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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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


Cool WordPress Plugins and Site Management Tools

August 17, 2011

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I firmly believe that small business websites should almost always be built on a holistic, transparent, and cost effective website management system like WordPress.

Why?

When you build a site with WordPress you own the sites backbone and won’t lose your site should you have a fallout with your website developer or manager. Proprietary CMS tools are seldom expanded or updated (including security and hacking prevention) by thier creators. WordPress does not have this problem.

What I like most about WordPress are the plugins.

My favorite WordPress plugins:

All-In-One-SEO

XML and HTML sitemaps

Broken Link Checker

Facepress II

Related Posts

Thank me later – sends an email

Popularity Contest

WordPress Backup Buddy

Optimization for Speed

Automatic SEO Links

Contact Form 7

Gravity Forms

WordPress Shopping Cart (WPSC)

My all-time favorite WordPress Themes are:

StudioPress
Thesis

Why is WordPress the best web content management system available?

WordPress originally began as a blog platform. There are now over 54 million sites using the WordPress CMS. Site developers once recommended Joomla or Drupal for enterprise sites or sites with multiple users. Today WordPress supports massive scaleability. In fact, both CNN and Jay-Z use wordpress.

WordPress is an open-sourced content management system ans has thousands of contributors who offer resources, tips, tools, and plugins for free. WordPress has tons of support. Plugins allow you to add customized functionalities that expand what you can do with your site without having to hire the resources of a developer or coder.

WordPress is FREE.

With WordPress you have a SEO friendly site that you can upload new content to just as you would a simple blog. Much of the.content can be added to the site without a coder who knows .html.

If you want more information in WordPress just shoot me a message via my www.smbSEO.com contact page.


One Dozen Different SEO Link Building Ideas for Small Businesses

March 20, 2011

Don’t put all the eggs in one basket, unless that basket is the one you are holding.

Authority Links

Links you can sometimes buy. Content bait can get links pointing back to you. These links are a must and normally come from begging, pleading, asking, and praying for the link. These are the ones that take the most effort to obtain, but give the best results. No need to anchor text, the topic of the site and its keywords are the juice!


Local Directory Links

Manual directory submission is the best. We recommend starting out with a list of 21 of the top sites that provide citations from Google and working down the list. This takes a bit of time to setup. The best directories will be relevant on topic or niche directories. Industry specific is always another plus. (Real Estate Directory vs Online Yellow Pages Directory listing for Real Estate Section)

Comment and Profile Links

Don’t comment spam. Contribute to the conversation. Most bloggers hate when you use anchor text instead of a real name. Find industry related blogs and start commenting. But don’t become a content spammer, or I will hate you.

Most blog comment links are tagged rel=nofollow and most think that Google and search engines don’t give as much juice to them. I beg to differ. I just think that they can tell when you are a spammer. Don’t SPAM!

Social Media Links

Create Content. Build Social Accounts for your business. Build accounts for your person. Build accounts for your employees. Start using them. Share content. Wash. Rinse. Repeat the sharing and creating content. Social signals are the new trust. Google loves to trust your content, trust your site, and loves interaction. This can be faked, but why bother?

Note: Don’t be fooled. Social Media signals are the latest and most authoritative Google ranking factors.

Reciprocal Links

These are link exchanges. Pretty easy to obtain. They no longer are as effective as they used to be for SEO and are considered blackhat. A few doesn’t hurt. Don’t make this your SEO strategy folks!

Note: The technique of using other links in your site and asking them to put the link to your store on their site. This will not work out very well if they are your direct competitor but if it a link from a home improvement tool sales and you are a construction company or sub contractor the sites would be relevant to each other. In this way both of you get an extra boost at the same time.

One way links

Articles are a great way to obtain niche site one-way links.

Cost is around $35 to $50 per link and article.

Blog Roll Links are another good example of a one-way link. Some Blog Roll Exchange programs exist that help obtain these types of links.

3-way Links

Site A links to Site B which Links to Site C and so on….. considered more of a grey area for SEO, be cautious when building these kinds of links. But they do work.

Talented Blackhat SEO Experts use 3-way and 4-way linkbuilding techniques by having many sites. Oftentimes this is considered blackhat as content farms are the main source of linkbuilding efforts.

.Edu and .Gov Links

Use the Google Search Operator: “inurl:.edu or .gov” to find these link opportunities. The “trust” that these sites offer your website is great. Offline techniques, cash donations, and gifts of time or sponsorships are great ways to obtain these links. Some other ideas might require you to shop up the the school and meet some of the web administrators.

Radio station, TV, Magazine or Newspaper links

These links are obtained by contextual advertising. Links are seldom on topic. Pay to play here folks!

Press Release Links

My favorite link building. This is all about great content. Interesting news. Or just pulling something out of your tail for the sake of gaining some links.

Avoid free press release sites as your only link strategy. Stay away from mom and pop press release sites. I prefer to use PRWeb by Vocus. I have a license. Licenses cost money. These links are good for traffic and with the way search engines are distributing news content in search results and allowing you to search by news, another great source of solid link building.

You must write a solid press release. Cost is around $50-$100.00 for a great one! PRWeb Submissions start at $500.

Mass Article Link Building and Bio Links

Create a unique article and send it out to hundreds of article submission sites. With Google’s recent content quality algorithm update called Panda (aka The Farmer update which was geared towards “content farms”) you shouldn’t expect to see the article ranking on search results like they used to. Article sites often monetize effort of managing the site with AdSense revenue, Google’s AdWords Publisher Program that includes Network Distribution vs Search.

Note: Bio links are obtained by the bio that is submitted to the article sites with the article.


RSS/Blog syndicated link
:

This is all about Syndication of your content. If you are not doing it, why not? WordPress as a content management system makes creating an RSS feed easy. This is really easy, you just need to create great quality content and folks will put your content feed inside their site.

Some More Thoughts on Link Building:

There are many different strategies in effective link building and the people at a Dallas SEO Link Building Strategy Consultant firm SMB SEO can help you with many of them. These men and women can help point you in the right direction to build a link network with your site. This helps with how much traffic you get but also how much business is brought in as well. The advice received from these kinds of firms is priceless.

A good consultant will be able to help you optimize link building efforts so that the bottom line will improve for your business. The ones that you should be looking for are links that will impact your business in a positive way. Those that have wishy washy service and products are not going to get your business up that high. You want to look into each one carefully. Once you know who you are dealing with, go to your SEO link building consultant and talk it over. He will be able to look at the numbers and tell you if his site is popular enough to bring you up a notch.

Another benefit of link building is that it can take your newly imported site up in rankings by being on their high ranking site. The sites on the Internet are graded by their links. They take into consideration the amount of traffic a website receives a month, the number of views it has, references from other sites, and the links that it has endorsed and that have worked out well for both of them. This raises your rank. When linking to a higher site than yours, it is like taking an SEO piggy back ride. You are essentially riding on their popularity.

There are courses you can take to learn the strategies for web page manicuring. They run approximately thirty to sixty days and cost about seven thousand dollars for the course from beginning to end. Or you can call a consulting firm so that your time can be spent making money instead of linkbuilding, using them as your right hand man to get the job done and your site ranking high.


“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.”


Dallas SEO Consultant Explains SEO Targeting and Scheduling

January 16, 2011

Targeting. All marketers say they do it… few really do.

Targeting saves money. Targeting puts your ad message in front of the right eyeballs. I have said before that if you focus on marketing you don’t have to advertise as much. If your business focused on differentiating your brand from your competitors better, you wouldn’t need to use as many methods of advertising to promote your marketing messages.

Targeting is about putting your business in front of those consumers ready to buy your product of service.

Targeting has been the key advantage of directional marketing efforts over creative ones. Directional marketing, a term that was first coined by TMP in 2001, is when buyers are looking for sellers vs the other way around, like creative marketing.

According to Wiki:

Directional Marketing is a type of marketing, a measurable form of direct response advertising, whose primary role is to point a potential consumer toward the completion of the sales process or service selection. Unlike traditional direct marketing which typically communicates to unsolicited consumers, directional marketing is primarily consumer initiated where consumers seek out advertising to aid in their purchase decision, e.g., to identify potential vendors with which to do business. Examples of known forms of Directional Marketing media are the Yellow Pages, Internet, or Electronic Yellow Pages and Local search (Internet).[1]

For most small businesses, every dollar is precious. Small businesses do not advertise for the sake of advertising, they can’t afford it.  Small businesses, to the most extent,  do not have the financial resources necessary to invest in brand recognition. Branding requires repetition of the brand message.  Which takes a lot of money to become the most effective. There are many forms of creative branding media, such as the radio, television, magazines, and direct mail.

The most effective form of advertising for small businesses has been and always will be the one that has the highest usage and frequency. Selecting the right media to advertise has commonly been an easy choice for SMBs, since this used to be the yellow pages. It is now Local Search.

Local search is Easy.

Oops. I said it.

Local search is not as fragmented as the industry wants you to believe. Everyone in the space is fighting for a piece of the pie. Internet yellow pages sites (like SuperPages.com, YP.com, Local.com etc) are fighting for traffic just like the local vertical directory sites (AttorneysListed.com, Lawyers.com, Elocalplumbers.com, Restaurant.com etc) and they all want a piece of the location-based social networks (FourSquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places etc.) With all these different options to advertise, why did I say that local search is easy? It all begins with Google (and 25% Bing.) All of these sites must get traffic from Google in order to provide value to advertisers. Traffic from Google brings eyeballs which turns into leads and phone calls. If you can master Google, you master local search.

Since Google is where consumers begin researching for local product and service providers, it only makes sense that the first thing a business do is optimize for Google Places. This does not mean paying some odd $150.00 per month fee to some company to “manage listings.” Google Places Optimization is a holistic effort that requires scheduling multiple activities, such as local listing optimization and blog content strategy.  It also requires positive reputation management and a well planned ratings and review aggregation process that incorporates leveraging your positive reputation online. All this sounds like some sort of mumbo jumbo, and likely the reason why so many are experiencing SEO scams.

Local SEO in a nutshell:

  • Schedule listing optimization to create Google Places citations
  • Schedule on-site content for your website pages and posts
  • Schedule off-site content for mass articles, niche directories, press releases, and industry vertical sites.

In “The Death and Rebirth of Editorial Citation on the Web,” Rand Fishkin suggests that as much as 20% of the links on the web exist solely for the purpose of influencing search rankings. Keep in mind that Holistic SEO tells us to consider the value of content, not just spammy article links with synonym swapping techniques that the search engine algorithm has accounted for.

  • Collect ratings and reviews from your clients and create a process to promote them in local search

Don’t be fooled by anyone telling you your local rank is dictated by a specific signal, especially if that signal is the number of reviews your business has. You do not need to go wild with reviews to rank. Reviews are game-able, and thus not a good long-term local search signal.

  • Become involved in your online community. Become an advocate and curator of online discussion…. this builds links too!
  • Learn how to use Advanced Search Operators to improve research on Google
  • Create an account with StepRep for Reputation Management and awareness for just $19 per month
  • Leverage the social signals and PageRank of sites like Facebook and Twitter, but don’t expect to receive the traffic needed to monetize the effort unless these pages rank on Google.  Social sites are great for influencing Google rankings, but they are more about marketing and reputation than new customer opportunities.

Social sites are great tools of creating a positive brand and increasing your authority online. I often recommend including social sites in your link building efforts. Social Media Optimization strategies can be scheduled and automated, such as social media bookmarking and social media posting. The main thing to keep in mind when looking to incorporate social media in your online marketing strategy is to focus on interacting with discussion amongst your online community.

Take a look at the strategies that Metro Tickets in Dallas has implemented. With my help, Metro Tickets offers FREE TICKETS to events around Dallas – Fort Worth with new FREE TICKET TUESDAY promotion. This once a week promotion on Facebook offers the chance for the companies FACEBOOK FANS to win tickets for answering simple trivia questions.

  • Don’t fall for the product pushers. Holistic search marketing methods require us to consider all opportunities, but this also means that you need to be careful where you invest your ad dollars. You will get calls everyday from some local website or person offering to list your business. One would think that the first thing you would do is conduct a search on Google for what it is that you do and where you do it. The results on Google should help you decide which product-centric pushers you should do business with and which ones are not on the radar. Keep in mind that most local web traffic starts with Google (and 25% Bing/Yahoo.)
  • Last but not least: Don’t participate in the SEO vs PPC debate. You need both! Holistic search marketing helps you rank all over Google, not just at the top. Everyone says they can get you to the top, but the clicks and conversions depend upon the message title and description in the SERP (search engine results page.)

I often recommend a 50/50 budget distribution between everything SEO (content, web design, video, listings, and images) and everything PPC (paid search, content network, promoted video, local tags.)

For further advice on local search marketing, visit my website.

 

Here are a few tips from Google on finding a local search engine optimization professional for your business:

While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site’s presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

    “Dear google.com,
    I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

    Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO.Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.
  • Choose wisely.While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO:http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002002970_nwbizbriefs12.html. While Google doesn’t comment on specific companies, we’ve encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.
  • Be sure to understand where the money goes.While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.
  • What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
  • One common scam is the creation of “shadow” domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client’s behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor’s domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.

    Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

 


SEO Crooks, Yellow Crooks, and Snake Oil Salesmen – Are all the same!

January 2, 2011

In the early days of modern medicine, men went around selling various unproven and untested concoctions to people with claims of amazing cures and an instant relief of whatever ails them. Greed and fraud is why our Government decided to step in and end this predatory business practice by creating the FDA.

Greed is the word that best defines crony capitalism. Greed and gluttony are traits that seldom gain attention amongst the executive culture on Wall Street. The average surgeon makes just around 2 million $ per year, the average Hedge Fund manager earns well over 800 million $ per year. Why? Greed. That money should be shared with investors in an equal proportion to the amount invested.

Over these last few months, I’ve been paying close attention to the solicitations from so-called SEO scam artists (aka: professionals) who make false claims and guarantees to improve client rankings or get them on the first page of Google. It seems that little thought or focus on the sales call goes into how they intend to accomplish the actual task. Is it because want to avoid giving away the secret? Or is it because they have no real PLAN?. In many cases the client already ranks, but it seems as though some SEO companies think that every small business or website needs their help with web rankings, so they feel the need to continue to spam website contact forms and scrape email addresses off of websites to solicit new business with these statements.

It is said that 50% of advertising wasted. It should also be said that “50% of contact form emails are solicitations.” Thanks for creating a crappy user experience spammers!

Beware of so-called SEOs that Guarantee to Improve Your Rankings. There’re a number of what I call SEO Snake’s Oil salesmen out there who will claim to help you rank for 1,000 keywords. There are many instances in which some dubious SEOs will help you rank for terms like “divorce lawyer outrageous settlement Dallas”. But seriously, what’s the likelihood of someone typing something like that?

The worst old sales tactic in sleazy yellow pages sales was the “I want to update your listing” phone call. This is total lie and complete BULLSHIT! They don’t give a rats butt about the business FREE listing. The purpose for the call is to sell an ad in the “most used/distributed/awesome phone book.”

Fast forward to the days of the internet, Search Engine Marketing companies have are using the same tactics to sell internet marketing solutions. They begin with “We want to LIST or SUBMIT your site to Google or major search engines. We can help you make sure that you are listed with local online directories. BLAH BLAH BLAH BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. It never stops.

I had an interesting call with a fella from ReachLocal recently that actually made me somewhat proud to be a holistic search engine marketing practitioner. With the new ReachCast product they are actually discussing techniques that I employ for my clients, such as content strategy and social media bookmarking. I have never been fond of the companies automated PPC bid management system, but minus the lack of focus on the clients website compared to the focus on the “Cast” page, I think ReachLocal has managed to standout as the ethical standard for large internet marketing firms. If they had the focus on 100% pricing transparency as it pertains to clicks they would see a huge drop in client complaints.

Another large internet marketing firm is Local.com. Local.com recently purchased the web design and content writing approach from Octane360. If you compare ReachLocal’s Reachcast service and Local.com’s Octane 360 offering, you will see that they are similar and equally overpriced compared to what a small agency like mine offers, but considering the offerings from the Yellow Pages companies, not a bad at all! Local.com has pushier sales people though.

I have seen way too many SEO firms claiming to be able to help my clients rank on Google, yet when you ask them about on-site and off-page content with links they go blank.  My company SMB SEO provides every client with Google or Woopra Analytics, Google AdWords PPC reports, and customized keyword Web Ranking Reports. Why? To create transparency by ensuring to the client that we are making progress on our commitment to achieving the desired result for the client. We also provide call tracking from CallMeasurement.com.

Search Engine Marketing is not like the yellow pages. It is not a commodity. SEOs must schedule activities such as articles, press releases, social media message distribution, and video content in order to maintain a results focused approach. Without a schedule ( insert transparency on what you are paying for ) they are just scanners who are charging you for the idea of the result, much like how yellow pages publishers continue to sell their antiquated products.

Don’t be a scammer.

There are only three reasons that folks call my company:

  • They need help because they don’t have the time to do SEO themselves.
  • They do no know how to fulfill the requirements for proper local SEO and PPC.
  • They want me to help teach them how to do it themselves.

Pretty simple, right?

Unfortunately for you, shady and sleazy companies ( typically those who are not socially responsible while often overpaying executives ) are the ones with resources to hire sales reps to solicit search marketing services. They often use industry lingo and confusing contracts and then back these iron clad contracts up with legal teams. Don’t get me wrong, pursuing profit is not a bad thing, so long as it allows the business to invest in paying more American workers and donating to American charities. You know, social responsible companies.

I am praying that business owners are smart enough to know better, but considering the type of companies that fall victim to the “$850.00/month” credit offered by some media companies like the yellow pages, these predatory practices will continue. For big companies the act of repairing reputations just takes a lil $.

Check out the bbb.org, ripoff report.com, or jobvent for examples.

If your SEO Company does not offer a planned schedule that includes a content strategy and measurement of successes, you are likely not going to get either of them. I recommend staying away from such a firm. A good start in finding a good search engine marketing expert is to search Google!