Posts Tagged ‘search engine optimization’

Why SEO AND Social Media Marketing are an Investment

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Are you one of the companies who feels you don’t really need to spend any money on SEO or Social Media Marketing? I know times are tough. I know money is tight. And I know that many companies are tightening the budget. Search Engine Marketing isn’t free. Neither is Social Media Marketing. And cutting corners or even eliminating online marketing efforts completely can look attractive. But money invested in your online marketing can be the best investment you ever make for the health of your bottom line.

Let’s look at SEO first. Do you know what percentage of your visitors are finding your site from organic search? If not take a look at your Google Analytics. If those aren’t available, take a look at your raw server stats. If those are unavailable hop over to Alexa.com and look at their numbers.

Is it 60%? 10% ? 85% ? If it’s above 50% – will you be able to replace that many of your leads and prospective customers without spending any money in any other channel? Can you afford to lose those visitors? The net is a competitive arena, and if you don’t continue a link building campaign, if you don’t continue to create and distribute quality content, you will lose your organic traffic.

Maybe you’ve heard that Social Media is where it’s at. So you might consider pulling your money from the Search Marketing campaign and throwing it all into Social Media marketing. You’ll get some Social traffic, but without a properly optimized site it’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket.

Maybe you think that you can pull ether one or both inhouse. After all the mail room guy says he knows all about Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. And he probably does – as a user of those services. But will he know how to set up the profiles in a way that gets them found by the right audience? Will he know how to conduct the conversations that will get users interested enough to visit your site?

Social Media has two important areas. Setup is the most important. If your setup is not done well, you’ll be building on a shaky foundation laid in quicksand. Social Media is a conversion layer NOT a sales channel. You CAN NOT SELL DIRECTLY to friends and visitors on your Social Media channels.

Social Media is like a good ShamWow infomercial. It introduces your and your company and products to prospective buyers. You have to get them interested and then make them want to buy, and then convince them to buy from you.

With SEO they are ALREADY interested, you just have to move them to your site and show them what they want.

Tapping someone to run a Social Media campaign who knows how to use Social Media, not how to market Social Media is like taking your receptionist who knows how to use MS Office and having her pitch your new operating system software to the folks in Redmond.

If you are thinking about cutting back on your SEO or Social Media efforts, or doing one without the other, remember – you’re playing in the big leagues. The day is long gone when you could throw up a site and get visitors and sales almost by default. You’re competing against brands and companies who command armies of experts.

But the really cool thing about the net is that you can STILL level that playing field and you can go head to head against the giants AND WIN if your experts are good at building foundations, engaging in the right conversations, and making your site appeal to your prospects.

Holding back on your online marketing investments can prevent you from building up the momentum you need to overcome your competition. Holding back on your online marketing investments means you won’t see your conversions increase even if your traffic doubles. Holding back on your online marketing efforts means you will lose market share and stop growing. And in the online world, if you stop growing, in time you’ll just be another web site languishing at the bottom of those 5 million pages that aren’t in the first 100 search results for your products and services.

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Social Marketing and SEO

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Site owners who have come onboard for the wild Social Media Marketing ride probably don’t see the common tie between Social Marketing and SEO. Oh sure, Facebook backlinks to your site help drive traffic and rankings, but there is something much more important that ties all of the social world to SEO land.

The underlying rule in Social is exactly the same as the number one rule in good search optimization results. You have to give before you get back.

Those business entities building out their social profiles so they can push their products have hit a ten foot thick brick wall. Quite simply – pushing product on Twitter and Facebook isn’t a good strategy. In fact it can have some negative results – quickly.

The response from consumers in these channels is as clsoe to instant as you can get online. Consumers are giving the same response in SEO land, but it’s more muted and registers only as a fast click OFF your site, to be seen and noticed only in the “bounce rate”.

In the land of blue birds, you’re more likely to get a pithy one liner “u r lame dude”, or in theFaceBook universe “Go peddle your stuff somewhere else. This isn’t the place for it.”

The idea behind Social Marketing efforts is to ENGAGE the consumer. To give them good content in exchange for their “like” or friendship. Just like it’s older brother – SEO – content matters. Quality content. Engaging content. Content with some value.

The best links in search come from sites that find your content useful, interesting, and valuable. They NATURALLY want to link to you because of your content, not because of your sales message.  Becoming an “authority” site, trusted by Google only happens when you are trusted by surfers and other sites.  Authority sites with good, NATURAL linking strategies are rewarded with higher rankings.

Friends and followers talk to each other about you

In the land of electronic water cooler discussions, your engaging content is rewarded by “friends”. Friends talk to others in their circle and recommend the good, warn about the bad and trash the ugly.

When you were in grade school you probably found out that you couldn’t buy friends. Or at least if you could, it wouldn’t work for long. You ran out of money, or the other kids complained to an authority figure, or your “friends” took your money and then turned their back anyway.

You can buy links. You can buy “friends” on Twitter and Facebook and even YouTube. But it won’t work for long. Get caught by Google or the social giants and you could get a virtual size 15 boot in the posterior. No sit down with the principal and a cry for leniency here on the net.

You have to give before you get. You have to have good content, or a good offer. “Friend me and I’ll give you x amount of days on a subscription. Friend me and I’ll give you this super cool whiz bang product.” That’s as close to buying friends as you can get.

But think about this. About a year ago Ashton  Kutcher threw down the gauntlet to CNN and said he could hit 1 million followers on Twitter before they could. And he did it. In the Social Media scene, being a part of a movement, a part of a group, a part of a cause if you will, yields the really big numbers.

Ashton Kutcher and CNN ENGAGED their audience. They bypassed greed, and the other deadly sins and went straight to the mind. Irreverent, funny, silly, maybe even stupid, but it WAS engaging! And CNN now has more than that first million followers and I am certain that they haven’t limited their engagement to fluff Tweets and updates on their Farmville progress!

They have leveraged those followers and friends into an audience that visits their site and consumes even more content.

Social Media AND SEO marketing efforts need to ENGAGE before the visitor, friend or follower can be LEVERAGED into a customer. Keep that in mind and you may just find Social Marketing is YOUR new best friend.

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Internet Marketing By The Numbers

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

I am a stats junky. I have gotten my addiction to statistics as they involve internet marketing under control to the point that I no longer run desktop tickers with traffic numbers. I have to admit I still sneak off a few times a day to check Google Analytics, an SEO ranking report or two, and sometimes peek a glance at a beautiful PPC campaign graph.

You don’t have to share my love of stats to keep your finger on the pulse of your online marketing efforts. And if you aren’t into the crisp, clean truthiness (thank you Stephen Colbert) of stats, don’t worry. Watching just two numbers will give you a good overview of your campaigns.

For all my love of stats there are only two numbers that I really keep my eye on. The first is the number at the end of the month that represents what went into my bank account.  I don’t care how many programs there are that will track everything related to sales and internet marketing efforts, at the end of the day the only number that matters is the bank account balance. Traffic might improve that number. A better call to action, professional copy, better site navigation, a one click checkout – all of these can contribute to better conversions and a higher bank balance.

But the one tried and true, absolute best way to know if my internet marketing efforts, my search optimization, and my conversion programs are working is the increase in money I can deposit from one month to the next.

The second number I look at is the cost of acquiring those sales. Your accountant probably calls this Cost of Acquisition.  There are several ways of acquiring a customer and each one has it’s own cost.

You’ve probably heard of PPC or Pay Per Click advertising. Here’s how the process works.

You research and choose the keywords that will bring your perfect prospect to your website. You write a three line text advertisement or have a banner or video or some other rich media ad made for you. Then you bid on those keywords to place your ad. Bid high enough and it will be seen on the first page of every search for the keyword phrase that ad targets.

If you use Google, you will often be looking at $5 or more to achieve that good ad spot. The more competition you have for your keyphrase, the higher the PPC cost. So if your ad cost $5 per click, and it took 50 clicks to produce one sale, your TRUE cost of acquisition for PPC is $50. You have to  count the cost of kissing the frogs who clicked but didn’t buy. If your “ad spend” is higher than your sales numbers, you need to go back to the drawing board and revamp your PPC campaign.

Another way of acquiring a new customer is CPA – or Cost Per Action. You place your ad on other sites, or pay other people – affiliates – to send you customers. To put your ad into a CPA network is similar to a PPC campaign but the customer must take action. Fill out a form, enter an application, place a phone call – some sort of prospect action needs to occur before payment is made. The cost for this action is often a percentage of the product price. CPA cost of acquisition can range from 3% to 75% of each sale depending on the product. If this number is higher than the cost of making your products and keeping your doors open, you need to lower your CPA percentage.

With the advent of social sites, you can do a campaign that rewards things such as “likes” on Facebook. The cost to acquire a “like” is currently running between $1-$5.  This is NOT a sale, but a potential customer via the friend network of social sites. Since you don’t know when or if these new found friends will purchase, this cost of acquisition can be difficult to measure against sales.

Last, but certainly not least is organic traffic. Organic search traffic is NOT free. It takes time to research the keywords, set up and implement the linking strategy, the right source code changes, the compelling copy. But in the overall scheme of things, organic traffic can be the best “bang for your buck”.

Let’s say a site redesign with a top notch copy writer and SEO expert involved in every step costs $5,000. In six months time you get 50,000 visitors and a conversion rate of 40%.  your cost of acquisition works out to $4. If your product or service sells at even $5 – you’ve made a very tidy $95,000 profit!

So there you have it – your bank balance and the Cost of Acquisition are the stats that can quickly tell you the effectiveness of your online marketing strategy.


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When Online Marketing Consultants Are Like Bad Mechanics

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I have had an ongoing adventure over the past two months that has me frustrated, annoyed and ready to tear my hair out. Last night as I was thinking about the latest wrinkle in the situation it suddenly dawned on me that my offline experience was probably pretty similar to many site owners online experiences.

I have an older truck that has been a cherished member of the family for several years. She has one bad habit – she eats starter motors for breakfast. So when her latest one gave up the ghost, and being 1100 miles away from my favorite mechanic, I hopped online to order a new one. I wasn’t willing to pay the sky high prices at the local Auto Zone, so I got a “bargain” online. It arrived and was the wrong part. It looked about the size to power a Yugo, and was definitely not going to do an F350 much good.

So off to the net I go, and order from another company, while jumping through the phone calls and RMA process with the first company. Second part arrives, it looks much better, but it too is incorrect. By this time I am getting annoyed, and have the old part in hand. I march down to the Auto Zone and pay their sky high prices for the correct part. Installed and finally back on the road again. Life is good!

Ummm NOT. Next day my poor truck is not healthy. I now have three choices. Call in yet another mechanic to come out and see what’s wrong. Call a tow truck and have it towed many miles to the ONLY mechanic I know in the area who might do a decent job. Find the issue and fix it myself.

Armed with some online books and a shred of common sense, I did find the problem and will be fixng it soon. It was in a “jury rigged” battery cable repair made years ago by a less than sober, but very cheap, mechanic. It is also probably why I’ve been eating up starter motors. And boy howdy did the whole experience make me miss my favorite expert mechanic!

So here I am waiting for several hundred dollars to make it’s way back to my credit card. Out the shipping costs of sending the wrong parts back. And wasn’t able to go play in the traffic for almost two months.

Think about it. Haven’t you gone through the same thing with SEO experts, or internet marketing consultants orDon't monkey around when it comes to an online marketing expert even online marketing products? Your site isn’t converting well anymore, it’s a little long in the tooth, so you decide to hire someone to refurbish it. Or you need more traffic so you look around for a search engine optimization company.

You find that prices for SEO work and conversion specialists and site designers is certainly NOT minimum wage level. But your receptionist has a boy friend who “does a lot of stuff online” and he’ll help ya out for just a few bucks. Or maybe you look around online and find the sites that match online job seekers with online employers. Hey even better! Minimum wage in THEIR country is a lot less than minimum wage in America!

And then the fun begins. Your results are less than stellar. Your traffic goes into the basement. Your rankings are no where to be found. You’re banned from You Tube for duplicate content. And the good article sites won’t let you back in because they say you spammed them. And your new site design is tiny orange letters on a black background that is readable only by a 12 year old gamer.

Bottom line here? Whether you’re fixing the biggest truck Ford ever made for non commercial use, or a 1000 page online retail site, paying for expert help saves time, aggravation and money. The mail room boy isn’t going to be able to design your site so it converts. He doesn’t have the time to keep up with industry changes or hone his skills. Your cousin’s wife’s brother-in-law isn’t going to be able to optimize your site while working the night shift at 7/11. He too can’t keep up with the ever changing search landscape.

And that guy writing your articles for $5 a pop? You know, the one sitting in that country with the monsoons and landslides? His articles may read ok in his native language, but they sure do lose something in the translation to English!

I’m going to have my truck on the road, as soon as I find the time to replace that bad cable. And the first thing I”m going to do is drive it to the expert mechanic 15 miles away and have it checked out. I want to make sure there isn’t anything else “jury rigged” by that inexpensive mechanic that will rise up and keep me off the highway. I learned from my mistake.

Is it time for you to have your site checked out by a real online marketing or seo expert?

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