SuperMedia and Dex Merge 2012

August 22, 2012

Dex One Corporation and SuperMedia Inc. today announced that their Boards of Directors have approved a definitive agreement under which Dex One and SuperMedia will combine in a stock-for-stock merger of equals, creating a national provider of social, local and mobile marketing solutions through direct relationships with local businesses.

Upon closing of the transaction, Dex One shareholders are expected to own approximately 60 percent and SuperMedia shareholders are expected to own approximately 40 percent of the combined company.

Two ugly companies with a dim future get married and make one big ugly company with an even uglier future.

Why? It was planned years ago from the getgo. It is no longer a rumor.

Idearc and RH Donnelley both were loaded with debt. Both companies went bankrupt. The Paulson Hedge Fund has a stake in both companies. Both companies experience naked short sellers attacking the value of the business and manipulating the stock price. So much in common it makes you think they are perfect for eachother.

Idearc (one of the leftover marketing names from the “Verizon” brand development research) was doomed from the day Ivan (CEO of Verizon) decided to spin the company off with 9 billion in debt, without the assets or collateral to back it up. Idearc’s incompetent management team has no loyalty to the hardworking people (and teachers union) who invested in Verizon blue chip stock and subsequently lost it in Idearc stock. But Hedgefunds like Henry Paulson shorted the company and them bought both Dex and SuperMedia stock after bankruptcy. It was perfectly timed 2 years after SEC rules of course. No IRS penalties for Ivan! Just a bunch of unhappy business owners who have a great reason to hate the yellow pages.

It is this sort of Crony capitalism that sparked the Tea Party Revolution… But we at Idearc remembered Scott Klein the CEO ranting about his love of the Hope And Change Chicago politicians. I prefer supporting small businesses like the ones I have helped for the last decade. They despise this marriage.

Come to think of it, maybe it would be good if they reduced the saturation distribution business altogether?

yellow pages future

When I left SuperMedia in 2009 they still had over 80 sales reps in the local Dallas sales office. Last I heard they are down to less than 10 reps. The company has lost over 22% of its business year over year.

This is a move to keep the stock above $1 per share and avoid being listed only on the over the counter “pink sheets.”

Real small business online marketing takes a less “protectionist” 12 month contract product centric focus and a more holistic transparent client-side strategy that focuses on “content marketing.”


The Final Nail is In The Coffin, Bye Bye to Greater Dallas

July 27, 2012

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SuperMedia, the formerly bankrupt publisher of the Verizon Yellow Pages, will announce what will likely be another double digit revenue decline in print advertising during the company’s quarterly earnings call today July 27th.

What the company will likely not be sharing is the decision to discontinue what was once the most profitable directory in the company’s publishing footprint. The Greater Dallas Yellow Pages will not have a 2013 edition. Rumor is that the company is no longer making money printing the once ginormous brick of recycled paper waste material, which was once the most used local search tool in North Texas.

Am I heart broken? No! Besides today being my birthday, I am overjoyed that they finally came to their senses.

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Who still uses the yellow pages?
Since phone companies no longer have a monopoly on printing books and thanks to Google, smart phone technologies, and the advancement of online search and online content, Dallas area consumers no longer need a bulky yellow pages to find information. The phone books that still receive ad impressions are likely hyper local books in more rural non-urban markets, like the ones “Idearc Media” (the former pre-bankruptcy name of SuperMedia) bailed on.

Word is the company will continue to push digital offerings and more failed attempts to sell advertising via channel partners while failing to create digital assets of its own. They have repeatedly outsourced all attempts at “quality online marketing” not limited to even include the advertising for the yellow pages brand itself. Don’t expect the company to hire hundreds of copywriters and begin offering content marketing like my company SMB SEO.

Back in 2009, I had a meeting scheduled with Dave Bethea, former Executive Vice President of Sales for SuperMedia, to discuss ways to improve the company’s online offerings. I had been helping clients with online marketing and SEO for almost an entire decade. Dave was a good friend of the company’s CEO at the time Scott Klein. Dave and Scott both came from a background of selling materials and fasteners for the building industry. Nails, fasteners, and whatnot. In my opinion Dave should not have been put in charge of running an organization like the Verizon Yellow Pages. He had zero experience with a consultative sales approach and it showed. I cancelled my meeting with Dave and shortly thereafter left the company.

The discontinuation of the Dallas Book represents an official changing of the guard and further proves that my concerns were justified back in 2009.

The reasons why consumers don’t use the yellow pages has little to do with the fact that the yellow pages abused the power and influence it had on small to medium-sized businesses. Constant annual rate hikes. Penalties for decreasing budgets. While other companies protected the customer base with affordable ads that brought a rate of return, the yellow pages disregarded the rules of the marketplace and repeatedly found ways to manipulate earnings. From selling customers ads they clearly could not afford, to 13 month long life publications and new double double truck seniority ads, and countless other gimmicks and tricks squeezing more revenue while providing less and less value to clients.

I have always maintained that it was wiser to keep a client then be forced to replace one. When a publisher loses a customer due to overselling or errors a publisher might miss revenue from that particular enterprise permanently, sooner or later your new business opportunity dries up and you have managed alienate your potential customer base.

What the yellow pages did was simply getting a significant stake in the SMB profit margin. Today business owners are not extorted out of revenue by a local directional search monopoly.
Google offers affordable pay per click (PPC) ads that fit most budgets and combined with analytics and dynamic call tracking offers an awesome value to businesses. Organic search marketing also concentrates on content contribution, brand authority, and share of voice vs “who has the deepest pockets” to buy the biggest ad.

RIP Greater Dallas, you will not be missed. Businesses thank you for helping them grow over the years… Now GO AWAY!!!

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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


How Much Has Yellow Pages Usage Really Decreased?

November 21, 2011

News is that SuperMedia, the company that prints the Verizon Yellow Pages, is planning to discontinue publishing the Greater Dallas Yellow Pages after 2012. The reason for doing so is declined usage and very high costs to print and distribute.

The decline of yellow pages is not news to consumers, but tell that to the folks buying and selling the ads and you will get mixed opinions.

The companies are laying off headcount to save expenses, while investors are seeing -20% year over year decline in ad sales and little results since Google moved Marissa Mayer to Local Search User Experence years ago.

The big companies that are buying the big ads want you the smaller business to think that it generates a nice profit.

It only helps them squeeze you more, just like big PPC bids.

One of my clients actually said that he believes he breaks even on his ads but hoped they made his competitors keep spending to keep up.

For most small companies generating a profit is a challenge. The smallest margin is significant. Money wasted on ads that do not perform have a bigger impact on the smaller operations than the companies with the double double truck plus size ads.

So, how much has usage if the yellow pages really declined?

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More than 55%. The costs of the ads just took a little bit longer to come down the same. They still haven’t.

Might be why big banks and hedge fund guys like Paulson own stake in them, shorting the stock and playing the same game they did with home mortgages and derivatives.

The decrease in print distribution has even taken longer. In urban areas less than 20% of people will use the yellow pages for a local search. Mobile search via Google is the new phone book. You will see less and less big bulky books soon. SuperMedia and AT&T will begin focusing on rural market books once again. Day late if you ask me.

I expect SuperMedia to discontinue publishing other Metro area books as well as decrease distribution.

I do not expect them to share these new distribution or opt out of delivery numbers any time soon.

Btw, we are offering mobile sites that include a nice commission for my former media consultant coworkers.

Take a look at Lewisville Divorce Lawyers Mobile Website that my Dallas Internet Marketing Firm built.

Hammerle Finley used to spend big bucks on phone book ads. They are the small town general practice firm who made others spend big bucks. Hammerle probably doesn’t feel the same about what became of GTE Yellow Pages from the 90’s.

They are David to Goliath if you ask me.

Who uses the yellow pages?

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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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How to really screw up a pay-per-click campaign the easy way….

August 31, 2011

Let an AdWords reseller create a broad match campaign for your Air Conditioning company with the keyword “services” and actually pay them for the clicks.

In the old days people bought yellow pages. In the new days they purchased digital ads. Today and in the future they will buy conversions, or atleast expect to manage by conversions instead of just getting “traffic” to a website.

Checkout this search result for said A/C company for the search term “black at SEO services” on Google, notice how I wasn’t looking for air conditioning?

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This is a prime example why you don’t want a national ppc reseller to manage your campaign. Instead, hire an agency that is partnered with Google’s Engage program like smbSEO.


Why you should rank for longtail keyword terms – Case Study

August 21, 2011


I recently blogged about information regarding the death of an executive at the company I once worked for. My blog typically shows up in searches (SERPS) for keywords related to the company I once worked for, including the company name.

My web analytics show me how many searches from Google and with what keywords related to this tragedy ultimately resulted in clicks to my site. I thought that if I shared a post on the site I could help folks find the information they where looking for. This would also be an opportunity to understand how people search for information.

In my opinion this is often not the best of situations  to conduct research, but I guess internet marketers can sometimes learn a few SEO tips from these weird, unusual, or even tragic situations. Case in point, Michael Jackson searches and the QDF algorithm.

Query Deserves Freshness

 What do BP and Michael Jackson have in common? Michael Jackson’s death was one of the big events which brought the “Query Deserves Freshness” concept to the forefront.  If a news event is big enough you will see the search engine Google struggle to figure out what results to display for the widely searched fresh topic.

Great keyword research can quickly be learned from search phrases that are seeing rapid growth in query volume related to fresh topics.

Unfortunately for us the comment section of my blog was attacked by a disgruntled former employee of SuperMedia, someone named “Bob” who felt the need to use my site as a platform, grandstand, or podium soapbox to share his utter disgust towards the company this executive (and I once) worked for. I decided to hide the comments from Bob out of respect.

So first I would like to say that if you would like to pay your respects to John Hillrich, please visit the John Hillrich Memorial Guestbook here.

A recent comment on the post summarizes my thoughts on what happened, and subsequently what took place on my blog, and how the vast majority of us all feel about it.

To all who have expressed such kind words for our dear John Hillrich, please take the time to visit http://www.JohnHillrich.com where you’ll find his online obituary and guestbook which is the appropriate resource to express our condolences.

This current forum is stained with comments that should’ve never been allowed to publish, nor been  they hgiven attentionave. John’s friends / family should not have to read such filth, so let’s move these well wishes to http://www.JohnHillrich.com where his family can read them in peace.

Love you John Hillrich. My heart aches for your family, parents, and children. God’s peace be with you all.

I want to apologize for the rude comments. I have since removed them out of my respect for John’s friends and family.  My deepest condolences.

With that being said, I would like to share what people searched Google for to find my original blog post.

You will see some of the keywords have been removed below. This is not a complete list. I want you to pay attention to the “value” of the long-tail and how “unique” most people search. It is obvious that most people search a few widely used keywords and then the real “SEO value” is in the long-tail terms.

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