in business. Google is indexing over a trillion URLs.  We have indeed entered The Google Age.

All this to say now that customers can HUNT for our product (as opposed to us spending millions in advertising & promotion HUNTING for customers and hoping they remember us when it comes time to buy), we might want to stop and think about who has the power in the current consumer-to-business relationship. In the past, the only feedback the consumer had access to was how he spent his dollar. And most felt it made no difference so apathy was the order of the day.  Big business dominated and big media profited.

In The Google Age they can vote with their dollar AND they can influence millions of their peers online. That is good news and bad. Now they know they can make a difference. Now, in order to do business a brand must learn a whole new marketing mindset: they must learn to be found – at the right time, saying the right thing. They must deal with individuals rather than demographic target groups. It is tempting to treat this medium (the web) like it is just another advertising medium, but early results have been, at best, all over the map. The Internet is dynamic so our marketing strategies and tactics must also be dynamic. They must be based on sound principles and objectives but we must talk with and listen to our customers. Joshua Porter makes a great point about expectations of Social Media Marketing in his blog, reinforcing the need to look at the Internet with fresh eyes.


Check Out Who Is Eating Your Lunch

In PPC, SEO, Social Media, Strategy on October 5, 2009 at 2:47 am

Business is good for some of us. And awful for others. We can blame it on the economy or the changing market, but the fact is, we all have choices about what we do and how we conduct our business.

Those of us engaged in online marketing have repeatedly tried to show traditional marketers just how effective inbound marketing can be. And how inexpensive it is relative to the results you can produce with a good strategy. We are not talking about “using Twitter” or “being on Facebook”. It serves no one for your staff to be online without a sound strategy that integrates with the rest of your marketing. Yes – it is early in the game, but our experience to date indicates it will be a lot easier to defend a top 3 organic ranking for a relevant keyword than to try to take it from a competitor who is defending it effectively. Creativity and innovation will beat big time spending in this marketplace.

We are talking about engaging in an honest open conversation with the people you believe should buy your product. But obviously, as bad as things are, most traditional marketers are happy with the current SPEND (lots of advertising and promotional dollars), HUNT (go out looking for customers) and HOPE (they remember you when it comes time to buy) model that has been dictated by the mass media marketplace we have all grown up in. This model is more about selling people than letting them buy.

We have done our best to convince businesses that the average consumer (B2B or B2C) just Googles what they are looking for and even if they do not actually purchase online (although Marketing Sherpa reports that over 34% do), they do make their buying decision based on their online research. Sure they still talk to friends and get advice. Sure they still shop in retail stores. But the strongest influence by far is the combined results of their Google search.

So, bottom line: take a 10 minute break today and type in the keywords or search terms that you think people would use to find your product or service. Not your Company name – the product or service you sell. See if you can be found when your prospects are looking to buy. And pay special attention to the firms that do show up on page 1 of the search. They’re most likely the ones your potential buyers are buying from.

Is Cold Calling Dead?

In PPC, SEO, Social Media, Strategy on September 4, 2009 at 1:02 am

world-wide-web.jpgFor many years we in business have sharpened our skills and tactics for going out and finding customers. We work hard to impress them (embed our brand) so when they are ready to buy, they remember us and purchase our product or service. Most of us are pretty good at HUNTING for customers. But by the time we pay the gatekeepers (the Media Barons who control access to the highly sought eyeballs) and all of the costs to distribute materials, we end up investing a lot of dollars in the name of marketing. In a “Mass Media Market” that’s the best we have available to us. We SPEND, HUNT and HOPE (they remember us when it comes time to buy). No wonder the Finance guys hate marketing!

Things have changed in the past 2 years. So much so, those same Finance guys are going to love the new marketer. Web 2.0 has combined with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising) tactics to create a whole new marketing mindset. A new context if you will. Today, when a customer wants to buy, are they just as likely to Google words and phrases that suit what they are looking for? Are they open to suggestions from Social media sites and recommendations from their peers? In most cases they will find what they are looking for on the first page of the search results, or at least have their short list? How easily can you BE FOUND when your prospects are looking to buy? Are you making extra effort to BE HUNTED online? Have you adjusted your marketing thinking to suit the market? We call this eMarketing Management – a blend of strong, integrated strategy and aggressive online tactics. Most marketers are approaching emarketing from a mass media context and are left wondering why the online communities are not responding. For example, we think that placing banner ads on busy sites should bring results. That is merely an extension of mass marketing tactics. There are better ways to engage with the World Wide Web and the millions of INDIVIDUALS who are online.

We have also seen a rapid decline in response to telemarketing – no matter the tactics used. It seems that we used to accept some cold calls just in case we might need that service or product in the foreseeable future. We would take the call, ask questions, understand the key issues and file the information away so we could lay our hands on it when we need it. In 2007 Marketing Sherpa published a study that revealed that 83% of business purchases were found online. Not all purchased online, but sourced and researched. So now we know that whatever we want we can Google it and find everything we need to know quickly and relatively painlessly. There is no need to entertain cold calls that have nothing to do with the priorities that dominate us today. So cold calling dies. The only thing that kept it alive was it always produced just enough to justify the investment. Not any more.

It is far less expensive to set our products and services up to be easily found when our prospects are searching for them. But we have to make the mental shift from marketing in a mass media world and mastering our HUNTING skills, to interacting with millions of individuals and learning to BE HUNTED. Learning to make ourselves easy to be found. And make no mistake – it is a completely different context.

As consumers change their habits, we have to adjust our efforts to reach them effectively. There’s a great example of context shaping actions – from a mass marketing world that is exactly what we would do – REACH OUR CUSTOMER EFFECTIVELY. In this Internet based world, we want to listen, engage and have a conversation with people who are interested in what we produce. new context allows for new actions. New actions have the possibility of new results. And the early indications are impressive. We are working smarter instead of harder and producing unprecedented results using:
An eMarketing Planning Process
Competitive Online Research
In-depth Site Analysis / Audit
Pay Per Click Campaign Management
Search Engine Optimization
Link Building & Exchanges
Blog Marketing
Content Writing

Social Media Marketing
Code Restructuring
Bots / Texts / Sitemaps
E-Mail Marketing Campaigns
And More…

Rankings Change! Deal With It.

In SEO, Strategy on August 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm

For those of us who keep a steady watch on organic search engine rankings, we see them change frequently, apparently inexplicably. Expert Stoney deGeyter, on Search Engine Guide says “A site may gain or lose rankings on a daily bases due to algorithm changes, a dropped or added link, or a site is added or removed from the search engine’s index. Some ranking changes can be traced to a particular event while others occur for what seems like no particular reason. In essence, rankings change because change happens.”

That is certainly not good news for a business owner who is trying to manage his/her own organic rankings. We recently had a client’s relevancy score drop right across the board – for no apparent reason. Due to the fact that we have 12 Senior Geeks, they were able to figure it out, but not without some turmoil and lots of discussion. And not to forget trying 20 different things before we got to the bottom of it. Stoney goes on to say “But understanding what causes typical loss of rankings can give us a better insight into sea of search engine ranking fluctuations. This insight can help you prevent serious long-term effects caused by a sudden drop in search engine rankings. While we can never prevent all losses of search engine rankings, understanding the reasons why changes occur can, at least, help you make your presence in search results more stable.

Reasons for ranking changes can be boiled down to three basic events: 1) Your site changes, 2) a competitor’s site change, or 3) the search engine algorithm changes.”

In this case it was a change of algorithm, specifically from Google. Seems they have been quite busy since Bing! launched. Even for a Company like Google, whom I think most of us have a great deal of respect for, I guess there’s nothing like a good competitor to drive change.

But the key point that Stoney makes is to have an SEO expert on your team at all times. We must all decide what the key role of our websites are, but they should always have an organic ranking priority. In other words, no matter your strategy, SEO is crucial in today’s marketplace. It has been a misunderstood “ugly sister” to web development, yet it is at the core of every site. Since Wen 2.0 hit, it has consistently forced itself upon every website owner – like it or not. But give the rest of Stoney’s Blog a good read. He talks about stuff we all need to know.

Bounce Rates: Why they are Important and What You Can Do.

In PPC, SEO on August 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm

bouncing ball.JPG

Bounce rate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Bounce Rate)

Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate)[1] is a term used in web site traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.

The formula used to calculate bounce rate is: Bounce Rate = Total Number of Visits Viewing One Page ÷ Total Number of Visits

Your website is at the very least an intelligent interactive brochure for your business, and at best, the center of your business development strategy. So your bounce rate is a very important statistic. We will explain.

Google Analytics is an effective tool to learn what’s happening with your website and gaining access to it is simple and easy. We are always amazed how many new clients are not even aware it exists. Good data allows for good decisions and a business lives or dies based on the decisions we make every day. Google Analytics removes the guesswork -with no cost!

Now lets examine why they bounce.

  1. Is your site content what they were looking for? Google looks for relevancy so is your site relevant to the visitor?
  2. Have you performed proper Search Engine Optimization? Are your keywords, Titles, meta tags & descriptions worded correctly? Do they represent the content of the page?
  3. Is the page well designed by a professional art director who understands how to guide a visitor through the page and communicate your message?
  4. Do your keywords and phrases match exactly with your Adword ads? The phrasing and words you use are extremely important. You have to accurately represent the content of the landing page (the page you link your Adword to) in just 95 characters. The keyword or phrase you are targeting must be in the headline of the ad.
  5. Is the quality of the content valuable and insightful? If the wisdom or message is weak, your bounce rate will be high. Visitors value their own time and they will not waste time reading stuff that makes no difference or that they can find on a host of different sites they have already been to. Quality content is critical. No blah, blah, blah. People tune it out – aka: bounce.

Google Analytics do not use length of time spent on the site to determine bounce rates. So, if a visitor stays on your Home page for 5 minutes and does not go to any other part of the site, Google considers that a bounce. Someone that might have come in and stayed on that page for 10 seconds and went to another page will not be categorized as a bounce.

You must closely examine why a bounce occurs, and evaluate it for every page based on every keyword and phrases used. That is a lot of combinations, but it is important. If a visitor arrived at your home page, you must entice them inside the site using links, sidebar titles or an incentive to click on another page. The other option is not to land them on your home page. Land them on the page where all the relevant content is. If they like that page, chances are good you can attract them to other pages within the site. Remember, they must visit more than 1 page on your site in order for Google to count them as not bounced.

We have weekly analytic meetings with every one of our clients. It provides our “marching orders” for future actions and helps us stay focussed on the original campaign objectives. After all, you cannot manage what you cannot measure.

Cheating For a Living

In SEO on August 22, 2009 at 8:37 pm

The mood of the online community can get ugly at times. Mobile Crunch recently posted an article calling out Reverb Communications, a PR firm who work with several leading App developers for the iPhone. The writer, Gagan Biyani, chastised them for seeding positive reviews in the App Store for their client’s Apps. It is a clear breach of ethics, yet the comments are quite interesting. Seems the average reader has become quite apathetic, many believing that this is to be expected! Seems our tolerance for rogues is diminishing. Some even state that they would hire this firm as they obviously know how to produce results.

One even likened it to the way Obama used Social Media in his Presidential campaign. Certainly a stretch. White Hat eMarketing firms operate within the parameters set by the search engines and the social sites, ensuring that their clients are easily found when their prospects are looking for them. Legitimate firms do not use link farms or any “Black Hat tactics” to improve their client’s visibility. They simply optimize (thus the commonly used term Search Engine Optimization) their clients so they can easily be found online.

The World Wide Web is made up of people. Human beings, with all of the good, the bad and the ugly. So it stands to reason that “buyer beware” applies. But make no mistake – we would choose not do business with a firm that conducts itself like Reverb does – results at any cost is not an acceptable business practice for us. So please folks, keep outing companies that consider this acceptable practice and let each of us make our own decisions whether we choose to be involved with them or not. There is a line and we all know when we have crossed it.

Your Google Ranking – A Strategic Business Asset?

In SEO on August 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Google Ranking | Business AssetDuring a recent conversation with a client, it dawned on me (I can be slow on the uptake at times) that if you rank in the top 3 spots for THE keyword that people use for your industry, your Google rank might be the most valuable asset of your company. I will explain.

This particular client is in the web development business in Toronto. During our update meeting, the owner of the firm mentioned that they had just hired the Art Director and Lead Programmer from their most fierce competitor. He went on to explain that this competitor was extremely busy right up to the day they turned the keys over to the receiver! If they were busy, then they must have had a strong sales force, so I asked what happened to them. The Art Director who was now working with us, said the former partners did most of the selling. In fact he said all they did was follow up the leads they get by being 1st when you Google “web development toronto”. New business was never an issue.

I was on the phone to the receiver within minutes looking to buy that URL so the leads would come to us. Alas, one of the Partners was smart enough to have owned that URL personally, so it was not formally an asset of the business. But the incident made me think.  The organic keyword ranking of the most common used terms for your industry, may well be THE most valuable asset a small business can own. The leads and traffic that comes with that ranking is worth a great deal to your competitors. And if the laws of supply and demand remain true, once those top 3 rankings are taken and the owners do what they must to protect their ranking, then supply is very limited and demand (therefore value) goes up.

Most businesses place little or no value on their ranking. In fact most have no idea what THE most common search term is for their products or services. By the time they wake up to the new realities of marketing, it may well be too late. It takes a lot less effort and investment to own the words when your competitors are asleep. Once competition for those words heats up…