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Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

I recently met with a new client and we began by taking an inventory of her marketing activity.

  • She was doing a pretty good job of networking and had built some good strategic alliances.

  • She was limping along with social media–no regular posts, no dialoging with her community. Her personal page had only a fleeting reference to her business–a big missed opportunity

  • No newsletter or blog

  • Website okay and tells a nice story, though could use some editing

  • SEO: she showed up in a meet-up, but was otherwise unremarkable

We talked about market sectors, target audience and how to reach them. I asked her if she was doing any cold calling. She looked at me like I was crazy. I looked back at her because I thought she was even crazier.

I suggested we create a list and start contacting her ideal clients. I also suggested that she go back through her client list and contact those people who might be interested in her services again or be able to refer her to a colleague or friend.

This is what it takes to build a business. You need to be doing it all–social media, cold calls, endless follow-up and networking. This is a full-time job, but wait–you still have to be doing the client work that pays your bills.

Okay. Time for some stats:

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact. This is pathetic.

  •  3% of sales are made on the second contact

  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact

  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact

  • A whopping 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

These stats tell the story. If you want business, you have to ask for it. Make a commitment to spend a couple of hours/week on cold calls and follow-up. Most important: give yourself a big reward–you’ve earned it.

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On my to-do list this week is updating my website. Generating new content for my website tends to take a back seat these days, but I’m committing to reviewing this and updating it once/quarter because my business doesn’t remain as stagnant as my website can become. Instead, it keeps evolving.

SEO experts tell you that you should be adding new content daily because it increases your SEO rankings. Get serious. Who has time these days to be updating content on their websites on a daily basis? Like many of my colleagues and clients, I have a lot of roles. I am Founder and CEO. I am a lowly admin and the Chief Marketing Officer responsible for branding, advertising, public relations and social media. Oh–did I mention that I need to get my client work finished or I don’t get paid? I’m also responsible for business development, which can take many forms, but in its most fundamental application it translates to cold calls, lots of follow-up and a huge investment of time.

One thing I do for myself and my clients is to use social media and newsletters to highlight expertise. This is a great solution for those who can’t find the time to be rewriting the content on their websites. It’s easy to update social media on the fly, and I love newsletters and blogs as ways to stay in front of your clients on a regular basis.

But don’t forget about your website because I’m betting that your products, services and business model have evolved since the last time you described them on your website. Remember that whatever’s out there in the online environment reflects on you.

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I just talked to another potential client who is thinks he needs a new website. Great. I do that and it’s a good project for my team and me. But what he wants is more flash elements. He thinks he needs to emulate his competitors who are enamored with multiple moving parts.

Is he crazy? It’s very simple: these sites don’t load. People go to your site to get contact information because they want to talk to you about doing some business, but they lose interest while your site is loading and find someone else. This is a tragedy. There’s a lot of competition out there in a really crappy economy. Don’t sabotage yourself. Stick with clear, illustrative images that synchronize with your content. They do not need to move.

I did some googling for this guy’s site, and he doesn’t show up in search engines, so what he really needs is some comprehensive SEO work. (his old site shows up and it’s really bad. This puppy needs to be disabled.) He could also use a rewrite on the site’s content. Way too dense. It could benefit from breaking down information into bullet points to make them more visually accessible. A few crisp case studies would go a long way towards telling his story as well.

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I went to a half-day seminar last week on SEO that was hosted by AT&T. A colleague invited me, and since SEO is one of the services I provide for my clients, I was eager to hear the latest–especially in light of Google’s recent reengineering of algorithms.

The content turned out to be mildly informative. A lot of stuff that I already knew, some good information on SEO and social media. They worked really hard to sell their advertising scams, including yp.com, their version of the yellow pages.

 There were maybe 50 people in the audience and a total of seven AT&T presenters and assorted other admin staff–a big commitment for a full morning’s effort. Here’s where it gets really weird. AT&T is huge, and their clients are enterprise organizations, but the people in this audience were definitely small business owners or entrepreneurs. People were asking questions about the difference between a Facebook profile and a page, for crying out loud. Definitely not a sophisticated, savvy group.

AT&T is a crappy provider. One of my clients had her phone changed to her new address and it took them nearly two weeks to get it figured out. This was not a huge corporation; rather, a sole proprietor attorney. For two weeks, when clients called, they got a message that “this number is no longer in service.” This was somewhere between alarming and catastrophic.

To make matters worse, we were trying to identify someone within the bowels of their organization to help us upload her new website files to their server. It took three weeks to finally connect to someone who would help us. I did all the troubleshooting, so I know exactly how hideous this was. They would give me numbers that were no longer in service or I’d call and the person to whom I needed to talk was out to lunch and could I call back later. Yes, really.

So what’s going on at AT&T? Do they think they need to start providing some service? Are they trying to make amends for all the bad service or did they bungle the demographics for the seminar’s invitation list. There is one other factor to consider–their pending purchase of T-Mobile, which does a good job.

Maybe AT&T figures that they need to clean up their act, but don’t hold your breath. Remember that no one benefits from a merger except the people at the top of the food chain.

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In case you missed it, google changed its algorithms. I know, who cares. Search engine optimization has always been a little voodoo to most of us, but not to me–at least not anymore. Not since I sat down and registered my website on more than 100 website directories. Difficult? No. Tedious? Oh, yeah. But everyone tells you that this is one of the things you need to do to show up in a search.

So now they’ve changed the algorithms, which means that those directories may not longer be relevant. Before falling on my sword, I did some reading, and all may not be lost. Think publish. Publish everything and publish often. The reality remains that the more content you have in online environments, the more likely it is that you will not just show up in search engines, but have a high ranking on the first page or two rather than in Siberia.

Publish means articles, and you can upload these on many of the directories on which you registered your site. The format varies a bit, but you have the ability to create a bio, upload a picture of yourself, (don’t forget to label this image–it counts as online content) identify keywords, add your website and then drop your article into the appropriate field.

Get serious about blogging. In a recent article on Hubspot (http://www.hubspot.com), they reported that in more than 1,500 small-medium sized businesses, those companies that had a blog, on average, had 55% more website traffic. The experts agree that content remains the constant. If you’re not yet doing a newsletter, blog and frequent social media updates, ask me about how I work with my clients. It’s time to embrace these electronic communication channels.

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In case you missed it, the Huffington Post and AOL have formed a new alliance–or rather, AOL acquired the HuffPost for $315M. Arianna Huffington’s online news site has increased in value by strategically luring the seasoned journalists to its pages who have beefed up both the quality and quantity of reporting and commentary. I generally check in because I admire stories by Senior Political Columnist Howard Fineman.

I used to think that Arianna Huffington was a complete opportunist, and I still do. But she is a very interesting woman. Remember when she was the protégé of Newt Gingrich? How times have changed. She did an about-face, left her husband about the time he lost his bid for California governor and came out of the closet. Arianna moved on. Yes, the HuffPost is gossipy, opinionated and cheesy. But it also reflects my politics and opinion, so it’s okay with me.
 
The journalists that the HuffPost has lured onto its pages have increased the prestige of the HuffPost, a big part of what enhanced its value is savvy keyword/SEO strategies–specifically, stealing headlines from other publications. It all comes down to googling and search results. The value of the HuffPost was predicated on the number of page views.
 
While many HuffPost visitors come to read political commentary and news, a big chunk come for the splashy headlines and articles, including a recent story, Chelsy Davy & Prince Harry: So Happy Together. According to The New York Times, this was not  really a HuffPost article at all; rather, it was two sentences and a slide show of the happy couple. Eye candy: yes; news value: absolutely none, unless you’re a royals watcher.
 
Apparently Chelsy Davy was one of the top searches on Google that day, and the HuffPost quickly took advantage of a high-profile series of pictures and a sexy topic; their function was simply that of an amalgamator.

They quickly recognized opportunity, created a headline, a few sentences and a link to the Chelsy Davy article which actually lived on the People website. The result was that when someone googled Chelsy Davy, Google results included not just People, the original site, but the HuffPost, who really just stole a headline.
 
This is what obsessive SEO experts are doing to drive traffic to their websites. Does this raise some moral issues? I think so. Do I see this changing? Not at all. We live in a world where a whole generation of people are learning to communicate in 140-character sound bites.

We have launched wars against two countries in the Middle East who only want us to leave. We’ve spent more money in Afghanistan than we spend on our own homeland security. We’ve bombed the hell out of this country that is reduced to a pile of rubble, a country whose literacy rate is a whopping 10% and is the one of the most corrupt nations on earth. Why are we still in this cesspool when our own people are living in poverty and people are going hungry? Our infrastructure is shot and cities and states are bankrupt. Moral issues? Are they even relevant any more?

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I’ve been working on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), registering my website on a list of more than 150 directories. This is the way that your site gets recognized by search engines–which means more visibility, more potential clients and more money. Hooray! You can pay to have someone do this, but I wanted to get a feel for how this all works. It’s not hard, just a bit of a snooze.

One thing they don’t tell you is that you’re going to get spammed. For each directory, you have to enter your contact information. For many of these, you will receive an additional email to which you must respond in order to activate the account. The thing to remember is that they now own your email address. And as you know, once you get on a mailing list, it can be very difficult to get off it.

Be diligent in looking for that tiny little box asking you if you want to receive further notifications. The sneaky part: this is generally already checked as the default. If you miss this, you have just signed up for their communications and well may be on this list for life. You can scroll to the bottom of an email and click on Safe Unsubscribe, but these guys may not bother to update their databases to reflect this change, so when they get ready to send the next communication, they simply export their contact lists, and guess what–you’re still on it.

So how to avoid these unwanted communications? Spam filters can help, but frankly, I think this is the cost of doing business. My advice? Take a look at these newsletters that hit your inbox–they are often a source of good information and may provide ideas for your next newsletter or blog. Don’t be afraid to poach ideas.

Also talk to me about SEO.  Now that I’ve become an expert, I’m providing this service for my clients, including writing and posting articles, at different support levels. For a couple of clients, I completely write and post these. For others, it’s a collaboration. The methodology is completely up to the client. I know many people who are good writers, but finding time to write and post articles just doesn’t happen. For these clients, I am happy to become their voices.

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