Internet Marketing

Who Has The Time for A Website? SEO, Social Marketing, PPC…It’s Too Much!

It’s hard to maintain a website. SEO, if you don’t hire a professional company to do it, can literally take up as much time as you care to spend on it. Then you add the modern-day twists of social marketing (spending time writing to the people on Facebook, on your blog, on your forums, and on Twitter) and PPC (crafting clever text ads to put up on the ‘sponsored placement’ window of the various search engines and paying each time someone clicks on one), and you have a workday longer than this sentence, all just to maintain a single site.

How can any startup infopreneur or even a small business hope to keep up without hiring an outside company to take care of these details for them? The answer, quite simply, is that they can’t. hiring a company to take care of your SEO, your social branding, and your PPC management isn’t just a luxury anymore, it’s a simple fact of life.

Just like you don’t wash your own doormats or replace your own soap in the business bathroom, you shouldn’t be bothering with the minutia behind keeping your website profitable and useful. There’s just too much — but a professional that knows his stuff and does it day in, day out can support dozens of websites, because he focuses.

Look at it this way: would you rather have a webmaster that’s a webmaster for an hour a day and splits the rest of his time between managing employees, ordering supplies, signing paychecks, and cleaning the bathroom? Or one that’s a full-time webmaster, and doesn’t clutter his head with other stuff? That’s precisely the difference between being your own webmaster and hiring a professional company to take care of your site.

Modern SEO companies have pluralized significantly from yesteryears, in that they can and will offer nearly every service you need to keep your website on top of it’s game. From converting your website into a mobile-friendly format to driving heinous amounts of traffic to producing high-quality videos to pique interest to managing your pay-per-click campaigns. They can afford to do all of that because it’s all they do — and that’s why every small business and solopreneur should consider hiring one to care for their website. It’s the only way to get everything else done at the same time.

Do Small Businesses Need Mobile Website Design?

Yes. With caveats, of course — if your business doesn’t have a website, you probably don’t need your non-existent website redesigned for mobile devices. If you have a website and you don’t intend to use it to make money, drive foot traffic through your doors, or tell people about your business, you probably shouldn’t waste your time on mobile website design — or having a website in the first place.

But assuming you have a website and you want to use it to improve your business, mobile website design is pretty much a no-brainer. Why? Simple — most people these days have some form of Web-ready mobile device, and if your website is frustrating or annoying to use on a mobile device, you’re risking driving those people away from your business entirely.

Fortunately, mobile website design is relatively inexpensive, and with a clever redirect or two, you can even take advantage of your main website’s SEO. It’s fully possible for your website to detect what kind of device the browser is using to read it and replay by putting the mobile version of your website in front of mobile viewers. That means the same SEO that drives people to your main site can drive mobile viewers seamlessly to your mobile site.

So, knowing that mobile website design can turn your website into a tool that will not only tell surfers at home everything they need to know but also give the essential information (like where you are and when you’re open) to mobile viewers, why would you not do it?

The only real objection you can possibly have is the price — and most mobile website design prices are a few hundred dollars per page. When you consider the profit you can drive by capturing the “out and about and ready to walk through your door right now” crowd, the cost is pretty darn minimal, all things considered.

Do small businesses need mobile website design? Probably not in a literal sense, just like they don’t need a radio spot or an advertisement in the paper — but will most small businesses profit from mobile website design? Resoundingly, yes.

Profit-Optimizing Your Website: SEO for Visitors, Video for Conversions

There’s a lot of talk online about monetizing your website. But monetization isn’t the point — it’s one part of the goal, but it’s not the whole thing. For those of you who don’t recognize the term, ‘monetization’ simply means ‘adding one or more elements to your website that produce money when visitors interact with them.’ The most basic form of monetization is Google Adwords or other context-sensitive text ads. The most complex form is probably along the lines of “being eBay”. But no matter what your form of monetization is, it’s useless if you don’t have two other things going for you.

The first is traffic. No matter what your website, SEO is the best answer for getting long-term, targeted traffic that’s ready to buy. An established SEO firm that has a reputation for great keyword research is your best bet, for no other reason than that targeting the right keywords will determine 50% of how successful your SEO efforts are. No other part of the SEO process is as mission-critical as excellently chosen keywords.

That’s because targeting the wrong keywords can make you go wrong in 3 different ways. You can target keywords that have so much competition that you won’t ever achieve a first page placement on the SERPs. You can target keywords that are easy to dominate, but have so little traffic that no one will notice that you dominated them. And you can target keywords that are low-competition, high-traffic, but happen to be used mostly by people looking for free stuff and not willing to pay anything (a startlingly high percentage of surfers.)

The second problem is no conversions. In other words, you could be getting traffic that is ready to buy, but something about your page fails to capture that urge and turn it into a sale. That’s where on-page video comes in. Offer your visitors a web presenter to tell them all about the benefits of your product or service. Or a flash video banner that goes over, in short, your company’s mission and how you’ve implemented it.

Regardless of exactly how you do it, it’s proven that videos lead to people sticking around, and people who stick around are more likely to buy. Attach the video and the SEO to a clever, monetized site — THAT’s the goal.

Social Bookmarking, Social Networking, Social Buttons — Who Has Time For All This?

Sociality is conquering the world of SEO. Google’s new Search Plus Your World (which adds Google Plus results from people inside your Circles to your normal Web search results) is just the latest nail in the coffin of old-school non-socialized SEO. But the problem with sociality (and the reason why the SEO world has resisted it for so long) is that it’s just a massive time sink.

You start with social profiles for your businesses — it can take a single person half a day just to read and make the occasional comment across Facebook, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, the various social bookmarking sites, and whichever other social arenas you choose to participate in. Then you add the necessity to put little social buttons all over every bit of content you produce so that people can show off that they Like or +1’d this or that particular comment, blog post, or picture you posted, and it starts to get really taxing.

But SEO companies continue to push the envelope, and they’ve taken to supporting (and actively taking over) social marketing efforts on their clients’ behalves. They understand that there’s a need to be served — the “full-time social marketer” is a role that ought to be filled — and they’re the most logical people to fill it. After all, you ask your SEO company to do everything else relating to your website; SEO companies taking over social marketing is just a logical extension of the role of ‘online branding expert’ that they already play.

It might take a little bit of extra time, but the benefits in terms of long-term profitability of their clients’ websites is immeasurable. ‘Social SEO’ is on it’s way to becoming a multi-billion dollar industry — and your SEO company is the right way to profit from jumping on that bandwagon. Get your profiles together and your Like buttons polished, summon your loyal fanbase and get them excited about telling their friends how awesome you are. It’s time to show up at the most profitable gathering place since they invented the village square.

First Page Placement on Google Searches — They’re Where Traffic Comes From

Organic search traffic comes from a very few places. You’re probably thinking “search engines, duh?” — but that’s the broad answer. Organic search traffic, realistically, can only be found in exactly 10 places in the world — the first 10 results on Google.com. You can get 1st place on Bing, Yahoo, AllTheWeb, Blekko, and all of the other search engines combined, and you won’t get as much traffic as you’ll get from a last-place first page placement on Google.

Why does this matter? It’s the entire purpose of website SEO. Let’s look at it a different way: from a return-on-investment perspective.

You’re a business owner, and you’ve sunk $600/month into organic SEO for the past year. You’re top-ranked for 6 keywords….on the second page of Google. For all that time and money, you get what? 6 clicks per keyword per day? You’ve got an important choice in front of you: quit wasting your money, or double down.

If you quit, you’ll have an RoI of about zero, because those six clicks per day aren’t worth jack. SEO will become a term you associate with getting raked over hot coals, and your website will languish in obscurity.

If you double down, however, you’ll probably bump up a spot — and with that one clickover, you’ll increase your traffic by a factor of ten. 60 clicks per keyword per day. More importantly, if you stay doubled down, you’ll continue to rise in the rankings. The first few nips upward, from 10th to 9th to 8th to 7th, are minor. That’s because the REAL traffic comes from the top few slots on the search results. Stick with it, however, and you’ll make it into the top 5 — and those six clicks per day will turn into six hundred.

The lesson here? There’s a lot of talk about traffic sources in all manner of internet marketing repository on the Internet — but it’s all a distraction. If you’re not getting your organic traffic from those top few spots at Google.com, you’re not getting traffic, end of story.

YouTube Is Still Growing – Does Your Website SEO Company Do Video?

YouTube is the third most visited site on the Internet (behind Google’s english page and Facebook). Every minute of every day, an average of 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube — that’s 8 years of content per day. It takes less than three days for the number of videos watched to exceed the number of people on Earth. Every second of every day, more than 8 tweets containing links to videos on YouTube go out to hundreds of followers.

If you’re not convinced that you deserve a part of that action, you should probably just quit trying to market to the online crowd right now. If you’re wondering how you can stand out in a venue with such a massive noise-to-signal ratio, you don’t need to worry — that’s what your website’s SEO company is for.

If you put together a high-quality video — something engaging, interesting, quirky, and powerful — your SEO company darn well ought to be able to start getting it some attention. If they’re really good, they can help you get your videos put together in the first place. Many modern SEO companies keep close relationships with scriptwriters, video editors, voice actors, and full actors because they do things like web presenters to improve bounce rates and conversions — it’s a small jump from there to making YouTube videos to spread the word.

Not only do YouTube videos have an easier time going viral than any other form of media, but even if they don’t, you still get plenty of benefits from video:

  • Persistence: A video on YouTube is forever; it will keep getting clicks basically forever.
  • Relevance: Because you control a significant portion of the text displayed adjacent to your video, you can create your own relevance, making the backlink even stronger.
  • Authority: You think YouTube isn’t an authority site? Don’t kid yourself — even Google isn’t silly enough to discard the opinion of the third-most-visited website in the world.

In short, if you’re not doing video, talk to your SEO company — and if they don’t do video, get a new one.

Effective Website SEO Requires Constant Attention

There is a lot of talk about SEO today and for good reason. Search engine optimization is what will take your site to the top of Google so that people see it and click on it. The concept is so simple, yet also so complex. The theory itself is simple, but the logistics involved are more complicated. It takes a lot of work to make a site rank high up in the search engines and there is a certain process that needs to be followed in order to achieve that goal.

Many business owners think that getting SEO done on their site will bring them to the top of Google and then the job is finished. What happens, however, is that once a site reaches the top it needs to be maintained in order to stay there. The SEO work involved in maintaining a top position is much less than the work needed to get a site to rise. At the point where a website is sitting comfortably in the first ranking on the first page of Google, the website SEO work is less costly.

It still needs to be maintained, however. Once you start playing the SEO game your website will start to lose its rankings. It’s like a video game. You can rank up all the points you want, but you need to keep playing it for the game to continue.

Things that need to be kept in place in order to keep your rankings include directory submission, posting on forums, bookmarking on social sites, article and video distribution and backlinking. If these activities stop, you risk losing all of the hard work that you’ve put into your SEO efforts.

The best way to keep your site at the top is to use a professional SEO service. This type of company will take care of these activities for you and the price will be minimal. It will only take a small monthly investment to maintain your position and profit level.

It all comes down to a simple mathematical equation at this point. What do you have to potentially lose if your rankings fall versus how much will you have to pay for SEO? In almost every case the numbers add up to maintaining the ranking with a small amount of effort versus watching the site fall.

Social Marketing Is The Win, But Can Your Website SEO Team Take the Time?

It can be difficult to keep up with the changes happening on the Internet today. It wasn’t long ago that social sites weren’t even around. Today, social has become the biggest trend on the Internet and it is getting more popular with each passing day. Blogs are even including social buttons on their pages so that their business can connect with people that have visited their website.

Social bookmarking will help any business thrive and prosper. The problem is that it takes a lot of time to keep up with it. Updates need to be made to Facebook, Tweets need to be done on Twitter and other social sites need to be worked on as well. In order to remain social you need to visit the sites regularly, and who has time to maintain this endless amount of social SEO work?

If you are serious about expanding your business both online and off-line, social marketing is the answer. It is a vital part of any website SEO strategy and needs constant maintenance. The best way to keep up with it is to use the services of an SEO company that works with social sites on your behalf. This means that they will update and post on your sites for you. You’ll be able to have a social Internet presence without having to worry about taking the time to do it yourself.

If you’re worried about other people making your posts for you, that is totally understandable. It can be difficult to ask another company to handle your personal social sites, but when it comes to business it is a necessity. As long as you find a SEO company with a good reputation, everything will be fine.

This is what your competitors are doing. They are outsourcing this project to businesses that specialize in it. How else could they possibly find the time to constantly update their information? With all of the social sites on the Internet today, it isn’t humanly possible to do all this on your own while working on your business.

If your social marketing isn’t what it should be, consider outsourcing the job to a company that knows how to do it right. This small investment can lead to big rewards as your social presence rises and your business name goes viral.

Losing Rank — Your Slipping Website’s SEO Failure Revealed

So you’ve had a website on the top few of the SERPs slots for several months now, and you’re enjoying the benefits: traffic, money, prestige, the whole nine yards. But one morning, you notice that suddenly you’ve had a drop in traffic. You scurry over to Analytics, and find that your Google traffic has dropped. You hurriedly go to Google and type in your keyword and find that you’ve slipped from second place to fifth!

What happened?!?

Well, there are a few things that might have happened. Google might have updated their algorithm and decided that your site just isn’t as cool according to the new metrics. Some competitor of yours might have magically sealed up a few dozen PR 8 .edu backlinks and stolen your mojo. Maybe your competitors went and linked to you from a bunch of known link farms or blackhatters slew your ranking in some other way.

But the honest truth is that it’s quite likely you just plain didn’t keep up on optimizing your website. SEO is an ongoing game — like swimming up a stream. You have to move forward just to sit still, and you have to haul ass forward to get anywhere. Far too many businesses will start a blog, pay for a dozen blog entries from their SEO company, get ranked for a few keywords, and then forget about it. The result is exactly what happened in the first paragraph.

Someone familiar with organic SEO might be wondering why the ‘move forward to sit still’ paradigm is in play here. After all, don’t websites naturally gain authority and juice just by getting older? And it’s not like backlinks lose value as they age.

The truth is twofold: one, not all of the backlinks you build will last forever. Some backlinks vanish over time as old pages are deleted or entire websites fold. Others are discovered and deleted by administrators or editors.

Two, your competitors aren’t static entities. They’re playing the SEO game, too, and if they play harder than you do, well, they win. You can’t ever stop fighting for that top spot if you expect to keep it. If you think otherwise, that’s why your site is slipping. Get back in the game!

Flash, Videos, and Web Presenters: Powerful Visuals That Capture and Convert

You’ve seen the equation before: t*c*p=$ — traffic times conversion rate times price equals gross profit. Website SEO companies used to focus entirely on the ‘t’ in that equation, leaving the rest to the webmaster to figure out. But as the economy tanked in 2008, many major SEO companies realized they had to take the next step in keeping their clients profitable if they wanted to remain above water themselves. The result: they started working hard on the ‘c’ part, too: conversions.

We’ve been studying conversions for a few years now, and we’ve come to one overwhelming conclusion: among everything that you can do to help your conversions, adding visuals to your website is the top item. Whether you’re adding beautiful flash banners, videos of real people talking in real terms about your product or service, or even a web presenter to capture surfers’ interest and attention, it’s all about the visuals.

Flash Banners are so common these days that coming across a professional website without one is almost a shock to your senses. Some websites’ banners are so big that it’s a challenge to tell that there’s any content on the site without scrolling down a little first — that can be a mistake. But no banner at all is a much, much worse mistake to make.

Videos provide the surfer with a sense of connectivity — they can see and hear ‘you’ or, depending on how you do things, your satisfied customers. That gives them a better feel for who you are as a person, which is why many business owners hire actors to play them. Not everyone can be a movie star, after all. Regardless of it’s authenticity, videos are great for connecting to your customers.

Web Presenters are a little-used but powerful variation on the video theme. They’re little pop-up people that proceed to talk and gesticulate like people on a video, but ‘outside the box’. They can give an even better sense of connection than the videos, primarily because they’re “opt-out” — surfers have to take action to NOT see them, unlike videos which generally must be activated in order to be watched.

It doesn’t matter kind of visuals you decide to run with — as long as you have SOMETHING to catch your surfer’s attention and help your conversion rate. Your bottom line will thank you!

The Importance of Conversions And The Power of Targeted Email Marketing

Here’s a situation we see all too often in the SEO world: some guy has dumped a few hundred bucks a month into website SEO for the better part of a year, and he’s got himself up to a hundred hits a day. That’s a big milestone for an internet entrepreneur, and he should be incredibly happy to get there. But he has a problem. He’s not making any money.

For every hundred people who land on his website, 9 of them ‘bounce’ — that is to say, they click away within 10 seconds of landing there. 91 of them stick around and read a bit of the content — but then another 90 of them leave without buying anything. 9% is a totally acceptable bounce rate — surfers are fickle that way — but a 1% conversion rate is really hard to make any money with.

So how do you rescue a failing conversion rate? One very effective method is called targeted Email marketing: the art of ‘squeezing’ an email address out of a surfer who isn’t ready to buy and then emailing them more content later on in hopes that they’ll come around and purchase your product or service. It happens in four steps: the squeeze, the flow, the drop, and the score.

The squeeze is basically an exchange — you give them something they want, usually some free information, and they give you their email address and permission to email them with commercial materials down the road.

The flow is the part during which you Email them a few times with NON-commercial content. You get them used to the idea that your Emails are full of useful content without a lot of pressure.

The drop comes the first time you put a call-to-action in an Email. At that point, some people will immediately unsubscribe — that’s normal. The ones that don’t are considering your offer. The drop is usually somewhat subdued in tone. More drops generally happen after the score.

The score comes a few emails after the drop, and it’s a high-pressure sales email designed to elicit maximum response. More people will unsubscribe in response — that’s normal too. After this point, every month or so should have a new score.

Basically at this point, you’ll have three groups of people on your list: people who aren’t reading it but can’t figure out how to unsubscribe; people who are reading it and want to buy but can’t afford it (but will someday); and people who will buy — usually multiple times — as you suggest products. That last group is your bread and butter, and is a group that your website would never have gotten a single penny from without the power of targeted Email marketing.

Affordable SEO Means Doing It Right The First Time

Every single novice webmaster in the world learns a pretty harsh lesson about SEO early in his career. That lesson is this: if you don’t do your website SEO correctly, you’ve not only wasted yesterday’s time and money getting nothing done, but you might have to waste tomorrow’s time and money fixing the mistakes you made.

Here’s a classic scenario: a guy gets fired and decides he’s going to be his own boss. He goes online and learns about microsites or affiliate blogging or something, and learns about this thing called SEO. He hears he’s supposed to get backlinks, so he goes out and starts building them. He’s a smart guy and he wants to save himself some work, so he gets a bookmarking daemon and starts submitting 400 bookmarks per day, targeting a different page on his website every day.

At the end of the week, he looks up the phrase he’s submitted as his anchor text, confident he’ll be on the first page — and instead learns that he’s been sandboxed. His backlinks were obviously mechanically created, spam links with negative SEO value. Of course, he didn’t know that — how could he?

Now he’s got to start over with a new URL as well as coming up with a new, more successful SEO strategy. He’s out everything he spent, and he’s still spending just to get back to the starting line.

Contrast that to another guy who got fired and decided to start a website. This guy, however, decided to hand his SEO tasks over to the experts. He hired an SEO company. He paid a hundred bucks more than the other guy (who didn’t pay anything up front!) — but then, all of his startup time and effort wasn’t wasted. He’s taking huge strides down the road to top placements for his keywords, and hasn’t looked back.

Which of those do YOU think is the more ‘affordable’ SEO?

The simple fact is that 49 times out of 50, SEO done by someone that doesn’t do it for a living is going to result in net improvement of nothing. Don’t let that be you — a little money down will save you days of work and heartache in the future.

If You Have a Website, SEO Is Your Friend

There is one simple fact that is true of every single website: SEO is that website’s best tool for getting traffic in the long term. SEO — Search Engine Optimization — is the practice of arranging your on-page elements and acquiring backlinks from other pages in order to make your website look good to the search engines.

SEO is vitally important to obtaining one critical thing: traffic. If you rank at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for several good keywords, people will find your website and read it. If you don’t, you have to pay, one way or another, for every visitor that comes to visit your site. Either you’re paying for them individually, like with pay-per-click marketing, or you’re paying for advertisements like a brick-and-mortar business would.

Of course, you can — and probably should — pay for SEO services, too. Trying to do your own SEO on top of everything else you need to do to get your online business off the ground is like pausing in the middle of a marathon in order to do a quick triathlon. The difference between paying for SEO and paying for traffic, however, is enormous.

When you pay for traffic, you pay a (more or less) fixed cost per visitor. Your bids might be higher on some keywords than on others, but you’re still paying some amount for every visitor that comes to see you.

On the other hand, when you pay for SEO, you’re investing in future traffic. Your visitors per dollar will pretty much suck for the first couple of months. But as you invest more time and money into SEO, the returns get better and better until they blow pay-per-click marketing out of the water.

Of course, there’s nothing keeping you from doing both PPC and SEO at the same time — in fact, if you can afford it, it’s the preferred way to go — but if you have to pick one over the other, organic SEO is always going to be better in the long term.

The 5 Most Important Things to Learn About Organic SEO

Organic SEO, (n.): Any of numerous techniques used by website owners to cause their websites to rank highly for various search terms on the major search engines, primarily Google. ‘Organic’ is synonymous with ‘White Hat’; contrast ‘Black Hat SEO’. I didn’t want to risk getting sandboxed this time, so I hired a company to do Organic SEO and get me in the top 3 for ‘how to fix a boombox’.

The truth about organic SEO is that there is too much information out there for any one person, no matter how saturated they are, to be an expert in the entire subject. That’s why most website SEO companies have a staff that runs between 12 and 120 people — because it takes at least a dozen people just to master the basic gruntwork of Search Engine Optimization. There are, however, a few basic principles that everyone who owns a website should know about SEO.

  • Unique Root Domains: Your rank on Google can be most accurately predicted by the number of unique root domains (i.e. different websites) that link to your website. Whatever else you do for SEO, concentrating on getting links from websites that aren’t already linking to you is a good thing.
  • Natural Backlink Profiles: If you have a lot of backlinks that come from the came IP C-block, were created on the same day of the week, use the same anchor text, appear within a few words of the same name or Email address, or are in any other obvious way related to one another, you lose.
  • Authority Over Multiplicity: There are hundreds of thousands of blackhat SEO doofuses out there that can create hundreds of thousands of backlinks in an afternoon. The search engines would rather see a dozen high-value backlinks from related websites than a thousand zero-value backlinks from link farms.
  • On Page SEO Counts: Despite what some companies will tell you, backlinks aren’t everything — you have to have your own page right as well. Ask a guru.
  • Organic SEO Isn’t a Quick Fix: Again, despite claims from various gurus, the only quick fixes in website SEO involve a lot of money up-front. Organic SEO isn’t that — it’s a medium-paced, ongoing process that will take months to kick in.

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.

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