Archive for search engine optimization

11 Feb 2014

Made with 100% Real PPC (How to make EASY money as a SEO consultant)

2 Comments Featured, search engine optimization, social media

I was at McDonalds recently and noticed the writing on the bag: “Made with 100% Real Beef.” And then something to the effect of “And with a number like that, you can’t get any better.” Reminds of the breakfast cereals that are made “with” 100% real honey— meaning that they have a giant vat of cereal and high fructose corn syrup, and someone with a squeeze bottle squirts in a few drops of 100% real honey.

After all, it’s made “with” 100% real honey, beef, leather, or whatever— as opposed to being made “of” that item.

Whether marketing and advertising are just different shades of lying is a philosophical debate. But what’s not a question is the number of charlatans out there fleecing clients on PPC and SEO. This is not just run of the mill “we’ll get you to #1 in the search engines” kind of talk—- these are professionals that charge insane rates.

One of our clients is a major fast food chain that spends 6 figures a month with us on a full range of PPC, SEO, email, and webmastering. We partnered with an SEO company that in one of first meetings attempted to claim that he could at-will stop people from linking to the client’s site.

When one of our guys asked how exactly this could be done (since I could just create a blog post and link to the site), he said that it was proprietary technology. After 2 1/2 months of keeping this guy on, with no improvement on rankings, we got rid of him— not before he attempted to ask for more fees, and also trumpeted the value of his RSS network, and 3 way linking strategy.

His final gasp was to mention using Twitter as one of the keys to driving more leads for the client. It wasn’t a bad run for this guy, who makes a living getting first page rankings on no-traffic terms.

So if you want to make an easy living fleecing corporate clients, do this (I’m not kidding— this is so easy):

Proclaim that you are an expert at SEO: create a local meetup group (with 2 other conspirators) and say that you founded the “SEO experts” group in your city. Join a few professional organizations, such as SEMPO (yes, they are legit).

Put up a canned website with huge logos for Google, Yahoo, MSN, Verisign and other network: saying that you are partners with them in advertising. List yourself in a few directories.

Upload

Get a few clients: Word of mouth marketing is easy. You won’t be keeping clients very long, so make sure you have a steady inflow of new clients to replace the ones who find out they’re getting fleeced.

Don’t have references? That’s okay— mention that your clients are confidential. After all, you wouldn’t want other clients to know about what we’re doing for you, right? In your initial client meeting, spend the whole time talking about 301 redirects and 200 status codes— sound ultra technical, especially if you can’t actually program. Don’t worry, the client doesn’t know how to program either, so your cover will hold.

Create ranking reports: Using your proprietary technology (just pay for a subscription at seomoz.com or seobook), create a monthly ranking report on terms that you choose. The key is to choose terms that have no traffic and nobody else is competing for.

Choose 4 and 5 word search phrases: go for “large, custom blue widget manufacturer Los Angeles”, not “widget” or “blue widget”. Claim that the longer terms are “higher relevance.” When the client asks for how long it will take to get results, say that nobody really knows the search algorithms except Google and Yahoo themselves— and that anyone who makes firm promises is a charlatan. This excuse will buy you lots of time.

Set up a few WordPress sites: Using those search terms you listed, buy the domains. To flush out this snake oil peddler mentioned above, we ranked on “franchise review site”. Within a couple days, you’ll be on the first page of Google for that term— if not in position 1. If you’re sophisticated with programming, auto-generate a bunch of fake content by scraping other blogs.

Or follow what bluehatseo.com has to say about this. Not needed—- buying a few domains and putting up free wordpress templates is sufficient here.

Source: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/content-scrapers/

Source: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/content-scrapers/

stewie

Proclaim victory!: Whew, it’s been a LOT of hard work, but look— we got a #1 ranking on these 5 terms. If you want to get more mileage out of it, do it with lots of fanfare and spread out the results over time. If you deliver these results right away, they’ll think it was easy.

Go on vacation for a few weeks, then come back and proclaim victory. If there’s someone who’s smart about SEO in the client meeting, who asks questions about whether those terms have traffic, babble on about how you have to take a holistic approach to SEO and that many factors will affect rankings.

Collect fees as long as you can: If you’re lucky, nobody will ask any questions. But if they do, be ready with these excellent comebacks:

Why aren’t rankings on my main terms going up?:

“Sometimes you take two steps forward and one step back”— fluctuation in results is perfectly normal. Your site needs more unique content. We’re going against some strong competitors here, so it will take some time.

But PPC seems to be driving traffic and leads, not SEO: PPC is a short-term solution that is bleeding you money. The real pro’s recognize that organic results are more trustworthy to users— and getting in naturally will save you money over time.

I don’t understand what you’re doing— in fact, I don’t think you’re doing anything:

There are many factors involved here that only trained professionals like myself will understand. I go to a lot of conferences to network with other people like me who don’t know anything either. We have a proprietary RSS network and series of blog sites— I’m sure you can understand why we don’t divulge trade secrets.

I don’t see any more inbound links than when we started:

Okay, the client must have talked to someone else, since they didn’t know what an inbound link was before. You know you don’t have much longer with this client.

Throw a Hail Mary: “I don’t think we’ve been giving your account the proper level of service here. What I’d recommend is that we move you to a premium package at $__k more per month, which will allow us to put more effort on your initiatives.” If they don’t go for that, try to talk about social media optimization and the power of online communities, Web 2.0, twitter, and such.

As a final effort to block this other firm that the client has been talking to, try to scare him with the risks of black hat SEO, that they could get banned FOREVER.

Empty Box

What’s sad is that this is pretty close to what has happened at a major client— the difference being that we actually put up the WordPress sites to reveal the trick. I know— it’s bad etiquette to expose the tricks that other magicians use. But someone is eventually going to realize that it’s a magic show and that the coin was behind your hand all along— and that there was a hidden compartment with a mirror hiding what was in that supposedly empty box.

Well, in this case, the box actually was empty.

If you are an SEO who is making money doing what I’ve described above— kudos to you for living by your wits. But now it’s time to learn some real skills to place in your bag of tricks.

09 Oct 2010

Google Analytics can predict the future

1 Comment internet marketing training, search engine optimization

My best friend is a stay at home dad. Last Halloween, he blogged about funny pumpkin carvings and quickly started ranking on that term.  His traffic went from a few dozen visits a day in late October to a couple thousand daily uniques right at Halloween.  It’s now one year later, the content is unchanged, and we see traffic building up. Here’s the traffic trend through October 8th, just 3 weeks away from Halloween.

As you can see, it’s gone from a couple visits a day to about 80 visits a day.  I’d estimate that by the time Halloween hits, we’ll be up to 2,000 visits a day on this term, which would be slightly more than last year.  He’s already ranking #2 on this term, as well as a number of other Halloween keywords.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM THIS

Consider what posts you’ve written that have season value.  Got something on your favorite Christmas stories?  You get another shot this year around to get a multiple of what you did last time.  This time, you’re already ranking and have had a chance to evaluate what keywords drove you traffic. Thus, you know now how to send linkjuice to this post and what terms are valuable.  It’s like watching re-runs of a game show you’ve already seen– you already know the answers. So if you can’t win, something is wrong.

TAKE ACTION

Maybe you have a winning egg nog recipe.  Now create one on hot spiced cinnamon cider or related topics and link these articles together.  Get your friends to link to you on these new articles.  You already know Google likes you for a certain set of terms, so as long as you stay close to those, you’ll be able to expand out and get more traffic on similar terms.

If you have some high resolution pictures, that will help you in image search. Integrate Facebook Connect as Keith has done, and you get another multiplier of traffic, since Google is indexing Facebook pages.  Getting more comments to your post will also help you get more traffic– there’s more content to index, plus Google sees that your site is heavily visited and commented.

Love to hear your experiences here.

20 Mar 2010

Ranking in Google News is easy– even for competitive terms

2 Comments search engine marketing, search engine optimization

What’s the secret?  Just submit to about 20 free press release sites.  If you want to pay for PR Wire or PR Web, that’s fine.  Might save you some time. While it’s great to be able to rank for Facebook advertising and local online marketing, the truth is that these news results don’t provide much traffic.  You might be sitting on the first page of Google News for a day before you slide down and are replaced by something more recent.  

Perhaps with Google Caffeine and the greater emphasis on the real-time web, news-like results will become more prominent.  Imagine Google copying Facebook, where the search results page is essentially the Facebook News Feed.

16 Mar 2010

Why We Don’t Sell SEO Anymore

9 Comments search engine optimization

Last week, I was on a panel discussing SEO with Seth of Conductor, Chris of Bruce Clay, and Kevin Lee of DidIt. The audience was startups, and here were are, 4 of the top agencies in SEO, telling them about SEO. Trouble is, these aren’t Fortune 500 companies who have $20k a month to pay for SEO consulting– they’re scrappy startups with just a few people each and a few dollars for hosting. They’ve got brand new sites with no linkjuice, so no amount of on-page optimization– to spread around what little juice they have– will even matter.

Thus, SEO for startups is an oxymoron.

Clients who come to us wanting SEO, after a chat to clarify objectives, actually want more traffic profitably.  They may request SEO, likely because they don’t know the technical lingo or have heard others tell them that this is something they need.  Thus, most of our discussions with prospective clients is educating them about what SEO is, than it is pricing out services.  If you run an agency, do you discover this pattern with your inbound requests?

Save yourself some time– avoid that discussion entirely.  

  1. No need to talk to folks who believe they should rank #1 on “mortgages” by tomorrow because they paid you $79. 
  2. No need to explain to them why those firms that guarantee organic rankings or thousands of links for 12 cents each are just charlatans. 
  3. No need to discuss why their content-free site can’t rank unless they are willing to create meaningful content, in addition to getting great links.

In short, avoid completely the dashed dreams of clients who believe that SEO is a magical elixir to their site not getting traffic.  You wouldn’t believe that a diet pill can cause you to lose 30 pounds in 30 days with no exercising or diet required.  So why believe that by hiring a SEO firm that you don’t need to build a great site, reach out to industry folks that matter, and experiment with PPC and social media?

BlitzLocal doesn’t rank on SEO terms and doesn’t try to– though we do rank on “local advertising”, “local online marketing”, “facebook advertising”, and so forth. We believe it’s easier to sell clients on delivering results– a certain level of qualified traffic that converts into a phone call, form completion, coupon download, or other measurable action.  Having a compelling site, engaging users on social media,  reaching out to the press, and doing things that have been in the category of “webmastering” was and has been effective long before the term SEO was coined and became en vogue.

We’re not bashing SEO– there are plenty of practitioners who provide great ROI to clients. What we are exposing is when clients really want certain types of results, but mistakenly think it’s SEO.  Nowadays to get organic traffic from search engines– the definition of SEO- you’re engaging in lots of things that are called by other names.  So why add to the confusion?  Just sell the underlying parts of public relations, content writing, application development, buying links, social media, or other more specific forms of getting traffic and engagement.

24 Jan 2010

4 steps to make a KILLER Infographic and drive natural inbound links

3 Comments internet marketing training, local advertising, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media


Gather some interesting statistics and then make a chart out of it– and you’ve got yourself an Infographic.  Examples are showing a map of the world and income for each country displayed by green bars.  Or perhaps it’s the price of gasoline over the last 2 years graphed against milk prices to show some interesting trend.  The goal of an InfoGraphic is to visually stimulate people with statistics and get them to tell their friends or blog about it.  A few days ago, I saw an InfoGraphic showing the percentage of times people tweet after having sex. Certainly that drew some attention, although I’m not sure how accurate their methodology is.  It’s not as if you can set up hidden cameras in bedrooms across the world to measure this.  The percentage is 36% in that study, by the way, if you’re wondering.

There are 4 steps to getting this done:

  1. Get the raw data-- some folks will do a survey, which is easy enough to do via Facebook and twitter.  Just do a web search and you’ll see a number of sites that allow you to create free or inexpensive polls. The plus– polls are easy and you can get data fast.  The cons– massive sampling bias, as you’re not getting a random sample, plus your sample size is likely too small to have statistical significance.  The best results are where you can scrape from a large dataset– but this may require you to spend money to get that data via a gnip, addtoit, or other service. Some are free and some require no programming.
  2. Crunch it– slice, dice, and manipulate the data.  Some Excel wizardry– or SQL queries if you have a larger data set and need to load it into a database– and you have your aggregates.  Group by keyword, geography, type of user, or other attribute.
  3. Make an image-- Easiest and most common tactic is to do a map overlay. For example, look at the beer drinkers in America by state.  Or you can do something silly, such as The Onion’s mockery of MySpace’s privacy. Not a great designer?  Just find someone on rentacoder or odesk for $100, telling them what imagery to imitate.  If you’re doing an Infographic on how many cups of coffee Americans drink, broken out by state.
  4. Promote the heck out of it: If you’ve done the previous 3 steps right, you’ll go viral. Make sure that nobody can nail you on poor methodology– bad sampling, incorrect assumptions, or other flaws in your research. Blog about it, get your friends to Digg it, post it on your Facebook and Twitter.  A good headline here can make or break the result. 

If you generate enough controversy or have something hilarious and/or interesting, then watch this go viral– and the links to your site will start flowing.  Brent Csutoras, the best social media linkbuilder on the planet (in my opinion), told me that he can sometimes get tens of thousands of links from a single post.  That includes a smattering of PR7 and PR8 links– if you hit a home run. But perhaps a typical viral campaign will generate just a few hundred links– you never really know. 

Now compare those results against trying to buy links or reaching out to bloggers one at a time. Even if you could buy links without getting in trouble, what would the comparable cost be?  Matt Cutts, the Google spokesperson for SEO, says that this link building methodology is completely white hat and legitimate.

So what are you waiting for?  What interesting factoids and tidbits can you assemble for the website that you’re trying to promote?


17 Dec 2009

Doing cosmetic surgery on a cosmetic surgeon– what we learned in 2009

5 Comments local advertising, search engine optimization

DavidVerebelyiTonight, I had dinner with Dr. David Verebelyi, Chief of Laser Surgery for the Colorado Center for PhotoMedicine.  They do liposuction in Denver, laser hair removal, and other laser-based skin procedures.  We’re doing cosmetic surgery on his website– not his face or butt!  We’ve celebrated one year with Dr. Verebelyi and he mentioned that in 2009, he drove 40% more business than in 2008, while paying 12% less in marketing cost.  

In fact, Internet marketing has been so effective, that he’s putting all his advertising dollars online– no print, radio, or TV. So before this blog post starts looking like a testimonial or marketing brochure, let’s talk about some interesting things we’ve learned this last year:

  • Legitimate doctors are having trouble competing with spammers promoting weight loss products. By spammers, I’m talking about the fake testimonials and “flogs” (fake blogs).  Dr. Verebelyi and his staff actually do have celebrity clients, so how can he yell over the noise created by the folks who aren’t real?  Having a phone number and contact information prominent on the page helps, but many consumers aren’t reading that far.
  • Social media is effective not for coupons, but when stuff is actually free.  Just like the above example, his office has offered small free services in the hopes that once a prospective patient comes in that they’ll sign up for other procedures. Twitter has been effective in promoting free services, driving folks into an email autoresponder process.
  • Negative keywords and targeting are key to effective advertising. The young women and teens who want to just get a prescription and get right out are not profitable. So we have to demographic target and also use a heavy negative keyword list.  You don’t want to be paying $5 a click on a teenage girl who just wants to buy Clearasil from the supermarket.
  • Before and after pictures are critical.  Patients want to see results and Dr. Verebelyi is one of the best in the nation based on his performance. He literally wrote the book on laser skincare techniques and trains surgeons nationally, as head of training for the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. The funny thing is while you’d think that patients would care most about finding the best doctor (this is your body, we’re talking about– no discount heart surgeon for me!), price is still the #1 consideration.

Looking forward to 2010, we’re going to take advantage of Google’s latest features for local– ad extensions, sitelinks, Google Favorite Places, Facebook integration, and so forth.  And look forward to a new site in January– it’s not just Denver Botox, you know.

12 Dec 2009

Blogging is as Simple as Pulling your Head out of your Ass

9 Comments Guest Posts, search engine optimization

This is a guest post by Keith Wilcox

 

blogging

 

Okay, I admit it.  Some of the details can be a little challenging.  I still have to look up a bunch of HTML that I’m sure other bloggers know by heart.  I don’t know exactly how Google PR works, and I’ll be damned if Alexa rankings make any sense to me.  What I do know is that none of that would matter to me if I had never written my first article 6 months ago.  Even tentative steps are steps.  Blogging really is nothing more than having something to say and saying it.  Indeed, there are some basic rules to follow, none of which are complicated.  First, have a theme.  Second, be consistent.  Third, don’t give up.  That, in a nut shell, are the rules by which people, whether they be athletes, politicians or actors, become successful.  When you execute on those three principals then you can start worrying about the details.  Excuses don’t pay the bills, and good intentions are good for shit.  The only thing that matters is taking one step forward – then another.

 

The Theme:

 

how-i-homeschoolMy blog is all about being a homeschooling Stay at home Dad (SAHD).  Every article I write has some connection to parenting, fatherhood, children or education.  Of course, themed blogs are not necessary if all you’re doing is updating friends and families on your daily routine.  However, for the purpose of becoming a web presence, a theme is vital.  You must find a niche and become an expert.  Butterflies, massage therapy, speaker technology, fertilizer – just pick something and go with it.

 

Consistency:

 

One sure fired way to fail is to be flaky.  Nobody likes a quitter, and nobody likes to be kept waiting.  Readers will read your content if you have something interesting to say, but they won’t keep coming back without fresh news and insights.  There are certain blogs I read every day.  There are others that I read once a week.  I know when to come back because I know the update pattern to expect.  People who aren’t consistent get forgotten.

 

When the Going gets Tough:

 

Analytics SeptemberMy blog spent 2 months at 20 visitors a day.  It spent another two at about 100.  Then it suddenly shot up to 1200 visits a day for a month.  Now it’s back down to between 300 and 400.  By successful blogger standards my traffic numbers are somewhat pathetic.  But, the trend says I’m going in the right direction.  Sure I had a month over 1000 visitors per day.  Then I bombed.  I could spend my time fretting about that dip, or I could focus on the fact that I started at 20 and I’m still trending up.  I’m a long way from where I want to be, but I’m not giving up just because I bombed this month.  That’s the story of life.  Quitters never prosper.

 

The Details:

 

You’re not technically minded?  Neither am I.  I have a double major in History and Spanish.  What do I know about computers and the world of online advertising?  Well, I didn’t know anything before I started, that’s for sure.  Now I know a little, and thats the most I can say.  But, look at my blog.  I’ve asked a ton of questions to people who are experts at this stuff.  They’ve helped me, and I’ve learned.  Did I know who Shawn Collins was before I Started?  Nope.  And, I’ll bet he doesn’t know who the heck I am.  I read his blog though and listen to what he’s saying, and I’ve learned some things.  Dennis here has  been an invaluable resource for SEO advice.  You don’t have to be technical, you just have to be curious.

 

Logo Sample 2So, you want to be a blogger, but you haven’t started yet.  You’re probably more qualified than me; but, I’ve done something and you haven’t.  I might never be comfortable with my expertise or I might be worried about what people will say.  I might even be concerned that I’ll get badmouthed and threatened because of the things I say.  You can’t live your life in fear.  One step at a time, that’s all I’m asking.

15 Oct 2009

Blogging tips: Let Google tell you what topics to write about

10 Comments search engine optimization, social media

(in other words, how to NOT have a blog that gets no traffic)

Every few days I go into Google Analytics to see what’s driving traffic to my site.  If there’s a sharp spike, it’s usually because of a guest blog post or speaking at a conference.  If it’s a gradual increase, it’s because I’m ranking on some organic keywords.  The number 3 keyword driving traffic to my blog over the last few days has been “facebook application promotion“, and that’s been driving new consulting business to BlitzLocal.

facebook_app_promotion_kw

So when you see that you’re getting traffic on an organic keyword, the next thing you should do is search on that keyword and related keywords.  So I did that search.

facebook_app_promotion_serps

2293239853_ddd6bc4ef4And found that I was ranking #2 out of 58,300,000 results, with the #1 result being Facebook themselves.  Here’s what I’ve learned: if Google thinks your blog is good enough to rank on a competitive keyword, then by all means you should blog more about that keyword and related keywords.  Maybe you rank on a term that is not ultra competitive, such as “cell phones suck“.  Well, with some work, maybe you can eventually rank on “cell phones”. Think of it like winning in junior varsity before moving to varsity or pro.

There are 4 things to consider here:

  • How many hits you’re getting: Don’t worry about the terms that you give only a few hits a month– look only at your top 20 terms.
  • What position you rank: 10 hits a day could be due to ranking #1 on a low volume term or ranking #35 on a high volume term.  So you need to assess how much room there is to grow.
  • The quality of those hits: If the bounce rate is greater than 70%, you have a problem.  It means that people aren’t getting what they’re looking for– and you know that Google notices that bounce rate, too. In search, it’s called bounceback rate– the percentage of folks who “bounce back” to the search engine results page to keep looking.
  • Whether those keywords have economic value: How much are those users worth via AdSense or some affiliate program?

Thus, if you listen to Google, they will help you make more money.  I hope these tips helps you get more traffic– and more earnings– to your blog!

Update: Looks like dennis-yu.com is not ranking #1 on “facebook application promotion” on Google.

14 Sep 2009

Friends don’t let friends make paper airplanes

2 Comments search engine optimization

n36905751_17If you’ve got 6 minutes and 31 seconds, give this a shot from my friend Alex, who has the most popular paper airplanes site on the web.  If you’re one of those folks who likes to watch cooking shows, but doesn’t actually get around to following along– don’t worry, you can do this no sweat.  The plane is called the Cobra– and it took me only one sheet of paper (proof below) to do it, although I had to pause and rewind a couple times.  Flies perfectly as claimed– like a dart.

DSC00802Check out Alex’s personal blog, as well as his cocktail making site.  If you’re really brave, try making the sweaty bollock recipe, which has 3 shots of absinthe.  If you don’t know what bollock are– look it up.  Perhaps making cocktails and paper airplanes don’t mix!

Alex Schultz  APIs

Alex's Cocktail Recipes - )1600 Cocktails

Some pages on his site, such as the types of paper airplanes, don’t have page titles  (SEO ooops!)– but all is forgiven for the man who is in charge of Facebook’s own SEO and online marketing. You can learn a lot from this man– not just about paper airplanes and cocktails.

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