Posts Tagged ‘SEO expert’

In SEO or Online Marketing Little Things Mean A Lot

Monday, December 6th, 2010

This past weekend I was buzzing around the net, checking on some SEO work and reading up on the never-ending changes in SEO Land. The normal arguments were going on in chat rooms, blog posts and comments. How much does Google want to see “this”? Is a three page checkout process one page too many? How badly does a lack of mobile ready pages hurt the bottom line?

As I rambled around the inter webz, I noticed there were over 400 MILLION pages competing for the key term I was checking. Seems like just last week there were a bare 100,000. An article caught my eye about mobile users hitting some astronomical figure by 2013. And I tried to buy something at a site that frustrated me with it’s multi page checkout process to the point of hitting the “cancel this transaction” button.

What do all these things have in common? Today, more than ever before, little things mean a lot. Competition is fierce, only 10 sites (or less in some cases) make it to the first page of Google for a keyterm. That’s 10 out of 400 million!

If you do get a customer to your checkout, you’ve won them from brick and mortar stores, online giants like Amazon and thousands of competitors. And they might have come to you from a smart phone – many sites are seeing mobile use in their stats that hit 10% or more of their monthly traffic.

Back in the early days when making money online was like picking up gold nuggets on a beach, details didn’t really matter all that much. The net was new, and customers would put up with poor checkout pages. They even went 3, 4 or more pages deep in a search session! Today, every detail counts.

No matter how well optimized a site, or how user friendly your purchase funnel may be, check these details or your competition will pull ahead of you.

Check the spelling – not only of your copy, but the all important meta title and description. I’ve seen keyterms misspelled in these areas which is great if you’re after a particular misspelling, but most folks aren’t. I even saw a site with the owner’s name spelled incorrectly throughout the pages!

Alt tags on images – do they count? A little. But if you and your competitor have sites of equal value doesn’t it make sense to do everything YOU can to tip the scales in your favor? Including making good use of the tags most site designers ignore?

Keywords in file names. Another little thing that most site designers and developers ignore are the names they assign images and page files. Do these count? A little. But hey – little things mean a lot! And instead of a bland “contact.html” or “logo1.jpg” it’s not hard to use “mykeytag.html” or “keyterm1.jpg”.

Go through your own checkout process. Are you standing in the way of a sale? Are you asking too much info from your customer? Are you using a dreaded captcha on a secure checkout page? That’s overkill and I can guarantee you will lose customers if they can’t read it and enter it right the first time.

Is your checkout process returning the right icon on the browser bar? In other words is it on a secure page with a properly updated SSL certificate? Nothing will stop the hand on the wallet faster than an error message popping up during checkout that says “this site may not be secure”.

Do you give the customer a clear message that their order has been received and is being processed?

Speaking of pages, do you have a custom “page not found” page? Do you politely inform your customer that they have reached a non existent page and give them a link back to your main page or a category page?

Does your site search work? I mean does it REALLY work? Does it come up with alternate spellings of a term or make suggestions? Does it politely or humorously let the customer know that term is not present in your site? Or is it a bare “search term not found” sort of page?

These are all little things, minor details, often overlooked. But with as competitive as the market has become, these little things can be the difference between being found and making a sale, or languishing in the middle of the pack of pages that are your online market.

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Don’t Let SEO Ruin Your Content

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

When it comes to keyword research, every person who has ever looked at keyword suggestions knows that there’s a million ways people search for the same thing.  There are regional differences – here in the U.S. some regions called canned soft drinks “pop” others call them “soda”.  And still others call them by a brand name, while some segments use the term “soft drink”.

If you check your server stats or other analytics, you can see what people use to find you. It’s eye opening and mind boggling. I always end up saying “huh I never would have thought of that ONE” when I see what real people use to find a particular site or product.

Most of the phrases are similar, and often highly competitive. Check out rental cars versus car rental for example. So the problem search optimization experts have is organizing and optimizing content for similar, yet different keyterms without making content pages read like a forced exercise in keyword research.

Ideally you would have one page that focuses on just one or maybe two keyterms. But when they are as similar as car rental and rental cars, that’s hard to do. You could take an existing page for car rental and change every instance of that term to rental car, but then you’d loose your ranking for rental car.

The best way to look at similar keyterms is to group them into “themes”. For example, let’s take a typical car rental (or rental car) location. Their themes could be discounts, locations, amenities, etc. Within each theme set up groups. Let’s take discounts. How many types of discounts are there? Each one and each way of saying that term becomes a key phrase.

Develop a page for each theme. Sprinkle the keyterms from that theme throughout the page. Be sure to add a few to other pages as well. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Set up the themes for the site
  2. Add the theme keywords, listed from best to worst according to traffic
  3. Add the #1 keyterm from each theme to the front page
  4. Use the #1 keyterm in the title and description for the theme page – trying to get the #2 and #3 in there also
  5. Use all of the keyterms for that theme on the theme’s page

Add the #2 or #3 term to other pages as appropriate

Your lower ranked keyterms will probably not have as much traffic as your top theme words. But they also probably won’t have as much competition either. Thus you get those other words into your site, but the spiders always know which theme words are #1 because of where they are placed – on the first page and in the title and descript of the theme page.

This method means you won’t be trying to shoehorn in phrases that don’t really match the page content. You will be writing for the Search Spiders but also writing for people – the most important element of search.

The very best way to make search friendly, customer ready, themed keyword rich pages is to blog. I love blogs – although for the record I”m not a fan of Word Press but that’s my techy side grumbling. If I see that people are finding me with some weird new combination of words I hadn’t thought of – no site rewrite required – I just start dropping those terms into my blog posts. If they are really good, I add them as categories.  And of course I get them into titles and tags.

Don’t put your blog somewhere else. Make it a part of your site. It will help your site in the rankings and it can’t do that if it is somewhere else in the web universe.

So there you have it – theme your keyterms, make pages for those themes and don’t try to jack in too many dis-similar words on a page. Your content will flow better, your rankings will improve, and both your customers and your banker will be happy.

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How Brick and Mortar Transfers to the Net

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Many business owners from the brick and mortar world come to the internet and feel that that it is alien territory, bearing no resemblance to anything they have handled in their previous brick and mortar world. Yet there are more similarities between online internet marketing and a store on Main Street than you might suppose.

Some business owners come to the online world thinking that like Jack, they have found a magic bean that will grow them an instant money tree. While in some rare cases this may happen, sales will grow over time online, just as they do on Main Street.

The net is not a replacement for a brick and mortar operation, at least not in the beginning. It is an enhancement. Old school brick and mortar techniques are still useful online.  The basics of marketing and advertising are still the same. The goal of attracting new customers and retaining and building old ones is still the goal of online marketing. The only difference is the marketing method.

Here are more similarities between the two:

Location. Your business location on Main Street is vital to foot traffic, your brand, your very presence in the area. Online your ranking – where you appear on the search page results is just as vital. Just like your brick and mortar location, your internet location needs to be easily found by the right target  audience. You would never open your storefront in a back alley. You never want your site to be relegated to the back pages of the search engines.

In the B&M world you can change your location by renting new space. You can’t do that online. You need to have a search engine expert help you rank on page one for the keyterms that your target audience is using to find your products – whether they’re trying to find you or a competitor selling the same or similar items.

Demographics. In the brick and mortar world, you chose your location based on research. You want to be close to your target audience. You don’t want to be miles away in a strip mall when the people buying your products and services are visiting the Mall of the Americas.

This demographic research needs to be done online, too. If you don’t  know who your target audience is, how can you sell to them? How will you write copy that will appeal to them? How will you know where they hang out? How will you know how to talk with them, how to engage them?

In the world of internet marketing, this research has an added element. Keyword research. Too often business owners (and even some search engine experts) look at only two factors – how many people are searching for that word and how many competitors are going after that word. This information is only one small part of  keyword research.  Using keywords that come from that research without digging deeper and finding the “right” keyterms is not going to result in good sales numbers.

If you’re selling ladies coats, and you insist on ranking for “coats” you will get more traffic. But you will also have a lower ROI due to the number of visitors who are NOT ladies and thus are not finding the product they are looking for. Don’t make the mistake of having “pet” keyword phrases. Let your market be your guide. They use their own pet terms to find you, and their language and terminology should be what you use to attract them.

Marketing. The same marketing you use in the brick and mortar world can be used in online marketing. Yellow Page adverts? List and/or advertise in the Yellow Pages online directories – there are about a dozen of them that reach world wide.

Weekly circulars? Set up an email campaign that is targeted to your buyers, your prospective clients or special interests.  Online coupons are just as effective as print coupons. An opt-in box on your site with a good giveaway can entice prospects to trade their email address for the special free offer to grow that mail list quickly.

Phone solicitation? Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Squidoo like sites. Used wisely and well these social sites will bring the customer to you – rather than cold calling and phone hangup frustration.

TV ads? One word – YouTube. Video is even more powerful as an online marketing tool than a 30 second spot on a late night cable show. And in actual fact you can use Google TV ads to make your own ad for commercial TV.

The best way to create an effective internet marketing campaign and successfully bring your business online is to remember the lessons of brick and mortar marketing. They compliment online marketing, they don’t compete with it. As a successful brick and mortar business, you are one step ahead of competitors who only know the online world. Use that hard won knowledge to carve out your online niche.

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SEO and Viral Content

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Have you ever looked at a video on YouTube and seen views over 1 million, or even over 2 or 3 million? If you’re a red blooded marketing person you probably drooled as your eyes turned glassy dreaming about that many visitors.

You will hear internet marketers promoting software or programs or techniques that will give you viral content. But you will NEVER see numbers even close to 10,000 by using any of these “tricks”.  You see, these techniques forget a very important fact about content.  The content has to be something someone actually wants to watch/read/listen to.

One of the masters of the viral content game is OK Go.  Their latest video features a choreographed dance with dogs. More than 6.5 million people have watched it on YouTube.

According to Ok Go’s lead singer Damian Kulash, “Content succeeds online,” he said, “because it brings people joy, it makes them smile — it’s interesting enough to be passed along to friends and family members. That’s no stunt,” he said, “it’s just a matter of making something that’s genuine and interesting.”

There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable.

We can expand that last statement  (which completely explains why all those programs and techniques won’t work) to read “There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable or useful.

Here’s the thing about the net – it’s built around people. Long ago the page rank of a site was an indicator of how many other sites found the content likable and useful. But guess what? Things have changed. Now actual real people “like” content and share it with friends, colleagues, and family. Social has overtaken the net and people, not sites, determine who has the best content. (Which is why page rank doesn’t matter nearly as much as it once did.)

Take a good hard look at your content. Does it talk about you? How great and good and wonderful you are? Be objective – is that content anyone wants to spread to their circle of people? Probably not, unless you have one of those foot long gold statues that are given out at awards ceremonies in Hollywood.

What is your content doing for your visitors? Is it educating them? Is it answering questions for them? Is it making their lives easier? Is it entertaining them?

Are you providing a place for lively discussion of ideas on your Facebook page, your blog, or your forum? Have you built into your site or your social media efforts an engine that will allow more and more content to be built up over time? A repository of useful information in your field?

Or is your site like the millions of others on the net –

  • page one – welcome to my site
  • pages two through 1000 – here are my great products with a one line description and a fuzzy, out of focus product image
  • page three – all about me
  • page four – contact me

This yawner formula is certain to make you a part of the thundering herd of similar sites and prevent you from ever “going viral”.

You see what works on YouTube – the basics – entertain, impart USEFUL knowledge, provide LIKABLE content, works with search engines as well as with people. The more likable content you have, the more the engines will visit and the higher you will climb in the rankings, bringing more and more visitors to your site. Those visitors are asked a ton of questions every single day that begin with “Where do I find…”

This is what viral truly means. When the answer to that question is YOUR site, and YOUR URL gets passed around in FaceBook, Twitter, eMail, and Smart Phone conversations – you’ve GONE VIRAL.

Your site will never achieve the Holy Grail of Viralizm unless you have that likable content in place.

How do you create likable content? Stay tuned and tomorrow I’ll go into the nuts and bolts of how to create that likable content.

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Search Engine Marketing = Location, Location, Location

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Realtors have always stressed the importance of location and property sales. Google seems to have paid rapt attention to these lessons. In an effort to further personalize the search experience, local returns are now taking even more precedence over other search results.

In a change implemented early this week, Google has at last added a location setting that makes my geeky SEO expert’s heart sing. They have added a setting in the left sidebar that allows me to change my detected location.

Why does this make me happy? You see, if I’m looking for a Chinese takeout around the corner, I like Google showing me a neat little map of my neighborhood and a synopsis of the local joints. If I’m trying to research keywords or find a client’s rankings, localization tends to backfire. If they’re located in Canada, I had to jump through a few online hoops to get relevant results that weren’t centered in the heartland of the US.

Based on where your computer is plugged into the net changes SEO results dramatically, even if geo-targeting is not important to your business. There are two areas of concern that you, as a site owner, need to be aware of.

Let’s look at the Chinese takeout example first. If you sell takeout boxes for Chinese food, you could be shoved far down the results page due to localization. You may have checked your rankings this morning to find that your hard won page one position has dropped to page two or worse!

Not every keyterm will return local results. You may have to revisit your SEO efforts and research some new terms that won’t be butting heads with local results to continue to attract your desired audience.

You may also hear your SEO experts celebrating a new page one ranking, while you’re looking at results that still show you in position 24. Their location may not have the local competition that your location is experiencing.

From Google’s standpoint localization means returning more relevant results. Google’s thinking that Wiki articles on the history of Chinese food is probably secondary to local restaurants is correct. But for those of us who make our living from the engines, this thinking adds another layer of complexity to our optimization efforts and raises the stakes in the game of Search Engine Marketing.

The second area of concern is WHAT is shown for those local results. Again, using my Chinese takeout experiment, the number ranked eatery began with a customer review. And it was NOT a good review! By this time I was truly in the mood for Chinese food and believe me I skipped right over the result that began with “There was NOTHING about my experience that was good and I would never recommend…”

WHY did this review show front and center? This poor site owner had never optimized his Google Places listing. Nor had he gone even further and checked out the other directories that appear in those results and made sure he had a proper profile setup in those.

You will never make 100%  of your customers happy. And it’s a fact of life that an unhappy customer will be more likely to write a bad review than a happy customer. Trying to remove bad reviews is a bad practice. But you can mitigate those bad reviews. You can answer them in a calm, respectful manner, apologizing for any errors or omissions. How you answer a bad review carries weight with other potential customers. No one expects that all reviews will be glowing. As netizens we’ve all seen our share of the impossible-to-please review writer.

If there are ten glowing reviews, two so-so reviews and one review trashing the service, that one bad review won’t carry much, if any, weight with a prospect.  But if that one review is a part of your first page description – ah then that’s totally different!

What can you do? Do your homework. Optimize your Google Places listing. Find the other directories and all reviews of your company. Institute a campaign to get MORE reviews. Fresh reviews will drive that older bad one down the list.

Last, but not least, listen. If you are getting similar reviews that point to a problem – handle that problem. Acknowledge it, fix it, and then reply to the reviews letting your current and prospective customers know that you ARE listening to them and you ARE taking appropriate action.

As Martha Stewart would say – “Localization and reviews are a GOOOOD thing” and adding a local setting to the sidebar is a great move from Google.

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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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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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10 Steps to a Smooth Move

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Sooner or later you will probably end up moving your site. Perhaps you have a new name and are moving to an entirely new URL. Perhaps you’re undergoing a complete redesign and moving pages. Even if you’re just moving to a new host, an online move can be every bit as stressful as a brick and mortar move.

You need to be aware that the search engines are used to seeing you in a specific location, offering specific content arranged in a specific way. Change location, pages or content and you could lose rankings and traffic if you haven’t taken steps to prevent that loss.Follow these steps for a successful site move

You need to look at your site and determine

  • Which pages are well ranked for which keyterms
  • Which pages drive traffic – both organic SEO, paid advertising, and social search
  • Which pages have internal and external links
  • Which pages are most visited by your audience and the level of engagement and conversion on those pages

Once you have these pages identified, you can draw up your “moving list” and get rolling

  1. Be SURE to tel your SEO expert about the move well in advance of the planned moving date. Your search experts need to institute their own plans to preserve as much traffic as possible during and after the move.
  2. Do not set up a  redirect of all page URLs to only one page, section, or URL of the new site.
  3. Do a domain level page by page 301 redirect of the old site to the new one. Your host, webmaster, probably even your SEO expert can handle this correctly. This will help preserve current traffic.
  4. Test each page to be sure it is appearing correctly on the new site. Don’t move everything at once, do it section by section testing as you go.
  5. Check each page for keyword structure and try to keep the same density, location and weight on the new site for those terms that bring you the most traffic. (Terms for which you are highly ranked.)
  6. Keep the same directory structure whenever possible. In other words, make sure your menu selections retain the same names, your images and resources are in folders on the server with the same names, sections of the new site correspond to the same section on the old site.
  7. Check both internal and external links and update as necessary.
  8. Keep the old site domain for at least 6 months and maintain the 301 redirects for that length of time.
  9. Create 404 error pages so that when errors occur, visitors receive a message helping them navigate to the new page. Remember to customize your error pages with your own text and even images to give your visitor a better experience.
  10. Last, but possibly the most important, keep both the old and new sites verified in Webmaster Tools. This way you can easily see crawl errors the spiders may encounter and any 301 redirects that may not be working as planned.

If you follow these steps, you will be able to retain most of the traffic levels the old site had. You will lose some traffic, it is inevitable. But if you plan ahead, that loss will be minimal and you will recover quickly.

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How Much Traffic Will I Get From My SEO Efforts?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Just about every day I hear business owners talk about SEO efforts. And one of the first questions they tend to ask is “How Much Will My Traffic Increase?” There are two answers that should be given to these owners by a reputable SEO expert.

1. It depends

2. That measurement is not really relevant to your business

In the real world of Internet SEO Land we rarely give those answers or if we do, they aren’t worded quite that bluntly. Here’s the WHY behind those all important answers that you, as a business owner need to understand.

SEO is not a one size fits all. There are many details and strategies that go into an SEO campaign. There are 100 interlocking pieces that come into play, and that’s before the engines decide to change how they look at those efforts.

Here are just a few of the elements that need to be considered and assessed way before the first keyword report is even run:

How well constructed is your site? Is the page code clean, compliant with modern browser regs, and stripped to it’s bare necessity? Or is it bloated with useless comments, script calls, lengthy ways of handling menu buttons, with real content – spider food – not beginning until code line 1500?

Search engines like nice clean code with page content starting as soon as possible in the page source code. To be successful with your SEO you need to make life easy for the search spiders. Convoluted code makes their job harder, and guess what? There’s a bunch of sites within hailing distance that are easier to read. Spiders won’t spend forever on your site – if they can’t read it in their language quickly enough, they move on to a more welcome place.

Do you have a social marketing strategy with frequent Facebook and blog posts, daily Tweets, well described videos on video sharing sites, social group involvement and mentions in bookmarking sites? Google likes content. Google likes links. Google likes FRESH, updated content linked to your site from a variety of sources.

These links and posts can have a great bearing on your SEO efforts, as well as adding to your traffic. Target your keywords to your ideal customer

And finally – how much traffic is available? Yes there are millions of people searching for millions of things – but how many people are actually, realistically searching for what you sell? If 1000 people a day are searching for your blue wooly mammoth blankets, you can’t expect to get 10,000 visitors a day from your search efforts. And if you ARE getting that many visitors, that brings us to question number 2.

HOW much traffic you receive is not what you can take to the bank. How much traffic you CONVERT to sales is the most important metric to track. A search campaign that sends the wrong visitors to your site WILL boost traffic numbers, but it will also boost the number of visitors leaving your page very quickly – called the bounce rate. And those departing visitors won’t be adding money to your bottom line.

A successful SEO campaign is NOT about sending traffic. It is ALL about sending TARGETED traffic through your sales funnel. Once your ideal customer is defined, it is far easier to set a realistic traffic goal. And here’s a tip to discovering how well you’re doing in numbers that really count.

Watch your competitors. If you are on target – using the right keyterms for your target audience, your traffic numbers will be going up. In most cases, you will be taking visitors away from your competition, or getting to them before competing websites do.  Their traffic numbers will start going DOWN.

You can see their traffic numbers at Compete.com as well as your own numbers.

Keyword research is not the first step or the most important step in an SEO campaign. Targeting and reaching the right visitor is. And until that step has been accomplished and tested, answering “How much traffic…” is just crystal ball gazing using a totally fogged up glass sphere.

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Three More Ways to Fail Online

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

In yesterday’s post I wrote about failing online by becoming just one of the millions of unremarkable sites in the internet landscape.

Here’s another way to fail. Copy others. Think back to some memorable ads. “Where’s the beef?”, “Got Milk?”, “Ladies, your man can’t BE me but he can SMELL like me”. These ads have been copied and lampooned and even years later are still a part of our lexicon. Do you remember the knockoffs? I’m pretty sure there isn’t a product, idea, or service that hasn’t been spun as a takeoff on “Got Milk?”.  Can you remember even ONE of those?

The “Will It Blend” series on YouTube is memorable. I get a giggle every time I watch one of those. It’s original, it’s funny, it’s silly and it’s for a product I will NEVER be in the market for, yet I still go out of my way to watch new episodes. It’s the internet version of “Where’s the beef?”, sure to be around for years to come.

Are you having fun in your business? I can guarantee that if you’re stuck in the corporate think world, and you’re not having fun, you won’t be creating memorable sites, ads, articles or much of anything else that will stick out from the crowd. You’ll look, sound and feel just like everyone else, because you’re copying everyone else. How do you see YOURSELF? Are you the VP of Systems Analysis and Technical Development? Or are you secretly Chief Cook and Bottle Washer? If you see yourself as the latter, I’ll bet you’re a creative dynamo just waiting to explode.

Listen to the wrong people. The net has lead to lies and misconceptions being repeated over and over again until they become accepted as truths. Adolph Hitler was many things, most of them pretty bad. But he was also a consummate marketer, a shaper of minds. And he knew that telling a lie often enough, authoritatively enough  would make that lie become perceived as truth.

Reading the same thing on a zillion different websites doesn’t make it true. Online anyone can be anything. They can put the title “Dr.” or “expert” or whatever else they want with their name and it may only mean they took an online course in herbology.

Dig inside yourself – trust your own warning bells. Does the strategy, product claims, or anything else ring true? Is it logical? WHO is saying it? What are THEIR credentials in the field?

One of the oft repeated things I have heard in Internet Marketing circles is “well, he MUST know what he’s doing. He’s a millionaire!” Puleeze! He’s a millionaire because he got a million people to pay $1 for a useless ebook. He’s a master of human sheep shearing, not an SEO or online marketing expert!

Forget to target your ideal customer. This is a biggy. If you don’t know who you want to attract, who is a good fit for your products or services, how are you ever going to be able to satisfy their wants and needs? Don’t just say “well, my market is stay at home moms”. Hoy boy is that an over generalization!

Answer the important questions about that prospect.

WHY are they at home? Because they can’t find a job after college? Because they are married to a Neanderthal who won’t’ let them work outside the home? Because they made the choice to leave corporate life and raise a family? VASTLY different reasons mean VASTLY different consumers and mindsets.

What are they looking for from your product? Christmas money? A steady income? A move up in lifestyle?

Where are they? Living in concrete caves with millions of others? Watching the deer and antelope play in the hinterlands? Painting cuddly forest creatures on the shores of Gitchee Goomee?

Until you can answer everything there is to know about your IDEAL customer, you will fail trying to reach them with your message. You won’t really be answering the all important “WHO” you are trying to reach. And if you don’t know Who, you surely can’t answer the bottom line How Do I Get THAT Customer?

So there you have it – 3 certain steps to online marketing failure. Copy others. Listen to the wrong people. And don’t target your ideal customer.

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