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


Dallas SEO Guru Mike Stewart Speaks on Local Search At Dallas SEO Internet Marketers Meetup

May 11, 2011

Last night I presented at the Dallas Interactive Marketing and Internet SEO SEM Meetup on Meetup.com. I spoke on the topic of local search marketing.

It was a great group of folks. I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Dumas of OptimizedLocalSearch.com, someone who has performed over 2500 Google Places listing setups and optimizations in the last year. Paul is a real Google Places Expert.

I made a presentation and added a bunch of silliness for shits and giggles. You can find the slideshare for my Local Search SEO for the Less Informed here.

I felt it was best to give folks the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation, since the pace of the presentation was very fast. I know what it is like to have to wait to make a comment or question only to bang your head later at the end of the meeting when you forget. We also answered questions after the meeting, had great feedback from the audience, and even continued conversations into the parking lot!

I left out allot of information, such as Conversion Optimization, Usability, and tons of other areas of small business internet marketing improvement.

Thanks for a great meeting.

I hope to see the attendees at the next DFWSEM.org meeting next Wednesday. We will be having Rob Garner, another DFWSEM.org Board of Directors Member, Chief at renowned marketing firm iCrossing, and Board of Directors Member for SEMPO speaking on Search and Social.


What is wrong with buying internet advertising from Yellow Pages companies?

May 22, 2010

Have you ever wondered why so many small business owners complain about results and advertising from internet yellow pages companies? Here is an article on SMB SEO that discusses the problems with internet yellow page advertising for small business owners.

Here is a plea to corporate America to get out IT of the SEO business on Search Engine Land. Great article if you ask me, but I think Corporate America needs to stop trying to service small businesses. That is like buying advertising from the Government or from a foreign country. Search engine marketing such as SEO, PPC, Web Design, and Video production is not something you can simply outsource. It requires a boutique approach that consists of attention to detail and customization. You can’t put search engine marketing in a box, and search engine marketing is a service.. not a product. Search is a verb, not a noun. It is action repeated over a period of time. Seriously, what where they thinking? Stick to your http://www.YellowCrooks.com online directory site and stay out of the service business. If you want service, I would first begin educating your sales reps on search engine marketing!


What exactly does a local Dallas SEO Firm offer its clients?

April 9, 2010

Someone asked me recently: As a local SEO consultant or local Dallas SEO firm or company, what is it exactly that you offer your search engine marketing clients around Dallas – Fort Worth?

Pretty difficult question to answer. The answer, although somewhat simple, is also heavy in  small details. A simple summary or description does not really describe the level of complex strategizing needed to achieve results.

For years I have been promoting a holistic search engine marketing strategy. One that encompasses all the different aspects of both search engine optimization and local search. This is what the industry calls “Local Search Engine Optimization.” National agencies consider local search marketing Google Maps or online directory listings. Many forget the growing amount of competitive efforts in the local space. Although not as challenging as high query national branded terms, local search is beginning to become much more fragmented, thus also increasing the need for “local search marketing intelligence.”

As a local search engine marketing firm here a few of the areas of practice related to holistic search engine optimization and internet marketing:

  1. Website Design
  2. Market Research Including Competitive Rankings etc.
  3. Your Business Product/Service Research
  4. Keyword Focus and Use of Local Geography Words
  5. On-page Website Content Optimization, Design, Link Structure
  6. Creating New or Claiming Existing Local Business Listings
  7. Directory Submission
  8. Optimizing Local Business Directory Listings
  9. Building Citations and Links to Enhance Listing Rankings
  10. Creating User Generated Content
  11. External Link Building
  12. Encouraging Customer Testimonials and Reviews
  13. Image Search Optimization such as Google Images etc.
  14. Video Search (YouTube) Optimization
  15. Website Landing Page Conversion Optimization
  16. Pay Per Click Campaign Management for Google, Yahoo, & Bing
  17. FREE Google Analytics Setup, Reporting, and Management <—— I offer this FOR FREE!
  18. Reputation/Review Management
  19. Social Media Set-up Such as Twitter, Facebook etc.
  20. Ghost Writing
  21. Social Media Commentary
  22. Content Network Campaign Management
  23. IT Support
  24. Email Marketing
  25. Call Metrics / Call Tracking
  26. Media Buying including Radio, Internet, and Print
  27. Yellow Pages Ad Design and Layout Strategies
  28. Content Writing Strategies
  29. Content Writing
  30. Blogging
  31. Jingles and Voice Mail Greetings
  32. PPC Campaign Builds
  33. Small Business Video Production
  34. Staying Up to Date with Changes in Local Search

Just off the top of my head and a few minutes after 1:30 a.m….. that is all I can give you for now!

If you would like to know more about why Local Search Engine Marketing for Dallas area businesses, which is a service and not so much a focus on “products” (other than Google and Yahoo search engines), just make a call to 214-267-9553 for additional details and the retainer cost for the service.

You can also join me at the next DFWSEM.org Search Engine Marketing meeting on May 19th at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson. The topic will be “Local Search.”


Why a Google future is so important to small business owners vs yellow pages ads. Search/Mobile/TV?

March 20, 2010

Google has about 65% of the internet search volume currently, followed by Yahoo! at 15% and Bing at around 9%. Print directories have declined in usage by over 50% in the last 7 years. Consider that the local search “s-curve” began in the late 1990’s. Phone books started getting impacted by internet usage before 2003. The biggest problem with the phone book business was fragmentation or too many options. It took many years for yellow pages companies to experience real competition in small business advertising. The fragmentation that impacted print yellowpages happened much sooner for the internet, and Google quickly put distance on competitors, something telco-based (or spin-off) yellow pages publishers have not been able to do. They are all the same. (Even the SuperGimmick that Superpages copied from ServiceMagic.com was too late.) They are a team of horses pulling in the opposite direction. The yellow page industry has very little direction. Day late and a buck short, if you ask me. Maybe the horses might consider getting back on the same team?

Read the rest of this entry »


Dallas SEO Guru via Google Search Suggest

March 19, 2010

No longer are SEO’s called NINJAS….. we are now GURUS!

Get your GURU status by attending the panels, discussions, training seminars and networking meetings at www.DFWSEM.org. Come see us at PubCon Dallas 2010


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.