Press Release SEO Benefits – Are There Any Still To Be Had?

A recent conversation came up in the online marketing community about the effectiveness and benefits of press releases for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.  With so much “clutter”, and with any small business able to purchase low-cost distribution of its “news”, many SEO gurus have written off using online press release distribution as a valid strategy to improve SEO rankings.

The question is if whether or not to skip using online press releases as part of one’s SEO efforts.  The answer is if you used them in the way they were used in 2008-2010 then their importance has diminished considerably, and using an online press release distribution service for SEO benefits will have to drop significantly in terms of priority on the checklist of actions to be taken.

If, however, you apply some of the advanced methods then you actually may find that online press releases actually can benefit you quite nicely from a SEO perspective!

These advanced methods include:

  • Having truly legitimate “newsworthy” content to share
  • Geo-targeting
  • De-optimized anchor text to the company website (home page or other)
  • Linking to one’s social media properties
  • Linking to one’s “Tier 1 properties”
  • Embedding YouTube videos (or other online videos) which already are optimized properly
  • Intelligent link building to the press release URL
  • Backlinking to the press release channel URL
  • Having “evergreen” content to be worthwhile long after the event was deemed to be “fresh” news
  • Leveraging the press release URL to authority websites and bloggers seeking guest content

There is a ton to discuss in each of the bullet points listed, so feel free to contact me with your questions.

Here is one of the recent article’s where experts call into question the effectiveness of online press releases, and you will see my first comment at this link:

 

The Merits Of Internet Marketing For Local Live Events

I want to thank Greg Smith for the opportunity to contribute a post to his website this week.  He was kind enough to let me share some suggestions and thoughts about the merits of incorporating internet marketing for local events, either free to attend or requiring paid ticket admission.  Here is the link to the article I posted:

Greg and I share some of the same thoughts about tiered link building, promotion of “Tier 1” properties as standalone landing pages and much more.  What this means to you is that, much like most local businesses only care about the phone ringing (or receiving e-mails from qualified prospects), whenever you promote live events you primarily care only about how many people show up to the event/game/show/etc.  There are over 20 online marketing methods to get the word out, and some offer you benefit long after the event has concluded.

Should you find the post to interesting then you are welcome to share it or visit more about our event marketing information and consulting here:

Making The Phone Ring With Online Marketing

One of the biggest challenges of helping clients with their online marketing efforts is to quantify an increase in business.  There are several ways to track different online metrics, but the biggest question is:

“Is my phone ringing with new customers (clients)?”  Equivalent questions could be:

  • “Am I getting more e-mail opt-ins?”
  • “Am I getting more people following me on XYZ social media property?”
  • “Am I getting more walk-ins to my store?”
  • “Am I getting more attendees to my live event?”
  • “Are people ordering more from my website?”

The challenge for an internet marketing consultant is to manage expectations from the beginning of the conversation.  There is only so much that can be addressed by the marketer who is brought in from the outside, especially if the business does not have an in-house marketing director or other salaried staff member in charge of marketing.

Here is a quick breakdown of topics to discuss with any online marketing consultant or agency when it comes to various ways to make your phone ring:

  • Do you have a defined web page (e.g. home page, inner page on your website, YouTube video) to send your prospective audience?
  • Is the audience you are trying to reach:
    • a first-time prospect who was NOT referred by anyone previously?
    • a first-time prospect who was referred by a current customer/client?
    • a current customer/client to whom you are asking to purchase something new?
  • Do you have a simple, easy to understand request (“call to action”) for this person to follow?
  • Is there at least one (or more) method of tracking the activity, including ratios?
  • If you are going to use online paid advertising, have you narrowed down the web properties (or search engine keywords) on which your ad(s) will appear?  If so, do you have strategies in place to prevent your costs from getting out of control?
  • Do you have a method(s) to have this person join one of your lists in case he/she/they do not choose to do business with you at this time?
    • If so, what reasons have you given the person to join your list(s) if he/she has not done so already?
  • If you are getting targeted traffic to your site, but you are not getting phone calls – or at least joining your list – then what are you going to change first:
    • the headline?
    • what the emotional benefit (not feature) is that you are offering?
    • price?
    • an appearance change (font style, color, placement of the offer)?
    • something else?
  • If you are choosing search engine optimization (SEO) as a strategy, where are you ranking right now?  For which keywords/phrases?  How much of a ranking improvement do you need?
    • If your website needs lots of work (on the website + link building to the website), then do you have another web property that you don’t mind ranking on the first page of the search engines in the meantime (aka “Next Best SEO“)?

 

These are just a few of the questions to discuss in your initial conversations with any SEO agency or internet marketing consultant.  If you are interested in getting answers to these questions – and many more – to help you make the phone ring, then you are welcome to contact us.  Thank you.

 

Reaching The Entire DFW Market

Some business owners throughout the Dallas Fort Worth region truly can serve the entire DFW market and even additional markets.  Unlike smaller services which can serve a realistic radius of 5-10 miles (or an even smaller radius), these businesses have a different vision such as:

  • there is enough profit margin in the transaction to justify the time and expense to travel to a small town across the DFW Metroplex and conduct business
  • the business is so unique, or perceived to be so specialized, that prospective customers across the region want the product, service or other benefits associated with the particular business
  • the business can ship products and/or already has representatives near to the smaller towns in DFW

One question is which types of businesses can justify marketing to a wider radius than just the regular small 5-10 mile radius which is common with many local businesses?  Another question is how to reach the smaller towns without having to become a member of each local chamber of commerce or placing ads in every newspaper or print publication across the region?

Types Of Businesses Which Qualify

Here is just a short list of the types of businesses which can pursue larger-radius marketing at the DFW level or even state-wide:

  • Corporate relocation services
  • Specialty legal and financial services
  • Industrial products
  • Higher end home improvement services (e.g. interior design, remodeling, etc.)
  • Custom home builders
  • Surveyors
  • Higher end home repair services (sewer line installation, etc.)
  • Etc.

How To Reach All Of DFW And Beyond

The first thing you need to know is that there are over 200 towns and cities which comprise the DFW region.  This is not just Dallas, Collin, Denton or Tarrant Counties either.  The neighboring counties also are included as there can be highly-qualified prospects in the small towns throughout every DFW county.

To narrow down the options of how to reach these people, and do so in a budget-sensitive manner you have a few options:

  • TV ads — obviously you must be hyper-vigilant about your budget and any tracking you can generate here
  • Same with radio ads
  • Classified ads are a great way to get exposure.  Be sure to optimize your ads to include the towns and cities which you serve; and be sure to play nice by the terms of service and posting rules for the various online classified ads you intend to use
  • Direct mail targeting specific neighborhoods in specific zip codes.  A good mailing list broker, who can highly target your prospects across the region, would be a very wise investment here
  • Paid press release distribution can be beneficial, especially if you mention specific towns in your content
  • Pay Per Click (AdWords) is a smart way to start.  You can target each specific town, but you want to send the traffic to optimized (town-specific) landing pages on your website.  Also, be sure that there is some sort of benefit easily visible to the prospective customer and a “call to action” (e.g. “call today” or “download this coupon”)
    • Note that there are other pay-per-click services besides Google AdWords, Yahoo’s advertising, and Bing’s advertising services.  Please contact us for these alternative options where your competition may not be advertising
  • For business-to-business (B2B) advertising in the Dallas Fort Worth region you may consider targeted advertising within LinkedIn
  • You can do demographic-based targeted advertising, especially town by town, in Facebook.  Just note that:
    • depending on the devices your prospects use, you may not get complete exposure on Facebook to those using mobile devices
    • you likely will have a higher conversion rate if you send the traffic to a page you control within Facebook.  Most Facebook users don’t like to be led automatically off of Facebook at first, so consider sending the traffic to Facebook page you control regularly which has consistently-updated benefit-laden content (coupons, discounts, helpful tips, entertaining videos, etc.)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  This is one of the trickier, but possibly soundest ways to get hyper-targeted prospects.  You can have created for you a multi-niche website (or a blog which resides alongside your website) which has town-specific optimized pages.  Ideally, the content on each of the 200+ towns is unique including article content, images, any embedded videos, etc.  Just so long as the combination of text/images/videos is unique you should be good, especially for phrases people type in which may have relatively low competition in the search engines.

The latter option (the blog/website with town-optimized pages) gives you additional benefit.  For example, here is a website which has town-optimized pages for varying business niches.  Here is one for a series of highly-related niches.  And here is a site with optimized pages for just one niche.

The benefits here are:

  • That you can control specific content for each town or city in which you want to market.  For example, if you want to give coupons in one town but not another you can do so
  • You have optimized pages to which you can send your pay per click (PPC) traffic such as traffic Google AdWords.  This increases the odds of gaining a higher “quality score” for your ads (assuming everything else is done right) and possibly saving money by reducing your per-click costs
  • The optimized page could rank well in the search engines for the times when the phrase is entered alongside the specific town (e.g. “your business Plano TX”)
  • You even go “deeper” than the specific towns.  For example, if you want to offer incentives to people in specific HOA’s or parts of a town then you can do so.

If you would help on any of these topics then you are welcome to contact us with your specific needs.  Thank you for your time and consideration to share this post.

Next Best SEO – Presentation From McKinney Texas

I want to thank Debra Pope for the invitation to present to her Networking University members who attended the workshop. It took place in the area of McKinney and Allen Texas on May 14 2013.

During the presentation I covered what is known as “Next Best SEO”.  This is where business owners, who simply want the phone to ring with prospective customers or clients, have additional options besides just attempting to rank their respective websites in the search engines.  What many of the attendees didn’t realize is that their websites, or ones given them by a corporate office, may – in fact – be violating several of Google’s best practices.

We covered many of the ways in which a business can grow through the use of internet marketing, of which SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) were just a part.  We briefly reviewed other online marketing techniques such as video, pay-per-click, press releases, online classified ads, etc.

The attendees also learned that each major search engine is, or is part of, a publicly-traded company; and each wants to make ITS quarterly figures!  The goal, then, is to give each search engine’s users the best possible content in a way which is user-friendly, is authoritative and relevant.  One way to accomplish this is to rank OTHER web properties – in addition to the companies’ websites – in order to help get the phone to ring.  Several examples were included in the presentation.

Four (4) action steps were given at the end of the presentation to help any business begin to improve the chances of receiving a call, e-mail or walk-in from a first-time customer or client by SEO efforts on other web properties.  These were labeled also as “promote the promoters” strategies.

Feel free to download this PDF from the workshop:

If you are interested in getting help to promote your website or other web properties which mention you favorably (or otherwise give authority) then you are welcome to contact me.

Thank you again to everyone who attended!

Internet Marketing For Plano And Similar Cities – Without SEO Or Paid Ads?

Small to medium-sized businesses in Collin County and North Dallas have an interesting challenge when it comes to marketing their local services and retail locations to those in Plano Texas, which has a population over 250,000.  For the most part, the city (located in Collin County) borders on Dallas County; and this can present some challenges for the business owner and their retained marketing teams.

While the audience differs depending on the business owner’s industry, let’s take as generic an example as possible. Since most Plano residents do not use mass transportation, the majority of teenagers and adults who drive cars will need to have their car’s oil changed every few months.  Assuming that most people do not, or will not want, to know how to change their oil then there is a demand for this service.  How does a new oil change facility, or an established one, gain market share in Plano and from other drivers who are in town?

The Challenges For Those Who Have Not Started Online Marketing Yet

Here are a couple of problems facing the oil change facility new to the area as well as for those who have declined to start online marketing yet:

  • With Google Places and Google Local Plus, the challenge becomes when a service has a North Dallas address; but in the real world people from Plano are more likely to become customers.  All of the directories listing the business’ address, however, promote Dallas.  This can cause some SEO concerns for reaching Plano residents through the search engines
  • The fastest way to get exposure is to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to send traffic to a web page.  The costs for phrases like “oil change Plano TX” may be cost-prohibitive to the business due to the current amount of competition for that phrase.  This does not include any “penalties” assigned by Google should the “Quality Score” (QS) of the page to which you are sending the traffic is not properly optimized to match your ad
  • As with all paid advertising, once you stop paying the traffic goes away
  • Search engine optimization, especially with the new Google Plus Local and Google Places optimization campaigns, are confusing to most people.  SEO, while a fantastic way to get new customers, is a constant game of “leap frog”.  If you are able to leap frog a competitor in the search engines then it is possible that, one day, another competitor can leap frog your website
  • Video marketing is a great way to get exposure for any local business.  The problem is that most business owners treat a YouTube video as  a regular “30 second commercial” like they see on TV.  In the online world, you must add value to the video viewer; and this is a tougher “shift” in mindset for the business owner than you might realize.  Also, there are production costs to factor into the equation
  • If you look at many local business videos you will see a glaring problem. A video has been uploaded for 6 months… and it has less than 10 views!  You would think that a business owner has at least 10 friends and family members who would watch the video, but this points out a huge concern.  Most business owners care about the lighting and graphics on a video… but they have no strategy of how to use that video (once completed) to get the word out about their business
  • Online classified ads are great, but many have no marketing skill to create a call-to-action in order to get people to come to the specific oil change location versus that of a competitor
  • Not many oil change facilities have social media properties, let alone reasons why a customer would want to join any of them.  Most also do not even have an e-mail newsletter with tips, coupons or other incentives to bring in the cars of friends and family
  • A press release announcing the store opening, or a new line of service, may not reach your audience due to several factors:  timing, the style of writing, how the release is distributed, etc.

As you can guess, there are several challenges faced by local business owners… and this is not to pick on oil change businesses!  There are some of these businesses who are using social media and other services tremendously in the area of Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney.  I just wanted to give as close to a universal example as possible.

So How Do I Start If I Do Not Have Much Of A Budget Nor Much Technology Know-How To Rank My Website # 1?

This is a great question!

There are a few things which can be done which are inexpensive if you get outside help, and they even are no-cost if you learn how to do them yourself.  Depending on your desired new prospects, here are things you can do:

  • Use any e-mail marketing service for which you are currently paying.  If you have ACT, iContact, Constant Contact or a similar program then take the time to learn how to give value to your customers.  If not all of your customers are on your list then do what you can to get their permission to add them to your mailing list.  This becomes an “asset” which you control which won’t go away for a long time.  Make sure that your e-mails have an “opt out” (unsubscribe) option and are compliant with the CAN-SPAM rules
  • If you know that your audience spends time on a particular forum relevant to Plano, Frisco or any of the other North Dallas and Collin County communities then discover what it will take to post helpful tips and answer questions on that forum.  Build trust in that forum and have others sing your praises, both online and in the real world
  • Have ways to get your customers to leave reviews on websites other than yours.  For example, have your happy customers leave positive reviews on AngiesList, Google Plus, Google Places, your Facebook business page, Twitter timeline, Yelp page, LinkedIn and similar services
  • Contact me regarding how to set up various alerts and notifications in order to be informed when someone in Plano (or coming to Plano) has posted something indicating a need for your service.  You then will have ways to get in touch with that person or company needing your help
  • Offer value by promoting an “education” event.  For example, the oil change business can take an afternoon once a year and invite new drivers to learn how to check the tire pressure, check their oil, etc.  Have the attendees take pictures and videos, and encourage them to share these with their friends

These are just a few of the ways to reach an audience who needs your service without having to go through paid advertising or using search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM).  Please note that paid ads and SEO & SEM are, indeed, worth your time.  They just have drawbacks and costs like all marketing tactics.

In any local market, there are over 60 methods to reach a prospect who does not know you nor knows any of your current customers.  Feel free to contact me to discuss how to customize these methods to come up with a plan that is tailored specifically to your audience and business.  From there, we can discuss ways to put into place a customer “retention and referral” program so that a new customer you gain can become a lead source to help you grow your business quickly.

Online Classified Ad Websites – How Any Dallas Small Business Can Use Them

Many small business owners across the country, even in Dallas (where this blog post originates), think of classified ad websites as an afterthought or not worth their time to post.  Other internet marketing tools and strategies are seen as being more interesting, supposedly having broader reach, and even seen as targeting a “low class audience”.  Intelligent business owners, in-house marketers, and marketing agencies know that these limiting beliefs can hinder their exposure to a qualified audience.

What you may not be aware of are the extra benefits which classified ads provide you, in addition to the likelihood of receiving a direct phone call/e-mail or walk-in to your store.  When you are looking to acquire new customers or clients in a local market, assuming your industry does not have standards preventing classified ad website marketing, then you can benefit your company in any/all of the following manners:

  • Direct sales of products or services in your local market
  • Announcing open-to-the-public events (either free or paid) on the event calendars
  • The links get crawled by the search engines and, if compliant with the site’s standards, can be a “supplemental” link building strategy for your search engine optimization efforts
  • Some of the classified ad websites may syndicate your ad to other websites which you do not yet know exist
  • Some markets have enterprising people create unique/customized classified ad websites which pull content from other sites.  These may target specific parts of a city or even larger homeowners associations across the country
  • Some of the sites permit the inclusion of your online videos
  • Some of the lesser-known classified ad websites can have your ad rank on the first page of the search engines for some of the lower-competition phrases.  This, of course, is on a case-by-case basis; but it still happens today because it leverages the classified ad website’s “authority” in the search engines
  • You can test out text or graphic/image ads on local classified ad websites before rolling them out as part of your paid advertising efforts
    • You can test headlines, price points, unique tracking phone numbers, specific “calls to action”, etc.
  • Some sites allow for easy sharing of your ad with the readers’ social media or e-mail lists

 

The drawbacks to classified ad website posting are the following:

  • Time consuming
  • Not sure which “add on” features for which you should pay on those sites which charge.  For example, you could pay for highlighting, bold font, etc.
  • No guarantee of a ROI
  • You think that you will look “cheap” and that your competitors will use it against you
    • This usually is a false notion, but it can be perceived that way
  • You go in with the belief that physical classified ads are worth the money and time instead of online classified ads
  • Some sites force you to learn some basic HTML skills in order to get the ad to look the way you want it to look

Most of the listed drawbacks can be overcome easily, but you need to know the benefits of classified advertising before you can counter the perceived drawbacks.

At this point you may be asking, “On which classified ad websites should I place ads?”  There are over 30 classified ad websites which permit ads for virtually any community in the U.S.  Here are a few of these top sites, each of which gets a good amount of traffic including the Dallas Fort Worth region:

  • Craigslist.org
  • Backpage.com
  • Oodle.com
  • OLX.com
  • Ebayclassifieds.com
  • USfreeads.com
  • Adpost.com
  • Classifiedads.com

An often-overlook strategy for attracting new customers is to discover local classified ad sites specific to your local market.  Let’s look at Plano Texas, which is a suburb just north of Dallas and south of the cities of Frisco and McKinney.  In addition to the main classified websites listed earlier, you can type in a likely-entered phrase into the search engines.  In this case, let’s enter “Plano Texas classified ads”.  Here is a screenshot of what this search returned in Google tonight:

Online Marketing With Classified Advertising Websites In Dallas and Plano Texas

You can see two additional websites which are worthy investigating a little bit further.  After the paid ad for Classifiedads.com, you can see two results:

  • planotx.ziply.com
  • www.planotexasclassifiedads.com

Of course, you can modify the search and look for results if you want to market outside of the Dallas and Plano TX area.

Determine if these sites offer free or very low-cost advertising.  In addition, you can follow some basic suggestions on how to determine if this site gets any respectable amount of traffic from your local area.  If you need help on this then be sure to contact me.

Obviously, classified ads on these types of sites are hyper-targeted, but it is best to have a balance between these types of sites,  Craigslist, and the rest of the major national classified ad sites mentioned earlier.

If you want to take this process to another level then you can do any/all of the following:

  • use tracking phone numbers (if permitted in your industry)
  • use tracking websites/domains to determine if the ad is working
  • split test headlines, calls-to-action, colors, placement of images, etc.
  • include helpful video or images when permitted
  • include phone numbers in headlines
  • test the wording of your ad and determine if “scarcity”, “invitation marketing”, humor, or if other underlying approaches work best for your audience in that specific market provided that you get enough traffic to your ad(s)
  • include phrases to help your search engine efforts such as targeting specific HOA’s, demographic groups, etc.

I hope that by reading this far that you have a somewhat better understanding of how and why online classified advertising can help you with your objective of gaining brand new customers/clients who never heard of you previously, nor were referred by any friends or family.  Again, the benefit may be passive (e.g. generating links to boost your main website’s home page in the search engines) versus direct benefit (e.g. getting a call directly from the ad or a walk-in to your location).  By properly structuring your ads and placing them on the appropriate web properties you should be taking constructive steps toward boosting your benefits and doing things which your competition is not doing.

If you have any questions or need help with any aspect of your internet marketing in Dallas or elsewhere around the country then feel free to contact me.

Getting More Out Of Any Chamber Of Commerce Membership

An Online Marketing Strategy To Leverage Your Local Chamber Of Commerce Membership

In the upcoming weeks I will post more about how any small business or medium-sized business owner or executive can boost his or her online presence through the business’ chamber of commerce membership.  Obviously, most of the benefits from any chamber membership comes from the “real world” participation:  weekly or monthly breakfasts, attending ribbon cuttings, going to quarterly or annual luncheons, and any opportunities to meet new people coming into the area through chamber events.  The ability to gain online marketing benefit, however, is not often as obvious.  In a moment you will learn one of the many strategies you can employ to get more online exposure through your chamber of commerce membership.

This blog entry helps three parties to benefit:

  • The prospective customer or client benefits because he or she is able to find products or services in the local market which have the possibility of meeting some sort of minimum standards
  • The business owner or executive wins because he or she feels that the membership paid to the local chamber of commerce is providing extra benefit above and beyond what was promised initially; and the business has the potential to grow through acquiring new customers or clients who never heard of the business previously nor were referred in any manner
  • The local chamber of commerce wins because its website gets more exposure and, therefore, can help the chamber gain more credibility and (passively) the possibility of attracting new members

First, you will want to know why your receiving calls about “SEO” services are so prevalent.  The underlying assumption is that by ranking at the top of search engines for a phrase which have some degree of consistent demand (number of searches each month) you will receive a good degree of pre-qualified prospects to a web PROPERTY.  Please note that this does not necessarily mean that the property must be your website.  It could be an online video on your YouTube channel, a press release, a local newspaper article about your business or a page on your website other than your home page.  Also note that ranking first does NOT mean an automatic number of new customers or clients.  This is because many elements have to be in place for someone to call or e-mail you out of the blue.  Such elements include price, guarantees, reviews, your promises, ease of finding contact information and several other factors.

Next, you have to know that the search engines want to give its users the very best possible results.  This is because each major search engine is part of of, or entirely, a publicly-traded company… and they need to meet analysts’ quarterly earnings expectations!  Therefore they want you to use that one site for ALL of your “who, what, when, where, why, how” questions.  This is because they know that out of every 100 queries made through their engine a certain number of people will click one of the paid ads where the search engine earns revenue from the advertisers.  Therefore, the more queries made through that particular engine equals more revenue for the parent company!  It is a “market share” game for the search engines, and therefore each engine always seeks out the best ways to return quality results so that you stay loyal to it and not “defect” to another search engine.

Remember that in any local market, the chamber of commerce’s website tends to be “authoritative” to these search engines.  One of the reasons why is that you cannot “spam” the chamber website very easily, if at all.  If a web property which you control appears on the chamber website then it likely had to go through some sort of human approval process (assuming a degree of human control) before it can be read by the search engine robots/spiders.  This type of control process lends itself to making each link on the chamber website more “trustworthy” than most other links in your local market, and you can begin to use this your advantage.

Finally, let’s cover a trend at the time of this blog post in the world of search engines. Many people now have easy access to “spammy” links in large volume.  What you want is to never have anything deemed spammy touching your website.  Ideally, the only links you want actually pointing to your website are located on web properties which the search engines respect.  These could include helpful videos on video-sharing sites, links to your site on press releases, local newspaper websites pointing to your home page, local directory websites, endorsements from happy customers on their social media properties, and similar types of links.  One of these types of quality links is a link from the local chamber of commerce’s website to your website.

Remember earlier that you read about ranking web PROPERTIES, not just your website’s home page.  Here is where your chamber of commerce membership begins to pay off in terms of helping you in the search engines.  Let’s take a look at an example for this website on the McKinneyChamber.com website, although it applies to anyone who has a membership in most chambers of commerce around the U.S.:

Internet Marketing Services McKinney Tes

Internet Marketing Services On The McKinney Texas Chamber Of Commerce Website

Note the website link (URL) which is http://www.mckinneychamber.com/Internet-Marketing-Services/MORETHANSEOCOM

Now take a look at the query in Google for “online marketing services McKinney TX”

McKinney Texas online marketing services

Chamber of commerce sub-folder (directory) appearing in the search engines

You can see that the sub-folder (directory) for “internet marketing services” on the McKinneyChamber.com website is ranking # 2 for this query.  The first three listings are paid ads, and the Chamber’s website is the second in the “organic” results.  Odds are that the Chamber has not spent a lot of time or money (if any!) promoting this specific sub-folder (directory), yet it still ranks near the top of the results.  This is just one of many examples of where a chamber of commerce’s website has authority in the search engines.

Even though my website’s listing is not directly showing in the results, the directory listing category page on the chamber website where my listing appears is ranking well.  This is fine to me as it gives authority to this website as well as anyone’s business who meets the Chamber’s minimum standards for appearing on that page.

In order for your business to gain more exposure, you can further boost your chamber page listing in the search engines with quality links.  For example, if you write a press release and are permitted to use up to three links then consider a strategy like this:

  • a link to your website’s home page (or another page on your site which best serves the interests of the press release’s readers)
  • one of your social media properties (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
  • the specific listing for your business on the chamber website

Please refrain from buying “spammy” links and sending them to your local chamber’s website as that will not benefit you in the long run (and maybe not even in the near term either!); and buying those links won’t help your fellow chamber members either as there likely will be no search engine reward for doing so.  Instead, whenever you have an opportunity to promote your page on the chamber website then do so.  Roughly 5-10% of your link building efforts can go to your business’ chamber website listing.  You can dedicate the other 90-95% to building quality links to your home page, “inner pages” on your website, articles, local directory listings, social media properties, videos and other helpful content you have produced for prospective customers and clients to find you.

I hope that this strategy begins to help you change how you look at your membership in any chamber of commerce around the country.  There are many more ways to leverage your membership in order to gain new customers or clients online.  If you cannot wait until the next blog post to discover these methods then you are welcome to contact me for more information; and we can discuss your strengths to increase the chances that your chamber membership will produce more customers through strategic online marketing.

How A Good Search Engine Marketing Service In Dallas Will Help You

What A Search Engine Marketing Service In Dallas Should Explain To You

Many local Dallas area business owners complain that they get calls, direct mail postcards, and other solicitations from people “promising to rank them number 1 on the search engines.”  These owners often complain that they don’t believe any of what is said, and they stick with (what they believe is) “tried and true” marketing in local Dallas area magazines, chamber of commerce meetings, and TV spots.  Sadly, these owners are mistaken because the internet marketing solicitations they receive are not “apples to apples” and, therefore, the owners get denied good, quick education on what the search engines can do for them.  Here is a quick list of what a good search engine marketing service in Dallas can provide.

First, you want to make sure that a good Dallas search engine marketing firm explains to you the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)!  Knowing the definitions of what you are being sold is the first step!

SEO refers to getting your website’s pages (not just your home page) to rank well in the search engines for keyword phrases which have actual quantified demand.  This latter part will be discussed in a moment.  SEM refers to getting your company’s name and/or message on the first page of the search engines for the same phrases, but this also includes getting your other web properties (e.g. business directory listings, YouTube channel or specific videos) to rank well in addition to getting listed on the Maps/Places listings.  SEM also includes the pay-per-click (PPC) placement for the same phrases.

The “takeaway” is that Search Engine Optimization is a sub-set of Search Engine Marketing, and many Dallas small business owners have not yet been properly educated on this difference.  No matter which Dallas online marketing firm or consultant you choose, please be sure to understand this difference!  Make sure that you are getting a good amount of value for your marketing budget.

Next, a good Dallas SEM service will help you with thorough keyword research.  This means getting you ranked for phrases which people actually type into the search engines with some sort of decent monthly volume (i.e. “Demand”).  From there, the firm should provide you with at least some form of figures on the competition against that demand (i.e. “Supply”).  This will help you to choose the specific phrases for which to optimize and create content; and you can further refine which phrases on which you will spend time and money to be indicative of a likely customer who will buy, join your e-mail newsletter, walk into your store, etc.

For example, if you are a plumber then you would love to rank # 1 in the search engines for “Dallas plumber”.  That phrase, however, might be too competitive for you to rank well based on your current content, number of people linking to you, and your budget.  Instead, you may wish to pursue ranking well for a phrase which still has some demand such as “24 hour plumber Dallas”.  If you rank well for that phrase, chances are that you are going to get some late night calls to fix the problem right away!

A good search engine marketing service in Dallas also will provide you with options so that you get a customized strategy.  For example, you may be sitting on some really helpful “how to” or “tips” videos you recorded last year but they are still applicable to the end viewer.  Your SEM firm can help you optimize your videos, your video channel, and the descriptions of your videos when you decide to upload them to a video-sharing site.  The SEM service can then help you optimize the video content for specific cities and towns and turn them into titles such as “Dallas Plumber Shows You How To Shut Off The Water In An Emergency.”

The next element of a helpful search engine marketing service in Dallas is to explain the benefits on-page and off-page optimization.  The “off page” component is the creation of helpful, quality content which is used to drive traffic to a web property you control (e.g. your home page, Facebook page, YouTube channel) to encourage the website visitor to take your desired “call to action” step.  You should be advised on how to change that destination page(s) including adding the keywords to the various “tags” on that destination page.  This is known as “on page SEO”.

Another trait of a helpful SEM firm is one which will help you understand that a website’s aesthetics (appearance) is NOT the “end all” when it comes to web marketing.  The appearance primarily affects what is known as “conversion rate”, and it is possible that a very pretty, fancy website actually could HURT your intended call to action.  This is because your DFW audience may expect content on a consistent basis.  If you invest most of your money on the website’s appearance, yet leave little for content generation then you may alienate your audience.

The “takeaway” is that you must get into the heads of your primary audiences, whether they are current customers or prospective customers.  Your SEM firm should explain ways in which you can better identify these elements if you are not yet familiar with them.

Should you decide to pursue online paid advertising, of which pay per click is only one method, then the Dallas SEM firm should explain your options.  For example, if you want to appeal to people in Frisco then you might consider a few things which a traditional SEO firm wouldn’t explain to you:

  • You have the ability on Google’s search network (ads which appear on Google.com) to restrict your ads to certain zip codes and a geographic radius around them
  • You can modify your ad to have the keyword in the ad
    • From there, you must send the “click traffic” to an optimized page for the same keyword.  If not, you risk incurring a form of “surcharge”
  • Google has a “display” or “content” network on which you can place your ads on websites OTHER than the Google.com search results
    • These can be targeted for specific keywords such as “Frisco TX” or specific websites which accept Google ads
  • You could skip the search engines entirely and pay for ads on sites which rank well in the search engines for the city-specific phrase
    • For example, you could buy ads on Frisco-online.com if you specifically want to target Frisco
  • You might be able to pay for certain advertising in your Google Places listing
  • You could pay for advertising on the Yahoo and Bing search engines, although their rules are slightly different than Google’s
  • You could pay for advertising on the lesser-used search engines, but the quality of traffic might be better.  This is a case-by-case basis

Finally, a good search engine marketing firm in Dallas will help you track results.  Whether it is something as basic of based on the improvement in your rankings all the way to advanced split-testing for landing pages, make sure that you get at least some form of measurable results.  In addition, do whatever you can to make sure that the SEM firm accounts for mobile phone usage in addition to desktop and laptop users.

I hope that all of these elements help you better choose a professional search engine marketing service in Dallas.  If you have any questions, or need clarification on anything presented, then you are welcome to contact me.  Thank you.

 

 

Big Picture Of Online Marketing For Local Small Businesses

On the new FAQ page, I recently added an article for local small business owners and how they can better understand the “big picture” of online and internet marketing.  They article covers four major topics:

You are welcome to contact me with your questions and how internet marketing might benefit you in your specific situation.  Also, feel free to send me your online marketing-related challenges so that I can take the answers for future questions on the FAQ page