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DISCLAIMER: The FTC requires me to let you know that I may be compensated for products or services recommended. In many cases I am recommending my own company's services, so it's kind of funny to have to spell this out, but I do get paid by some of the companies whose ads are on the site. I ONLY list ads for companies that I use and fully endorse.

Archive for the ‘search engine optimization’ Category

Bing & Google are Giving Away Their Secrets! – Fueled Friday

Most people are not aware that the search engines actually provide insights on how to get your websites ranked with them. Today, I am going to show you where you can get the information right from the search engines themselves which will tell you what they are looking for when they consider whether or not to index (list) or rank a website. For the most part, it all revolves around the principles that I have shared with clients for the past decade:

– Good site architecture
– Solid content
– A broad range of back links to your website

So, are you ready to hear it from the horses mouth? Here is where you can find the info:

Google’s Search Engine Marketing Starter Guide
– BING’s New Features Relevant to Webmasters

Let me know what you think of them. In fact, I would like to feature some feedback from small business owners who read the guides, so let me know if you want to be featured on the blog.

Have a great weekend!

What You Need to Know About SEO (Website Architecture – Part 3 of 3) Fueled Friday

This is the last of this 3 part series on “what you need to know about SEO.” Originally, I only wanted to cover the main two aspects (web content and links) but I realized that many people are still unaware of what a search engine friendly website architecture is.

In short, you want to build a website with URL’s that have your keywords in them as opposed to those that have query strings and contain characters such as “&” or “=”. You normally see query strings associated with ecommerce websites and it is basically showing you where the web server is looking to produce the webpage – but it make for an ugly, non search engine friendly URL. It is also common to see non search engine friendly URL’s with websites that are constructed with a Content Management System (CMS).

Here is an example of a search engine friendly URL: http://www.azrebsi.com/blog/2010/01/owe-more-than-your-home-is-worth-help-is-here/. This is a URL produced by a WordPress blog. There are actually settings in WordPress that determine whether or not you will have search engine friendly URL’s or not (under the section called Permalinks). If you are using WordPress as a CMS or blog, you will want to make sure that these setting are correct. And if they are not and you change them you may have some issues with your old URL’s changing.

Amazon gets a lot of bad PR from SEO folks as their URL’s are very commonly used to show examples of non search engine friendly URL’s. I don’t think it matters because they are such a strong web property, and because over time the search engines will often index dynamic URL’s from strong sites such as Amazon. Here is an example of a typical Amazon.com URL: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015T963C?ie=UTF8&tag=finamark-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B0015T963C

Take a look at your website and determine whether or not you have search engine friendly URL’s or not. If you do, then you are on the right track. If you do not, then you have a potential hindrance to obtaining search engine success. If you need help, let’s chat!

Have a great weekend. I am off to the races for three day!

Fueled Friday – Using Multiple Online Marketing Strategies

Today, I want to discuss the various types on online marketing strategies that you can use as an intro to the upcoming blog posts on the mechanics of each.

For many, the term online marketing brings to mind a host of different thoughts. Some immediately think of search engine optimization, others may think of paid search, and yet others may think of email marketing, blogging, or social media strategies. The fact remains, that they are all components of online marketing, and frankly should all be employed at some level. Some strategies will come more naturally to you, and others will seem to give you better results. Over the next several posts, I will cover each, but today, I will leave you with a simple list of online marketing strategies to consider. To get a head start on this series of posts, I recommend doing a search on this blog to see what you can find on the topic as well as a Google search to learn more about whichever segment of online marketing you are seeking to learn more about.

Here is my list of the various online marketing strategies that you can employ. If you feel something is missing, let me know my leaving a comment below:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This involves architecting your website to obtain natural rankings in the search engines. It is the most effective form of online marketing, and takes the most time to see results.

Paid Search / Pay Per Click (PPC) Search: This involves paying for each visitor that comes to your website. The upside is that you will see results immediately; the down side is that you can lose lots of money if you do this wrong.

– Blogging: You will learn several reasons why blogging is a highly effective form on online marketing. It is one of my favorite and I cannot wait to share more on this. You can also implement blogging without spending a penny, which make it a great option for those with limited budgets.

Email Marketing: There are two aspect of email marketing that I will share. The first is the most effective and involves emailing your clients and prospect. The second and less recommended form of email marketing it purchasing email lists (NOT spam lists) and marketing to cold prospects.

Viral Marketing: This is a form of marketing where you share valuable information for free (from your website) and allow others to share it for free. It is a great way to get the word out about your product, service, or business.

Social Media Marketing: Everyone is talking about Social Media these days, and it’s a great way to build a following for your brand and reach lots of prospects in a short period of time. Sadly, most don’t really understand how to implement it effectively.

Text / Mobile Marketing: As the name implies, this is a method of reaching people via cell phones and smart devices. It is a growing field that you should not ignore.

Affiliate Marketing: This is a powerful way to empower others to send you business. Of course, you will pay them for their successful referrals, but it essentially puts a commissioned sales force to work for you.

Online Press / Media Relations: This is an area that many businesses neglect and it can produce amazing results.

Online Advertising: This is closely related to PPC, yet it deserves its own category. I would recommend this only as a last resort or a supplement to a multi-channel online marketing program.

Local Search Marketing: Reaching your local audience is critical if you are a local business, but even if you are a national business you don’t want to neglect customers in your own backyard.

Well, I am sure that gives you lots to consider. Please take the time to do some research on any of these that are not familiar with you. This way, when we reach this part in the series, it won’t be totally new to you and you will be able to ask some great questions to help you implement or optimize a specific strategy.

I am off to Louisville, KY today where I hear it will be cold, so keep sending me warm thoughts. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Fueled Friday – Finding Your Online Market Potential

Online marketing is the most effective form of reaching a targeted audience. In this weeks Fueled Friday post, I want to show you how to find out how much online marketing potential exists for your business. This is critical because if you don’t realize what you are missing out on, you might never be motivated to go after it. I will tell you this as well; most of your competitors are not paying attention to this so it will be fairly easy for you to outrank them and get the customers you need. This holds true whether you are a local business or serve clients nationally or internationally.

The most critical factor in any organic or paid search marketing plan is having keywords that heave search volume. If no one is search for terms related to your business, then online marketing may not be the best form of outreach for you. It is rare, but there are definitely cases where it is not in a company’s best interest to invest in an SEO or Paid Search campaign.

So how do you find out what people are searching on? The simplest and most cost effective way is to use Google’s free keyword research tool. This will tell you what people are searching on and how many searches are being done in a given month. If there are lots of people searching, then that means you have a high online marketing potential. If the search volume is low, then you do not have a high of an online marketing potential, but this could also be a good sign if there are fewer competitors because most of the prospects searching would end up at your website. Below is a screen shot from a search I did for local accountants in my area.

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From this you can see what the search potential is for just two terms specific to “accounting in phoenix.” Let’s assume for a minute that you are going to target these two terms here which represents roughly 35,200 monthly searches. Now keep in mind that the percentage of these searchers that come to your website will be relative to where you rank for these terms. You really will need to get ranked on page 1 for to see any reasonable percentage of these searchers. Let’s say you get to position 2 and you generate roughly 8% of this traffic. That would give you roughly 2,800 visitors to your website, of which a smaller percentage will engage. We can conservatively use 3% which would give you about 84 visitors for the month. What percentage of those that contact you looking for your help do you think you can close? If we assume it’s just 20%, that would net you 16 new clients that months. Now let’s assume they are small business clients with an ongoing monthly retainer of $1,000. This would generate about $16,000 in additional monthly revenue for your business.

So now you have the formula to find out your online marketing potential. I encourage you to do your own search and plug in your numbers to see what the specific potential is for your business.

The exact formula is: “total number of searches” x “percentage of those that you can attract via paid, local, and organic search” (use 3-10% if you are on page one and zero if you are not) x “the percentage of people that land on your website then contact you (you can use 3% as an estimate) x the percentage of people that you close (use 20% but do track and find your actual closing ratio).

If your average cost per client is low, then you have to be a bit more cautious to how much you spend to generate leads online. If your average cost per customer is much higher, then you may need fewer clients to see a very strong return on investment.

I know you may be thinking that there is no way you can afford to get to the top of the search engines, but I have to tell you that it certainly is possible. Does it have to be expensive? No. In fact, there are plenty of low cost or no cost strategies that you can use to attract people to your website (mainly blogging and social media which I did not include in the calculations).

I’d love to hear your success stories, so feel free to email me and let me know what you came up with in terms of your market potential. If this is a bit overwhelming, then feel free to contact me and I will provide a free online marketing assessment and this way you will know where you stand in terms of what it would take to get you to the top of the search engines.

Now that you have some work to do for the weekend, enjoy your Friday!

Is Your Staff Sabotaging Your SEO Efforts?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the best ways to connect with hot prospects for your business. If you are reading this, you most likely agree and have some understanding of the process. What many fail to realize is that like any other marketing strategy, SEO is not the end all, but rather a prospect generating strategy. It will allow those looking for your products or services to find you, but here is what is doesn’t do:

    Answer your telephone promptly and professionally.
    Greet your customers with a smile.
    Give outstanding customer service to your customers.
    Take messages for you when you are away.

I think you get the picture. Once you have invested in an effective SEO campaign, make sure that you have the right people to turn that prospect (or suspect) into customer, and then a brand advocate.

Yesterday, I went to a store to buy something… I can’t say what because I am in a weight loss competition and my wife will read my blog. Granted, I did not find this store via the web, but anyone who did might have had this same experience. I walked into the store and there was no one to help me. I could see someone in the back obviously doing something more important that taking money from a paying customer. I understand that people have other things to do than wait for me to walk in, but I said “hello” and was not even acknowledged. I then waited for about a minute and thought to myself “they just don’t deserve the business”, so I went to a local competitor and got what I was craving. The real good news is that when I stepped on the scale it did not have any impact. :-)

The moral of the story; bad customer service will end up costing you more in your online marketing campaign because you will need to generate far more prospects if you aren’t taking care of them. Not only are you missing out on new business, but you are losing potential referral customers from those that get bad service and tell people (as I did).

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