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.”

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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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SEO does not always mean the same thing

April 28, 2012

A wise man once said that “all marketers are liars.”

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This couldn’t be further from the truth. It surprises me that business owners are still not savvy about online marketing. Many don’t see the need for a local search marketing strategy because they think, “only the big companies with huge pocketbooks” advertise aggressively online. They are the companies always at the top dominating search results. Sure this can be done to some extent by sinking yourself deeper into credit card debt with Google Adwords, but why keep going back to the World’s Largest Auction (bigger than Ebay!)

Organic search results get over 1/2 of the click volume.

Most small businesses don’t understand the concepts and strategies of content marketing. Then again, most SEO services and agencies tend to focus on the on-page website changes, business may or may not deploy a blog strategy depending on whether the website is built in a blog style CMS like WordPress. Unfortunately for businesses, they often can only afford a cheap SEO agency who typically fails to use content for building backlinks. I say you can’t afford not to. Stop going back to the auction! Organic and local complements PPC domination and also stretches a budget with recurring revenues from search engine result page share of voice and real estate.

I once SEO’d a “bookie service” website that took up 5 of the first 7 results with multiple websites and different business names

Some SEO firms optimize for Google Places and setup local listings, but do they include accounts with the data centers UBL and Localeze listings? Do they provide manual local listing optimization that focuses on creating as many local citations (mentions of your business name, address, and number?)

I recommend finding a transparent and holistic firm that focuses on a diverse approach to SEO, not just moving things around on a page and changing a few settings (how often you gonna change a Page Title?)

If someone calls and offers you SEO service you have every right to be skeptical. After all, “all marketers are liars” and SEOs are the biggest out there.

I have always said the minute you change a page title you are “gaming” Google.

Just stay away from link builders who use non transparent or blackhat SEO methods. While the potential short term business may be good for your wallet, getting kicked out of the search results or worse de-indexed is not something you can easily overcome.

I do recommend considering separate IPs and crazy aggressive tactics for local search niche domains though.

Hiring an outsourcing company or yellow pages type company for your online marketing is just crazy. Everything is proprietary and you won’t own a thing.

They should stick to what they do best…

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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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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.)