Business Website Design, Website Design

Small Business SEO Experts Debate The Benefits of Mobile Website Design

Today, rather than a typical blog entry, we’ve interviewed a pair of small business SEO gurus from Vancouver, Washington to ask them what they think about the purpose and functionality of mobile website design. Misters Provenzano and Danielson, both independent contractors who consult for multiple SEO firms, have more than a decade of small business SEO experience between them.

[SEO911]: So, just two questions for you both. First, is mobile website design worthwhile for a small business with a limited budget?

[Provenzano]: The short answer is ‘maybe’. Stores that are destination stores — that people know they’re going to in advance because they only ever go there if they’re making a special trip — actually don’t benefit from mobile website design as much as stores that people tend to go to spontaneously.

[Danielson]: That’s true. The benefit of having a mobile website is that people can look you up on the go, so if for example you’re a sporting goods store, people generally don’t need to look you up when they’re already on the road. They look you up at home when they realize they need a catcher’s mask or whatnot.

[Provenzano]: I mean, to a degree, everyone benefits from having their address and phone number on a mobile-friendly site, but generally Google can give them that. But if you have a store that people come to on the fly, a mobile website is HUGE. Especially in a more densely populated area; a mobile site can get hundreds of local hits a day, and most of those people are looking for whatever you’ve got. It’s great for business.

[SEO911]: OK, so what about a mobile website for an online-only small business with no front door?

[Provenzano]: Online businesses don’t really benefit as much.

[Danielson]: Disagree. In my experience, an online business that’s a genuine business — not a sales page or a squeeze page, but a genuine online storefront — can get some huge numbers from having a mobile website. People who surf on iPods love gadgets and have some disposable income, which isn’t as universally true with desktop surfers. If you cater to that in your business, you can really get a boost from a mobile website.

[SEO911]: Well, thanks for letting us take up some of your lunch break, guys. We appreciate an outside voice from time to time.

Build Interest and Conversions By Mixing On-Site Video with Targeted Email Marketing

It is getting harder and harder to keep up with all of the Google SEO trends, but that is not to say that it is more difficult to convert visitors that do end up at your site. In fact, it is getting easier. The art of conversion has developed into an almost scientific process with new tools being added every year that make the whole job even easier.

As far as small business SEO goes, it should be left in the hands of a professional company that can get the job done quickly and affordably. A small business owner simply doesn’t have the time to commit to this type of project and needs to hire it out.

Website conversions can also be increased by using a business that specializes in this field. There are three things that any website has to do. It needs to keep customers on the site for as long as possible, convince visitors that the service or product offered is something they should buy, and finally offer reasons why their emotional decision to buy is correct. Once this is put into effect there will be more sales.

The best way to increase conversions on site is to use on-site videos along with targeted email marketing. Videos help to keep visitors on the site while email marketing can continue the conversations after the visitors have left.

There are a lot of visitors that will come to your website and won’t buy anything right away. A lot of people need time to think about a purchase, and if you don’t stay in touch with them you will lose the sale. By offering something for free now, and then following up with them through emails later, you’ll be able to catch these future sales.

Sometimes this can happen in a few days, sometimes months and in extreme cases it may take years before a customer ever decides to buy something from you. This is fine, however, because as you build up your base of subscribers your sales will increase regularly.

There is no better way to increase your bottom dollar than by using on-site videos along with email marketing. These two tools have proven themselves beyond doubt to be long-term moneymakers for any business.

Mobile Compatibility and Small Business SEO: A Natural Combination

As a small business owner you probably already know the importance of having your own website and getting SEO work done on it. These days, every business needs to have some type of web presence in order to effectively compete in the marketplace. What you may not know, however, is how important it is to have a website with mobile compatibility so that your customers can reach you from their cell phones.

Why is so important? It’s due to market trends in the mobile device industry. More and more people are replacing their home phones with cell phones and the market is huge. With more cell phones being used every day, this naturally leads to more searches being performed using cell phones than ever before.

How does this relate to small business marketing? Well, your potential customers are looking for a place to do business right now on their cell phone. When they search for a place to go, the listings they will see first are sites with a mobile website design. If you don’t have a site that has been made specifically designed for cell phone users, your website won’t show up near the top of the list.

Small business SEO has to keep up with all of the marketing trends that are changing from day to day in this very technical age. SEO companies work hard to keep up with all of the advancements so that they can keep their customers on top. Having a mobile website is part of the overall SEO structure that is being used by most companies today.

People carry their cell phones with them wherever they go. When they do a search and want to find a place to do business, they head there immediately. Your mobile website will grab people right off the sidewalk and pull them into your store or place of business right away. These types of sites give fast results and instant business possibilities.

A part of any SEO plan nowadays needs to incorporate a mobile ready website. Anything less is simply leaving customers on the sidewalk.

Small Business SEO: A Solopreneur’s Guide

There’s something extraordinarily motivating about being a solopreneur — that is, someone single-handedly making money, with no boss, no schedule, and no obligations other than the ones you make for yourself. It’s also not all that difficult of a dream to achieve given the state of modern Internet commerce.

I’m not talking about the stupid get-rich-quick schemes, I’m talking about the ability that everyone who can type has to do simple things that other people need done. Like they say, if you want to take advantage of a gold rush, you sell shovels. But no matter what your Internet-business-related service or product might be, if you aren’t getting eyes on your offer, you aren’t going anywhere.

Enter the world of small business SEO. Optimizing your website so that it’s picked up by the search engines and put in front of the people most likely to want to purchase your goods or services is no small feat. But even a solopreneur can pull it off.

There are basically three options: you can spend time on SEO; you can spend money on SEO; or you can skip SEO and go straight for pay-per-click marketing.

Spending time on SEO is basically the ‘shoestrings and the seat of my pants’ way of doing things. It’s extraordinarily slow to take effect, it takes a lot out of the solopreneurs that try it, and in the end you really only do it long enough to be able to make a little money and put one of the other options into effect.

Spending money on SEO is exactly what mid-sized businesses do. (Large corporations just buy SEO companies and keep them on staff.) You basically purchase the services of an SEO company and trust them to get you ranked. It’s never a question of if they can, it’s always a question of how much time it’ll take for them to get it done.

Pay-per-click marketing means you don’t bother ranking organically on the search engines because your site appears inside that “Ads” block on Google. It takes a bit more money than getting ranked for SEO, but you get that first-page ranking instantly and for as long as you want to pay for it. Pay-per-click marketing is a dangerous game, however, and hiring a PPC management group to run your campaigns for you is a very, very good idea.

There’s no one who can tell you which route is right or wrong for you, and no one route is right for everybody — test a little bit of each and run with the one the seems the most effective for you.

Ultimate Conversions: Targeted Email Marketing From The Outside In

Targeted Email Marketing (TEM) is NOT typically part of the services offered by a website SEO company. That’s because it’s not actually SEO — there is nothing about TEM that will get your website ranked any higher for anything anywhere.

What TEM is, however, is a way of improving the effectiveness of any SEO you’ve already done. That’s because of a simple calculation:

Traffic * Conversion Rate = Sales

What that means is that if you have 200 visitors, and you convert 3% of them, you’ve just made 6 sales. You can improve your number of sales by getting more traffic, or you can do it by improving your conversion rate. SEO is designed to get you more traffic — but at some point, you’ll make more money by improving your conversion rate than you will by adding another 4 or 5 visitors per day.

So, Targeted Email Marketing. Have you ever seen a website that offers you something for free, but asks you to put in your name and Email address in order to get it? That’s TEM in action. If you’ve ever done this, you know that the next step is to receive an Email that says “hey, is it cool that you continue to receive Email from this website?”, and you have to say “yes” in order to get the free thing.

What you’ve just done is confirm via Email that any further Emails the webmaster of that site sends you aren’t spam and you accept his right to send them to you. From his perspective, he now has a ‘hook’ in you. He can send you an Email whenever he has a new sale, a new product, or even just because he wants to impress you with how knowledgeable and competent he is in his field.

As you can imagine, it’s a killer way to turn visitors into buyers, because you can remind them of your product and your offer every week…forever! You can keep trying different angles until you find one that sticks. Every time you throw an Email out to your TEM list, you get a bunch of them back on your website for another chance at that 3% conversion rate.

That’s the kind of tool that SEO companies typically overlook because they’re focused on traffic, but if you find an SEO company that offers TEM as a service, you know you’ve got someone who is focused on improving your profits from every possible angle — a great find.

Social Bookmarking Is a Sucker’s Game — Isn’t It?

There’s been a lot of changes to the social bookmarking game in the past few years. Even as far back as Google’s addition of the nofollow tag, social bookmarking pages have been declared ‘dead’ over and over again by various SEO gurus. Yet somehow, it keeps coming back like a zombie in a B-grade horror movie. The fact is that social bookmarking might not be the utterly amazing backlink that it was when Digg and del.ici.ous first invented the term, but they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

The reasons why are several, but the big ones are very big.

Control
A social bookmark gives you control over two things that are very important: the context around your link (what many organic SEO experts like to call “Latent Semantic Indexing” or “LSI”), and the actual anchor text of the link itself. Every time you get a link to your site, Google looks at the anchor text and the LSI to determine how relevant the linking page is to your website, and modified the link’s strength based on the relevance. That makes controllable links much stronger than uncontrollable ones.

Persistence
There’s nothing like investing a few thousand dollars in a massive and complex link building campaign and then discovering six months later than half of the sites you linked from have either disappeared or at least eliminated your links. That’s a lot of money and time down the drain. Mercifully, social bookmarking sites don’t do that. They are persistent, which means every well-controlled link you build on a social bookmarking site is here to stay.

Panda
Yes, I said Panda. Panda is the latest Google toy, and it’s designed to make sites more ‘user-friendly’. One of the things that the Goog decided when they built Panda was that social bookmarking buttons are totally cool to have featured prominently on a website (as opposed to, say, AdWords blocks or banner ads.) That means that, as the Web adapts to the latest twist Google has for us, social bookmarking is only going to get more and more used, which means social bookmarks will get more authority. What more do you need to know?

Who Else Should Be Looking Into Custom Blog Creation?

Custom blog creation is the name of a service that SEO companies have been selling to small businesses for years. It’s a very dependable way to improve a website’s rankings for particular keywords, which is exactly why it’s used — but it’s also relatively easy and inexpensive, which is why it’s marketed as a regular component of small business SEO.

A customized blog allows you to have content pages (which attract surfers) that then link back to your main site with controllable context and controllable anchor text. That, in turn, makes the site more likely to rank for the keywords that you use as anchor text. Thus, blogs serve as both an SEO tool and as part of your sales funnel — exactly the kind of multipurpose power that small businesses need in their tools. But there are other entities who should be looking into custom blog creation as well.

Individuals
If you’re a freelancer looking to make a name for yourself, one of the biggest steps you can take on the road to stable success is to build yourself a website. People who want to learn about you — to decide whether to hire you — are going to Google you; that’s just a fact of life. You can let them find your Facebook page with your drunken college pictures, or you can present them a professional face.

Having a blog attached to that professional face is a great way to show your potential employers that you know your game. Write about what you do, about your challenges and your victories, and about the details of whatever skill you apply on a regular basis. As before, not only do you get to show off, but you can optimize your website for killer keywords at the same time.

Public Entities
It’s one thing to be in business, but the public sector is another area entirely. One thing that both groups seem to consistently need, however, is more attention. If you happen to be a hospital director, a college principal, or the head of any other public institution, you might not be aware of just how easy it is to focus the right eyes on your Web presence: all you need is a blog. Everything said above applies just as well to an .edu or an .org than it does to a .com — don’t hesitate!

When and Why To Put All You’ve Got into Article Writing and Submission

There is ample evidence for anyone out there looking that article writing and submission is a killer SEO tactic. The reasons are pretty simple: content is king, control is key, and article directories are heavyweights.

Content is King
Google loves content. If you write an article that talks intelligently about facts that aren’t already discussed to death elsewhere on the Internet, Google will love you. You’ll rank well for quite a few keywords, and people will see your words. Put a decent call to action at the bottom with a link to your site, and you’re likely to get quite a few clickthroughs.

Control is Key
When you create a backlink to your site, Google uses it to decide what your site is about. Having a backlink to a site about golf from a site about pit bulls confuses Google. When you write an article, you control the context of your backlink perfectly, giving Google a strong signal about what your site is about. Strong signals mean better ranking.

Article Directories are Heavyweights
Article directories are classic examples of what Google called “authority sites” — their pages are considered pretty trustworthy. What that means is that every link you get from a respected article directory gives your site a lot of ‘juice’.

So the question is When and Why to put your effort into writing articles (as opposed to building backlinks by doing some other form of website SEO)? The answer isn’t what you might think. The thing about article writing and distribution is that it takes a lot of time and effort per article. Articles should be high on your priority list if and when your ‘SEO basics’ are already taken care of. Before you get heavy into articles, make sure you’ve got a natural link profile consisting of:

  • Social bookmarks
  • Forum posts
  • Blog posts
  • Blog comments
  • Web 2.0 properties
  • Directory entries
  • RSS aggregations
  • Link exchanges
  • and Videos
    • Once your backlink structure has the low-effort, high-rankings-impact backlinks above built, then and only then should you invest significant money into getting articles written and submitted Getting there might take a month or three, but the effect of good articles backed up by a solid link profile is pure gold.

First Page Placement Doesn’t Mean Automatic Success

There’s a lot of emphasis put on first page placement by SEO companies. Like many industries, they have a strong motivation to sell you on the idea that they can solve all of your problems. In the Web Wide World, “all your problems” seem to spring from a single source: not enough traffic.

So long as X% of visitors convert into sales, then more traffic equals more money. It seems pretty simple. If only it really were. But it’s easily possible — in the case of someone unfamiliar with the basics of marketing, even downright probable — that you can get a site listed on the first page of a decent keyword and get nothing for it.

There are a few ways that can happen. The first is if you go the ‘sponsored placement’ route. That is, pay-per-click (or PPC) marketing. With PPC, every time a surfer clicks on your advertisement, you pay a few cents. They end up on your page. But if they don’t buy anything from your page, you lose those few cents. Over hundreds of clicks per day, that can add up pretty fast.

That’s why, if you’re going to go the PPC route, it makes sense to hire a PPC management team that knows their stuff. They can keep costs down and traffic high at the same time — something that’s virtually impossible for a webmaster working alone.

Another way that you can waste a valuable first page placement is by having a page that simply doesn’t convert well. If you manage to do enough organic SEO to get real regular search traffic to your site on a regular basis (virtually the only functional alternative to PPC), you still need them to buy stuff.

There are a lot of ways to encourage them to convert. Learning sales language and call-to-action prompts are good. Belcher buttons (look up) are virtually mandatory. Using a gimmick like a web presenter or a focus video can work well in the right fields. Regardless of how you do it, you have to pay attention to conversions as well as traffic. Only then will your first page placement really mean what the marketers want you to believe it will.

Go Local! Internet Marketing for Brick and Mortar Businesses

Local internet marketing isn’t a new phenomenon if you’re familiar with online marketing in general — but if you’re a brick and mortar business just starting to build your online presence, you might be curious what the hoopla is about. There’s a lot of people out there talking in a lot of very excited voices about online marketing; this is the straight scoop.

“Reach audiences worldwide! Have an online storefront open 24/7/265!”
You’ll hear this one a lot. The truth couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, a website could potentially get hits from Pak Gwak Kai or Orniok, but the fact is that Google knows where you live. Google isn’t going to show your trading-card store to someone searching for rookie Chesbro if that person is searching from Latvia. They’re going to show that guy a store in Latvia. Google isn’t dumb.

On the other hand, if you deliberately include your location in all of your marketing strategies — what we call local internet marketing — you’ll end up showing up high on the results pages whenever anyone searches for “trading cards in Los Angeles”. SEO gets a lot easier when you keep it local.

“All you need to make money is a website and some traffic! It just runs itself!”
Yeah. That’s kind of like saying all you need to run the United States is an Oval Office and the title of President. It’s easy to say, but actually getting those things isn’t terribly easy. I mean, putting up a website is pretty easy, but then you also have to have a website that people will buy stuff from. That’s harder.

Also, getting traffic to come to that site isn’t all that easy, either. The best way to go about it is to get your site ranked on various relevant Google searches, but that means paying for someone to optimize your site for those keywords. Because local keywords are much lower competition than broad keywords, they’re much quicker and much cheaper to rank for — making local internet marketing a much smarter option.

What It Mean to Be Affordable? SEO and Cashflow Economics

Let’s just get one thing clear: the economy ain’t recovering. It’s not a matter of time, it doesn’t matter who’s in office — the economy isn’t going to recover for decades. That means that every single entrepreneur who tries to get started online is looking for the same thing: affordable SEO.

But what is affordable SEO? Affordable means a lot of things to a lot of different people. If you’ve got a J.O.B., affordable means it’s within your monthly budget. If you’re rich, affordable means it’s purchasable. If you’re an entrepreneur, however, affordable means it fits within your cashflow.

That’s because an entrepreneur has to deal with invoices — both incoming and outgoing –that are much less reliable than a paycheck. Sometimes, all of an entrepreneur’s money comes in at once; sometimes, it trickles in bit by bit every day. The question for an entrepreneur isn’t whether something is affordable overall; it’s whether the payment can be spread over a long enough time that there’s never a cashflow issue generated when the payment comes due.

In that way, most forms of organic SEO are still affordable to most entrepreneurs. Sure, there are always SEO companies who want you to pay three large on the first of every month to get their ultra-platinum superservice, but they’re dying if not dead. Real SEO companies have options.

Of course, you still need to have a bit of an idea what your cashflow needs will be — but the beauty of SEO is that it’s cumulative. From a cashflow perspective, that means you can get a little bit done when you have a little money, or if you catch a lucky break, you can buy a better service for a month or two. SEO isn’t a startup cost, that must be paid all at once — it’s not even like a bill that has to be paid every month.

What SEO is is a marketing expense — and any business guru will tell you what when money is tight, the best place to put your money is in advertising. How else are you supposed to start bringing money in? Especially online, SEO is the key to traffic which is the key to sales.

In the end, then, SEO is affordable when it doesn’t ruin your cashflow, and that’s the only consideration, because every ‘unit’ of SEO you purchase promises future income. The ‘right’ move, then, is to buy what you can afford when you can afford it, consistently.

Google’s Games: Is Organic SEO Still Viable?

I just heard the worst words an SEO guy could ever hope to hear: a client told me on the phone that “organic SEO just isn’t working anymore.” He was talking, as you might have guessed from the title, about Panda.

If you’ve never heard of Panda, here’s the story. A Google software engineer named SomethingLongAndIndian Panda came up with a learning algorithm that keys off of the “user-friendliness” of a webpage. The Goog did a bunch of research into what pisses users off about websites, and turned it into a bunch of “do-nots”, taught the Panda algorithm about them, and then let Panda inform the Google main algorithm about website rankings.

The end result? If your webpage isn’t easy to use — and that means easy on the eyes, not just easy to find the “buy now” button — it won’t rank well, period. There are a few things that Panda takes a look at that aren’t on the traditional list of website SEO rules:

Readability
In other words, is your content interrupted by crap? Adwords, banners, even poorly-located navigation bars are considered ‘no-go’ by Panda. If you want an example of a website that reoptimized to Panda’s standards, go look at any article on EZineArticles.com. There’s an author pic, an unobtrusive info panel with social buttons, and that’s it until after all of the content. All of the crap that the reader might consider unimportant comes at the bottom.

Fat Content
It used to be that a 200 word article was adequate for SEO purposes — not anymore. Panda hates thin content. You’d better have at least 400-600 words on a webpage if you expect Panda to consider it quality enough to get a decent ranking, straight up.

Broad Quality
Panda also knows your sister. Or rather, your webpage’s sister. While Panda gives a quality score to every page, it also gives a quality score to an entire site, and the two modify each other. So if you have one Panda-perfect page on an otherwise horrible site, you can’t expect it to rank. Quality has to be across all pages.

In the end, I told that client of mine that he had no idea what he was talking about. The truth of the matter is this: Panda isn’t a whole new set of rules — all of the old rules are still there, and they still work. We just have a few more points to take into consideration, that’s all.

PPC Management And The Power of Sponsored Placement

Pay per click marketing is an incredibly powerful tool under a limited set of circumstances — you need to have a decent starting budget, a site that converts like gangbusters, and a strong PPC management team on your side. Basically, if you’re a starting webmaster and you’re canny enough to be utilizing conversion tools like targeted Email marketing, quality Flash banners, a Web Presenter, and the like, you’re probably in the right place to make the most of PPC advertising.

The thing about pay per click is that there is very little middle ground. Few people break even on Google Adwords or it’s various competitors. They either have a PPC management team that knows how to pick the right bids and (more importantly) the right keywords, or they don’t — and the difference is like investing with Warren Buffett versus investing in lottery tickets. Because there are a lot of losers in that equation, PPC has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but think for a second about what it does.

You set up an ad, and you attach it to a keyword. Anytime someone searches for that keyword, your ad appears on the first page, right next to the first organic results. If they click that ad, you pay a few cents or a few bucks if it’s a popular keyword. If they don’t, you pay nothing.

That’s pretty much the definition of targeted traffic, and if you do a decent job of choosing your keywords — making sure that you’re not paying in the dollars for traffic of the tire-kicking variety rather than the purchasing variety — you can assure a pretty good conversion rate from it.

There’s not many other tools out there that can get your website in front of that many people who are sure to be interested in your site — and all of them will make you pay per exposure, not per person who actually visits your site. That’s a lot of impact from a single tool — which makes it very worth it to accept the risks, especially if you can find some talented PPC management to mitigate those risks for you.

5 Reasons Targeted Email Marketing Makes Good Money

Targeted Email marketing might seem like it’s outside of the range of a typical organic SEO company — after all, it’s not SEO. There’s nothing about Email marketing that makes you rank higher for a keyword, or improves the amount or quality of traffic to your website. What it does do, however, is make phat money. Here’s why.

Targeted Email Marketing lures customers in. They give you their Email address in exchange for something — usually relevant information. From the moment they do that, you have their permission to Email them, which means you can remind them that you exist and that they have a problem you can solve.

Targeted Email Marketing establishes your expertise. A good Email marketer knows that if they hit the customer with a call-to-action right away, they’ll bail. That’s why they spend a few to several emails just plying them with information. Not only does it give them a sense of security, but it convinces them that you know your stuff.

Targeted Email Marketing hits them where it hurts. People don’t sign up for emailing lists because it’s fun — they do it because they have a problem that needs solving. By continuously but softly needling that need, you bring it to prominence in their lives. That way, when you hit the call-to-action button, they’re ready.

Targeted Email Marketing brings them back over and over again. As soon as someone has purchased your product, they get added to a special, second Emailing list for “proven customers”. What that means to you is that they’ve proven they’re willing to give you money — and in all likelihood, they’ll be wiling to do it again if you hit them up with another call to action.

Targeted Email Marketing doesn’t ever end. Unless you irritate someone enough that they unsubscribe from your list — or you run out of Emails to send them — people will stay on your list for years. You never know what will hit their button and make them get out their wallets, but with this tool, you’ll never stop giving them good reasons.

Targeted Email marketing is amazing, and if you’re not using it, you need to talk to your organic SEO company about it today.

Leveraging The Incredible Power of Article Writing and Distribution

Of all of the services that most typical affordable SEO companies offer these days, few have the potential of a talented article writing and distribution crew. Such a group of people — a combination of researchers, writers, submission experts, and sometimes spinners or other specialists — can turn the slow but powerful process of SEO into something that can generate traffic and sales from day one.

A well written article is almost perfect SEO entity. It offers control over the anchor text, control over the link’s environment in terms of latent semantic indexing, an authoritative page (the article directory) on an established site, and of course it links to exactly where you want it to link to. That’s not insignificant in any way, and yet the effort required to write a really good article scares many people away. That’s too bad, because if all they’re considering is the SEO factor, they’re missing out on a large part of the power of article writing and distribution.

Part of the story comes from the potential of a given article to rank higher than your page on the search engines. Google “article writing and distribution”, for example, and you’ll find that several entries on the first page are blogs that point at other pages — the pages that are actually trying to rank for that particular keyword. That’s only one example, of course, there are literally millions of keywords for which an EzineArticle or some other directory page or blog is sourcing traffic to its linked page.

Another aspect of the power of article writing is in the strength of building a personal brand. One of the things that Internet customers are very ready to do is distrust. In order to overcome the basic assumption that you’re a marketer rather than someone who really knows about Betta fish, you have to display that knowledge. Getting a few dozen articles written about the little fishies and getting your name attached to them on some very public sites goes a long way toward giving yourself an air of credibility.

A Three Step Plan to First Page Placement

First page placement isn’t some lofty goal that you should hold yourself to attaining ‘someday’ — though for many a novice webmaster, it certainly seems that way. Rather, first page placement is something that can and should be obtained immediately and held onto through a variety of different methods as time goes by.

Step one: Pay Per Click advertising
Pay per click (PPC) advertising can sound like a very scary investment for anyone not talented in the arena. Indeed, thousands of webmasters who have done solo into the realm of PPC have lost everything — but the smart ones who hire a good PPC management team have found that the profits to be gained from the instant ‘sponsored’ placement it provides more than make up for the cost.

PPC gets you onto the first page on day one — and yes, it costs money to get there, but the money you make when you have a PPC manager working the game for you is more than it costs to pay the manager and the bid costs.

Step two: Indirect Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization takes some significant amount of time to kick in, so it can’t do what PPC does for you. The first result of your Search Engine Optimization will be that pages that aren’t actually yours will rank for certain keywords. For example, it’s not uncommon for an article that you turn in to EzineArticles to rank higher for your chosen keyword than your own page does at first. You’ll still get considerable traffic and sales from these indirect rankings, but it’s only the beginning.

Step three: Direct Search Engine Optimization
Give it six or twelve months, and you’ll find that your SEO starts to pull in a lot of organic traffic, because YOUR page is achieving first page placements for a variety of your keywords. Even while you’re exploiting the benefits of PPC, you’ll feel the power of the SEO adding more and more to your business over time. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where your business comes more from your SEO efforts than it does from your PPC campaign.

Is Mobile Website Design Going The Way of Hidden Text?

You might remember the days of hidden text on the Internet — it was one of the earliest forms of black hat website SEO. Webmasters would want their site to rank highly for a pile of keywords, so they’d just copy the keyword and several similar phrases dozens of times each and make the text color the same as the background color, so human eyes never saw it (unless you hit Control A). The search engines of a decade ago ate that stuff up. Then along came Google and they killed it as swiftly and surely as Seal Team Six killed Osama Bin Laden.

So what does this have to do with mobile website design? Simple — some experts are starting to think that mobile website design will soon be a dead art, like speaking in Latin or giving your own car a tune-up.

Mobile website design exploded with the creation of the iPhone and other similar web-capable smartphones. Such devices couldn’t quite handle a normal website, so a special language was developed that displayed the mobile version of a page if it was informed that the page was being accessed by a mobile device. The mobile version of the page had fewer pictures, less media to load, and was generally stripped down.

(In a comedic twist, at one point the web browser Opera was being used in so many devices that many webpages always showed Opera users the mobile version of a page, even if they were actually on a standard computer. That caused a lot of chaos until it got sorted out.)

The problem, of course, is that now as we move boldly forward into the realm of the 5G phone networks and mobile devices that can handle all of the pictures and media of a normal webpage, the need for special mobile pages is fading quickly. On the other hand, however, there are a lot of people who don’t have one of these new omnicapable devices — heck, there are people out there who are still fighting getting even one of those super cheap Jitterbug cell phones. So it’s safe to say that while mobile website design might be losing a little bit of importance, it will still have a place for years to come.

Small Business SEO Isn’t Like Corporate SEO

There are a few layers of activity in the SEO world: there’s novice SEO, marketer SEO, small business SEO, and big business, or corporate SEO. Each of these is marked by a different kind of activity.

Novice SEO generally consists of some poor sod writing a Squidoo page or an EZA article every night after work, desperately hoping that his new site all about the wonders of Betta fish will hit it big. Marketer SEO is similar, but generally involves outsourcing a bunch of one-off backlinks to a poor Filipino sod who would be doing what the novice SEO guy is doing, but has figured out that he can make better money off of the back of an American marketer who has a bit more money.

Then, you hit small business SEO. Small business SEO covers a lot of ground, but in general it’s separated from marketer SEO by three elements: a bigger budget, a commitment to victory, and dependence on outside experts. A small business who decides to go to war on the Internet front will hire a group of experts — usually, but not always, in the form of an Organic SEO company — to do their work for them. They will spend the money to get the online presence built quickly, and they won’t back down simply because it didn’t happen as quickly or overpoweringly as they wanted.

That’s what most SEO companies do for a living — they focus on small businesses. That’s because the rules of corporate SEO are completely different. On a corporate level, you don’t hire an SEO company — you buy one and make it part of your staff. You don’t pay for a certain number of links or a specific result on Google — you pay a paycheck, and your experts build links by the hour, not by the link.

The lesson here is obvious: if you’re a small business, no matter how determined you are to succeed, you’re never going to be able to take on the corporations on their own turf. Don’t go after the keyword ‘Jiffy Lube’ or the keyword ‘Blockbuster’ — it’s just not going to happen. Focus on the keywords you can win — your SEO company already has a list that’s plenty long — and leave the big boys to their big boy games.

Affordable SEO Is Not DIY SEO

There’s an extraordinarily common myth that is rarely outright stated, but is heavily implied across a large part of the novice Internet Marketing world: that in order to get affordable SEO, you have to do the grunt work yourself. Oodles of people on sites like the Warrior Forum and in activities like the 30 Day Challenge will tell you that you can (and imply that you should) learn how to build all kinds of backlinks yourself.

“It’s easy”, they say, “All you have to do is write Web 2.0 pages, create social bookmarks, write articles, comment on blogs, do some forum posting, and create a blog of your own to talk about your area of expertise.”

I’m here to tell you that that’s a load of crap, and tell you in very clear terms why. See, internet marketers are human, no matter what they might want you to believe. They don’t have twenty seven hours every day to engage in all of this work — and they need it. The Internet isn’t some gold mine where anyone can come along and decide to write up a few pages on Squidoo and HubPages and magically get enough traffic to do anything at all.

The truth is simple: affordable SEO isn’t do-it-yourself SEO. Affordable SEO still costs money — what makes it affordable is that it works. In other words, it brings in more money than it costs in the long run. (Like any other startup business, if you can’t afford to go into the red for a few months while your SEO efforts kick in, you shouldn’t be going into business in the first place.)

What affordable SEO is: it’s hiring a group of people who have the expertise to be able to work together across various fields — for example, I’m a writer — surprise! — and I work alongside other people who know how to do things like manage pay-per-click advertising and set up targeted email autoresponders and write PHP scripts for membership sites. It’s getting those people to work together to craft a ring of backlinks and backlinks to those backlinks, in order to craft a funnel that directs massive traffic to a webpage that has proper on-site SEO and converts well. It’s profiting from that setup, and profiting to the point where paying for the SEO in the first place becomes trivial.

Link Placement: An Oft-Ignored Part of Website SEO

There are a lot of very complex and detailed rules in the labyrinthine world of off-website SEO. Off-site SEO can be reduced to a few short instructions — build backlinks that will last from authoritative websites that offer controllable anchor text and have high PageRank — but that’s really just the absolute basics. There are many other factors to consider in getting that precious first page placement out of your SEO efforts.

Anchor text is an obvious one — without the right anchor text, a link won’t help you rank for a specific keyword. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing), the process by which Google determines if a page is actually about your keyword by checking for natural variations and related phrases, is also critically important to maximizing your link juice. Even the page your link points to — often a landing page, but sometimes a ‘deep’ page a few layers into your site — has an impact on the SEO value of a given backlink.

But one thing that few experts seem to have figured out is that the actual placement of a link on a page matters. With all other factors exactly the same, Google will give more link juice to a backlink that’s at the top of a page than it will give to one at the bottom. The difference isn’t nearly as big as, say, the difference between posting from a brand new Terapad page and posting from an established authority site like EzineArticles.com — but it’s still measurable and thus important.

The takeaway lesson here comes in two parts: the practical part and the philosophical part.

The practical part is simple: if you have a choice between posting your backlink early in a page or posting it at the bottom, choose early. There are actually many occasions when you can (making a Squidoo page, for example), but equally as many where you can’t (EzineArticles). If you can’t, don’t stress out about it — but if you can, get it done.

The philosophical part is also simple: don’t ever think you’ve mastered the intricacies of SEO — there are always more details to Google’s algorithm than any of us can know.

Testimonials