Sabado, Hunyo 30, 2012
Biyernes, Hunyo 29, 2012
Huwebes, Hunyo 28, 2012
How do you feel about people paying for placement in search engines?
Nearly 2 in 3 people dislike money manipulating search results.
|I think it is deceptive||65.4%�(+3.3 / -3.5)|
|It is good if it is relevant||34.6%�(+3.5 / -3.3)|
Women tend to dislike it slightly more than men.
|I think it is deceptive||63.6%�(+3.6 / -3.8)||67.2%�(+5.4 / -5.9)|
|It is good if it is relevant||36.4%�(+3.8 / -3.6)||32.8%�(+5.9 / -5.4)|
Older people tend to think money influencing search is manipulative, as do younger people who have not had their idealism beaten out of them by the harshness of the world. However the people in the 25 to 34 range who grew up with the web tend to like paid search far more than other groups do.
|response||18-24 year-olds�(350)�||25-34 year-olds�(266)�||35-44 year-olds�(164)�||45-54 year-olds�(194)�||55-64 year-olds�(148)�||65+ year-olds�(80)�|
|I think it is deceptive||61.3%�(+5.0 / -5.2)||47.9%�(+6.6 / -6.6)||63.8%�(+7.0 / -7.7)||72.5%�(+5.8 / -6.7)||72.8%�(+6.9 / -8.1)||70.6%�(+9.9 / -12.3)|
|It is good if it is relevant||38.7%�(+5.2 / -5.0)||52.1%�(+6.6 / -6.6)||36.2%�(+7.7 / -7.0)||27.5%�(+6.7 / -5.8)||27.2%�(+8.1 / -6.9)||29.4%�(+12.3 / -9.9)|
People in the south tend to dislike money influencing search than any other region & people out west are more accepting of it. Perhaps the audience from California is more likely to understand how search impacts the local economy?
|answer||The US Midwest�(267)�||The US Northeast�(333)�||The US South�(355)�||The US West�(246)�|
|I think it is deceptive||64.3%�(+6.9 / -7.5)||66.4%�(+5.9 / -6.4)||69.5%�(+5.6 / -6.2)||59.8%�(+7.4 / -7.8)|
|It is good if it is relevant||35.7%�(+7.5 / -6.9)||33.6%�(+6.4 / -5.9)||30.5%�(+6.2 / -5.6)||40.2%�(+7.8 / -7.4)|
Rural people dislike money influencing search more than urban people do.
|response||Urban areas�(620)�||Rural areas�(109)�||Suburban areas�(460)�|
|I think it is deceptive||63.2%�(+4.4 / -4.6)||70.9%�(+8.9 / -10.8)||65.3%�(+4.9 / -5.2)|
|It is good if it is relevant||36.8%�(+4.6 / -4.4)||29.1%�(+10.8 / -8.9)||34.7%�(+5.2 / -4.9)|
Income has essentially no impact on the perception of the influence of money in search (though there was insufficient data at the upper end of the income range).
|response||People earning $0-24K�(135)�||People earning $25-49K�(675)�||People earning $50-74K�(307)�||People earning $75-99K�(71)�||People earning $100-149K�||People earning $150K+�|
|I think it is deceptive||65.1%�(+7.4 / -8.2)||65.8%�(+4.3 / -4.6)||65.4%�(+6.1 / -6.7)||66.5%�(+9.2 / -10.7)||Insufficient data||Insufficient data|
|It is good if it is relevant||34.9%�(+8.2 / -7.4)||34.2%�(+4.6 / -4.3)||34.6%�(+6.7 / -6.1)||33.5%�(+10.7 / -9.2)||Insufficient data||Insufficient data|
Miyerkules, Hunyo 27, 2012
Post-Google update season is typically a boon for SEO providers (good ones and bad ones unfortunately). The industry isn't dead or dying, it's simply evolving. In fact, most things in the business world do not "die", they simply evolve.
I suppose dying versus evolving is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to view markets, verticals, and models as evolving because it helps me accomplish a few different things:
- learn why certain practices and opportunities faded, or are fading, away
- learn what is working now and why
- combine those two basic pieces of knowledge to shape future plans and opportunities
If all you do is bemoan the fact that a particular area of your business is evolving past what may be working now then you'll surely miss the boat on the next wave of success. Even if you don't miss the boat completely you'll be stuck in a self-perpetuating game of always chasing something rather than being out in front of it.
Chasing successful models, rather than creating them, certainly can be profitable but you should strive to have a mix of both in your business. Whether it's a completely new business segment (say PPC if you largely do SEO) or just new tactics (more diverse link building for your own web properties, as one small example) you should be looking behind you, to your left and right, and in front of you.
If you are a solo SEO, or mainly run your own web properties, one smart way to diversify your revenue stream is to get into some client work. This can be a tough proposition, it was for me, because many of us who run our own properties are not too keen on scheduled meetings (especially frequent ones) or dealing with some of the timeless issues of client work:
- rapidly changing expectations
- red tape
- lots of chefs
- writing custom proposals
Many of these items can be thwarted by having a clear, frank discussion about what you'll be doing and by setting parameters from the outset. Hopefully you're in a position where you don't have to sell to eat; meaning, running lean and avoiding debt-leveraging is the best way to be able to hand pick your clients (in my experience).
If you have to take on everyone who walks in the door then your results will suffer, your reputation will suffer, and your work will become a big burden to bear. If you have employees who deal with clients in this type of environment then you will likely lose your best people over time and your workplace will become nothing more than a sweatshop with computers.
In addition to all of those negatives, having to sell/sell/sell probably means your margins are thin which directly leads to client's not getting the appropriate service and attention, relative to what they are being billed for.
Selling, itself, might be the biggest hurdle for you. Before I got into this industry I was an insurance agent, Being an insurance agent helped me immensely with being able to sell an otherwise complicated product to folks who didn't have a full grasp of all the relevant subject matter (specific coverages, exclusions, and so on). Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful for you and your SEO sales.
Similarities Between Insurance and SEO
I sold Personal Insurance (car, home, renter's, condo, jewelery, etc) and it was a weird product to sell. It's one of the few things people buy that they hope they never have to use and they have to buy it every year (assuming they have stuff they need to protect). There are some interesting parallels to selling SEO, oddly enough. The serious buyers in the insurance and SEO marketplaces are looking to protect a valuable asset; in insurance it may be their home, car, or life. In SEO it's basically their online presence.
As with any other industry, there are tire kickers and price shoppers. I would caution against excluding price shoppers from a "preferred" client list. They may require a bit more upfront work but just because the might be doing cost comparisons it doesn't necessarily mean they are cheap. In fact, they might be a dream client so avoiding the "well they are price shopping so they must be cheap" argument would serve you well.
Remembering that the sales process is some odd combination of value, facts, and emotion helped me avoid the (very easy to fall into trap) of selling price. I knew many insurance agents that sold on price and did pretty well short term. A more defensible strategy long term, and where agents really make their money, is on retention. If you set the client's expectation that your only benefit to them is price they will leave you, soon, for the same reason.
If you are looking to build a solid client base you have to be able to compete on price but not sell on price. You should be able to answer questions beyond price if you truly believe in the product you are selling.
Before I was an agent I was an underwriter and responsible for the profitable growth of an insurance agency's book of business. I managed anywhere from 50-75 agencies at a time. I can tell you, without equivocation, that the agencies who avoided the trap of selling (not competing) on price absolutely killed it on retention.
In the insurance world, as in the SEO world, retention is mission critical to long term success. If you let price define your business then you'll be participating in a race to the bottom and end up like barely profitable PC makers.
So, how did I compete on price but not sell on it?
- basic study of behavioral economics
An example here would be conditioning the client to understand the difference between best price, better price, and lowest price. A stripped down policy that doesn't cover everything they want to cover or need to cover, which is $300 cheaper that what I'm selling, isn't the best price or even a better price compared to my price. It's the cheapest but not the best.
In my experience, most people who have stuff to protect (new cars, homes, boats, jewelry, etc) will spend the extra money to get a quality policy from someone they feel they can trust and whom they feel is knowledgeable and those are the the type of clients you want!
A company or person who values their online presence and marketing initiatives should be willing to pay a bit more for more reputable work from a reputable company. If you have evidence to back up your claims of being that company then you will win more than you lose even if you aren't the lowest price.
Framing the Offer
What never worked for me in SEO sales was pre-packaged offers. I know it works for some agencies but I always felt like I was selling Hot Cakes and Hash Browns rather than an actual service. Plus, as time goes on and the market becomes more complex and sophisticated so do solutions.
Offering add-on services is great for ROI, so if you're an SEO firm maybe you start offering PPC, conversion, and social services. Add-ons make package pricing super-tough if you are doing it at scale. Packages significantly keep pace with increased RFP demand but are you really delivering the appropriate price for each client as well as for your bottom line?
I do not see how you could advocate for packages across the board because the core of the "for" argument would be that you can sell 2 different sites at the same price inside of different verticals. If you do that how are you maximizing value to you and the client? You aren't, it's that simple. Are they in the same vertical? Ok, but the competition is likely different, the search volume is likely different, and so on.
If you just sell a pre-priced packaged you will negatively affect quality in a variety of ways:
- client being overcharged
- client being undercharged
- cutting corners to save margin
- under-delivering and taking more margin to try and save the account
- not maximizing the balance between client ROI and company profit
I do like using packages after customizing the quote, this is where the framing comes in. As an insurance agent we were generally pushed to try and get folks to prepay the policy for the year through a variety of methods:
- full payment discounts
- increased cost for use of credit cards
- monthly billing fees
So if you were my client I would frame this as "billing discounts". Take a $1,000 policy as an example:
- stipulating a normal $5.00 per month billing fee totaling $60.00 per year = 6%
- most companies give a 5-10% discount for paying in full (cash or check), we'll say it's 5%
The discussion would be something like "We can save you over 10% per year if you pay in full with cash or a check via our cash discount option." Or you could frame the non-cash payment option, which removes the 5-10% discount as a convenience charge of some sort. The information is the same either way, but frame it in that way and you'll have much more success with those kinds of sign-ups.
If you go the custom quote route with SEO proposals you get all sorts of benefits:
- built-in up-sell opportunities (more keywords/verticals, more competitive keywords/verticals, PPC, social, conversion, etc)
- the ability to not only cross-sell services but explain the benefits as well. Explaining how PPC can benefit SEO (and vice versa), with examples, at the time of quote delivery is more powerful then just lumping it into a pre-packaged, pump and dump quote
- paint a better picture in a more holistic campaign, specifically targeted to their business, versus a pre-packaged one (add and remove specific services that might not be needed or relevant after some initial conversations prior to quoting the service)
- play quotes off each other (offer at least 3 options, shooting for at least the middle option)
Package pricing works far better in the insurance world versus the SEO world. Insurance options and coverages have specific costs to them determined by predetermined risk tables.
In SEO you have to evaluate competition against an unknown, ever-changing algorithm in addition to figuring out potential ROI in the PPC world against CPC's that could be all over the place from industry to industry as well as potential profitability from conversion optimization help you might be interested in offering.
Being able to customize quoting options puts you in a better position to frame your offers versus a more stagnant pricing model like you see in the insurance market (even though you can still introduce framing effectively there). Of course, custom quoting comes with its own issues like spending time of RFP's versus actual work.
One solution to the sunk cost on creating custom proposals is to, after your initial discovery call/feeling out call, charge a fee relative to a few hours of your time (or however long it takes you to do a mostly accurate proposal or even a ballpark figure if the client is comfortable with a range). If they balk at that then they probably aren't serious and they likely do not respect your time. If you have a solid reputation you can probably do this with some success, if you are new and unestablished you might need to bite the bullet for awhile.
What Makes Sense For You
There are so many variables that come into play when figuring out this piece of your sales process. You can have some packaged pricing for sure, many PPC companies offer a percentage of spend as a base fee as an example. With the recent, frequent (and substantial) algorithmic changes it really is important to be able to put together a package specifically for a client based on their situation, goals, and budget. It's going to be hard to base your business on selling SEO as a widget-type process (20 links per month, 10 articles per month, etc) going forward.
Some SEO's are all-client based, some just run their own properties, and I think there is a trend starting where SEO's are doing both. Each business model has its own pro's and con's, as well as many different variables, so one set of tips will likely not resonate or be specific to all. However, I think there are a few overarching points that SEO's looking to diversify into client work or who want to be more profitable on the client side should consider:
- get to a point financially (cash flow, debt, margins) where you can pick and choose clients ASAP as it is such a beneficial position to be in on a number of fronts
- if you are currently a packaged product seller start experimenting with custom quotes (and try to put out at least 3 options)
- try a few different pricing options for the actual proposal work and delivery
- be as clear as possible when discussing deliverables (my biggest mistakes have been because of this, bad for me and bad for the client)
- before and during the design of your pricing strategy read Rafi Mohammed's books on pricing
Martes, Hunyo 26, 2012
Linggo, Hunyo 24, 2012
webpages and there you have it all before you with one click. Very nice!
Sabado, Hunyo 23, 2012
Brett Tabke is one of the most well known names in the SEO vertical, playing a crucial roll in building up Webmaster World & the Pubcon conference. We recently interviewed him about some of the latest changes in search & where online publishing is heading.
One of the more famous pieces of content on WMW (or really the whole of the SEO industry) over the years has been Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone: 26 steps to 15k a day. That predates my entry into the SEO niche & yet seems surprisingly relevant over a decade later. Are you surprised how well that has held up given how much search has changed? If you were to write it today, what would you add or change?
The surprise was how well received it was at the time. I wrote that piece in about an hour start-to-finish. It has held up well because it is a article about content production first and SEO second. If I had to rewrite it, I would drop the references to specific timings and numbers. Those numbers have been washed away with progress over the years.�
At a recent SEO conference a few months back someone asked who was a big brand or worked for big brands & something like 80%+ of hands in the audience went up. When I got into search it was sort of the other way around, where most attendees were small publishers & affiliates. Originally when I got into search I felt that some conferences were a bit more corporate & Pubcon had far more "in the know" independent affiliate types who test lots of things out & such. How has Pubcon done such a good job of staying relevant throughout the shift in landscape of the industry?
Part of it is our 10 year game plan. I didn't realize I had a 10 year game plan in 2001, but I did. That plan was to add just "one thing more" to each conference. One thing more awesome that the last. We have done that for 10 years running, and each time we do, the conference grows a little bit in that direction. We make sure that as the audience grows in their knowledge, then we do too.
The other part of it, is our roots. We have been committed to sticking with the successful 'independent' website owners. By making sure we support them, we know that we have tapped into people who are experts in their particular field. We are not a 'vertical niche' conference. We are 8 to 10 'vertical niche' conferences combined. I always felt the niche conferences were great (blogging, affiliates, webhosting, domaining), but people have needs that cross over from discipline to discipline. By stretching across those genres, we attract the corporates that need to reach them, and keep the experts that are "in the know".
A lot of people who speak on authority about search & the SEO niche claim that the shift to big business is natural, legitimate & the way it should be. Do you agree with that, or feel that is mostly self-serving advice?
I don't believe SEO has become "big business". I do believe that SEO is no longer a question of SEO, but rather general marketing. It is a tricky and potentially inflammatory topic. I've come to realize, that you can't go on gut instinct alone in this business. We have been in-the-trenches with SEO since 95. Our whole world outlook has been through SEO. To stick our heads in the sand and not see the winds of change would be both foolish and detrimental to our bottom lines.
Yes, SEO has changed remarkably over the years. We started by just trying to get listed in the directory or search engine at all. Then we went on to on-the-page optimization. Google came along and turned it into "all links all the time" era. Finally today, we are into an obtuse era, where the the genres of optimization are so diverse from maps, to local, to authorship, to what friends you have on social networks. It has left alot of SEO's wondering where they should focus their energies at.
I've talked with many website owners that are starting to wonder if Google has become a losing value proposition for them. They are getting more traffic now from other engines and social sites. They wonder if Google actually wants to send them traffic. That the value of their website to Google, is nothing more than the data it can provide to train the machine for other SERP's and not theirs.
Facebook has so far failed to disrupt search and BingHoo has failed to disrupt Google.� Do� you see anything on the horizon that will change the search landscape?
I disagree. I think $100 billion IPO disproves that theory. Facebook just did an IPO for 100 x Gross income. Wow. Lets think about that for awhile. If you or I go to sell our businesses, we are going to be lucky to get 3x to 4x in this climate and Facebook just took on investors that were tagged to 100x their yearly gross!? Fantasy land. That is the same fantasy that a handful� of guys at Instagram built into $1bilion dollar sale.
Facebook has totally disrupted Google and BingHoo. We just need to adjust our thinking. People know how to find what they want on the web. The great days of random web exploration are over. The grand days of social interaction are here.�
Look at all those changes that Google has done the last 4 years: Google local push, Google Instant, Google Plus Network, and even partially Android. Those changes are a result of social media - of Facebook and Twitter.� Those changes were not part of the 'grand plan' - they were short term and reactionary.�
In SEO, in many cases those who lie are often heralded as being "white hat" while being granted greater access, whereas those who have knowledge and openly share it are often branded as being "black hat." Does this trend at some point reverse course? How many people can be labeled as black hat before the label lacks meaning?
As long as people focus on their own sites, and work to promoting them, there are no hats - only marketing. What you do on the privacy of your own site, is your business. As long as no laws are broken, there are no hats.
What is the most trite & least correct SEO tip that is shared publicly relentlessly?
Great question. About 2 years ago I heard a well known SEO suggest that you should remove all outbound links from your site in order to 'sculpt' page rank on your site. This spring, I heard that same SEO tell people they need to link out to make their links and site "look natural". The 'sculpt pagerank SILO'ing articles were based out of my work on Theme Pyramid from 2001. While the outbound linking was directly from previously mentioned 26 Steps article. I took alot of heat in "26 Steps to 15k a Day" for recommending that people link out to other sites. The theory then was that clearly SE's were going to look at outbound links to determine a sites theme. There are alot of metrics that outbound linking can be used as a quality (or lack their of) signal for search algos.
I think I saw you mention something about getting links that drive traffic. Why are links that drive traffic more valuable than those which do not?
Google is using every signal it can. They have:
- Google Analytics
- Google Adsense
- Google Toolbar
- Google Chrome browser.
They can track traffic over most of the web. They know what sites people spend time on and what links get clicked most. Links that drive traffic tend to drive higher SERP rankings.
If enough independent SEOs get driven out of the ecosystem, won't that at some point have a knock on effect on the wages of in-house SEOs at larger companies?
I don't think so. It is rare to run into "single task" SEO's at all but the largest corporations. Even the big media sites with well known SEO's require those people to work in other marketing areas as well. The knowledge of the general SEO today is vastly further along that we were just a few years ago.
The financial fall out from 2008 was that advertising and marketing agency budgets were cut to the bone in late '08. As those agencies were jettisoned, in house marketing people were given the task of SEO. In 08, we saw our InHouse panel attendance go from a few dozen to a few hundred as corporations sent their people to be trained. It was a breath taking switch. Those corporations learned the value of a good SEO fairly quickly in 2009. That trend has continued today with InHouse divisions paying more than ever before for quality SEO's.�
As the table keeps getting tilted, at some point do smaller independent players decide to opt out of search en mass, sort of like you did with the robots.txt blog? Does more and more featured content eventually end up behind paywalls as ad-based models are seen as less reliable among algorithmic uncertainties?
Well, paywalls are also finding where their wall is at. There has to be some huge value add to having a pay wall. I think we have seen the failures of many pay wall sites as well as some huge successes. The big problem with pay walls, is that it is hard to keep it behind the wall.
I do think we are seeing people playing with more revenue opportunities than ever before. Ads, affiliates, and links are all being explored as viable alternatives.� There is also a second (or is this the third?) wave of ecom sites being built. The big change this time is the reliance on conversion. People are getting pretty savvy about building sites that convert.
A lot of the biggest algorithmic holes & flaws that have been created over the years were created by attempts to over-compensate for other issues. Do you see brand (or brand-type) signals & usage signals dominating search for years to come?�
Yes, yes I do. There is no other way around it. People want the authority of brand. Google can only give them so much before they wander back to big brands as the authority in various spaces.�
Is authority bias / brand bias / etc. a crutch until enough vertical search technology has been deployed to where the regular organic results are largely irrelevant and below the fold for any query with a sniff of commercial intent? Are we moving from open ecosystems to closed ones? If so, is it a trend that reverses at some point?
I do think we are transitioning from a 100% search based traffic economy to a greater percentage being driven by other traffic sources. Social media will continue to grab more and more of the traffic pie.�
The new tablet and phone traffic economies are more suited for social than search. Search is a proactive, brain-fully-engaged activity. Social is much more of a click and 'let it come to me' experience. Search is about products, and research, and finding the right bits of information. Social is about chilling with the tablet in the easy chair while watching reruns on your Netflix TV and surfing your buddies Facebook pictures.� There is also the coming wave of new intelligent TV's that will lean them selves to more of a passive social experience than an active search experience. Those new technologies are disruptive to the old search economy.
If companies like Amazon.com create large distributed ad networks won't that eventually push Google to back off their authority bias?�
I don't think anyone but Facebook could dislodge Google's ad dominance.
One can find free consumer reviews by the boatload on authority sites & vertical marketplaces, but are in-depth expert reviews being driven out of the marketplace due to shifts in algorithmic preferences?�
I agree to a degree. The one push back on that, is Quora. Other than that, the Bizarre Voice driven review model continues to grow without any major competitors.
What is something people will see at Pubcon that they can't find elsewhere?
Expertise. 55% of Pubcon attendees consider themselves to be experts in their field, while another 30% consider themselves to be advanced. That leads us to ask speakers to bring their Grade A1+ game to their presentations and they do. I feel our level of content is the highest in the entire educational conference space. That, and we keep the conference reasonably priced� for the average techhead.
Thanks Brett. This year's Pubcon is once again in Las Vegas, Nevada & takes place the week of October 15 through 18.
Biyernes, Hunyo 22, 2012
Excessive Complexity & Unintended Consequences
Sergey Brin recently said:
You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive. The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.
He was talking about Facebook, but those words are far more applicable to Google.
A Social Experiment
In the movie Dark Knight the Joker ran a social experiment where he offered 2 boats full of people the opportunity to save their own lives by blowing up the other boat. The boat full of "criminals" threw the button overboard & the other boat also decided not to push the button.
Of course taking someone's life is more extreme than taking their livelihood, but if you do the latter it might create stress and/or other issues which in effect lead to the former. Some people who see their income disappear might have a heart attack, others might have marriages that soon falls apart, leading into a spiral of depression and substance abuse & eventually suicide. Others still might have employees that get laid off & end up heading down some of the same scary paths - through no fault of their own.
Negative SEO Goes Mainstream
Anyone who outs or link bombs smaller businesses (small enough that Google punishing them destroys their livelihood rather than just giving them a bad quarter) is a _______. Anyone who advocates outing or link bombing such businesses is an even larger _______.
With all of Google's warning messages about abnormal links they have built the negative SEO industry in a big way. In some instances those who are not good enough to compete try to harm competitors. I received emails & support tickets like the following one for years and years...
...but the rate of demand increase for such "services" has been sharp this year. Every additional warning message from Google creates additional incremental demand.
And this is where outing a competitor makes one a total and complete _______ of a human being.
A Recent (& Very Public) Example of Negative SEO
Dan Thies mentioned that it was "about time" that Google started hitting some of the splog link networks.
Anyone who knows the tiniest bit about the social sciences could predict what came next.
In response to his Tweet, someone signed his site up for some splog links & Scrapebox action. Now he is getting warnings about his unnatural link profile. Dan didn't intentionally violate Google's guidelines, but he became a convenient target:
15th March - Dan Thies posts smug tweets to Matt Cutts and pisses off the entire internet.
18th March - seofaststart.com - blog posts started - anchor text "seo" "seo service" and "seo book"
22th March - seofaststart.com - 1 million scrapebox blast started - 100% anchor text "Dan Thies"
26th March - Dan Thies posts in Twitter that he has received an unnatural links message.
Since then Dan has installed a new template & his rankings tanked. Is it the template or the spam links? Probably the spam links, given how many other sites have got hit for using too much focused anchor text.
- Will the site stay tanked? If so, now Google's approach to anchor text & link spikes allows independent websites to get torched in a few weeks for a few Dollars.
- Or will the site come back stronger than ever with the help of the spam links? If it does, then how long is it before people start accidentally spam blasting their own websites & posting a public case study about burning a competitor on a forum, then citing that forum thread in their reconsideration request?
- If the site quickly comes back, will that be due to a manual intervention by a search engineer, or from an algorithm more advanced than some people are giving it credit for being?
When asking such questions one quickly arrives at another set of questions. Is it the web that is broken? Or is it Google's editorial approach that is broken? If the observer breaks the system they observe, then the observer is the problem.
The Bigger Issue
The bigger issue isn't the short term trends for SEO related keywords or Dan's site (he will be fine & rankings are not that important for sites about SEO), but the big issue is that if this can happen to a decade old website then this can happen to literally anybody.
Piss off a ...
- web designer
- web developer
- business partner
- blog reader
- former customer
- bitter family member
- insert any classification or category you like
... and risk getting torched.
When you out someone for shady links, you can't be certain they were responsible for it. They could have had a falling out with a consultant or business partner or another competitor who wanted to hose them. Or their SEO or webmaster could have been non-transparent with them.
Then you out them & they might be toast.
White Hat, Black Hat & ________ Hat SEO
Any of the ________ who promote competitor smoking or competitor outing as somehow being "ethical" or "white hat" never bother to explain what happens to YOU when someone else does that to you.
Sketchy marketers can make just about anything look good at first glance. No matter how shiny the package in concept, it is hard to appreciate the pain until you are the one undergoing it.
Building things up is typically far more profitable than tearing things down & if SEOs go after each other then the only winner is Google. Literally every other participant in the ecosystem has higher risk, higher costs & is taxed by the additional uncertainty. Sure some of the conscripts might get a bit of revenues and some of the "white hat" hacks might gain incremental short term exposure, but as the marrow is scraped out of the bone, they too will fall hard.
Google is betting that the SEO industry is full of ________. If our trade is to worth being in, I hope Google is wrong! If not, you will soon see most of the quality professionals in our trade go underground, while only the hacks who misinform people & are an unofficial extension of Google's public relations team remain publicly visible.
That might be Google's goal.
Will they be successful at it?
That depends entirely on how intelligent members of the SEO industry are.
Huwebes, Hunyo 21, 2012
How do you feel about companies tracking your online behavior to target ads?
Surprisingly, nearly 1 in 11 people like ad retargeting. However, over 3 in 5 people dislike it.
|I dislike it because it feels creepy||62.3%�(+3.1 / -3.3)|
|I don't care either way||29.3%�(+3.1 / -2.9)|
|I like more relevant ads||8.3%�(+2.3 / -1.9)|
Women tend to think being stalked by ads is creepier than men do.
|I dislike it because it feels creepy||60.6%�(+3.7 / -3.8)||64.1%�(+5.0 / -5.3)|
|I don't care either way||30.0%�(+3.6 / -3.4)||28.7%�(+5.1 / -4.6)|
|I like more relevant ads||9.5%�(+2.6 / -2.1)||7.2%�(+4.2 / -2.7)|
Younger people who are old enough to be starting families tend to be more financially stressed than most other age groups, so they are likely more appreciative of relevant ads tied to discounts & such. Younger people have also used the web for so much of their lives that they are not as creeped out by tracking & privacy issues as older people are. People in retirement also like relevant ads, perhaps in part because they are feeling the Ben "printing press gone wild but no inflation" Bernake pinch & see their fixed income retirements collapse under artificially low interest rates tied to money printing game.
|age||18-24 year-olds�(372)�||25-34 year-olds�(270)�||35-44 year-olds�(150)�||45-54 year-olds�(217)�||55-64 year-olds�(164)�||65+ year-olds�(77)�|
|I dislike it because it feels creepy||60.2%�(+4.8 / -5.0)||52.3%�(+6.3 / -6.4)||65.1%�(+7.2 / -8.0)||66.0%�(+6.1 / -6.6)||66.6%�(+6.9 / -7.7)||55.7%�(+11.2 / -11.8)|
|I don't care either way||33.6%�(+4.9 / -4.6)||35.0%�(+6.4 / -5.9)||25.5%�(+7.6 / -6.3)||27.9%�(+6.4 / -5.6)||26.9%�(+7.5 / -6.3)||33.5%�(+11.9 / -10.1)|
|I like more relevant ads||6.2%�(+2.9 / -2.0)||12.7%�(+5.1 / -3.8)||9.5%�(+5.9 / -3.8)||6.1%�(+3.9 / -2.5)||6.4%�(+5.2 / -2.9)||10.7%�(+9.1 / -5.2)|
People from the west coast are perhaps slightly more aware of the risks of online tracking. People from the south couldn't care either way. In the midwest the stereotype of the mom who clips coupons is shown in the data (though the sample size is small).
|vote||The US Midwest�(259)�||The US Northeast�(340)�||The US South�(404)�||The US West�(247)�|
|I dislike it because it feels creepy||58.5%�(+6.5 / -6.9)||61.8%�(+5.9 / -6.3)||61.6%�(+5.7 / -6.0)||67.2%�(+6.2 / -6.8)|
|I don't care either way||29.9%�(+6.6 / -5.9)||29.1%�(+5.8 / -5.2)||32.4%�(+5.9 / -5.4)||24.6%�(+6.7 / -5.6)|
|I like more relevant ads||11.6%�(+5.6 / -4.0)||9.1%�(+5.0 / -3.3)||6.0%�(+4.6 / -2.7)||8.2%�(+5.7 / -3.5)|
On everything outside of disliking online tracking the margin of error is wide enough that it is somewhat hard to notice any strong patterns based on population data.
|vote||Urban areas�(636)�||Rural areas�(108)�||Suburban areas�(480)�|
|I dislike it because it feels creepy||58.9%�(+5.0 / -5.1)||61.1%�(+9.0 / -9.8)||62.6%�(+4.5 / -4.7)|
|I don't care either way||32.3%�(+5.1 / -4.7)||33.9%�(+9.9 / -8.6)||27.6%�(+4.5 / -4.1)|
|I like more relevant ads||8.8%�(+4.4 / -3.0)||5.0%�(+8.7 / -3.3)||9.8%�(+3.6 / -2.7)|
It is also hard to see much of a broad pattern based on income levels.
|vote||People earning $0-24K�(150)�||People earning $25-49K�(691)�||People earning $50-74K�(304)�||People earning $75-99K�(88)�|
|I dislike it because it feels creepy||62.2%�(+8.4 / -9.1)||60.2%�(+4.2 / -4.4)||66.5%�(+5.8 / -6.4)||55.1%�(+10.2 / -10.6)|
|I don't care either way||30.0%�(+9.2 / -7.8)||30.8%�(+4.3 / -4.0)||25.9%�(+6.1 / -5.3)||35.8%�(+10.4 / -9.2)|
|I like more relevant ads||7.9%�(+8.6 / -4.3)||9.0%�(+3.7 / -2.7)||7.5%�(+5.5 / -3.3)||9.2%�(+9.0 / -4.8)|
Miyerkules, Hunyo 20, 2012
Based on feedback we get from time to time, there seems to be a growing interest in the area of setting up and running a local SEO business.
In addition to building local SEO tools, Whitespark also offers local SEO services. We recently reviewed Darren's Local Citation Finder, which is a must-have for any local SEO, and today he was kind enough to answer some questions on the local SEO market as a whole as well as specific strategies he recommends (and uses for his clients).
1. What are you advising your clients to do and how are you adjusting your local seo strategy in the wake of the latest change to Google Places (IE Google+ Local)?
Get active on Google+. You want to start posting content on Google+, and also start circling friends, family, influencers, and other businesses AS YOUR BUSINESS on Google+. If you?re engaging them, they?ll engage with your business and circle you back, +1 your content, share your content, etc. Use your existing Google+ business page if you already have one, as this business page will eventually merge with your Google+ Local page. If you don?t have one yet, then get one here. To use Google+ as a page, look for the dropdown under your photo. Also, now that Google+ Local pages are indexed, it?s a good idea to link to your Google+ Local page. There was no value in linking to the old place pages because they weren?t indexed.
2. A recent WSJ Article outlines an upcoming change to how Google will be interacting with SMB's. It appears to be tying back to G+ (of course) but also presenting a unified dashboard that SMB's can use to interact with all Google products. When you look at the local SEO landscape, how do you present to clients as the importance of singular keyword rankings become less and less important in the face of a more holistic, unified online marketing campaign?
It?s tough because the typical SMB often comes to you with the goal of ranking for particular keywords and doesn?t see the bigger picture. So, when we present to clients we make sure to discuss all the details of our local SEO work:
- Google Analytics conversion tracking and custom reporting configuration.
- Keyword research
- Competitive analysis
- Google+ Local page optimization (I?m going to have to revise our process now!)
- Technical site audit
- Keyword mapping and website optimization
- Content strategy
- Link building (developing linkable assets, digging through competitors? link profiles looking for ideas, guest posting, press releases, interviews, researching business partners for link ops, infographics, videos, e-books, contests, wordpress plugins, selective social bookmarking to our own content and to content we get placed. I find myself referencing this great post by Ted Ives fairly regularly when coming up with link building strategies for clients.)
- Citation audit and clean up
- Citation building
- Review acquisition strategy
- Image geo-tagging, optimization, and uploading to appropriate sites
- Video geo-tagging, optimization, and uploading to appropriate sites
- Social strategy
We?re focused on content strategy these days and try to educate our clients from the start about what will be involved. That means getting a blog installed on their site if they don?t already have one and setting up a schedule of weekly blog posts.
There are plenty of quality writers out there that will write posts at a reasonable price for the business if they don?t have time. We brainstorm topic ideas with our clients, and then sort them into ?our blog? and ?guest posts?.
We then build out lists of prospects using our sister tool, the Link Prospector, and use Buzzstream to manage our outreach and relationship building. We work on creative ideas that will push our clients beyond what their competition is doing.
For example, for one of our legal clients, we?re creating a kinetic typography video (what?s that? ) about a new law being passed that will mean immediate loss of your license if you get charged with a DUI. The implications of this new law are serious: loss of job, family troubles due to financial strain, etc.
We?ll be posting it to our blog, doing a press release, pushing it through social, and outreaching to all the news agencies and civilian bloggers in the province. Expecting this to drive some great brand mentions and links for our client. We?re always touching base with our clients to learn about up and coming news in their business and industry that we can leverage with content like this.
If a client isn?t able to invest some time to work with us on content, and providing us with the info we need, we try to assess that as early as possible and not take them on, or end the relationship. It must be collaborative or we?ll have a hard time getting the results, and that frustrates us and the client.
3. Do you think Google's push to centralize these offers for SMB's will actually help local SEO/marketing companies (like yours)? It seems to me that it would, it seems like things will be easier to manage and report on. While Google will be able to make inroads in this market, I still believe that many local SMB's will just be more apt to search for a reputable provider that can manage all this stuff for them. SMB's love time-savings...What do you think?
I don?t know if it will make much difference. The typical SMB client doesn?t have much knowledge about online marketing.
They would be just as lost in a unified dashboard as they are in the current setup, and will look to bring in a consultant to help. As far as reporting goes, we?ll have to see what that unified dashboard provides. If it?s anything like the useless stats in the current Google Places dashboard, I won?t be very excited about it.
4. Local, blended, pack, whatever rankings can be difficult to deal with if you are not the beneficiary of a nearby centroid. Can you walk us through how you deal with this both at the proposal level (quote multiple services, quote more keywords, etc) and in practice?
What are some ways around being an outlier to the centroid of the more highly searched areas? Fortunately, Google has recently dialed back the importance of the centroid. I only bring it up with new prospects if they are way out on the outskirts of the city (can be a bit challenging to overcome), or in a suburb and want to rank in the big city (near impossible to overcome unless they open a new location in the city).
To overcome centroid bias you need an order magnitude more citations, links, and reviews. If your competitors have 50 citations, get 150. If your competitors have 30 reviews, get 100. When you look at cases where a business is way outside of the centroid and ranking well, it?s typically a numbers game like this.
Be sure to also focus on acquiring plenty of locally relevant links and citations from authority sites, but I?d have the same recommendation for any local campaign, not just ones where you?re working to overcome centroid bias.
5. Given the increased complexity of local SEO, and local online ads in general, how are you handling the quoting process these days? Custom proposals for everyone? Packages for some? Do you find, on average, better overall success (ROI and retention) with one method or the other?
I have a pretty standard, all encompassing, package that I use for all clients. If the client is in an �ultra-competitive market, I?ll charge more, but we do pretty much the same work for all our clients and just scale it up based on how competitive it is.
6. How deep do you get into the client's business? Do you get into managing SEO, PPC, online ad buys, email marketing, offline advertising, and so on?
Typically we just do straight SEO. Specifically, local seo. That?s more than enough to deal with right now, and it?s what I love doing. I?m not that interested in anything other than local.
7. Citations are important but what about social stuff and reviews? How do you help clients set up and stick to an ongoing social engagement and how do you get them to be all over the reviews (obtaining reviews, following up on them, and so on)?
Reviews are extremely important and we put together a review acquisition strategy for each client. We get one of Phil Rozek?s Review Handouts for each client. This is something that the business can email or print and give to each customer that provides easy step-by-step instructions on how to leave a review. He?s updating it for the new Google+ Local review process. We also encourage our clients to mix up the places they request reviews from.
Get some on Google, some on Insiderpages, some on Yelp, etc. We always research where the competition are getting reviews and base our recommendations on that. I think keywords in the reviews are a big ranking factor. We ask our clients to tell their customers to mention the service they had completed when posting the review.
Social, well, I don?t push too hard on it. Certainly, the clients that are engaged in it will reap the benefits, but so many small businesses are too busy running their business to bother with it. Looking at David Mihm?s Local Search Ranking Factors, the local SEO experts surveyed don?t put a lot of stock into social factors. David?s just about to release the 2012 version and i would expect to see the same.
8. I know there's always a desire for one to find some magic pill for their problems, and that's no different in the local SEO market. Sometimes though, there are no "secrets" and it's more about leverage, quality of work, and consistency. Let's close it out by giving folks some "must-have" tips on running a local SEO campaign, or company, in the current local SEO climate:
In local, my number one recommendation is to do a citation audit and clean up job. It?s horribly painful work trying to find all the places where your name, address, and phone number are incorrect, but like you noted, there are no short cuts.
Put in the hard work on this one and it will pay dividends. I?ve seen many cases where you analyze the top ranking competition and the business with the best on-page optimization, Place page optimization, citations, links, & reviews is not ranking as well as they should, and when you dig a little deeper it?s because of messy NAP data all over the place.
Consistent NAP is important to your ?trust score? in local. If Google is getting conflicting data about your business from multiple sources, it lowers its trust in your data. I?ll be doing a post on the Whitespark blog soon about how we do citation audits. Also, keywords in reviews seem to be very helpful to rankings. See what I said about this above.
Also, citations from city and industry specific sites really help associate your business with the keywords you?re going after. In our experience, local rankings take off after we submit to 30 or 40 of these. For example, for a lawyer in Chicago, get citations on sites like:
Martes, Hunyo 19, 2012
If you use a search engine but don't find what you are looking for, which are you more likely to do?
People are more likely to search again with a new keyword than they are to click onto the second page of search results.
|search again with a different word||55.7%�(+3.2 / -3.3)|
|go to the second page of the results||44.3%�(+3.3 / -3.2)|
The split is fairly consistent among men and women.
|search again with a different word||55.4%�(+4.0 / -4.1)||56.1%�(+5.0 / -5.1)|
|go to the second page of the results||44.6%�(+4.1 / -4.0)||43.9%�(+5.1 / -5.0)|
There isn't an obvious pattern among age either.
|Vote||18-24 year-olds�(284)�||25-34 year-olds�(309)�||35-44 year-olds�(144)�||45-54 year-olds�(195)�||55-64 year-olds�(150)�||65+ year-olds�(107)�|
|search again with a different word||52.1%�(+5.7 / -5.8)||56.7%�(+5.7 / -5.9)||51.7%�(+8.0 / -8.1)||57.5%�(+6.7 / -7.0)||61.4%�(+7.7 / -8.4)||54.2%�(+9.4 / -9.8)|
|go to the second page of the results||47.9%�(+5.8 / -5.7)||43.3%�(+5.9 / -5.7)||48.3%�(+8.1 / -8.0)||42.5%�(+7.0 / -6.7)||38.6%�(+8.4 / -7.7)||45.8%�(+9.8 / -9.4)|
People in the west & midwest are more likely to change keywords, whereas people in the north east & south are roughly equally likely to change keywords or go to page 2 of the search results.
|Vote||The US Midwest�(244)�||The US Northeast�(320)�||The US South�(363)�||The US West�(262)�|
|search again with a different word||58.6%�(+6.6 / -6.9)||52.2%�(+6.3 / -6.4)||51.7%�(+6.0 / -6.1)||61.8%�(+6.2 / -6.6)|
|go to the second page of the results||41.4%�(+6.9 / -6.6)||47.8%�(+6.4 / -6.3)||48.3%�(+6.1 / -6.0)||38.2%�(+6.6 / -6.2)|
Suburban people are more likely to change keywords than to click on to page 2.
|Vote||Urban areas�(590)�||Rural areas�(109)�||Suburban areas�(468)�|
|search again with a different word||51.8%�(+4.6 / -4.6)||48.0%�(+9.3 / -9.1)||61.1%�(+4.8 / -5.0)|
|go to the second page of the results||48.2%�(+4.6 / -4.6)||52.0%�(+9.1 / -9.3)||38.9%�(+5.0 / -4.8)|
There isn't much of an income correlation either.
|Vote||People earning $0-24K�(123)�||People earning $25-49K�(638)�||People earning $50-74K�(319)�||People earning $75-99K�(88)�||People earning $100-149K�(22)�|
|search again with a different word||57.9%�(+9.3 / -9.9)||55.9%�(+4.4 / -4.5)||58.8%�(+5.8 / -6.1)||54.5%�(+9.3 / -9.6)||50.0%�(+21.4 / -21.4)|
|go to the second page of the results||42.1%�(+9.9 / -9.3)||44.1%�(+4.5 / -4.4)||41.2%�(+6.1 / -5.8)||45.5%�(+9.6 / -9.3)||50.0%�(+21.4 / -21.4)|
It would also be interesting to run this question again & include the option of trying another search engine as an answer.