Archive for the 'Search Engine Optimization' Category

Seven Contrarian Resolutions for a Web Presence That Wins

Last week, I issued a press release suggesting that business and nonprofit owners and executives could benefit from some contrarian thinking when creating their web and social media strategies for 2012. My “contrarian” stance was prompted by Vint Cerf’s wonderful comment on my recent book:

“Some of the anecdotes are counter-intuitive . . .”

I took that as a great compliment!

Here are my counter-intuitive suggestions for your 2012 web strategy, based on some of my favorite rules:

  1. Avoid Industry Best Practices: unless you’re sure that you’re using valid comparisons, these can give you a false impression of your specific situation.
    Read more in Rule 4: Beware of Benchmarking and Best Practices

  2. Counter the Competition: many businesses are wary of giving away their “secrets” online – but not showing your expertise and track record can hamper your growth.
    Read more in Rule 12: Consider the Competition (available in full in the free sampler)

  3. Stop Taking “One Size Fits All” Advice: many “experts” hype their online marketing results – yet there are few really effective short cuts. Make sure that their tactics apply to your online markets and goals.
    Read more in Rule 15: One Size Does Not Fit All

  4. Ignore your Search Engine Rankings: – until you’ve figured out which of your keywords really pay off in leads and quality traffic, and then focus on those.
    Read more in Rule 22: Rankings Don’t Matter

  5. Attract Invisible Buyers: think about your behind-the-scenes influencers and decision makers, and create copy that engages them too.
    Read more in Rule 28: Talk to the Buyer Behind the Buyer (available in full in the free sampler)

  6. Beware of “Feel-Good” Numbers: “dashboard” summaries of web analytics reports are convenient for busy managers, but rarely tell the whole story – and can be quite misleading.
    Read more in Rule 35: Drill Below the Dashboard

  7. Feed the HiPPO: sometimes the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” (which can be both wrong and strongly held) should be overcome with proven web metrics data.
    Read more in Rule 37: Numbers and Testing Trump Politics (available in full in the free sampler)

Since it’s now halfway through January, these are probably the last set of resolutions that you’ll consider adopting. But do give them some thought – after all, last is not necessarily least!

20% of Daily Google Searches Never Done Before?

Yesterday, Hubspot put out a new whitepaper called “How to Spot Bad SEO Services”. It’s free, as is much of Hubspot’s great information.

However, in the promo for it that I received in my email was the claim that “Each day, 20% of Google searches consist of terms that have never been searched before!

Really? That seems like a huge number to me, and I wondered where it came from.

I checked in Hubspot’s paper, but couldn’t find a source for this assertion. So, I turned to Google, where I found a similar statistic cited in a UK conference back in April, 2007. I also found lots of other posts repeating the Hubspot claim, but no other information.

Which left me wondering whether it’s still true today that 20% of Google search terms every day have never been searched before. I know that there are a lot of people searching, but 20% is a large proportion, and to have that number of completely new and unique terms every day at this point in the usage of the Internet seems unlikely to me.

Of course, as Hubspot points out, if it’s true, there are still huge opportunities for anyone who can figure out the right keywords to be at the forefront of the results when someone finally searches for them ;-)

I’m not saying that Hubspot are wrong, just that I’d love to find out where they got the numbers from. Does anyone know?

Is Search Engine Optimization Always a “Must-Do”?

I’m finally on the road to recovery from my surgery and catching up on a lot of reading.

Econsultancy had an interesting blog post a couple of weeks ago about the levels of search engine optimization for SME (small and medium-sized business) websites in the UK. They found that 60% of SME marketers are not currently investing in SEO.

Among Econsultancy’s statistics on this:

  • 20% of marketers know about SEO, but choose not to allocate any budget for it.

They also comment:
“These businesses should be looking to correct this as, implemented well, SEO has the potential to be a very important and cost-effective sales channel. Also, competitors that have invested time or money in SEO may be gaining an advantage.”

(Note: to keep my posting reasonably brief, I’m quoting a very small segment – for the full viewpoint, please read the complete article).

Strong words – but I’m wondering about the makeup of the businesses in the sample. The author seems to imply that all SME’s would benefit from better search engine placement. I’m not sure that’s true.

In my presentations to Vistage SME CEO groups within the US, I’ve met, for example:

  • businesses who are so niched that they know all of their potential customers, and the market knows of them;
  • businesses who do all or almost all of their work for government agencies, so marketing is a very different ballgame;
  • businesses who don’t want to be found by the general public due to security concerns – either their work is classified, or their operations might invite protests or attacks (one of my recent groups included a company which provides animal testing for drug development).

In my experience, search engine traffic can also produce widely differing qualities of visitors, depending on the products or services being offered. I’ve never found it especially helpful for professional service firms (content marketing is much more powerful for folks selling expertise), but it’s great for selling yo-yo’s!

So if your business is one of those mentioned in the report, or if it would have been if you were UK-based, before you take this rebuke to heart, I’d revisit your marketing strategy, desired markets, and known business constraints. Perhaps you are one of the few for whom search engine optimization is justifiably not a priority.

Beware of SEO Experts With Silo Vision!

Last week I talked with a small business owner. She had just spent $6,000 over the past 4 months for search engine optimization services – which was a significant budget item. Of course, the SEO company was sending her ecstatic reports about her improved positions for targeted keywords, and increased click-throughs to her site.

So I asked her “How are all these new visitors responding to your site? Are they taking a good look around, or are they leaving immediately? Are you getting more calls and leads? Do you know which of the keywords that you’re optimizing for are performing best for you, and whether any are a waste of effort? Do you have any idea of what you’re getting back for your $6,000 investment?

She replied that she didn’t have the answers to these questions, that she’d just assumed that things were going well because that’s what the SEO company was reporting, and then she sighed: “I think we just fell into the classic small business trap!”

Now don’t misunderstand me – I believe that the SEO company was doing exactly what they’d been retained to do.

But this company was only evaluating her success from their perspective – and they’re looking at her business from a pretty narrow silo.

I’ve seen this situation many times. Last year, I spoke for a group which included a manufacturer of kitchen appliances for the restaurant industry. They only sold to the trade, not to individual consumers. Again, they had an SEO company who’d got them to be #1 in search for keywords like “mixer”, and the CEO was thrilled with the increased traffic numbers that the SEO folks reported.

But the Director of Sales told a different story. Because the Website didn’t include any statements about who their customers were, or any language such as “minimum order”, the sales team were spending 25% of their time fielding completely unqualified leads! Now that’s what I call a leak in resources . . .

This type of scenario is why I argue so strongly for a “Website Ambassador” for any company. Outside practitioners (or less experienced employees) who you hire for one specific purpose can’t be expected to understand the ramifications of what they do on every other aspect of your Web presence and your business. Someone needs to have the 30,000ft view to ensure that all of your strategies and tactics are working together to maximize your ROI.

Otherwise, in plugging one leak, you could be creating several others!