What is the future of local small business advertising?

February 5, 2012

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With search marketing officially taking over traditional media marketing channels it is no surprise sleazy sales tactics still work for some Internet marketing providers.

check out what I got from ReachLocal recently:

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I will be sure to add some of the stats.

I just want you to understand that there is a difference between a backlink building content marketing SEO agency like SMB SEO and the product or platform specific Google Adwords reseller agencies and yellow pages.

In the month of July we created over 550 pages of content for less than 25 clients. This past January I had te responsibility for scheduling over 1,000 pages worth of offsite and onsite content marketing articles, blog posts, and pages for around 35 different businesses. Let’s see the yellow pages or ReachLocal folks provide that kind of Internet marketing strategy and schedules!

Just because my agency saves clients a boatload of money in PPC up charges by not paying anyone other than Google or Bing direct for clicks, doesn’t mean we are less effective or inferior to these larger marketing organizations. What they fail to offer:

Google Analytics
You own all the PPC campaign work
You own the PPC campaign account
CallMeasurement.com Call Tracking
woopra analytics
Custom Video Production
Web Ranking Reports Weekly
Niche Site Domain Development
Mobile Ads
Mobile Sites
PRWeb.com Press Releases
Local listing optimization
UBL Listing (universal business listing)
Localeze Data Center Listing


Why Paying a Monthly Retainer for Local SEO and PPC Makes Good Business Sense

November 16, 2011

In the old days you bought a display ad in the yellow pages to get calls from customers ready to buy.

These days you purchase a yellow pages ad so your established brand doesn’t lose potential phone calls to unknown and lesser quality brands who can afford the financing that the yellow pages offer. The bottom end churn for print YP is constant. Google doesn’t offer financing on pay-per-clicks and writers don’t finance content writing.

In 2002, 80% used the yellow pages to perform a local search. Today that number is less than 15% and phone book fragmentation (a way of looking at print competition) is at an all-time high.

Marketing dollar resource allocation has flipped over the years. The days of me giving Internet marketing advice to sell ads in phone books has been over for sometime.

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Businesses are struggling to dominate search the same way they dominated local search in the 90’s with big full-page and eventually double truck 2-page ads. The same style duopoly exists were you have a telco or main provider and second incumbent choice (AT&T + GTE/Verizon = Google + Bing/Yahoo Search Alliance.)

In the earlier days of search the businesses with names and domains that contained the product or service being offered including the city they served, such as “Dallas Auto Transmission LLC” naturally had an upper hand. It was easy to make a title tag match your business name. Optimization of a website required the efforts of a website coder and FTP access to the sites backend. SEO was all about meta-tags and links that were hard to come-by.

Today you will see:

  • 60,000 new websites will be added to the web
  • 2 million new videos added to YouTube
  • 1.6 million blog posts will be created (out of 150 million blogs)
  • 1.5 billion pieces of content will be added to Facebook
  • 200 million tweets will be tweeted on Twitter

Paid search ads with Google use to only costs pennies per click. Volume was low. Again things have changed. Paid search offers so much more than the past.

Things have gotten a bit more complex:
– mobile extensions
– local extensions
– site links
– retargeting
– promoted videos
– product feeds
– demographic targeting
– new channels of distribution
– new match types like modified broad match

It is easy to mistakenly dump hundreds of suggested keywords in a campaign and see quality scores never rise above a 4. Google makes it easy to spend your money or daily budget and target keyword searches via broad match types with non relevant ads. Buyer beware: You need an agency or consultant!

Great SEO starts with keyword research. Those keywords need to be put in a report and measures with rankings on search engines. You then need to create content, pages for the various keywords, both on your site and pointing to your site with anchor text. Social signals are also important. LoMoSo or local mobile social is the new Internet. NAP, or name address and number, mentions of your business are the key to local. This begins with data-center directory submission (the only real form of directory submission) which is not something you get from Outsourced India SEO providers.

Next, you must begin eating the elephant so-to-speak. Start with the low hanging fruit or keywords that have less competition and in many cases less volume. Quick rankings measured via Google Analytics as clicks. The short-tail competitive keywords take more offsite backlinks, more onsite content strategy, great NAP data, and the help of an experienced Internet marketer to reach success.

To build a successful Internet marketing campaign you need to have your SEO content strategy and PPC campaigns work together. PPC tells us what keywords drive impressions. Content marketing helps you rank for correlating keywords that you can add to your PPC Campaign and both help you test landing pages to perfection.

A SEO & PPC Monthly Retainer will allow you to gradually scale your efforts, rank for more keywords, and create great authoritative onsite content for your visitors. Mix in high volume with low competition keywords and you will monetize your efforts from the start.

Smb SEO’s retainer includes conversion optimization consulting, domain registration, quality hosting (not that slow GoDaddy hosting) and all the transparent reporting you need to make sure that you are not on a road that leads to nowhere. It also does not require a contract and the service is based on real-time and materials vs paying for the concept of SEO. You can only optimize a single page a couple of times before you must add new ones.

If this doesn’t sound like the services your “SEO company” provides, don’t walk…. RUN AWAY.

Call me at 214-267-9553 for a free ranking report and let’s see what is keeping you from making good business sense of your internet marketing.

Also, FYI, Tonight Google and Bing Representatives will Speak on “State of Search” at Dallas / Ft Worth Search Marketing Group…

Register at DFWSEM.org

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7 ways to get an internet marketing job

September 19, 2011

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Unemployment has hit an all time high. Businesses are not hiring. Those that are highering are paying lower wages. The world economy has not recovered from the economic collapse of 2007/2008, especially the job market. In the US nearly 1 out of 9 are unemployed and 1 in 7 live in poverty. Just 5 short years ago only 1 in 4 were unemployed. Now more people than ever are looking for work. Despite all this doom and gloom news, digital marketing agencies are sprouting out of the woodwork. There is one industry that continues to grow at a rapid pace, this industry is the internet marketing business.

The internet provides many career opportunities for folks who otherwise might not have a job. This has been the case since the internet .com bubble.

Internet marketing related jobs in high demand include the following areas of skill:

° web design
° content writing and content management
° paid search analyst
° internet marketing sales and business development
° social media marketing managers
° SEO experts
° videographers

These positions maybe in-house for a big brand or with an internet marketing agency that works on behalf of a brand or company.
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What skills do some of these positions require?

Web content writers must understand the importance of authoritative quality content on a company’s website. Businesses will pay money for unique content that can be added to the company’s website. Great content is also used to create links that point back to the company’s website from other sites, this is referred to as “backlinks” and this is an important factor in high search engine results rankings. If you are a decent writer or copywriter, there may be many opportunities for you to get a job as a web content manager.

SEO Experts may have a lot of different roles depending on the company. They may focus on linkbuilding from various websites to client or company websites, they may strategize an SEO budget and schedule for a client, and also be responsible for submitting content to blogs, article sites, and press releases. Some SEO skills might also include forum posting and website commenting. Social media marketing and content distribution is also an important area for an SEO strategist to understand. A strong knowledge of how the web works, how content management systems are used, and how automation tools can be used to improve a websites visibility are crucial to the success of an internet marketing SEO specialist. One thing is for sure, SEO strategy requires you to have an A.D.D. type approach, a short term memory (so you do not dwell on your failures and keep moving forward,) and plenty of time to attend conferences and training sessions or meetings like the Dallas Search Engine Marketing Association or http://www.dfwsem.org.

Paid search marketing experts manage PPC ad budgets on Google AdWords, Bing AdCenter, and other contextual ad networks including display and retargeting ads. This skill is especially suited for analytical data crunchers who have a knack for testing, analyzing, and filtering paid search ads and campaigns. These sort of skills and traits are not the same as SEO specialists. For most businesses, over 40% of internet marketing budgets should go towards paid search marketing.

Web Development and design, like SEO, is a skilled profession. Some corporations hire in-house website developers and others hire agencies to build websites for them. Web developers redesign or maintain existing sites as well as building new ones. Website design requires experience with Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop. Designers create .psd design comprehensives and covers convert these graphic files into PHP/html/CSS. This is sorta lime taking a scalpel to a graphic file and making all the elements work and respond to the website visitors mouse and actions on the site. Great website designers understand SEO and website usability. Having SEO knowledge will give a web developer a huge advantage on the competition.

The number of SEO and internet marketing related jobs will continue increasing over the next few years. More and more businesses are looking for ways to make money online. Even if you have a modest knowledge of internet marketing topics, you have a great shot at landing a job in SEO work.

Of course probably the easiest and fastest way to make the most money in internet marketing is sales and business development.

I spent years making over SIX FIGURES a year selling, designing, and strategizing with small and medium-sized local businesses on print yellow pages advertising solutions for Verizon Directories. Sales reps almost always received more money from a sale than the fulfillment department made from processing the order. Of course it didn’t hurt that yellow pages companies had profit margins in the 60+% range and could afford big commission rates.

Internet marketing sales consultants can make more money than the yellow pages sales reps of yesterday. Yellow pages reps typically earn 7 to 15% of the total sale. Internet marketing sales consultants at my agency, smbSEO, earn upwards of 20% residual commission and unlike yellow pages sale reps they do receive continuity on accounts they sell. If an agency has a $1,200 minimum retainer, after just 30 total clients a sales rep is making over $6,000 in residual income. What is required from a sales rep? Facilitating SEO schedules including graphics and content strategy, communicating with clients, and working with members of an internet marketing team to discuss KPIs (key performance indicators) results and client expectations.

In my opinion the best internet marketing job is the sales consultant one. How many businesses need help strategizing internet marketing efforts? How much money is being wasted? Are they using analytics and call measurement services? Do they have a holistic approach that ultimately means they rank multiple times on the search engines? The odds of you knowing a business owner or manager who needs help with internet marketing are very high. Due to the complex nature of an effective internet marketing strategy, most companies are dissatisfied or looking to improve their internet marketing strategy.

If you would like more information or to sign up for an internet marketing job in your area, visit my website at http://www.smbseo.com/new-sales-person and I will send you a referral link to have your clients sign up for my internet marketing solutions at http://www.smbseo.com/store. When they sign up for services from the link provided to you on the /new-sales-person page you will get paid residual commission. You don’t even have to quit your current job (although you are likely going to after you see how much money you can make.)


SEO Prices: Why some SEO companies charge by how much you can afford vs time and materials.

August 22, 2011

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How much can someone charge for SEO.

For some SEO companies it depends on how  big your company or wallet can afford. Does the owner drive a Mercedes out front? Do you have a fancy office?

For us it comes down to our onsite and offsite seo schedule, where you currently rank on a ranking report, and how competitive your target market keywords.

We also charge for the meta tag and title work for existing pages inside the schedule, but have a limit to the number of pages per month.

We charge extra for posting content not going into a CMS (content management system like WordPress.)

We also charge extra for AdWords invoices, etc. Standard reporting is included in the schedule and everything we do our clients own.

We also charge for each additional niche site.

The real crooks charge by keyword. I would steer clear of those folks.

Also stay away from the $100-$200 per page folks.

Do they offer topical blog, one-way site, news, video, and article link building? Real SEO includes link building, afterall 60% of your ranking is offsite SEO and 40% is onpage!

If the company doesn’t include content, call metrics, or conversion optimization, don’t walk…. RUN!!!!

P.S. You can signup to resell our services at http://www.smbseo.com/new-sales-person or signup for service at http://www.smbseo.com/store


“Gravity Doesn’t Suck Customers Down the Internet Funnel”

March 17, 2011

According to Wikipedia:  sales process, also known as a sales tunnel or a sales funnel is a systematic approach to selling a product or service

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One of the great things about being involved in an industry group or association is the opportunity to learn new ways of saying some of the same things.  Ask any expert and they will tell you that they didn’t become an expert overnight and most likely paid a hefty price to be one. Time is money. Research only gets you so far. Listening to those that have “been there, done that” puts a big shortcut in the learning curve. Learning from mistakes helps take you the rest of the way.

In December 2009, I became a Board of Directors Member of the first local professional search engine marketing association, the Dallas / Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association or www.DFWSEM.org.  DFWSEM was founded by a group of blackhat SEOs back around 2001. Bill Hartzer, who I tremendously respect as an authority in search marketing, was one of the original founding members of DFWSEM. DFWSEM is the largest local meetup for search professionals in the country.  We meet once a month in Dallas to share insights, tips, tricks, and tools related to all things SEO, PPC, and Social Media.

I have invited many clients to attend these meetings and have found that not only do many learn more about what I do for them (this works so much better than those tacky one call closes folks!), some of my clients have actually joined the association and attend regularly.

Tonight was one of those nights. It just clicked. While on a panel discussion of the lessons from PubCon Austin 2011 and SMX West, two of the biggest conferences for search geeks, Tony Wright, the witty CEO of WrightIMC, a reputable reputation management and SEO firm, said something that will forever stick with me:

“Gravity doesn’t work in the sales funnel”

He was referring back to a comment from a PubCon keynote speaker who stated that if you have an authoritative site with great content you won’t need to pay for advertising. Sorta like Amazon or Wikipedia, right? Tony said that this really is more of a fallacy in theory. Those with strong brands become strong from authoritative content and paid promotion.

Moving a potential customer from research and awareness to buying intent doesn’t just happen. As marketers, we must make it happen. Moving people from one step in the buying process to another requires many different types of marketing methodologies, such as conversion optimization and testing, unique value propositions, identifying key differentiators, and incorporating solid calls to action. Building trust is also important. Sharing features and benefits also helps move them down the funnel.

Lastly, you must advertise. Advertising can be both creative (for building your brand) and directional (helping people find your brand.) Advertising is what brings people to your funnel. Gravity pulls us all down, but not down the funnel. That takes expert strategy and creativity.

Sorry to contradict the great lyrics of John Mayer, but gravity isn’t always working against us. Sometimes it doesn’t bring us down. Especially when it pertains to the buying process, contrary to what most business owners and even some experts seem to think.

Another great quote from PubCon:

“$92 out of every $100 invested in marketing goes to advertising. Only $8 is spent on making ads convert.”


The Future of Print Yellow Pages Will Be Great HyperLocal Content via Subscription

March 3, 2011

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What must yellow page publishers do to evolve or fail to do to die faster?

How can Yellow Pages print products evolve:

– Cease publishing free business listing in all forms (ie: white and yellow)

People no longer need to reference a printed book for brands and companies they have familiarity with. White pages are being cut from the business models of many print publishers, proving that these companies realize that consumers will search from mobile devices or Facebook sites for brands and companies they like. The known market references in print do not help consumers communicate with companies they have an existing relationship with.

– Directional media needs to retire the annual distribution cycles, they are no longer effective in Todays environment.

Publishers have manipulated distribution dates and long-lifed books (13 months instead of 12) in order to be the freshest and most up to date product on the street. Why continue annual distribution if consumers will discard your product for the most recent one? Yellow pages competition or fragmentation (which was once a monopoly by telephone companies) with independent and new rural publishers has made the challenge of being the latest information a near impossible task.

– Print publishers need to build a subscription-based model, much like website blogs and email marketers do.

Opt out will kill the yellow pages. Homeowners associations begin pushing residents to opt out sites by educating them on latest opt out initiatives and municipal publishing fines, restrictions, and movements to curb waste and litter from books on doorsteps and in yards.

Stop selling on the fear of not being represented or losing your position. These fear tactics do not work. Businesses have more choices. You want to continue to ruin your industries reputation with these sort of sleazy sales tactics?

Maybe the subscription business model is the http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com site?

– Books need to streamline ad sizes.

DOUBLE DOUBLE TRUCK ads that once started as full pages but grew to allow publishers new opportunities to increase rates, a broken promise to size and seniority commitments. Why? For the sake of corporate profits and an effort to generate revenue to curb decline all at the expense of usability.

Phonebooks need to become hyper-locally distributed via the USPS.

If directory companies choose to avoid the stereotypes of being environmental polluters, they might want to figure out another way to get doors into consumers homes.

Using the postal service instead of Illegal Immigrant labor to distribute books would be both cost effective and socially responsible.

Books need to be hyper-locally targeted based on neighborhoods and not cities. In rural markets citywide distribution works. In urban areas, much like Dallas, books need to be neighborhood targeted. For instance, Dallas has a very affluent area known as Park Cities, which includes Highland Park, University Park, and Uptown.

Phonebooks need to become creative directional magazines with dynamic content.

This is the big one. Why are brands not in books? If you remove the worthless “listing information” and replace that with great brand sponsors, such as Crest Toothpaste sponsoring the Dentist heading of the book or Scott’s brand fertilizer sponsoring the lawn or landscape heading, publishers can find new revenue. Something similar has been done with Bose Home Radio ads by the National Sales Channels at many publishers.

Why don’t yellow pages offer  businesses the ability to contribute columns to directories that help consumers during certain seasons? Of course the publishers could also create the content and allow businesses to “sponsor” these sections.

Why doesn’t the phone book offer real coupons, but not shoved out of sight and out of mind into the back or front of the book? If you make the largest ad a single page, why not include coupon codes inside of ads with special offers, including web addresses to a publisher maintained group buying site.

Yellow Pages Publishers need to continue to include mobile barcode scanners and QR codes

Help consumers (or subscribers) use the book with a mobile device, such as the ability to connect to business social profiles (twitter, facebook, foursquare etc) and also claim coupon or promotional codes.

How can the Yellow Pages die even faster?

Phonebooks worked because lists of local businesses and offerings from different providers were not available via web, mobile, TV, or socially.

Now that yellow pages no longer has the most up to date and relevant information available on local products and services, thus enabling consumers to make the best choice or decision, they need to evolve.

Content is the next internet evolution. This same content could create new life in print products as well. The yellow pages have always been a quick reference, but lack the details to help consumers educate themselves on how to work with local merchants and protect themselves. Some publishers copied gimmicks from internet companies like Service Magic who offered a “ServiceGuarantee” for consumers who purchase from certain merchants. While this is a great differentiator, there are many other ideas and strategies that can also be adopted from internet marketers to employ in traditional print mediums.


Tired of Managing Complex IT Solutions? Costs Always Going Up? Want Marketing Collaboration and Social Media?

February 14, 2011

Are you a CIO, IT Professional, or Marketing Manager for a corporation or small business?

Having trouble with IT solutions, bandwidth, or social collaboration?

I am working with a new cloud based application service delivery platform that is perfect for any organization. It is a professional virtual desktop that works with all devices, on any platform, and any enterprise or application.

This new solution will allow you to:

  • Cut Costs and Reduce Downtime
  • Increase Employee Productivity
  • Handle Web and Information Security & Backup Peace of Mind
  • Single point of contact for all your IT needs

and includes:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Web2.0 Applications
  • Administrative Console
  • 3G-10G Storate
  • Web Conferencing
  • SEO Management Dashboard
  • Business Continuance
  • Collaboration Tools

with

  • Access from Anywhere and Any Broadband Enabled Device!!!!!!

 

Email me to share the real scoop!

mike (at) smbseo (dot) com

 

Cheers!