My Small Business internet marketing plan …errr I mean RANT…

January 31, 2010

So, I am sitting here at a local automobile inspection facility waiting for my turn ….

My C5 Corvette Pictures | Google Guru RacingWith my Droid phone…. and some free time on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.

I’m wondering, have you ever noticed that you don’t see these guys advertising much in traditional print yellow pages phone books.  I bet I know and can tell you why…. and do it without all that fancy technical jargon that creates so much darn confusion!

Location,

location,

location,

and necessity…..

You see, we must get our vehicles inspected in order to drive on Texas roads, just like the necessities of eating at restaurants and going to movie theatres to see the latest blockbuster.  When you use the phone book to find something near you, it by most parts, is far from easy and convenient to see the reviews, wait times, pricing, comments, news, and latest discounts from these local vendors.  A mobile application not only identifies what is nearest you via geo-location, it also answers all the questions you may have related to the current state of your environment and surroundings.  I recently read that just over 120 online mobile coupon apps exist on the iPhone Apple Store.  Mobile is growing. Mobile search and digital marketing will continue to impact traditional print yellow pages.  I believe that print media is just now being disrupted by online media.  2010 is the year that local catches up with national trends.

Penetration of Online Media Surpasses Traditional Media for First Time Among Small-Business Advertisers

Over the past few years, I have noticed that what you see in the marketplace does not often speak for what you see in trends. Trends are just that… TRENDS.  They are patterns and show movement.  Folks have asked me about “Social Media” marketing for local businesses. Social media should not be an effort. Social Media is more about protecting, promoting, and connecting with your brand than it is advertising. Great social media marketing efforts and communication complement your “advertising” efforts.

Social Media: Over the past few years, I have recommended to clients to create a company Facebook presence.  I also recommend that they consider “Facebook Ads” as a means of promoting company Facebook Fan Pages (what I call great corporate “news” rooms.)  Often the next question local business owners ask me is, “Do I need to be on Twitter?”  My response is often dependent on the companies unique needs, frequency of communications, style of communication, and number of messages the client wants/needs to inform prospects, customers, and friends (fans.) It costs around $500.00-$700.00 to create/setup a social media presence or improve an existing one. This is a one-time fee and you should own the work produced.

Next question, “What should I do about my website?” If your website was created prior to the middle of 2007, odds are you need a website update.  The reason most sites are outdated is because of the changes in web browsers, scripted language, social media content, and other trends in (what I like to call) Web 3.0 technologies.  I strongly recommend clients utilize a content management system.  A content management system (CMS) makes publishing content, updates, and sharing information on your site much easier and less costly.  A content management system also offers the flexibility of “website changes after you fired your web developer.”  A few of  the growing open-source web development platforms include Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, ModX, Zen Cart (ecommerce,) phpBB (forum) and many others.  The most popular website CMS’s are Joomla, WordPress (btw, I love http://www.CopyBlogger.com) and Drupal.  Not only does a CMS make it easy for any web novice to add text content, it also makes it easy to add videos and image content. Would you like to plug your YouTube channel into your site? How about your Twitter “Tweets?”  With a CMS it is very simple. Here are a  few other reasons why you need a new CMS:

  1. Own your website. Never allow someone other than yourself to control your online brand.
  2. Edit your website from anywhere, anytime and remove the hassle for content distribution.
  3. Access restrictions to your site can be set with assigned roles and permissions.
  4. Website design consistency.
  5. Stored content within the database.
  6. Updated for the latest browsers (IE6 Must Die!)
  7. Dynamic Content – cool plug-in stuff and widgets that do more cool stuff!
  8. Non-Technical author friendly…. anyone who can use Microsoft Word is capable of content publishing.
  9. Customizable banners and landing pages without the big expense! (this is a big one for PPC advertisers!)
  10. In the event you fire your web guy…… finding a new one in the “open-source” community is easy.

and the biggest reason: Forever Upgradeable……… never be left behind again!

Websites cost around $1200.00-$5000.00…. which is a one-time fee.  This fee depends on the level of detail and amount of content you need to get started.

Video:….. YouTube is the #2 Search Engine on the Planet. In 2010 you want to show up in Image Search, Mobile Search, Google Search, Yahoo Search, Video Search, Yellow Pages Search, Map Search, Coupon Search, Bing Search, Reviews Search, and all the other tons of different types of search platforms in existence…. (such as Auto Search, News Search, Blog Search, Ebay Search, Wiki Search, Amazon Search, AOL Search, etc.)

Professional YouTube videos typically start about $1,000.00 each professionally edited, produced, and filmed on location. The videos are optimized for YouTube on the clients YouTube channel. The client owns the channel. The video shows up on YouTube searches.

Logo:…… $300-500 for the coolest options! Fresh logos! Too many folks skimp out on the appearance. Look bold. Look fresh. Get “fresher” clients (no recommended for Reverse Mortgage folks, lol.)

Local business listing packages….. create accounts on all the directory sites. Claim listings. Google Page Places/Maps etc. Bing Local, Yahoo Local etc. Fun stuff… tedious and time consuming, but necessary. Should cost about $300-500.00 one time fee for hours invested. You should own the accounts that are setup.

Google AdWords PPC: I do not recommend hiring the services of a “national” company or yellow pages publisher to manage your online paid search marketing programs. After personally working for a Yellow Pages Company who was horrible at servicing the sales and working with Yellow Pages sales consultants who are not accountable for making sure the ads are working (not blaming them, but the business model) since they are not educated or permitted the time to ensure proper fulfillment and management. Too many issues exist when you give complete control of your advertising budget to firms that use proprietary systems to place a large amount of ads into Google’s platform.

  • Management fees can not be discontinued during a contract with the Yellow Pages
  • Costs per Click and Keyword Reporting does not include distribution (content network vs search network etc)
  • Management fees are $500-1000 more than what they “SHOULD” charge for them. (over $300.00/hr!)
  • Landing Page Optimization is not offered or focused on.
  • Google Analytics is not offered.

Here is an example of an analytics account detail: (You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure)

Take a look at the traffic for this analytics account!

Notice what percent is organic.... this client spends big bucks on SUPERPAGES.com! But no traffic!

RSS (real simple syndication) Feeds……. yeah… those things! Great tools to utilize to create ideas for content!

Content Writing….. I would budget around $40.00 per article and do a minimum of 2 per month! Each one needs to focus on a different keyword phrase! Overtime the content you pay for will compliment the content you provide and you will become an authority on Google!

How many websites do you need? This is a tough question to answer… it really depends on your businesses products, services, and service area! The general rule of thumb is that the only folks that need one website are location based or referral only. If you value online search traffic, you really need more than one. This has been proven over and over!

Last but not least, SEO!.…… this is when the fun begins. SEO is voodoo magic. It is a big secret. It is scary. It ….. alright.. I am kidding. SEO is 80% common sense, and 20% effort! Once you learn the basics, from that point it is strategy, trial, testing, and experience. It becomes an effort to create great content, optimize and distribute that content, and then do a similar thing all over again. Content exists not just as words and text, but also as videos and images. Video Search Engine Optimization is just as important as Search Engine Optimization. SEO is about links. SEO is about keywords. SEO is about research. SEO is about ranking factors. SEO…… well, SEO is something that few internet marketing agencies with big huge profit margins can offer local small to medium-sized businesses. SEO is something that I can offer you! SEO is what I LOVE!

  • You be investing in organic search results the same as you do paid… just save on PPC and spend the $$ on SEO!
  • If folks can’t offer a holistic solution to search engine marketing…… they are just www.YellowCrooks.com!

Mobile Coupons………. Big Opportunity for 2010.

How should you plan for the future? You should educate yourself. This is technically FREE… but finding the right instructor to guide you is what you should invest in!

I am going to continue editing this post as new ideas and thoughts, as they enter my head…..

Let me know what else you would like to learn!

Cheers,

Mike Stewart

The Dallas SEO Guru

Creator of the Dallas Local Search Engine Marketing Agency dedicated to Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, SMB SEO.


The best local small business PPC service does not come in a box…..

January 29, 2010

So you signed a contract for Pay Per Click from the yellow pages?So I was driving by McDonald’s yesterday while on the phone with a local Dallas area business owner, the comedic timing for my comments to him could not have been any better.

Prepare for another soapbox soliloquy:

I said to him, “You don’t expect the so-called internet advertising experts at the yellow pages company, who state they offer “transparency in reporting,” to actually incorporate Google Analytics do you? I explained to him that when the Yellow pages industry started feeling the shift from consumers away from the printed phone books that litter millions of doorsteps, and finally decided that they needed to create an advertising product to grow alongside the world’s #1 search engine Google, they had very little focus and very little experience. It wasn’t that folks in the phone book industry were not smarter than I am. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the ability to put businesses in front of consumers on the internet. The real issue was fulfillment and transparency.

FACT: PPC campaign managers were on gag order and instructed not to disclose the number of PPC accounts managed.

FACT: 12 month contracts only work for print yellow page ads (since the books can not be undelivered)

FACT: Google and Yahoo do not have contracts for internet advertising

FACT: Yellow Pages PPC marketers use your data to build competitors campaigns

FACT: If your campaign does not perform, you are required to pay 400-1000.00 per month or more for management regardless of clicks…. for the ENTIRE 12 MONTH TERM!

FACT: PPC costs are higher when doing PPC with YELLOW PAGES (just look at the margins and overhead)

FACT: LOCAL SEARCH MARKETERS are on the rise…..

FACT: Management fees should not be a fixed cost. They should be billed hourly or transparent.

FACT: SEO is not as complex as the industry leads you to believe.

FACT: Wide spread abuse of Google AdWords Certifications exams exists at Yellow Pages organizations.

FACT: Yellow Pages do not build your brand, your website, or your Google AdWords campaign…. You have a bad experience and cancel your contract…………………………………. YOU LOSE EVERYTHING!

He told me that he and other business owners were in the process of filing a suit against a yellow pages company located in Dallas for click fraud. I asked him, “How can you prove it?” He stated that when he put analytics in the site, he was shocked to see that Google was not tracking the same data that the Yellow Pages company was billing him. I wonder to what extent business owners are experiencing this same problem? How many “bad experiences” exist for the business owners that rely on the “Marketing in a Box” products from the Yellow Pages?

It seems to me, as a fellow small business owner, the choice is very clear…..

Don’t expect to get good advice from Phone Book or Super dooper Media companies for your internet advertising!

“YOU CAN’T PUT LOCAL INTERNET MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA BRANDING IN A BOX!”Mike Stewart

Instead of signing a contract for a SuperHappySearchMarketing Meal served with “Kool-Aid” and cronyism….. find a local search marketer who will train, teach, consult, create, innovate, strategize, quantify, measure, fulfill, and be accountable for your businesses growth and prosperity.

NO CONTRACTS FOR PPC ADVERTISING * OWN YOUR WEBSITE * MEASURE YOUR WEB TRAFFIC * BUILD AN ARTICLE BASE


SuperMedia’s SuperYellowpages.com has real potential with Apple PC Tablet

January 27, 2010

In my opinion, putting a phonebook on the internet only works to save money shipping phonebooks to India’s telemarketers. When Scott Klein announced his initiatives last February to a room filled with 3000 sales consultants ( an effort to pump them full of that good Super Kool-Aid stuff,) I am sure I wasn’t the only one feeling sick to my stomach.

I now see potential in http://www.SuperYellowPages.com when combined with the Apple Tablet….what better way for the company to end dependance on a saturated and fragmented print publishing and delivery business? There are more phone books printed in the U.S. than people and VerizonYP/Idearc/SuperMedia only distributes to larger urban markets vs its predecessor GTE Yellow Pages. Idearc was not the first to create an online version of print. Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages sent CD’s to offices to curb distribution waste. Area-Wide created an online version of its print directories years ago vs focusing on a real IYP offering to compete with SuperPages.com, YellowPages.com, and other IYP/digital directories.

In another 5 years, I am sure other tablets will exist. Almost all consumers will have one and I also predict that we will cease flipping pages of books, newspapers, and magazines in favor of PC Tablets. I also believe Google’s YouTube site and NetFlix will merge as well as a shift away from old antiquated Yellow Pages.

Will folks with tablets visit the SuperYellowPages site? We will soon see…… in the meantime, Klein better get his shit together and plan for what is coming….. so far his SuperGuarantee Gimmick is far from impressive (copied ServiceMagic’s Service Guarantee, which by all accounts was not something consumers took advantage of.)

Will the Apple Tablet be popular? Sure….just like smartphones and mobile web browsers. Will SuperMedia manage to keep up with changing times? It is still to early to tell.

-this was posted from my Android phone via WordPress app. Folks, Pay real close attention to mobile search and the future availability of the internet.


The Web of Tomorrow is Going To Kill Print Yellow Pages. FACT

January 25, 2010

What the Web of Tomorrow Will Look Like: 4 Big Trends to Watch

Posted using ShareThis

I just finished reading this article from Mashable and wanted to share it with you. We all know it is coming, but putting it together on one page really puts things into perspective. So here is to looking forward. Stop looking at local search from a 2000 perspective. Print has become extremely fragmented. Google dominates search with over 67% of the search volume. Only Yellow Pages companies put contracts on Google Advertising. If results focus is not met, you deserve the option to find a better search marketer. You should not be chased with collections attorneys or be held to ambiguous contracts that only legal experts can understand.

1. The Web Will Be Accessible Anywhere


Nationwide Wi-Fi anywhere you go. Convenience of Local Access TV. FREE Internet access anywhere you go. 3G & 4G Networks are growing at rapid pace.


2. Web Access Will Not Focus Around the Computer


In a column on CNN earlier this month, Mashable’s Adam Ostrow explored one of the biggest trends at CES: the embedding of the web outside of the computer . At present, we focus our Internet use in the U.S. on our laptops. In Japan though, many more access the web primarily through their phones, a trend that is just beginning to sweep the states.

This is just the beginning. New Internet-enabled TVs will allow us to browse from the living room and soon our cars will become Wi-Fi hotspots.
The Apple Tablet looks to be the next stage of this evolution. Rumor has it that not only is the device going to have 3G access, but Apple envisions it is a shared piece of hardware among the family. Instead of having to jump onto the computer to check your email, you can just have your girlfriend or boyfriend pass you the tablet to check out what’s going on.

In ten years, computers will only be a small percentage of how we use our web. We’re going to be accessing it from nearly every device and appliance we own.


3. The Web Will Be Media-Centric


The time of text-based interactions is going to diminish until they’re just a minor component of our web experience. Yes, we will always write, blog, and tweet, but as more and more devices adopt touchscreen interfaces and alternatives to the keyboard and mouse (it’s already happening), our reliance on videos from YouTube (YouTube) and Hulu (Hulu), social games like FarmVille, and interactive interfaces like the iPhone OS will grow rapidly.


4. Social Media Will Be Its Largest Component


Stats published by Nielsen show that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year, an astronomical rise. Facebook (Facebook), Twitter (Twitter), YouTube, blogs, and social interaction are becoming the focus of our online interactions, even more than search.

We’re social creatures, so it was only a matter of time until we figured out how to make the web an efficient medium for communication, sharing, and forging friendships. Now that we’re finally implementing the social layer though, it’s tough to find a scenario where the rise of social media doesn’t continue.

In ten years, when you access the web, most of the time you spend will be to connect with your friends. Almost all of that will be on social networks and through social media. It will be the #1 reason why we ever pull out our phones, tablets, or computers.


Great analysis of the growth and what to expect in internet usage. The trends have been set beginning with Universal Search in 2007 (blended results) and then real-time search in 2009. Mobile search is booming. Consumers will have two options for applications and browsers on the market: Safari (iPhone) and Android (HTC/DROID/NEXUS/MOTOROLA etc.)

Unlike traditional print local search (aka: the Yellow Pages), the internet creates a level of intelligence on service providers with transparency that you can never get from a sheet of paper in a book.

Barcode scanners on mobile devices will be hot. Check-ins and information sharing. Product reviews. Pricing. You name it… be prepared.

Mobile Coupons are also going to be important.

The trends in web2.0 are exciting to say the least. If you have not clicked on the article above…. take a peak. It is definitely worth a read!

SOAPBOX WARNING:

I am starting to think that the folks at Idearc / SuperMedia have “come to Jesus” and realize how challenging the existing business model is going to be maintained while attempting to continue being a profitable company. Outsourcing is going to be ever-so important. They even said it themselves that the business will not be a growth company. Not all companies are growth companies. When you are already so big… you have more to lose than to gain.

As I recently shared before, here are SuperMedia’s earnings forecasts over the past few years:

In a plan circulated to creditors, Idearc estimated its printed book revenue would be cut by more than half to $1.6 billion between 2004 and 2013.

Idearc/Verizon Yellow Pages

Print revenue

2004: $3.5 billion

2006: $3.0 billion

2008: $2.7 billion

Projected 2013: $1.6 billion*

Online business:

2006: $230 million

2008: $300 million

Projected 2013: $598 million*

Industrywide classified yellow pages printed:

Down 1 billion to 13.4 billion between 2005 and 2007

* Best-case scenario – Source: SEC and court filings

Now…….. the combination of talented Social Media Experts and Search Engine Marketers with creative web developers utilizing open-source concepts….. that is going to be the type of business model for WEB 2.0….. (or is it now WEB 3.0?)


The most important web marketing move in 2010 for local businesses is Google Place Pages

January 19, 2010

you might even qualify to be a favorite!

Here is an example of the window sticker Google sends out.

Google Favorite Place sticker for your business window

Google has taken a big bite out of local search with the local map results.

Local Search traffic details year over year

SuperPages.com's Network took the hardest hit, let's see if they can bounce back.

This information, combined with the fact that Google has over 65-70% of all online search volume, means Google Map local listing optimization is now more imperative than ever. These listings can be optimized based on the techniques of the most experienced Local Search Ranking Experts, such as David Mihm. When Google first offered map listings and optimization it was performed with phone verifications. Google has been working tirelessly on improving the manner in which it finds new listings (an area once dominated by Telephone Companies and relationships with national yellow pages publishers.)   Originally, businesses were listed heavily based on Proximity to Centroid or distance from the center of town. Google has improved the process of both claiming listings w/ phone verification and determining which results are ranked higher. They also rotate these listings.

An wonderful example of my previous efforts to optimize a map listing would be the “Criminal Attorney Dallas” search term. I optimized the listing for John Teakell while a partner at Milner Finn near downtown Dallas. I have had many examples of successful results.

Google also offers the best form of website statistic and traffic reporting. This is called analytics. If you have a website that does not have analytics, you desperately need to find a new local search marketing agency. Don’t expect to get this kind of advice from Yellow Pages publishers, the appear to concentrate on proprietary bid management systems which campaigns you never own and local internet yellow pages properties to distribute your ad dollars on. Considering the fragmentation in local search, this is not often the best strategy for local business owners and marketers.

Google completely dominates internet search.

November 2009

Rank Provider Searches (000) Share of Searches
All Search 10,002,458 100.0%
1 Google Search 6,546,172 65.4%
2 Yahoo! Search 1,525,964 15.3%
3 MSN/Windows Live/Bing Search 1,073,416 10.7%
4 AOL Search 280,311 2.8%
5 Ask.com Search 177,589 1.8%
6 My Web Search Search 101,586 1.0%
7 Comcast Search 47,746 0.5%
8 NexTag Search 34,314 0.3%
9 BizRate Search 29,044 0.3%
10 Yellow Pages Search 25,260 0.3%

Source: Nielsen MegaView Search

Considering what Google is doing with Geo, Video, Mobile, and more……. I think Google is a Great Bet for your business.

In December, Google rolled out 2 key changes to search:

  • Google now personalizes results based on history and location for all searchers
  • Google now blends search results with “Real Time” information such as Twitter.com

These are key changes that impact your business. Feel free to email me with your questions on Google Advertising Options for Your Local Small Business. Look forward to working with you in 2010!

Mike Stewart

“The Dallas Google Guru”

www.Twitter.com/DallasSEOguru

Office: 214-267-9553

Email: DallasSEOguru@gmail.com

pssst….. I forgot to tell ya…… Google Place Page listings are FREE!  The Optimization and higher rankings…. unfortunately not so FREE.


Local Small Business Internet Advertising Options are Changing

January 13, 2010

WOW… things are heating up in the local advertising search space.

In December, ReachLocal.com, one of the largest pay-per-click lead generators, filed for an IPO. On January 4th SuperMedia, formerly IdearcMedia, emerged from Bankruptcy and essentially wiping away billions and billions of dollars worth of debt built up by Verizon Telecommunications (Corporate Fraud at its best if you ask me!)

Yahoo! and Microsoft Finalize Search Agreement

SUNNYVALE, Calif. & REDMOND, Wash., Dec 04, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corporation today announced that the companies have finalized and executed the definitive Search and Advertising Services and Sales Agreement and License Agreement in accordance with the letter agreement announced in July.

The companies released the following joint statement:

“Microsoft and Yahoo! believe that this deal will create a sustainable and more compelling alternative in search that can provide consumers, advertisers and publishers real choice, better value, and more innovation.

“Yahoo! and Microsoft welcome the broad support the deal has received from key players in the advertising industry and remain hopeful that the closing of the transaction can occur in early 2010.”

I have not heard any recent news from AT&T recently, but I wanted to reach out and give them a pat on the back. Why you may ask? AT&T partnered with WebVisible. Why is this such a big deal? $$ What do peanuts bring? $$

Unlike SuperMedia’s persistance on offering PPC management with very little if any focus on “Website Ads,” (Some folks call this landing pages…. PPC landing pages etc) Example of AT&T PPC WebVisible Landing Pagewhich is what I like to call the pages on a small business website that are similar to ads in a phone book. WebVisible’s product also help clients convert traffic from the clicks into phone calls, an area that SuperMedia completely disregards (just like analytics.) Outsourcing website development will not help the cause either. SuperMedia sends leads to your current website or one that they create. Such as this one. AT&T (like AdzZoo) is creating landing pages. This is a big advantage considering that many advertisers have zero clue on how to convert clicks into phone calls. It is obvious to me that SuperMedia also has no clue. ReachLocal is the same if you ask me, since the majority of PPC campaigns are built around proxy sites (mirrored websites with phone number replaced for call tracking.)

Here is the best website I have seen from a Yellow Pages company www.TheTransmissionShop.com by AT&T Yellow Pages. Jeff Swope at Webformance Inc. asked Dalana, a new Webformance developer, to redesign the companies Yellow Pages built website. Here is what she was able to produce in less than 5 days: www.WebformanceInc.com/Dalana

Pretty impressive if you ask me? How much did it cost compared to the one the Yellow Pages company took 6 months to produce? Peanuts!

What also impresses me most about WebVisible is the fact that they are willing to try new ideas and methods.

Peanuts bring you Elephants.

Such as:   http://directory.leadmaverick.com/WebVisible/Los-AngelesLong-BeachSanta-Ana/CA/10/8174/index.aspx

Recently, WebVisible partnered with Ecordia. Smart move. I was impressed with what Sean Jackson and the folks at Ecordia have created with the Ecordia Content Hub. WebVisible understands content.

Content is:

http://spiritualdeepdish.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/elephant_money_origami.jpg

Although many sites offer a Subdomain SEO strategy, (Ecordia) takes it further with limitless content, and easy landing page creation (via CSS style sheets) and quick content SEO via the Ecordia Content Optimizer tool. The content hub also helps get rid of the noise created when sending paid search links to home pages. It is not only an effective SEO strategy (utilizing the LeadMaverick subdomain) but also has potential for PPC.

Here is an example of an organic result for Ecordia’s LeadMaverick subdomain.

Ford Owner Loyalty Search Results

Other Great Ideas: Mobile Search beyond apps. PPC management for the client via Google and not using proprietary bid management systems. Open source website development. Working for the client (they can’t afford to hire a search marketer, web developer, and content writer, hence why outsourcing the work to a local boutique internet marketing agency is so vital. When a directory publisher creates an account for you on Google, do you own it? If they fail to provide quality work, are you able to take the work elsewhere? Do they leave you options beyond a 12 month contract and big commissions and collections attorneys? Stop buying advertising from Sales people. Start getting your internet advertising from Internet Marketing Consultants!

When it comes to marketing online, sometimes Peanuts brings you Elephants!



22% of Households Do Not Have Landline Phones

January 12, 2010

Does the research from the Yellow Pages Industry account for this data? NO!

Picture 146