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.
“Rant” I got a a call today from a Winnipeg business who decided to use another vendor 12 months ago for Internet marketing and some SEO Services and they are not happy with what they got.
Surprise surprise, they went with them to save money or so they thought, now they are further back then ever and I’m suppose to be supportive of this.Winnipeg business when will you learn? Here’s the truth, you are already 5 years behind the eight ball on many other major countries, business has been supplying budgets for online marketing for over 10 years already, you guys are still humming and arring whether or not to do it and asking if the internet is going to still be around in 5 years. Take your heads out of your orifice.
Answer, No your web shop, IT guy, traditional media company, PR Marketing person or any other person who read a book or did a half day seminar in Winnipeg will know how to do it effectively, you need an expert to list nationally or globally, period. Any idiot can list for the town or city they live in, or the name of the company website, these are the ones that mainly work from basements or have a shingle over the door and charge $300 a month, some call themselves consultants.
The latest trend is calling themselves social media marketing or new media marketing experts and charging 1k a month. Beware!!!
Wake up, stop being Penny wise, pound foolish.
In the world of SEO, there’s the good guys and the bad guys. It’s discussed in great detail on a lot of websites, blogs and forums. So to contribute to the trend, I’ll briefly touch on the subject as well.
The big news as of late to hit the news reel is the royal engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it’s been in print, online, I’m certain it’s been on television and the radio by now as well. But before you run off and hit the web to find all the latest gossip about the couple, follow a few simple rules first.
1) Know full well, that with news which floods the web like this engagement, it’s a prime target for black hat SEO. What black hat is usually associated with are all of the wonderful malware infections which keep computer repairmen in business, and shady companies in cash. What happens is the black hatters pick a hot, fast rising trend, and “poison” the search results. With hundreds of millions of people using search daily, it’s easy to pull in a few unsuspecting curiousity seekers.
2) Don’t click a link, if you don’t recognize the url. When you perform a search in Google, you’ll have the blue link headline, the black description text, and a green url. If that green text is not a website you recognize easily (such as cnn.com or bbc.com for example) take a pass on the link! It doesn’t matter if the description says it has the latest on the wedding, your hard drive and OS will thank you later.
3) The easiest way to gather information via search is built right in now thankfully. All of the major search engines return relevant real time results as well as part of a search. If a topic is trending well, and people are posting about it, there’ll be social and real time search listings.
Do yourself a very big favor when it comes to search, just because the websites which rank in the top 5 say they have the dish on all of the secrets, think first and click later. Malware has larger implications than just slowing down your computer and providing nagging pop ups. It can start there, and go all the way up the ladder to identity theft, password stealing and/or keylogging.
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.
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 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.”
“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?
In the not so new news, the death of SEO is being cried again. The cause this time is the Facebook and Bing partnership. I’ve read about the social search changes that have been incorporated, and just as Google shrugged it off, I’m inclined to do the same.
The changes that Bing and Facebook bring together is definitely interesting, no doubt. However, the idea that the entire industry of search marketing, search engine optimization and search engine rankings being dealt a deathblow by this partnership is laughable. If anything, the new partnership relies on SEO and SEM to function appropriately.
For another perspective, imagine going into a hardware store, and seeing all of the isles and rows numbered and having short labels for the contents of each row. Makes your shopping trip quick and efficient to know that you can find power drills and skill saws in the power tools isle. This would be a very basic example of SEO. Now applying the new Facebook/Bing method, you’re in that same hardware store, nothing is labelled or itemized (because it’s killed SEO remember) but you know there’s a power drill in there that your friend likes and owns. Great to know that your buddy has a favorite tool that you were thinking about, but how do you go about finding it?
Two very basic examples, but they illustrate the interpretation of the new personalized search Bing and Facebook are rolling out. Social Media Optimization (SMO) isn’t a new idea, it’s not revolutionary, it’s adwords on a more personal level. It displays information relative and relavant to your account and what it knows about you, not for your searchs. One last point to consider and digest, without search engine optimization, social media optimization wouldn’t exist, and without SEO, SMO will disappear.
Appearance, usage, accessibility and speed. Four qualities which should be incredibly important to any website owner and doubly so for users. If a site isn’t appealing to the eye, easy to use, have intuitive navigation and is slow to browse, it’s almost certain to be skipped over by users first and search engines later.
The qualitites came to mind over a conversation with a friend, they’d lamented that the coroporate side had changed the website and made it unfriendly to use. Previously their site was css based, very little code written on page, and had a good deal of content to be indexed relevant to their rather competitive niche. The new look and layout for their site, abandoned CSS in favor of Java, Ajax and active scroll over elements on the page.
The new site is visually more appealing than the old one, the effects that were added with all of the new coding however, was unecessary. Dropping indexable, search engine friend CSS for Java and Ajax was a half step backwards though in the search wars. While the coding offers a great deal of flexibility in what your website can look like and do, it’s basically entirely skipped over by search engines. The website in question has been running a brief survey on the new look and feel, and so far the consistent response has been that past consistent users, have begun to use other portals to meet their needs. Their new site, while more appealing to look at, was too slow, difficult to navigate and wasn’t easy to understand at all.
It’s a good example of the addage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”
The world wide web is growing everyday, with any and all sorts of content which you can imagine. Google, the largest, most widely used search engine globally, has the leading edge in the speed of searching, and delivering the web to each individual users needs. billions upon billions of pages viewed, indexed, and ready to serve.
The introduction of Google Instant, the displaying of search results while you type your search terms, should have come as no surprise. In terms of speed and reliability, it’s definitely faster (if only by a few seconds at times) than finishing a well formed query. Through their closed testing, one of Googles statements pertaining to longer searchs versus shorter, longer is not always better. Whether you type in 1 word and receive a viable, useable result, or use a 4-5 word query which returns the same result, it’s the few seconds here and there, which can end up meaning big on the bottom line. Both as an online business, and as an online consumer.
There’s been the calls of Google Instant being the death of SEO, and/or the end of SEM. When in fact it will be much the opposite. The introduction of instant search will help seperate the wheat from the chaff in the search business. It became a popular niche if you will, for anyone and everyone to become an SEO expert overnight by long tail optimizing for people online. It began to devalue the true worth of the real experts, those of us who can drive our clients campaigns to page 1 with three and less terms. Honing your skills and knowledge to be razor sharp in adapting to the algorithmic shifts as necessary, to maintain rankings, and continually build upon it’s success, and improve.
Google Instant isn’t the end of SEO, it’s not the death of SEM. It’s a new birth, the reset button on the industry that’s been long overdue. As the brands and businesses who targetted only long tail terms scratch their heads and wonder where their traffic has been trickling off to, and while the garage and Twitter based “SEO experts” struggle, the leaders in the industry can rest easy. Knowing that our ability, our knowledge, and our skills will rank our clients on Page 1.. Google Instant search or not.
So the big news so far this week would most definitely have to go to the newest change in Google search, Google Instant.
Google Instant is starting to roll-out to users on Google domains in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the following browsers: Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8.
In a nutshell, Google is completetly your searches for you as you type, so no need to hit that enter button. They broke down the search time in a basic format. It takes about 9 seconds to type a query, 1 second to return results, and on average, 15 seconds to select your best choice. The idea, is that Instant will reduce search times by as much as 5 seconds!
Unless your a professional racer of some sorts, 5 seconds may not seem like a lot, but it can mean the difference between an ad impression, click through, or new visitor to your site. As a business owner, you need to decide and realize what your time, product and online presence are worth to you. Google Instant isn’t available widely, and can be shut off by users who dislike the service. But, what are you worth? Is your competitors site optimized better? Is your nearest rival perhaps in a better search position on the “normal” SERPs? With the looming introduction of permanent Instant, how much is your online brand worth to you? A difference of 5 seconds could mean the difference between a new contract, or being on the receiving end of a dusty unused website.