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.

20111116-074025.jpg

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

20111116-083222.jpg


Greatest Call Count Research Statistics on YellowPages Ever…

June 12, 2011

image

Imagine if I could use the power of this blog, with all the wonderful targeted keywords that it ranks for, to produce the greatest collection of yellow pages call tracking and call count results ever?

According to Gregg Stewart with TMP Directional Marketing:

Telephone tracking can be accomplished by setting up a dedicated call-tracking line, whereby a unique phone number (local or toll-free) is placed on a Web site or local search advertisement. The ad is suppressed from directory assistance databases, as well as other advertising sources such as Yellow Pages and White Pages. This enables the marketer to cleanly track the exact calls coming from the specific ad campaign.

To gather and then share great stats I would ask for the following data points from over the last decade from small to medium-sized business owners:

Year:
Number of calls per day, week, or month:
Directory:
Monthly Ad Cost:
Estimated Cost Per Lead:

I would then compare the years and see if the cost decreases while print usage gives way to digital local searches.

Can you share some call count information?

–——————————–

Let’s go Mavs!

With the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Championship today, I want to do something extra nice…

How about giving away a FREE Call Tracking service for your print or ppc ad via CenturyInteractive.com and CallMeasurement.com? This is valued at over $1200.00 each! I have got 3 to give. Just give me some great call count data on your print yellowpages or ppc ads!

If you want to be anonymous, just let me know that too!


Video: Future of Phone Books w/ Verizon YP’s Ex CMO Sandra Crawford Williamson, Yellow Pages Opt Out Info

March 4, 2011

http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/special_report/future-of-phonebooks-030111

Future of Phonebooks?: MyFoxDC.com

We don’t want to “stop an institution.” We won’t to stop waste. For those that do not use your product, they should not have to opt out. Why do yellow pages companies choose not to evolve and ignore the sentiment of people who state they no longer want to receive the product.
The comment from the D.C. area reporter about the SuperGuarantee was wrong as well, she stated that “you won’t find that deal on the internet,” actually she should have done her homework. The first company to offer a $500 dollar guarantee was ServiceMagic.com with the ServiceGuarantee. ServiceMagic is owned by IAC, which includes CitySearch.com and many other sites (see below). The former CitySearch CEO Briggs Ferguson, who later became the Internet President of SuperMedia and SuperPages.com, copied the idea for the SuperGuarantee from ServiceMagic.

I appreciate the comment about them not following opt out. I recently received a book at my home from a few publishers after also opting out. Too bad the gal didn’t speak English when she came to my home the next day to pick up the book after my complaint. I apologized for her trouble, but I really wanted to opt out so I wouldn’t get the waste. I no longer have a green recycle-bin at my home.

IAC owns several companies and websites, among these are:

Ask.com
Bloglines
Chemistry.com
Citysearch
BustedTees
CollegeHumor
The Daily Beast
Excite
GarageGames
Insider Pages
InstantAction
iWon
Life123
Match.com
MyWay Searchbar
Okcupid
Pronto.com
Reference.com
ServiceMagic
Shoebuy.com
Urbanspoon
Very Short List
Vimeo
Zwinky

http://www.myfoxdc.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=7885

Future of Phonebooks?: MyFoxDC.com


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

March 3, 2011

image

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

How can Yellow Pages print products evolve:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Books need to streamline ad sizes.

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

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

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

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

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

Phonebooks need to become creative directional magazines with dynamic content.

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

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

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

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

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

How can the Yellow Pages die even faster?

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

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

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


Who uses the yellow pages?

December 11, 2010

Who uses the yellowpages?

Via Greg Sterling at Screenwerk:

image

older folks.

image

rural folks.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say “nobody uses the yellowpages,” I would have been able to retire just 5 years into my near decade long career of selling and consulting on phone book advertising for Verizon Yellowpages and SuperPages.com.

To those that think people do not use yellowpages, I must disagree. Many people use the yelowpages every single day.

When I sold ads in Dallas, it was a challenge selling ads because in business perception often becomes reality.

image

For example, when the United States Department of Transportation created the interstate highway system we ultimately created the suburbs. We killed the traffic going through Route 66 towns, but over the course of the next few years rural towns became almost extinct.  Just think of what the railroad did to towns that didn’t get rail lines a century before. This is apart of our country’s history. Technology and innovation lead to a migration of business growth and opportunity, from one media to another. Radio fueled the end of the Holocaust.

YELLOW PAGES ARE A BIG PART OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

I respect the contribution to local economies by the phone book. It was a catalyst for commerce and the creator of small business entrepreneurs everywhere.

Telecom employee unions also helped create high paying jobs for sales people and sales managers consulting in advertising solutions inside this simple product.

The suburbs are the future death of the yellowpages, because of mobile smart phone technology, saturation distribution, yellowpages industry fragmentation, and years of price-gouging and sleazy sales tactics by industry veterans. The phone book publishers now have a bad reputation amongst consumers and small business owners.

The phonebook has a continued chance of survival in Route 66 towns and most suburbs by catering to older, poorer, and less educated consumers. The age of phone book users are baby boomers with stable jobs and disposable incomes. Most of those that want to make the most educated and social buying decisions in suburban and urban markets won’t use the phone book. No matter how many books, with little incentive to use, you put on their porches, you will never see usage greater than 20% in urban markets.

Do yellow pages companies have a future? Sure. Just not the phone companies who were driven to fail by investors, bankruptcies, and greed.

Decisions by dumb bean counters and marketing reps at Verizon ended the focus in rural markets.

Verizon Telco pulled out of San Angelo Tx and the town hated losing it’s largest employer next to the city. The yellow pages death in San Angelo wasn’t caused by Verizon’s departure, but by the focus on margins and not putting resources or the business community first.

I witnessed this business model shift while just 19 years old working in the TCC Call Center in 2001 as a media consultant. ( First rep to never miss quota for 26 conscutive pay periods, I later received 3 President’s Awards at Texas Division Sales. ) First was ending the agreement to publish for CenturyTel, AllTel, and other independent telcos. Sprint took advantage of this. The rise of YellowBook as a serious competitor to the telco monopolies of the yellow pages industry. No longer where independent publishers not privy to the service order records for B1 and Residential phones lines. Independent publishers began publishing cheaper and more localized phonebooks. The creation of the independant publishers association began.

As a Board of Directors Member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, the first and largest search marketing group in the country, I am proud to be apart of the history in small business local search commerce.

I appreciate the role of yellow pages.

Just 7 years ago over 78% of Americans used the Yellow Pages print. Today that number represents less than 20%, contrary to what publishers try to tell you.

A old saying is “58% of all commercial statistics are false.” This is defined by industry research paid for by industry companies to the same researchers and analysts.

The future of the yellow pages will be in subscription-based magazines or hyper-local publishers.

Can the yellow pages successfully integrate content, group buying, and value to consumers leveraging the future technology of paper and tablets? We will see. I believe in the value of display advertising. Let’s hope phonebook companies recognize that display ads are in its future, or the reason for its death, like Route 66.

I have to admit, I love the small towns. I am from Rouse City Tx and my Grandma owned a Feed Store.

Can Yellowpage companies create small business advertising consultants offering a large bag of solutions incorporating content and transparency? Will the entire phonebook become call tracking lines for ROI measurement like we offer with internet marketing services?

The future will tell.

-posted from my DroidX


Look here John, sorry to tell you this, but they lied to you.

November 18, 2010

image

“What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to lie and deceive…”

Just got back from the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Marketing Association http://www.DFWSEM.org meeting. You won’t believe it but the attendance was over 150 people tonight! The topic was the State of Search, featuring a gentleman from a Search Engine News Website and with two wonderful young ladies from Google and Bing. Very exciting stuff for search geeks like myself.

So… however that quote goes, has it never been more true  than in the advertising sales business.

You ever go out and tell a client what they are really getting from the service you provide? If you do it with an absolute clear conscience, you know, kinda like the feeling of helping someone down on his or her luck, wouldn’t you think you and the company you keep should be rewarded with this clients future business? Companies that can do this well have a great product or service to offer. Companies, like those that report phone book usage is down from 25% to now 11%, but then claim that they want to “opt themselves” out of paying a State mandated (so to speak) “tax” that requires them to produce a product that consumers don’t want or use, yet they then want to sue for the “freedom of speech” to saturate homes with unwanted industry waste… is that not pot meet kettle or what? The business practices of what was once an honest profession are disturbing. It is not all publishers. The problem is really all publishers combined. Take for instance my zip code, if you visit the Yellow Pages Opt Out site you will see that my home receives 4 different yellow pages company products, which equates to 6 books a year worth of collective waste. I wonder how much useful wood chips are being wasted? It is not like they are keeping legal citizens on payroll distributing the waste anymore? Have we officially handed phone book distribution responsibilities to illegal immigrants? I guess if the garbage man who doesn’t speak a lick of English can remove the phonebook trash for free, at no cost to the publishers, I am sure it won’t hurt for his Wife to keep busy littering our porches with them? Probably not the intent of the design behind the recycle symbol circle on your phonebook, but it sorts takes on a whole new meaning huh?

John Paulson is a smart man for booting SuperMedia CEO Scott Klein, and his two EVPs out of the company. Time to make room for DexOne management. DexOne folks didn’t subscribe to the Verizon/Idearc way of cheating. With the bankruptcy of Idearc, FairPoint Communications, and Hawaiian Telecom, Verizon should be held liable for unloading massive amounts of debt free and clear after two years outside of the nest, especially considering the knowledge of mobile smart phone advancements and patents. Considering the timing of the bankruptcy, one has to question the integrity of the investors and executives, whom did an excellent job of raising executive salaries while demanding subordinates take massive paycuts and benefit reductions. I guess we should ask Congress to do the same too? It is not like the 545 folks that run our federal government ever get fired for doing a crummy job?

What does this have to do with Google?

Product advancements in search come from ideas. Problem solvers combined with engineers and designers who create amazing solutions and verticals for just about any consumer need. The best that the Worlds first and once most respected “internet technology” companies, the yellow pages industry veterans, could create was an online version of the printed product. Nothing more, nothing less. That was because they, like most other intelligent businesses, understand how to carve a niche. Too bad ethics and technology passed them up. Companies like the one I used to work for are inundated with mid-level sales managers, high quotas, fat profit margins, nepotism, excessive executive compensation, and a lack of focus on change. Just because you are relevant today, doesn’t mean you will be relevant tomorrow.  The YP industry lacked the foresight to see the near future. Even paid search was a rush it to market solution with an inferior product like SMLocal that didn’t incorporate the tools from Google’s UI and AdWords Editor desktop applications. What we got was a cheap investment of the BidCenter tool from the purchase of Inceptor vs true software as a service (SAAS) solutions or platform planned and engineered application, such as those from companies like ReachLocal.com. To build a massive search marketing company you must find a way to embrace a holistic methodology to search and social, stay transparent with cpc/cpa and offer measurement tools and reporting such as Google Analytics.

The next step is to incorporate content strategy, and then after dotting i’s and crossing all the t’s you get to sales. Not sales and then a wonderful and almost preplanned game of hot potato by the outsourced and overworked/understaffed fulfillment department. Beuller? ANYONE want to take some accountability for the clients problems? Your CEO must be on the same page as your head engineer and his team of programmers. This is the side of corporate that deserves investment. Clearly not what Verizon chose to invest in with its Yellow Pages division Verizon Information Services.

Do you know why two terrible companies, or expired business models combined, just make one really bad company or idea?

John Paulson’s Hedge Fund was lied to by yellow pages executives. Now Mr. Paulson’s fund managers are making plans to turn yellow lemons into lemonade by combining the administrative and management expenses of SuperMedia and DexOne. I guess that is what most people hope, just because some monopolizing of the printed yellowbook business would be a good thing for porches everywhere. So the plan is to cut costs, merge resources and expenses, kill white pages, and then sell whatever is left back to investors or bondholders, but not at 40 bucks a share and the thirty some odd dollars per share they shorted the way down…. does this ring a bell folks? Gotta love crony hedge funds as much as crony capitalists right? I guess you deserved to be lied to… that is what you get for backroom deals to rob shareholders on bankruptcies of a dying business model before the companies had the opportunity for fresh and creative leadership to take a shot. Too bad when Verizon Yellow Pages and Idearc Media was spun off of big Verizon that big Verizon didn’t get to keep the crony leadership team from Kathy Heartless…. errr I mean Harless.

Maybe they need to just stop pretending they are so Super and actually do what is needed to become it… invest in something… anything. Just RIF the entire Verizon Management Team and start fresh… or do what Local.com did and buy a company like Octane360 for a basic SEO offering? Heck, you can’t do worse than BidCenter/SMLocal and Business.com. (lol)


SuperMedia’s SuperYellowpages.com has real potential with Apple PC Tablet

January 27, 2010

In my opinion, putting a phonebook on the internet only works to save money shipping phonebooks to India’s telemarketers. When Scott Klein announced his initiatives last February to a room filled with 3000 sales consultants ( an effort to pump them full of that good Super Kool-Aid stuff,) I am sure I wasn’t the only one feeling sick to my stomach.

I now see potential in http://www.SuperYellowPages.com when combined with the Apple Tablet….what better way for the company to end dependance on a saturated and fragmented print publishing and delivery business? There are more phone books printed in the U.S. than people and VerizonYP/Idearc/SuperMedia only distributes to larger urban markets vs its predecessor GTE Yellow Pages. Idearc was not the first to create an online version of print. Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages sent CD’s to offices to curb distribution waste. Area-Wide created an online version of its print directories years ago vs focusing on a real IYP offering to compete with SuperPages.com, YellowPages.com, and other IYP/digital directories.

In another 5 years, I am sure other tablets will exist. Almost all consumers will have one and I also predict that we will cease flipping pages of books, newspapers, and magazines in favor of PC Tablets. I also believe Google’s YouTube site and NetFlix will merge as well as a shift away from old antiquated Yellow Pages.

Will folks with tablets visit the SuperYellowPages site? We will soon see…… in the meantime, Klein better get his shit together and plan for what is coming….. so far his SuperGuarantee Gimmick is far from impressive (copied ServiceMagic’s Service Guarantee, which by all accounts was not something consumers took advantage of.)

Will the Apple Tablet be popular? Sure….just like smartphones and mobile web browsers. Will SuperMedia manage to keep up with changing times? It is still to early to tell.

-this was posted from my Android phone via WordPress app. Folks, Pay real close attention to mobile search and the future availability of the internet.