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Affordable SEO Comes In Fast or Good: Which Do You Prefer?

Affordable SEO is a tough term to define, because depending on your business’ precise financial circumstances, the kinds of ways that you can afford something can change pretty dramatically. But let’s assume that you’ve figured out which services you can afford: there’s another decision you have to make. Like most things in life, SEO can be any two of affordable, fast, or high-quality.

Fast, affordable SEO
Fast, in this case, measures the amount of time it takes you to achieve a first page placement. Fast SEO might still take a month or two, but during that time you’ll be able to track your climb through the rankings. It’s exhilarating to watch — but of course it comes at a price.

Fast SEO isn’t truly high-quality SEO, which means that while you’ll reach the first page quickly, you won’t ever reach first place. To break into the top few spots for almost any keyword takes a pretty extraordinary investment — and for any keyword that’s actually worth breaking into, it can take months of strategy, planning, and execution. On the other hand, studies have shown that some 40% of clicks go to that top slot — and only 8% make it to the person in the #4 position. So it can be worth the wait when you finally get there.

High quality, affordable SEO
The other option, then, is to go for the high-quality links right out of the gate. Skipping things like directory submissions and press releases, the high-quality approach goes for links that require a lot more individual work, but are worth a lot more as well. Blog posts, social media mentions, article writing and distribution.

The downside, as you might imagine, is the pain of waiting month after month as your website crawls from number 12 to number 11 to number 10. The upside is that once you reach number one — often a year or more later — you’re not going to be toppled by some upstart with a decent SEO strategist and a slightly larger budget.

Targeted Email Marketing, We’ve Got Your Number (It’s 91)

If you’re not already familiar with targeted email marketing, here it is in a mere sixteen words: surfers give you permission to send them emails, and you market to them with those emails. It’s called “targeted” because (presumably) people wouldn’t give you permission to send them emails if they didn’t want to receive them, and it’s called “marketing” because you intend to get them to purchase something.

So what does the number 91 have to do with targeted email marketing? Simple: 91 is the right number of days to send someone email. This is controversial, and the Los Angeles SEO company I’m ghostwriting this blog for probably doesn’t want me telling you this. They’d rather you never stop sending email to someone once you start, and there’s a couple of reasons why:

1) Lists look impressive when you can say you have 10,000 or 50,000 subscribers. If you drop a customer after 91 days, you probably won’t ever reach those numbers.

2) Emailing lists are generally charged by the number of people on them — so those big numbers mean more money for the company administrating the list.

But the reasons why 91 days is optimal for you, as a small business doing targeted email marketing, are pretty decent:

1) Emailing lists are generally charged by the number of people on them. You don’t need to spend money sending emails to people that aren’t paying attention to your emails anymore.

2) If people haven’t purchased anything from your emails after three months (90 days), it’s time to hit them with one last, super-amazing jaw-dropping offer on the last day — the 91st day — and if they don’t respond to that, drop them like a bad habit.

If they do reply to an offer, make sure that as a part of that offer, they sign up for your other mailing list — the one for people that have been proven to reply to offers. THAT mailing list, you should keep people on forever, because once people have proven that they’re willing to buy from you, they’re much more likely to buy again…and again.

Small Business SEO And The Art of the ‘Service’ Page

Small business SEO is a fairly straightforward affair as far as SEO is concerned. You have a page, you have some keywords you’ve researched, and you optimize the page so that it ranks well for those keywords. Everyone’s pretty familiar with the first step — but what do you do when you’ve optimized for all of the keywords you can reasonably fit on your landing page?

You have to make another page, naturally. Many SEO companies will develop a specific landing page just to fit some new keywords on, but that’s inefficient and can actually penalize your page if Google decides that your ‘spare’ landing pages are low-quality or otherwise detract from the rest of your site.

Instead, we encourage small businesses to develop their ‘services’ page into a landing page. The services page is the second page seen by most surfers — they land on your landing site, they’re not quite ready to buy yet, so they look for more information. The services page is the natural selection. But there’s no particular reason you shouldn’t be promoting your services page as though it was a landing page.

Consider: the services page is where surfers go to lean about your product. That’s what your landing page is basically intended to do as well, right? Also, your services page had better have a strong call-to-action on it (just like your landing page), or you’ll lose out on people who are on the verge of a buying decision once they read about how awesome your services are.

In fact, in almost every way, your services page acts like a selling page — it just doesn’t have to have the big shiny banner and other niceties that a “normal” landing page does. It’s an optimal opportunity to expand the keywords you’re pursuing with your website’s SEO while offering your surfers a ‘shortcut’ to what they consider the important part: the answer to the classic buyer’s question “What’s in it for me?”

Local Internet Marketing Needs An Effective Landing Page

Landing pages have long been the crux of successful online commerce. It doesn’t matter how effective your local internet marketing is — you could easily end up with staggering traffic if you apply local internet marketing tricks correctly, but if your landing page doesn’t convert that traffic into money, it’s not worth the money you spend on it.

So what makes an effective landing page? Five things:

  • A killer headline to tell visitors exactly what you’re offering and what makes you different from everyone else.
  • A crystal-clear demonstration of what your product can do (i.e. how it works.)
  • A short statement of the value that your product brings to it’s customers.
  • Some form of social support, like a testimonial or, if your product is brand-new, a press release.
  • A call to action that tells your customers what exactly you want them to do next in order to become (or take the next step toward becoming) a customer.

Of course, there are always more elements that you could put on a landing page, but these are the five basic elements that every landing page must have in order to properly inform and motivate buying behavior in the people who land on your page.

It’s worth keeping in mind that even a killer landing page is only half of the equation — just like local internet marketing isn’t effective without a great landing page, an effective landing page isn’t anything without some SEO or pay-per-click marketing to drive traffic to the page.

The basic equation is simple: your income equals the amount of traffic you drive (i.e. SEO or PPC) times the conversion rate of your page, times the amount of money you make per conversion, minus the cost of your SEO and/or PPC. If you can get more affordable SEO, increase the cost of your product, or make your landing page more effective at converting, you make more money. It really is that simple — and it’s why perfecting your killer landing page is one of the most effective things you can do to make more money online.

Why You Shouldn’t Write Your Own: The Article Writing and Distribution Of Today

There was a big-time Internet marketing phenom a few years back called BUM Marketing. It centered around the idea that any old bum off of the street could make money online if they followed a simple article writing and distribution strategy. It worked like a charm for a while, made quite a few people rich…and now it doesn’t work anymore.

Why not? Because when ever everyone and their brother starts doing something, you inevitably get a diminishing returns situation. The more EZineArticles.com got flooded with non-English-speaking writers that spammed the editors so hard that occasionally a barely-comprehensible article made it through, the more surfers became sensitive to poor English and bad sentence structure and simply clicked away the instant an article became incomprehensible, even if only for a single phrase.

That, in turn, has led us to today: with so many old, crappy articles on the Web’s various article directories, Google has cracked down hard. Quality levels have to be high if you want an article to score a decent spot on the SERPs — and not just high as in “you speak good English”, but high as in “people who click on this article will leave feeling like they just got what they wanted”.

AND they have to be built to exacting SEO specifications. Now, it’s totally possible for you to learn in-text SEO tricks and take the time on a regular basis to write things about your industry that people would actually love to read and leave feeling like they won a prize. And even to learn to weave calls-to-action into the text so that the article sold your product or service as well…but could you do all of that and run your business effectively at the same time?

Not bloody likely. A dedicated website SEO guy, however, can easily learn enough about your business to write intelligent, useful, practical, SEO’ed articles that will drive traffic to your site. That’s his job — and that’s precisely why you shouldn’t write your own. It worked a half a decade ago, but today, it’s the age of the geek. Let us do what we do best.

4 Big Don’ts In Mobile Website Design

Don’t Make Mobile Websites Unresponsive
Mobile website design isn’t just about building a page in a different language than the Web’s native HTML. It’s about designing a website that is usable — not necessarily pretty, or cool, or anything but simply easy to use — from every single mobile device out there. That means having a website that can ask the device it’s being displayed on what resolution it’s being displayed at and adjust itself accordingly.

Don’t Get Tricky
You can get away with cute tricks like putting prices on a separate page when you’re dealing someone that’s sitting at their desktop. But if you’re communicating with someone that’s one-handing their Kindle Fire as they run upstairs with a three-year-old and a bag of groceries in their other hand, you’d damn well better put everything they want to know right in front of their eyes with a single flick of their finger.

Don’t Forget Who The Website Is For
Many business websites are designed to put the business’ needs first — exposing the visitor to those things that are most likely to drive a sale, and making the visitors go surfing to find the details they’re actually looking for. On a desktop, this can work. On a mobile device, people will simply leave your site if they find that it takes a significant amount of investigating to find the bit of information they want. Put the customer first on your mobile website, and leave the web presenter, the squeeze pages, and the other marketing tricks for the desktop site.

The Number One Don’t: Don’t Make Slow-Loading Pages
Don’t make a website that takes any significant time to load, even on the low-end smartphones. Keep it super-simple. Research has shown that 60% of smartphone users aren’t even willing to wait three seconds in order for a website to load — they expect the same level of performance from their phone that they do from their home desktop, despite the obvious disparity between the two. Keep your pages light and fast and simple, and you’ll double the number of people that stick around to see your site.

Mobile websites need to be straightforward, simple, and user-oriented, or they’re not worth the pixels they’re rendered with. Keep that in mind, and you’ll find that your mobile website does wonders for your business.

First Page Placement And The Good/Fast/Cheap Paradox

You’ve probably heard people say this: “You can get something cheap, you can get it, fast, and you can get it done right. You can even get any two of those at the same time — but never all three.” I’m not here to argue with that. It’s true — even on the vaunted all-powerful Internet.

For example, let’s say you want to get your website a first page placement on the Google SERPs. There’s a few ways you can do it — but none of them are all three, either.

Good/Fast
Pay per click. End of story. With a proper PPC management team at your side and a budget just south of Ferrari territory, any business can make it onto the first page quite literally in minutes. Then they just have to make good enough use of their visitors that they make more money than they’re spending — that’s the challenge.

Good/Cheap
The good/cheap way (slow as December molasses) is good old fashioned organic SEO. You invest a little money every month for a long, long time. As you wait, various smaller keywords come under your control, so the traffic ramps up…organically! Stick with it for a few years, and you’ll come to dominate some big-time keywords in your industry. All you have to do is keep your business alive that long.

Fast/Cheap
The cheap/fast way — but it ain’t terribly reliable — is a full-fledged social marketing campaign. Not just having someone post stuff to Facebook, but a real social campaign that hits on multiple levels. Forum posting, emailing lists, maybe even meatware acts like direct mail — anything and everything you can do to get people talking. It’s not good, by which I mean it has a distinct potential to utterly flop or even backfire on you, but if you’ve got a decent risk tolerance, social marketing can be the tool
you need.

There are plenty of ways onto the first page of Google’s SERPs. The question should never be “can you do it?” The question is always “HOW should you do it?” Take a look at your fiscal and temporal constraints, and figure out which route your business has the best tolerance for. Good luck!

Does Your PPC Management Team Give You The Roi You Need?

PPC Management: either you have someone doing it for you, or you’re not really in the PPC game. You might be risking your money at the PPC roulette table, but unless you have a talented PPC management team, the house will always win.

PPC management teams do an extraordinary amount of work to make your pay-per-click campaigns work in your favor. They do keyword research — in and of itself a huge process involving comparing the clickrates, cost, and convertibility of hundreds or thousands of keywords — as well as constantly split-testing a variety of text ads for a variety of variables, monitoring the profitability of your existing ads, and updating the campaign as various terms and ads become more or less profitable. It’s a huge job.

The question isn’t whether or not to supplement your pay-per-click campaign with a killer PPC management team — it’s whether your PPC management team is getting you the RoI you deserve.

What does that mean?
PPC has become an extraordinarily competitive marketplace in the last few years. Major companies realized that they could easily afford to dominate a few hundred thousand of the most-searched keywords with what amounted to a drop in their advertising budget, and that’s pushed the fringes way further out into the fringes.

What that means for PPC management firms still stuck in the 2008 mindset is that it’s very easy to end up following the perfect keyword research techniques of yesteryear and end up paying too much for every click you get. Today’s PPC managers look up long-tail keywords by the thousands rather than prime-time keywords by the dozens, and they get just as much traffic at a tiny fraction of the pennies per visitor.

They’ll use every trick in the book, from geographically focusing their keywords in the same way an SEO company does for it’s local internet marketing campaigns to adjusting your daily budget on the fly to reduce clicks from a keyword or few that have suddenly become more expensive than they’re worth.

Obviously, the actual RoI of your PPC campaigns is going to vary widely depending on what you’re selling and how you’re selling it — but the one thing you can count on is that if your PPC campaign isn’t profitable enough, it’s probably the PPC management team that needs changing.

How to Continue Blog Posting For Years Without Running Out of Ideas

Blog posting is a discipline that many people lack the mental wherewithal to take on for more than a few months at a time — especially if they’re blogging for profit rather than for their passion. But like any task that must be done, there are ways to handle the demands of continuous blog posting, even in the very long term.

The first step is to maximize the effectiveness of your blog posts. That means hiring an SEO company for custom blog creation, so that every post is automatically optimized for impact on the SERPs. It means adding social buttons to your blog posts to allow others to market for you on the social media tip. It means learning the basics of on-page SEO so that you can work keywords naturally into your blog posts without sounding stilted.

Why is that important? Simple – the more effective your blog is at improving business, the more your impetus to keep blogging. After that, it’s less a matter of drive and more a matter of continuously coming up with new things to say.

The first and easiest way to do that is a cute little tool called Google. Between Google News, Google Alerts, and just plain Googling stuff up, there’s no need for anyone in any industry to be anything other than up-to-date on the subjects relevant to their business. And up-to-date news is always blogworthy.

The second easiest source of blog material is your own business. Don’t be shy! Blog about what you just did, what you’re about to do, and your long-term plans no matter how unreachable. (For one thing, just by putting them out there, you’re driving yourself toward the goal. For another, people love to read about crap like that.)

Finally, you’ll never run out of material if you read other people’s blogs about your business. Give them trackbacks and write counter-posts that explain in great detail why they’re wrong, even if they’re mostly right. Stirring up debate draws a crowd, and a crowd is what you want when you’re blogging.

3 Dirty Tricks for Targeted Email Marketing Success

The sheer volume of details involved in marketing your product or service online is overwhelming. Even a relatively small area within internet marketing — like targeted email marketing — has a breadth and a depth that requires it’s own separate level of mastery. If you want to get the most out of your targeted email marketing campaigns, you need to go above and beyond the basics. Here are a few dirty tricks for optimizing your targeted email marketing:

#1: Use Your Squeeze As a Roadblock

It’s one thing to have a squeeze page — that’s just a more-or-less single-purpose page designed to get people’s emails for your email marketing. But the truly dirty will create a website that has something people want, and force them to sign up for their email marketing list in order to get to that thing. Whether it’s a coupon for 50% of one item at your store or it’s a choice bit of hard-to-find information about rooting your tablet, forcing someone to be squoze in order to get what they want is a choice method of expanding your list quickly.

#2: REALLY Target Your Emails

Yes, it’s part of the name — targeted email marketing — but when you really get dirty with it, it’s an entirely different game. You can, in almost every modern autoresponder, separate your audience by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and basically any other information that you can get them to give you. Start a poll, gather what you can, and target every segment of your audience as carefully as you can. The more you feed their belief system, the more they’re likely to identify with you and buy your stuff. Yes, this takes extra work, but the dividends are huge.

#3: Emails Aren’t Just Emails Anymore

You may have gone in for a mobile website design on your squeezepage — gotta get that list from every possible source — but don’t forget that nearly as many people read their emails on a mobile device these days as read them on a desktop. That means that your emails have to be short, sweet, and full of white space as well as informational, relevant, and with a strong call-to-action. That can be a tough balancing act, but learning to pull it off will increase your open rate significantly.