One of our SEO clients is getting more than his money’s worth. In fact, I should be charging him loads more money than I am, but he is getting a whole lot extra work for free.
How does he do it? Am I a sucker? Maybe I am, but there is a method to his madness, even if he does not know it.
You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.
A company might pay anywhere form $1500 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.
In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client. This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.
My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite. He eagerly seeks out information and I swear he passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.
It makes his project exciting and, yes, he gets more out of me than he is paying for.
You know that old adage ”You get out of life what you put in”? It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.
So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website? Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?
What trends should internet marketers look for in 2009? I’ve decided to list some of my thoughts on changes in the industry for the coming year, what to expect and emerging marketing opportunities.
Social Media Tools – Just as social media marketing has become more popular over the last few years, so has the need for tools to help marketers manage this space. I expect more analytical and management tools for marketers to help make business sense of social media.
Closed Networks – Google will continue to be the major player in search, but do not underestimate closed networks (LinkedIn) and smaller players that fit a niche. Closed networks will continue to grow and may offer more opportunity to reach your target audience.
Internet TV – I have been hyping online TV services like Joost and Hulu for the past year. This will be the year for internet TV in my opinion. Services have jumped through some technical hurdles and now offer respectable performance over a broadband connection. Entertainment is becoming more personalized, so it only makes sense to watch what you want when you want.
Mobile Marketing – Now that we have more advanced mobile networks and devices (iPhone 3G and G2), companies are beginning to invest in mobile applications that compliment their online experience. Many of these applications will enable real time interaction with product and services. What was cocktail conversation a couple years ago will now become a reality for many mobile consumers.
What trends do you think will be the big movers in 2009?
President-elect Barack Obama’s top asset in pushing his agenda will not be his Cabinet secretaries or aides, but rather his online network. Obama’s political e-mail list tops 13 million names, a digital force that the incoming White House can tap to push for his legislation, tamp down critics or bolster popular support. It’s also a way for Obama to reach into every state, every city, and every neighborhood.
A study released Tuesday found that a quarter of Obama voters said they would continue to work online to support the new administration. The nonpartisan Pew Internet and American Life Project also found 62 percent of Obama’s voters say they would ask others to support Obama’s policies.
Welcome to the Democrats’ new permanent campaign, one planned online and executed on Main Street.
British housewives lead the way on the internet as they spend half their free time on the web.
The High Street may be taking a battering, but the recession is not stopping the army of British housewives from spending money as they splash the cash on the internet.
And they don’t just use it for shopping. From socialising to sharing information, the UK’s homemakers spend nearly half their free time surfing the web.
The study by analyst TNS, which examined 27,500 people across 16 countries, found British housewives spend an average of 47 per cent of their 5.8 hours a day of spare time online. This was longer than their counterparts in any other country as well as students, workers and even the unemployed.
In comparison American housewives spend 38 per cent of their free time online.
Four out of five housewives in Britain ranked the internet as ‘very important’, with most of them using it for shopping.
People in Britain are now spending over a billion pounds a month on the internet, according to market research company Mintel.
In the past month 68 per cent of Brits shopped online, just second in the global survey behind Germany, where 73 per cent of the country bought goods on the web. The global average is 57 per cent.
Winnipeg Company helps Obama’s Campaign for the Presidency, this was the latest story to hit the net on top of numerous others the last 6 months.
One of the greatest advantages of the Internet and search engines like Google is that you can find almost anything about almost anything or anyone. This is particularly true following the advent of web 2.0 technologies and increasingly sophisticated websites indexing everything from video to audio – we’ve come a long way from text rich sites with just an image or two to mix things up.
Of course, this information superhighway is also incredibly bad news if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself or your company on the wrong end of some bad press. Unlike the newspapers of yesteryear that were discarded after reading, online publications are indexed indefinitely, giving bad press an infinite shelf life
If your company is poorly represented on a site with a good PageRank, a respectable number of links and good rankings, chances are it will turn up near the top of the SERPs for searches on that company name. Not only does this mean the story will live on long after the facts may have changed, it’s also galling to discover that the old mantra of bad news selling translates equally aptly online. Say the bad press takes the form of a harsh critique of your restaurant. Upon seeing the piece, you take action and work solidly for six months to turn your eatery around. You change the menu, source new suppliers, opt for a complete revamp of the décor and hire a new head chef and sous chef. After all your hard work, you log back on and discover the bad review is still prominently positioned in a search for your business name. All because the review ran in an influential food mag or national newspaper.
How do you fight this and regain credibility? Most bad press relates to a particular service area or product, rather than attacking the entire business model. This, while unfortunate for the product being bad mouthed, is actually good news when it comes to rectifying the situation as it gives you a very specific plan of attack.
Even in SEO, the best defense is a good offense and there are several options available to you to replace the negative with the positive. The most effective way, is to focus on how the changes have been brought about and drown out the bad with good. That means developing a groundswell of support for the keyword or keywords being black balled. When attempting this, you must apply the fundamental rules of organic optimization while embracing the usefulness and grassroots potency of social media activity and multi-media content.
Research is always the first stage so ascertain which keywords trigger the bad press. Create a list so the whole set of phrases can be included in the image overhaul. This is also a good opportunity to re-assess any existing organic activity. Ask yourself if variations of these keywords such as location specific versions are now appropriate to your optimization. If you’ve grown as a company while making some fundamental changes to the business offering, chances are you will be able to add more words to the list.
The second stage is to understand why the negative press is gaining such prominent positions. Obviously if the site is well established and a respected resource, your situation isn’t helped. However, you can take advantage of their stronghold by running link reports and then sifting through the returned results. Pick out referrers with a good PageRank, domains that are particularly relevant to your own site and make a note of any social networking sites that you haven’t yet heard of or haven’t yet had the opportunity to use. This will form a fundamental part of your positivity drive.
Having developed an initial list of sites to target for linkbacks in order to negate the advantage of the bad publicity, you need to approach each of those sites and barter for a link. The most effective way to do this is to provide unique content. For newspaper sites, specialist portals and the like, why not create a press release announcing your re-launch, outlining all of the positive differences that have been made? Consider a launch party or opening night in order to get local press involved and then send out the PR to all of those sites on the original link back list. If you’re feeling brave, you can even send the piece to the author of the bad press you’re trying to sink. Invite them to come and review your product offering again, suggest a formal meeting or collaborate on a competition, pushing any newly gained sales tools such as client testimonials. The creation of new jobs if you’ve taken on new members of staff as part of the restructuring or even a great offer on the original product can pique the interest of the newshound who first slammed your offering.
With your PR campaign launched, you need to find other ways to build links and positive opinion about your brand or company. To do this, remember that the results pages of major engines like Google or no longer simply about text based content. Video, audio and images all play their part. Creating interesting and useful multi-media content makes a great addition to any traditional SEO campaign and is a useful part of the armor when driving out bad press. Create video content that is going to be of interest to others and make sure that it is easily shared. Video sharing typically takes place around sites like YouTube so incorporate this facility to get others to link back to it.
Social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, Squidoo, Sphin and Digg are all powerful tools and an extension of the content diversity you’ll need to push unfavorable listings off the front page. Any social media campaign activity should be thought of as a chance to communicate with the consumer, not sell to them. Create content specifically for this purpose, invite their feedback and provide a space for conversation and the links and client goodwill you seek will follow. This same approach can also be used for forum activity. Rather than jumping in with any excuse to link back to your site, watch first, participate second. Take time to understand the forum profile and then introduce relevant content and responses. Ask probing questions and give answers that inform and watch the links flood in. Content creation managed this way often grows organically, being picked up by blogs or industry commentators to create yet more links and more goodwill.
As with a full-on SEO campaign, attempt to turn around a poor online reputation need to be sustained if they are to succeed. If you don’t have time to dedicate yourself, consider hiring an SEO company or external consultant on a short term basis to carry out your brief
If the headlines threatening a global economic meltdown are causing you to rethink your search marketing strategy, you’ll probably have considered taking your paid search campaigns back in house, shelving your PPC campaigns entirely or turning your hand to organic optimization in a bid to reduce marketing costs.
However you’re cutting costs, organic search shouldn’t be the area in which you skimp. Organic traffic is often more qualified, more interested and less expensive than traffic accrued in any other way, making it a safe bet when times are lean. Unfortunately, a good SEO campaign can also cost serious bucks so it’s important to spend dollars wisely when all the indicators point to a nationwide financial slump.
There are several ways to make an SEO campaign a good investment during an economic downturn. One option is to focus on a single core area, giving you a performance focused optimization strategy based on tried and tested market share. Good SEO during a bad economy should never be a dressed up attempt to crack a new market – if the bottom line is being closely scrutinized, it’s not the time for experiments. Instead, efforts should be built around increasing the online presence of one best selling product or service with its own proven track record.
All search engine optimization activity needs clearly defined objectives and if the main thrust is to increase inbound leads or actual sales figures, targeting an individual business area makes the end result much more attainable. The example I often give here is to think of a house in need of decoration. Problem is you only have one can of paint. Do you choose to spread the can thinly around the whole house and do a mediocre job in every room or do you focus on just one room and do a proper job? When cash is short this mindset can be successfully applied to SEO. Choosing a product that has performed well previously also means you have historic data to base marketing decisions on. There’s also the confidence borne of a previous warm reception that ensures the new optimisation campaign is not wasted as an R and D exercise.
It goes without saying that a carefully constructed plan of attack is an intrinsic part of successful search marketing activity. Remembering this basic missive will provide structure and symmetry, especially if money worries have resulted in an in-house campaign. Like going into battle, each detail must be meticulously planned. Roles must be assigned and understood if a pared down campaign is to be successful. Just because you’re operating on a budget and targeting wary consumers is not an excuse for poor performance. Turning good into great means spending extra time on the details; you can’t just write off missed opportunities and forgotten deadlines in a fiercely competitive, recession-fearing market. To minimise this risk, gather a small, well drilled team who can each carry out a specific task. Giving others responsibilities maximises effectiveness as each person can play to their own strengths. Doubling the workforce also means twice as many hours can go into optimisation
At this stage of recession time SEO, you can tick off the usual starting points such as deciding on keywords, assessing the site for content changes and identifying link partners. Most importantly if your campaign is to bear fruit, decide on and implement reporting structures. Good SEO is accountable and measurable. If you can’t envisage using the data your reporting systems provide to write a performance testimony at monthly intervals, your SEO is not sufficient to survive economic turmoil. In order to justify SEO spend when times are hard, the number of sales, revenue generated, value of web presence secured and brand penetration of the campaign must all be available as real time metrics. If you can go into a meeting and say this piece of content resulted in 10 new customers, or traffic from this inbound link led to 15 referrals, you can be confident your optimisation activity is overcoming economic hurdles and adding value to your bottom line. If your reporting doesn’t give you this luxury, it will be difficult to justify ongoing spend on search marketing.
Use Social Media
Social networks provide an incredibly useful word of mouth buzz at a fraction of the cost of expensive pay per click and banner campaigns if done correctly. If you’ve only so far used sites like Squidoo and Blogger to build links, shame on you. These social media sites are a hot bed of peer to peer recommendation and consumer review. Now more than ever, a good social media campaign can build brand loyalty, secure new business and propel more relevant traffic than ever before. The key to incorporating social media in organic search marketing activity is to recognise it for what it is; not a place to preach ad messages but an interactive arena and space for conversation. Embrace this grassroots environment, provide content that respects and adds value to the conversation and your SEO will shine despite the gloom of financial forecasts.
Canada’s Online Retail Revolution Picks Up Steam.
New numbers from statistics Canada show that Canadians are taking advantage of e-tailing like never before.
Online shopping has increased by more than 61 percent in two years. ringing up a record $12.8 billion in sales in 2007.
A total of of 69.9 million orders were placed online in 2007, up from 49.4 million in 2005.
Overall more than 8.4 million Canadians aged 16 and over purchased something online last year.
Need Online Marketing Help? Call us today 204.942.4200
I couldn’t believe when I read the article in the December 17th edition of the Winnipeg Free Press titled “Harper’s visit brings museum closer to reality.” I expected to be reading about the merits of Canada’s first national museum in over four decades, and the first to be outside of the Ottawa region, and how its creation will be a driving force in placing Winnipeg on the map internationally.
Though portions of the story covered this, I was quite disgusted to see the impact of the world’s first Human Rights Museum compared to Canada’s 12th IKEA store.
Is the economic impact of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights not important enough to have it’s own story? Do Winnipeggers value a big box furniture store equally to an international museum? Considering the next two pages were dedicated to IKEA and its economic impact to Winnipeg, you’d think they could have refrained from mentioning the Winnipeg IKEA in the same story as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
It seems as a city we are beginning to recognize how good we have it in Winnipeg, and a project like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one we can champion as a catalyst for drawing tourism from around the globe. However, once again, the media in our city misrepresents the values of Winnipeggers by diminishing our position as leaders in Human Rights issues with the same “cheap – tight – looking for a sale” label that has come to define us. Do we want to be known as ambassadors of Human Rights or bargain hunters?
Yes, I understand the positive impacts an IKEA in Winnipeg will make to our economy, and I agree it is a good addition to the city. My argument isn’t whether we need an IKEA; my point is that our media should place more respect to Winnipeg’s first, truly international tourism draw, especially considering the nature of its content.
I wonder if the shovel Stephen Harper uses to break ground for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be same one he uses for Winnipeg’s first IKEA? I think the shovel should first be used to bury this embarrassing story.
What do you think?
Small firms urged to consider search engine marketing
Small businesses could do more to take advantage of the benefits of search engine marketing.
This is according to Microsoft, which has released the findings of a new survey suggesting that six in ten US small businesses with a website currently do not make use of search marketing services.
The study also found that 86 per cent of the 400 small business owners surveyed were fearful they may be missing out on ways to grow their operations, with three-quarters of respondents saying it was likely that consumers search online for their offerings.
A quarter of firms said they felt search advertising was too complicated for them, while 35 per cent admitted that they would require the services of a search engine marketing agency to help them with such campaigns.
“By investing in paid search marketing, small businesses can track online sales and determine the return on investment for their campaigns, while at the same time boosting traffic and visibility for their websites,” Brian Boland, director of adCenter at Microsoft Advertising, commented.
Recent research by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that 70 per cent of small firms in the UK currently have their own website.