Building a Business on the Internet Shouldn’t Be A Laughing Matter

Some business owners make me laugh when they shouldn’t.

I hear these true stories and feel like someone just told an old joke about “two guys walk into a bar and…”

The following is just an example of how detached some people are from what it takes to generate leads or sell online.

A friend just told me about a guy who wants to do SEO. The cost of a custom web site alone turned him off. That’s fair. You have many options for web development. If you use the right tools yourself, your web site may still proclaim: “I’m not a web designer and it shows doesn’t it?” Hopefully you’ll hire a designer.

But the funnier part was the exchange between my friend and this not-yet-successful business person.

“Can I e-mail you more information about pricing?”

“I don’t have e-mail.”

“You don’t.”

“I don’t have any plans to get e-mail either.”

What more can anyone say?

For SEO, Don’t Fear the Google Penguin

The SEO industry is buzzing again about Google’s latest algorithm hype – the Penguin webspam update.

Everyone, remain calm.

google seoI’m sure some good sites suffered with the new adjustment. But it’s aimed at the unscrupulous crowd that goes overboard with SEO – innocently or on purpose. Google is cracking down more and more on web sites that get irrelevant links with the expectation that they can game search engines actually do reward good inbound links. And Google also isn’t big on keyword stuffing in your content either.

Earlier this year, Google also attacked web sites that do a poor job of including text content up high – “above the fold” as the saying goes.

Last year, Google came down hard on web sites that had a lot of duplicate content. Hint: originality helps.

What does this mean for you?

1. Don’t mess with search engines.
2. Clean up your mess if you’ve gone overboard.

So far, we’re doing just fine.

We also don’t lose sight of he fact that Google makes all sorts of smaller algorithm changes throughout the year.

We’re always making adjustments on our end to protect or improve our clients’ rankings.

One of our medical clients has a keyword phrase that’s #2 on Google right now among 11.8 million results. According to Google, there are an estimated 1 million searches a year for that phrase. Another client sells industrial equipment and is #3 for a phrase that people search for 145,000 times a year.

And guess what, the web sites are peppered with those keyword phrases. But we’ve taken great care to include them only when it sounds natural.

I’m not too worried about the Google Penguin update. Rankings rise and fall. We strive for the overall improvements with keywords and rankings. It’s all about relevance.

Hopefully your business is built on more than how well you rank on Google (industry leader Danny Sullivan has a great piece about businesses that rely too much on Google). We love it when we get leads and sales from Google. But that’s only part of an effective strategy that factors in web design, calls to action, news releases, link building, permission e-mail marketing, social media and paid search when it makes sense.

If you’re going to focus on SEO (and you should to a degree), go after the keywords that your web site can support. If you’ve tried to get on the first page of Google and fallen short, make sure you are working with the right online marketing expert. If that person or team has a good reputation, it may be time to try some different keyword phrases or work on new content or build up your social media presence or pursue links from outstanding directories, publications, blogs and other sources.

If you’re doing the right things, put the Google Penguin out of your mind and work where you can excel. Write an article for a popular industry publication. Create some compelling content on your web site that others will talk about and pass along. You have many options.

FREE Webinar: “Online Marketing Success Strategies for 2012″

Check out our new webinar, “Online Marketing Success Strategies for 2012,” at 1 p.m. (EST), April 19, 2012 that will help marketers boost their ROI while navigating Internet marketing options.

As World Synergy’s web strategy thought leader, I’ll be sharing the latest tips, trends and insights on SEO, paid search, social media and more. I will take a detailed look at online marketing challenges and opportunities that B2B and B2C business executives face every day.

Register today for the FREE webinar and get:

  • Social media tactics that work
  • Advice on how to leverage search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Paid search best practices
  • Fresh ideas for permission e-mail marketing

With a focus on ROI, the webinar will include real-life examples of tactics and strategies that companies use to generate more leads and sales while reinforcing their brands.

online marketing webinar

Small Businesses Generate Some Inbound Links, But They Can Do Much Better

Our new study, “Small Businesses Just Don’t Get SEO,” took at close look at 200 U.S. small businesses and how they are doing with inbound links, one of the most significant factors with search engine rankings.

link building small businesses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A significant number of small businesses – 70% – managed to generate more than 100 inbound links from diverse sources.

The number and quality of links can vary in their influence on keyword rankings with search engines. But it’s encouraging that the small businesses have attracted some links from web sites, directories, social media profiles, etc.

Small businesses still have a tough time ranking (62% can’t get on the first page of Google for even one keyword phrase). But the link building momentum is something that can help them over time.

Links should come from authoritative sources with relevant content. In other words, the link will have more value if the web site that provides it also has a good reputation based on the links it has received.

It never hurts to get a link from a local business organization, but companies should strive for links from online magazines, blogs and assorted publishes who like what they offer. You can get others to link to your web site if you have great tools or knowledge, such as industry guides or white papers.

Would you like to know more? Contact us online or call 440-349-4940.

Or, get our free guide: “22 Link Building Tactics to Boost Web Site Traffic.”

SEO Scams Around Many Corners: Be Careful

Sometimes you can smell a search engine optimization (SEO) scam and sometimes they’re more clever.

If you want to guard your money and avoid some headaches, keep these simple tips in mind:

1. Does the potential consultant contact you in the middle of the night through e-mail? I doubt it’s a sign of a robist 24×7 operation.
2. What e-mail address do they use? If it’s Gmail, run fast. If they’re not even part of an established business or use Gmail to conceal their business, you don’t want to give them any thought.
3. Do they offer a guarantee? I don’t know anyone who can call in favors with search engines and land the #1 position. They’re lying or deceiving you in some way. I can get you to rank #1 for all sorts of phrases that no one will ever use. I doubt that you would like search engine rankings and no correspoinding web site visitors.
4. If you can look at their web site, what do you see? How evident is their address? Do they allow you to ask for examples of their work?
5. Finally, find out if they have any standing in the industry. Check out their blog and see whther they have produced any expert articles, guides or white papers.

World Synergy Study: U.S. Small Businesses Fail to Keep Up with SEO

small business seo studySearch engine optimization (SEO) has been around since the mid 1990s, but most small businesses seem to be out of touch when it comes to leveraging the online marketing opportunity.

Our new study, “Small Businesses Just Don’t Get SEO,” takes a close look at 200 diverse small businesses that typically don’t do enough to help with their search engine visibility. Who wouldn’t want to be one of the first web sites to appear on the search results page when someone conveys their product or service interest by the keyword they use on Google, Yahoo! or Bing?

Unfortunately, 62% of all small businesses don’t rank on the first page of Google for even a single keyword. And we were generous with some of the keyword rankings we tested. In quite a few cases, the phrases reflected small local cities that matched the locations of the businesses. If we had included some more competitive keyword phrases, the percentage of companies that don’t rank would be more like 80%.

Get your FREE copy of the 25-page SEO small business study today.

Website Marketing Strategy – Tips for 2012

As companies plan for their success in 2012, they would do well to look well beyond the value of individual marketing opportunities, tactics and strategies and tie them together to meet their business objectives.

We do just that by championing an eStrategy with each of our clients. It encompasses everything we do and the services and perspective we offer clients.

What’s an eStrategy?

Through an eStrategy, we shape an ongoing plan that marries online activities (including SEO and permission email marketing) with what businesses are doing offline (including seminars, trade shows and more) in view of their business goals.

It’s too easy for companies (let alone consultants) to work in silos and not keep the big picture in mind as they make decisions that affect the ideal website marketing strategy.

Our clients consistently keep us up to speed with their print advertising calenders, their ties to industry events, seminars they’re hosting and much, much more. All of these efforts can easily be showcases online through:

  • Web site content
  • Search engine optimization
  • Paid search campaigns
  • Link building
  • Permission email marketing campaigns
  • and more

We’re adamant about staying in touch with clients and aligning our plans with all of their marketing so we can work together to maximize key messages. We’re able to craft timely and relevant strategies because we’re up to speed on how clients position their businesses in their respective markets.

Learn more about what an eStrategy includes or call us today at 440-349-4940. We’d be happy to answer your questions so your company can make the most of its marketing  in 2012 – online and offline.

Search Engines Rule with Local Businesses

People have a lot of options when seeking  local businesses like bars, restaurants and clubs.

Pew Internet Project recently explored the trends and found that search engines beat out other sources when consumers start looking for what they need.

The report, “Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses,” found that 55% of adults favor the Internet to find places to eat and entertainment hot spots. And 36% cite search engines are their favorite place to begin. Less popular options included newspapers (31%) and word of mouth (23%).

People still have confidence in search engines because they keep delivering what people want (even with new features and changing algorithms).

What’s the takeaway? While this study was focused on eating and entertainment, you can bet that people will search locally for all sorts of businesses. How visible is yours? Contact our Internet marketing firm today to get our help.

Defending the Art of SEO Consulting: Dan Zarrella Is Wrong

seo serviceI admire Dan Zarrella (@danzarrella), an author, speaker and nationally recognized marketing expert also known as the Social Media Scientist at HubSpot.

But he sure blew it last week (and apparently other times) during his outstanding webinar, “The Science of SEO!” With an audience of thousands, he repeatedly told attendees: “don’t hire an SEO consultant” in most situations. Instead, people should invest in content producers.

I’m sure it rankled me because we specialize in search engine optimization and other online marketing strategies.

But let’s dive right into this topic that gets people fired up. Dan keeps championing the notion that businesses can get by without an expert at their side. In the webinar and in other mediums, he suggests that SEO will take care of itself if the web site is supported by compelling content.

It’s just not true. People are often confused by SEO.

To help counter his misinformation, I’m going to take a look at several key factors that center more on reality than mere hubris.

Can companies succeed without experts?
Every business clearly doesn’t turn to seasoned pros to help them out. People attend conferences, read books and put some tactics to work – with marked improvement.

What they may lack is an eStrategy, a comprehensive plan that connects the online and offline marketing activities with clear business objectives. In other words, businesses should tie everything together rather than work in silos with different marketing options.

Is SEO so simple that anyone can learn it?
It’s always changing, so I don’t know how anyone could possibly label SEO simple. Dan and others with backgrounds in SEO know that there is power in content, page titles, page headers, inbound links and more. The problem is that companies don’t often know what to do with all of the data and decisions. Even the professionals sometimes view SEO as a one-time exercise and never look back at the pages they targeted.

Can good content solve everything?
What’s good content? How often do you stumble across it? Good content (interesting and entertaining articles, free guides, tools, studies, white papers, case studies, collections of viral videos, etc.) can attract inbound links (a huge factor with search engine rankings). But if you have the wrong keyword strategy, the link efforts can fall short.

Get our free SEO guide about web site content.

Can’t content and link building pay off a little?
Yes, you can get visitors (if they’re the right type) from referring links. You can amplify your efforts with social media. With SEO, it all comes back to the keywords you have in play and how you’re using them. That can make the difference.

Some professionals suggest that you just research keywords and just go for it (I’m not making that up). Really? I always thought keyword research should be thorough. I thought the selections should be based on:

  • Relevancy
  • Competition
  • Current search engine rankings
  • Domain name
  • Page URLs
  • Page content
  • Trends in web analytics
  • Web site age
  • Capacity to add new content
  • And much, much more

Anyone can make headway if they give it a try, but what’s the foundation? Where is the wisdom?

Over the years, I’ve heard people proclaim that “SEO is dead” or it’s not “rocket science.”

Well, it’s not a piece of cake and it is thriving. Just last week, we wrote about the Merchant Circle study of 2,500 small businesses who were asked “If you had to put all your marketing time and budget into only one channel, what would it be?”

Guess what came out on top? SEO  by 32.9 percent. Don’t assume that the response means they are all doing it on their own.

Can pages rank on search engines without an SEO strategy?
What would they rank for? Page content is crawled and indexed by search engines all of the time. If you string together some unique text and search for it, you may be No. 1 on Google. But is anyone even searching for that phrase? What good is a top ranking if no one is looking?  Just because you write insightful content and throw in a page title (with your best guess at keywords) doesn’t mean you’ll be No. 1 among the organic search engine results.

Some would argue that the page and the web site will benefit from good links. Yes, links influence search engine rankings. But what’s the content? What are the links? What effort did it take to achieve them? What’s the anchor text strategy? How much content is on the page? Are there related pages? And what is the keyword focus for the page?

People can study SEO and apply what they learn.

But I talk with businesses all of the time. The top executives often don’t have time. Their staff are stretched to the max. And when people do learn,  they may not know how to make sense of the data or their options. In other words, while some do well, others aren’t sure where to begin.

The world still needs SEO consultants – not just for the big and elaborate web sites. All sorts of businesses could use guidance.

And good content doesn’t come naturally. It requires creativity and hard work. With the right strategy, it can deliver in a big way.

Some rankings are possible without the knowledge offered by a long-term SEO professional. Web sites can attract visitors beyond the branded keyword phrases. But who wants to put online marketing in cruise control and settle for limited web site visitors?

Collectively speaking, let’s avoid the sweeping statements and dig a little deeper. Keywords are competitive even at the local level. Long tail keywords are a must in many cases. Making the right choices with content and keywords requires skill and effort.

I have a blast every time I get to help businesses of all sizes benefit from what I’ve learned since the late 1990s- because they thought to ask for help in the first place.

We would like to hear from you too.

At World Synergy, we don’t leave people in the cold or confused by search engine optimization. We’ll be there to help you sort out SEO and related opportunities — on and off the Internet.

MerchantCircle Study Reveals What Most Small Businesses Care the Most About

Recently, MerchantCircle conducted a study among 2,500 small businesses and asked them, “If you had to put all your marketing time and budget into only one channel, what would it be?”

The list of choices included the following:

  • SEO
  • Traditional Media
  • Social Media
  • Paid Search Advertising
  • Mobile Marketing & Advertising
  • None of the Above

Search engine optimization came on top at 32.9% compared to:

  • Traditional Media – 19.7%
  • None of the Above – 17.9%
  • Social Media – 16.0%
  • Paid Search Advertising – 9.8%
  • Mobile Marketing & Advertising – 3.7%

Read full article here.

Contact Online Marketing Firm World Synergy to learn more about search engine optimization services.