Category Archives: search engine marketing

Online Branding Cost vs Return

When discussing with clients, both current and prospective, about the costs entailed with their SEO campaign, there’s almost always a measure of shock and or disbelief at the bottom line. Being that it’s a marketing industry at it’s base, and other marketing campaigns yield little to no tangible results, SEO offers a break down that can be examined.

You can determine if you’re attracting the proper type of visitor. Are your keywords effective, is your content driving your search rankings to help you climb to, and maintain a commanding position on the SERPs? Or are you only receiving immediate bounces to your site because you’re appearing on the wrong results pages? SEO when performed properly, and maintained rigorously on an ongoing basis, can give you these answers.

As for the costs associated to get the results you want, just like in any industry you get what you pay for. There are bucketfuls of “experts” out there who will do your websites SEO for you for $200-$400, but what will that really get you? Just like when you need maintenance done on your car or home, if you’re not a qualified professional to do the work, you pay for the services you require. Now say for instance, instead of having a contractor repair your basement foundation, you get your neighbor who you’ve seen mix concrete help you, imagine the recourse you have available when your basement walls begin to crack, leak and sag again.

Just as it is with the “experts” out there, when you’ve noticed that the $200 you’ve paid doesn’t deliver you any measurable, or quality results, there’s only one person to blame. Nickle and dime spending when it comes to your online branding and marketing has to leave the train of thought, you get what you pay for.

Cheap SEO “often too good to be true”

 Getting your company noticed online is not always an easy thing to achieve. If your Website does not appear near the top of the first page on a Google search, chances are it will not see very much traffic. So in what is becoming an increasingly cutthroat business, how does an organisation draw attention to itself online?

By employing a  specialist search marketing company like fresh traffic whose goal is to help customers to find new business online, there are two distinct options for driving traffic to your Website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your Website friendlier to search engines, thereby achieving a higher ranking on the page. SEO focuses on optimizing elements such as keywords, navigation, images and videos, in order to obtain the best possible ranking on a search engine page.

The second option is Google’s AdWords, a paid for offering designed to maximise your online return on investment (ROI). AdWords ensures that when a Google search makes use of one of your keywords, your advert appears opposite the organic search results. Since it uses a pay-per-click system. AdWords can be more costly than SEO, but it is also more targeted and will not fall foul of changes in a search engine’s algorithms.

The down side to this is the fact that not only do the majority of users look predominantly at the left hand side of the page, (the organic SEO side) they also trust organic search results more, meaning they are more likely to click on these. Other problems include the rising cost of pay per click, along with the limited amount of copy space available – everything needs to be squeezed into a 70-character limit.

Businesses paying to improve their websites with search engine optimization (SEO) should be prepared for the cost, many companies today are paying a small amount of cash and expecting big results, but that as with most things “you get what you pay for”.

People investing in SEO should be wary of companies who charge very little as if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.

SEO to some can seem like smoke and mirrors, some companies we know now simply offer search engine submission, or Google adwords and camouflage it as SEO.

Doing it half way will leave you no better off than when you started down this path and don’t forget the thousands of dollars you could potentially spend in the effort, businesses should invest time and money in proper organic SEO and remember that the service is not a “one-time hit”.

Our company has experts who can help in respect of both SEO and AdWords. Call us today 204.942.4200

You can always add social media into the mix with a facebook or twitter account if needed.

Another Google Car

At what lengths do you go, to save yourself or your business some cash? Where do you decide to trim your budget. Production? Acquisition? Marketing? Development? Depending on your niche and business model there are many more to add to the list I’d wager. So when it comes right down to it and you need to find some money, where do you trim, all too often the budget cuts fall on the marketing angle. And the first place that gets the shaft, is online marketing more than not.

The argument usually heard is that it’s not tangible, you can’t track any results or gains with it. The internet is a virtual world of switches, capacitors and electrical connections, so in a touchable tangible sense it’s not “real”. The numbers however, the web is full of numbers which are very easily countable. That machine you use on your desk at the office and at home everyday is, at it’s core, an overgrown calculator. Traffic, sales, visitors and unique first time viewers are all metrics easily tracked by the software that expert SEOs use to demonstrate to clients that what we do works like gang busters.

And a question that we are asked time and time again is: “Why should I retain you on a contract if the guy down the street says he can do the same for me for only $300?” And since people keep asking, the simplest and honest to god answer is maintenance. See, the internet never sleeps, never rests and is always changing. Google, the king of search and search marketing is the same. Always changing the algorithm, making it faster, smarter and it can throw the entire results page into disarray when they make a number of changes at once. Retaining your position on the SERPs in the midst of these changes is why we’re the best. And it’s why we can command the costs required for the care we give to your online marketplace. Now, if you’re still unsatisfied that this is the case, a simple analogy for you in easy to understand terms.

Your website is a car and Google is it’s engine. The internet are the roads you travel endlessly. Knowing you need a tune up (SEO) you look for a mechanic to tend to your car, and decide to settle for the budget variety to save a few dollars and settle in for a rest. Waking up, you find out that your Google engine has decided that it doesn’t like unleaded fuel anymore and instead wants diesel. So back to your mechanic who tells you ‘Sorry, I don’t know what I need to do to work with diesel’. And instead of driving your way to the top, you’re stuck, stranded on the side of the road with a stalled site (car), and work done on your engine that no longer works.

If you need to save some budget dollars and decide to focus on marketing, then trim your budget in the old, untraceable metrics like television, radio, newspapers and billboards. Playing catch up on the web is an exponentially more difficult game the longer you wait Winnipeg, time to get a move on.

Google Reveals Big Brands Spend on Search

According to the leaked Google document  the biggest buyers of AdWords in June 2010 included AT&T Mobility, Amazon, eBay and BP.

BP was a newcomer to the list, spending $3.59 million on search ads in the wake of the gulf oil spill (compared to just $57,000 in the two months prior).

The Top Spenders List

The top spender in June, AT&T Mobility, spent $8.08 million on search ads to coincide with the release of the iPhone 4. According to Ad Age, AT&T’s the third-largest U.S. advertiser overall, so its Google spending is not a big surprise.

Other companies that made up the top 10 include:

Apollo Group – You know them as The University of Phoenix and they spent $6.67 million in June 2010
Expedia – $5.95 million
Amazon – $5.85 million
eBay – $4.25 million
Hotels.com – $3.30 million
JC Penney – $2.46 million 
Living Social – $2.29 million
ADT Security – $2.19 million

The data obtained by Ad Age includes huge brands such as GM, Walt Disney, Eastman Kodak and BMW, which appear to have spent less than $500,000 in June. Tech rival Apple spent just under $1 million on search during the month, as did chip maker Intel.

Among Google’s biggest spenders are businesses that depend on search traffic, including those that resell AdWords or simply buy Google traffic to resell to their own advertisers, including Hungry Machine, which does business under the name Living Social, which spent $2.4 million in June, and Yellowpages.com, which spent $1.2 million.

No Master of All

There are a great many different trades out there, with widely varying skillsets. Chefs, mechanics, electrical engineers basically you could list jobs until you run out of breath. But just because someone once cooked breakfast, I wouldn’t assume that they could handle a full course meal for 100 guests. The skillset just isn’t there.

So it’s the same for search engine optimization and search engine marketing. The terms are very different, and different measures and skills need to be applied when working with the two. As a for instance, the largest difference in SEO and SEM is placement within the SERPs. SEO will return organic placements, in the center of the page only partially based on your content if it was deemed relevant to the search parameters. SEM on the other hand, will net you a place within the sponsored links area of the SERPs, where compelling ad copy can net customers. Different skills for different results.

Just as SEO and SEM differ, so does the practice of SEO, web design and web programming. Web designers who sell themselves as web programmers who can also list you page one for SEO, that’s an exceedingly wide range of skills. Often these skillsets can mesh and work well with one another, but just as the saying goes “jack of all trades, master of none” if you try and contract a do it all for your online branding, you’ll find your results lacking.

Web designers typically aren’t interested in what’s necessary for organic SEO to be most efficient, as it really has nothing to do with how aesthetically pleasing the page is. Web programmers conversely, are likely to use a lot of dynamic coding which doesn’t play well with organic SEO either. There is a middle ground, where an aesthetically pleasing website, can be active and interactic for your users. Ensuring you properly weigh out a budget for your web design, programming *and* SEO separately, is your first step to running your way up the SERPs.

The Need for Progressive Optimization (SEO Maintenance)

 When it comes to SEO many people make the mistake of thinking that search engine optimization as an action. They are wrong. SEO is a process that must be continually maintained for as long as you wish your website to competitively rank for certain keywords.

Imagine you had purchased a car with the intention of racing. You then spent a great deal of time; money and effort in upgrading that car competitively. After many performance upgrades you take it to the tracks and enter it to compete against millions of other cars of varying performance and experience. You do not however invest in a pit crew or a maintenance crew. Would you realistically expect your car to come in first place? You do not get new tires, or fuel or any of the other equipment and services needed to keep your car operational let alone competitive. You do however continue to enter your car in the race. Months later, when you check on its performance how surprised would you be to find out that its doing even worse in those races then when it started?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works the same way. The car is your website, the performance upgrade is SEO and the pit crew is progressive optimization.

SEO maintenance is the continued optimization of your search engine marketing campaign. The internet is constantly undergoing changes as is the algorithms used to prioritize websites rankings within the search engines.

There are many factors used by search engines to determine ranking. A major factor is the relevancy and authority of a subject related to keyword phrases. If your content is not being upgraded or updated then it stands to reason that your site content is less relevant then a competing site with up to date information.

Once you do obtain high ranking within the search engines, it is essential that progressive optimization is performed to keep those rankings. Make no mistake, your rankings will change. The search engines are constantly making changes to their algorithm which will affect the rankings for your keyword phrases. Sometimes this change will have a positive effect, often it will result in lower ranking. Sites have been known to disappear from search engine results entirely after an algorithmic change. It is important be aware of any such algorithmic changes and be prepared to counter any drop in ranking.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you and your competitors are all striving for the same rankings within the search engines. Your increase in rank comes at the expense of a competitors ranking. Remember your competitors are also trying to regain or improve their own search engine rankings as well. Without continually optimizing your own site, your competitors will overpass you and push your ranking results off of the first page, then off the second and so on.

Understanding the SEO Industry

One of the challenges facing any new industry is creating a demand for and an awareness of the industry in the mind of the consumer. Since many Website owners have only a general idea of what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it works, I’ve come up with an analogy from another industry that makes it easier to understand.

Search Engine Marketers = Ad Agencies

Search engine marketers dealing with paid listings are very similar to ad agencies in offline media. They work with the message and the creative to get people to take action: to buy, subscribe or register. They have budgets and are able to monitor results and tweak campaigns to get the maximum return for their clients.

It’s pretty easy to see the parallels between SEMs and ad agencies, but a little harder to understand the role of search engine optimizers, as they relate to the “free” search listings.

Search Engine Optimizers = Public Relations Firms

A search engine optimizer is actually very similar to a public relations firm in the offline world. Public relations firms try to get their clients mentioned in news stories and featured in print and broadcast media, i.e., they obtain “free” publicity. An SEO consultant attempts to get their client’s site listed highly in the “editorial” or “free” listings of the search engines. As with offline media, the editorial content (or listings) often carries more credibility with consumers.

Just as a public relations firm carefully writes press releases and formats them in a way that is favorable to the news media, a search engine optimizer adjusts the code and wording in a site to present it in the way that the search engines prefer to read it. A good SEO (just like a good PR firm) will create content that is interesting and useful, making it much more likely to be ranked well (or be newsworthy).

PR firms often act as image consultants as well, working with the company and its executives to make sure they present the best possible impression when meeting with the press. They make sure their message is consistent and in keeping with their brand, to help firmly cement the company’s image in the mind of the customer. A professional SEO often does the same thing for a site, making design or usability recommendations to ensure that once people arrive they will easily be able to find what they need.

Not All Search Engine Optimizers Are the Same

There are different kinds of SEOs, just as there are different kinds of PR firms. Some PR firms merely churn out press releases on a regular schedule. They spend their time faxing and following up on items that may or may not be newsworthy. They make very little attempt to be creative or find truly newsworthy events within the company — they simply send a regular stream of minor happenings out via press releases. They may even try to sneak releases past screening personnel or exaggerate the truth in order to get a mention in the media. Ineffective PR firms waste your money; an unethical one can even hurt your company’s image.

The parallel in the SEO industry is those SEOs that use deceptive practices to place their clients’ sites in the engines. One such tactic would be the use of software to churn out keyword-stuffed pages instead of attempting to improve the site itself. Another tactic would be showing search engines different content than a human visitor would see. These are strategies that work in the short term. But just as a newspaper editor will eventually start throwing out all of the low-value press releases from a company that has proved they don’t provide good content, a search engine will eventually do the same to pages using deceptive techniques and which don’t provide any value to site visitors. Eventually, those SEOs will find that their clients’ sites are penalized or banned.

Neither public relations nor search engine optimization are forms of black magic; anyone can learn what needs to be done to get a company noticed. There are PR companies who see the media as something to be manipulated, just as there are SEO companies who see the search engines that way. However, you’ll find that it’s much more productive when an SEO actually works with the search engines, rather than against them.

Google gets closer

Google has rolled out another new feature to search, and this time they’re getting to your roots. Currently dubbed Place Search, the idea is that all of the local information of Google Maps and listings are being turned into a searchable interface.

Couple in Google Instant, and the search page changes to show you their prediction as to what you’re looking for. Restaurants, appliance sales and repair or what ever else might tickle your fancy, if it’s local, it will have a new search results page. What you’ll find when the page comes up is phone numbers, address, a brief description of the ad as well as reviews if you happen to make a choice and click on a link.

Jackie Bavaro – Place Search’s product manager:

“Today we’re introducing Place Search, a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places. We’ve clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go…”
“Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when we predict you’re looking for local information.”

She added:

“In addition, you’ll find a new link for “Places” in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want. For example, when I’m in New York, I love to go out and play foosball, but a search for [foosball] doesn’t automatically show me Place Search results. If I click “Places” I get the new view.
“We’ve made results like this possible by developing technology to better understand places. With Place Search, we’re dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don’t provide addresses and use different names.”

Local search just took a huge leap for Google, in a way it’s their answer to FourSquare local reporting and listing power. If you’re not being found now on Place Search, it’s the next step in the powerful world of SEO, and there’s only two places in the race for the top. Page one, or page none. Where are you?

Search Marketing and Your Business

In little more than 10 years, search-engine marketing has grown into a $14.7 billion industry. It’s a big pie, are you getting your slice?

In setting up a new business, you sell the best product, you setup shop with the newest and best furniture and accesories in order to showcase your wares. You hire attractive, intelligent, well trained staff to promote your store and your product, and ensure you have enough cash registers to be able to ring people up and send them through in a quick, friendly, professional manner. It’s at that point, you decide to advertise; newspapers, fliers, billboards, maybe tv and radio ads, but all of these measures are taken only after you’ve setup shop good and proper.

So why would a flippant stance be taken towards your companies website and it’s effectiveness as a selling tool?

Hastily constructed websites, with little to no content, excessive scripting and/or flash based websites; all points which hamper your online presence and placement within Google’s results pages. If your business is in retail, it only helps you to have a shopping cart tied to your website, with a listing of your most popular wares (at the least), and an intuitive way to navigate your website and shopping cart so to assist in sales. An extremely high percentage, think in the 80-90% range, of people research purchases on line prior to actually making that purchase, imagine your income gain with having a proper website constructed with a friendly, and easy to follow website in order to help them make that purchase.

Having your website properly built, tuned, and compliantly stuffed with content, only increases your companies worth, in the long and short term.

Googling for Real(time)?

Google announced it’s gone realtime, meaning essetially that if they think it’s worth you knowing what was said 10 minutes ago about what you’re interested in, they’ll share that with you!

“If high quality information is coming in, then we will show it,” said Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who heads Google’s ranking systems and oversaw the development of the new real time system.

Some of the information comes to you live from :

Tweets from Twitter
Content from Google News
Content from Google Blog Search
Newly created web pages
Freshly updated web pages
FriendFeed updateearch system
Content from Facebook and MySpace is promised

How the information ranked? Singhal said only information deemed highly relevant is included. So spammy tweets, low quality pages and other content might not make it into the real time search “layer” that is used. After that, results are ranked by time.

In the end, it’s going to make all of your social media concerns, more applicable in the SEO world. Become an authority organically, maintain quality content in the socail sector, and enjoy top of the hill rankings all around.