A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Winter Vacation from Teaching Internet Marketing

October 14th, 2008

Today I want to offer a special “Thank You!” to everyone who has been inquiring about our SEO, AdWords, and Blogging classes.  I really appreciate your interest and I feel I owe you an explanation of why there are no classes scheduled right now.

But first, I want to mention how greatly I enjoyed the classes from September 29 to October 3.  I forgot to get a picture of the students as I have before, but the turnout was fantastic.  As always, there was a wide variety of backgrounds.  We had web developers, web hosts, entrepreneurs, marketers, and employees – all learning these valuable Internet marketing skills.

But now it is October, and I’ve decided to take a break from teaching for a few months.  Here’s why.

1.  I’m a little behind in some client work and really need to focus on keeping them successful, especially during these tricky financial times.

2.  November and December are holiday months and it is typically tricky to fill classrooms while everyone is traveling and vacationing.

3.  I am doing some extra volunteer work (50 hours) during October.

4.  I am starting to work on some new classes on Social Media and New Media.  (I’m really excited about both those topics.)

5.  I want to start creating a regular podcast by the end of the year.

6.  Jason and I are working ferociously on creating a new e-commerce website.  (We’re just getting started, but it will sell housekeeping carts.)

Note:  I’m documenting what we are doing and hope to have an upcoming class (or webinar) on e-commerce best practices.

7.  Jason and I are attending a conference in November in NYC.  This is due to point 6 above.

So given all of the above, our next set of classes will start up in January.  I’m sorry if this is inconvenient to any of you, but I promise that the classes will continue to get better as we fine-tune and improve them.

I’ll post the new 2009 schedule soon, I promise.

SEO – What to chase

September 19th, 2008

My wife and I just spent 8 hours in the car driving from home (Charlotte, NC) to Florida.  Typically, this makes for an interesting time.  As you can imagine, I get bored easy and my wife just likes to relax – not a good combination.

This time was different.  Sandy had a laptop and earphones.  So she watched some girly movies.  I had my iPod Touch and listened to several quality SEO podcasters for several hours.  Occasionally we had pleasant conversation.  But overall, this arrangement kept me from pestering her.  Everyone was happy.

As a side benefit, it means I am more psyched than ever about SEO.  You see, many people think SEO is boring.  Honestly, it is.  Writing tags, editing pages, checking rankings, bla, bla, bla.

But after listening to some experts talk about the latest and greatest techniques for link building in particular, I’m excited once again.  These guys are brilliant and their ideas on how to use blogs, social media, and other sources was just awesome.

I’ve now got some great stuff to share with my colleagues and students in the upcoming weeks.  I’m also excited to get to work on several of our internal projects to make them even stronger.

SEO – WHAT TO CHASE

While driving, I heard two great SEO illustrations that I want to share.  These are not really tips or techniques, but a mindset.

Two experts were discussing how to view SEO.  Unfortunately, many think of it as a battle between you and Google.  That’s not really true.  Your real competition is not Google, but the other sites (or businesses) competing for your key phrases.

To illustrate, if you are camping with a group of friends and a bear jumps out of the woods, do you need to run faster than the bear?  Not really.  You need to run faster than the others with you.

It’s an interesting way to look at it.  Don’t chase the algorithm.  Outrun your competition.  It’s almost always easier.

Why?

Because even though the algo has not changed much over the years, it is hard to chase it.  When you shoot an arrow at a flying object, you don’t aim for your target, you aim for where the target will be.

Do we know where the Google algorithm will be in 3 months, 6 months, one year?  We have some loose ideas, but not really.

So don’t chase the algorithm.  Outrun your competition.

And next time you go on a long trip, bring something to watch or listen to.  That’s today’s advice for SEO and a happy marriage.

Green Lighting & How to market e-commerce in 10 steps!

September 18th, 2008

As most of you know, I’m in Florida this weekend with my family.  While I am here, my brother-in-law is getting some one-on-one training on SEO and Internet marketing in general. 

Let me show you what I’m going over with him.

He has a family member with strong ties to the lighting industry for many years now.  So he has made a family business selling what he feels is the next big thing – Green lighting.  (Not green lights, green lighting.)

Matt is a smart guy, but this is his first venture into e-commerce to speak of.  So how does a person with little experience establish himself online and with the search engines? 

Here’s what we went over…

1.  Build your store (I recommend Volusion or Magento)

2.  Get a custom design (the tricky part is finding a good designer – this part is won or loss in who you hire)

3.  Start using AdWords to learn which keywords convert to sales.  (Keep anything that brings a positive return, kill everything else)

4.  After basic keyword research, do baseline on-page SEO (Title Tags, Description Tags, Text on the page)

5.  Do baseline link building (Article, Press Release, Friends & Family, your own sites, directories – especially niche directories)

6.  Build profiles and start getting involved in the community (LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging, commenting on other blogs)

7.  Refine your AdWords and SEO on-page if necessary.

8.  Start doing anything you can to get others to link to you (link bait, write intelligently, build resources, etc).

9.  Build content on your site and perhaps other smaller sites that can link to yours.

10.  Review the above.  Grow and refine as desired.

By the way, we’re about to start a new ecommerce site for ourselves and the above is exactly how we will do it.  I’ll share the results as we go.

If you want to learn any of the above, please think about attending our classes next week.  See www.HippoIMT.com for details.

By the way, if you want to light your house and “go green” in the process, be sure to check out my brother-in-law’s site at Green Lighting Supply.  It’s not done yet, but it will be a great source for home owners and general contractors that want to build green.

Search Engine Rankings with Mini-Websites

September 17th, 2008

Yesterday, I had an interesting exchange of e-mails with a local Charlotte Web and Marketing Consultant.  He had found an post on Dosh Dosh regarding “mini-funnel websites”.

The post explained the value of small, one-page websites that draws traffic and dumps visitors out on a more primary page.  Nice idea, but there were a few things I did not agree with.  So I figured I’d share my comments here.

Check out my comments below to learn some quick secrets (and our personal examples) to better search engine rankings.

Yes, the idea of mini-sites definitely has a place in SEO.  It’s probably one of the best kept secrets out there.  However, there are a few thoughts in the article that aren’t quite right.

For example, the keywords in the domain counts for almost nothing.  It’s not the keywords in the domain, it’s the fact that when people link to it they tend to use the keywords as anchor text.  That’s what makes them rank (if they do).

Also, the real power of these is the authority it gives the master site.  There is some minor benefit in picking up easy rankings for “long-tail” keyword phrases and sending them over to the main site (usually an e-commerce site).  But you could do the same thing with a page on your main site quite easily. 

The real power is in the fact that you can make a keyword rich website pointing to the main site.  This gives the main site more credibility (to Google).

Lastly, the mini-sites should not just be one page.  Four or five page sites work better and provide more opportunity.

Check out our hotel luggage cart site and our luxury bell cart site.  These are ugly sites – we made them years ago.  But they bring great traffic and boost our main site’s rankings dramatically.

We make new sites in just hours.  Check out our Glaro Products site.  It took two or three days to create.

BTW, the best software out there for mini-sites is XSitePro

Lastly, the nuts and bolts of how to really do this right is Revenge of the Mininet by Michael Campbell.  He’s the genius.  We bought it about four years ago for $80.  It still works.  Click that link and you can now get it for free. 

This is just a small tidbit compared to the full course we teach on SEO later this month.  I hope you benefit from it.

2008 SEO Training Schedule – Winding down

September 16th, 2008

At the end of this month I’ll be teaching all three of our Internet Marketing classes in one week…

  • Google AdWords – September 29, 30
  • Search Engine Optimization – October 1, 2
  • Blogging – October 3

We have several students lined up already and we tend to get a flurry of registrants at the last minute, so I’m really looking forward to it.

But after that, I’m not sure that we will keep up a schedule of monthly classes.  November and December are holiday months and I’m hoping to start ramping up my New Media projects (podcasting and video) in order to serve my subscribers better.  Also, I’d love to get working on a new class for 2009.  (Facebook maybe?)

So if you’re wanting to get additional training in AdWords, SEO, or blogging, please let me know.  We’d love to fit you into these classes this month.

You can learn more about these classes here and register here.

How to Rank Higher in Google Local Listings

September 10th, 2008

Lately, whenever you do a search for a local business in Google, they are very quick to show their top ten “Local business results” box (as shown below). 

But how can you rank better within those listings?

GoogleLocalTenBox

A month or two ago, I wrote a whitepaper that you can download here.

But several friends, colleagues, clients, and students were a bit overwhelmed by the eight page detailed description of the various tricks and tips that are expected to affect the rankings within that Google Local Listings ten-box.

Also, I recently enjoyed reviewing a SEO checklist that Clark Mackey from Better Findability over in Asheville made.  It got me thinking about checklists and how well they can work if you keep them simple.

So here you go.  Feel free to download this simple, easy-to-follow checklist on how to improve your rankings in Google Local Listings.  Unlike the full whitepaper, no registration is required.  Just click that link.

It should also work equally as well for Yahoo Local as it does for Google Maps (which is what the above box pulls from).

Let me know if you like it.  And if you do, be sure to also download the Local Search Engine Marketing How To Guide on our training site.

Marketing Agencies – Potential clients are not laughing

September 8th, 2008

Many typical traditional marketing agencies are not keeping up with the digital space.

Some are starting to see the power and necessity of SEM (Search Engine Marketing), but relatively few embrace “Social Media” (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and “New Media” (blogs, podcasts, and online video).  In fact, many agencies practically laugh at such avenues as just being used by “the kids”.

Interestingly, their clients are not laughing…

A recent survey provided insight into what marketers want from their agencies in the next 12 months.  Here are just some of the findings.

1.  More than one-third of marketers surveyed said they are not confident that their current agency is well-positioned to take their brand through the unchartered waters of online digital marketing and interactive advertising.

2.  Nearly half of the respondents have switched agencies (or plan to in the next 12 months) for one with greater knowledge or have hired an additional digital specialist to handle their interactive campaigns.

3.  90 % agree that to engage consumers with their brand it is increasingly important that their agency uses “pull interactions” such as social media and online communities rather than traditional “push” campaigns.

4.  92 % said it was “somewhat” or “very” important that agency employees use the technologies that they are recommending – such as Facebook, Flickr, wikis, blogs, – in their personal social media mix.

5.  63 % said an agency’s Web 2.0 and social media capabilities are “important/very important” when it comes to agency selection.

Is it just me or is there a pretty strong disconnect here?

Marketing agencies are far and wide not taking digital media seriously enough quickly enough.  Yet, clients and potential clients are clearly wanting them to.

Perhaps this is fundamentally the major difference between old media and new media in general.  TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines:  None of them really listen back.  In contrast, blogging, online audio and video all welcome feedback and grow from it.

If you’re working in the digital media, be thankful.  You probably won’t have to go look for work.  It will find you.  There’s plenty of people wanting talented individuals that know Search Marketing, Social Media, and New Media.

If you’re not working with digital media, why not check out our classes to get started?  (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)

Asheville Home Automation – As an example

September 6th, 2008

Last week, one of our clients that does Asheville home automation released a new website.  I thought it would make for a nice example of how a few things should be done.

Most importantly, you should take a look at the writing of the website.  They had a little help from some local Asheville marketing professionals, but you will note that it’s not just a bunch of technical information.  It’s not just that the words just flow nicely, they speak to the target audience in a way they can easily understand.

Also, take a look at the Title tags.  As most of you know, I teach classes on SEO just about every month.  The one thing that seems to surprise a lot of students is that it’s not necessary to stick as many keyword phrases as possible into the title tag.  It’s not worth it.  Don’t bother.

Lastly, notice the ease of navigation and simplicity of the site.  Usability is important.  We encourage our students to keep the choices down to about 5–7 options for each page.  Of course, we encourage building lots of pages.  But if you have seven options which lead to seven more, you have 49 pages – and that’s only one level deep.

Now, before you start tearing this site apart with content and SEO recommendations, please note that we have barely gotten started.  There’s obviously more that needs to be done. 

We know that.  And we’re working on it.

I just wanted to point out these few important points as examples for your site.  (And in the process, give these guys a sorely needed link).

Once again, Google takes on Microsoft! Why?!?

September 1st, 2008

Yes, today we get yet another attempt by Google to try to be better than Microsoft.  The latest announcement is that they are going to create their own open-source web browser named Google Chrome. 

  • For a basic rundown, see the TechCrunch article
  • We should be able to download “Google Chrome” any minute here.

Is it just me, or is most everything they do aimed at Microsoft?  Take a good look at the cartoon they created to show off the “new product”.  Doesn’t practically the entire thing try to poke fun at IE?

Anyone remember the Netscape browser?  Way back in the day, that was THE browser.  But Microsoft was smart enough to give their browser away for free and IE started gaining traction.

Anyone that actually looks at their web logs will know that IE is still a very popular browser, yet Firefox is gaining steadily.  Those of us that use Firefox know why.  It’s a great browser.  It’s quite a bit better.

So why can’t Google just let Firefox naturally take over and win the browser war?  Because they want it to happen faster.  They want to “stick it to Microsoft”.

Is it just me?  Or is this just way too transparent?

Come on, Google.  Stick to organizing the world’s information and putting ads on it.  You do it well.

Can’t you just let IE and Firefox fight it out on their own without getting unnecessarily involved?

Thoughts?

Meet the Charlotte Internet Marketers

August 25th, 2008

If you are looking to find out who does Internet marketing in the Charlotte area, you have to check this out!

Last week we posted a new meeting for the Charlotte SEO Meetup.  You can learn about it here.  The general idea is that we are giving anyone who does any form of online marketing three to five minutes to explain who they are and what they do.  They can also talk about what they are looking to hire out and/or subcontract.

The response was incredible.  We only have room for about 20 to 25 people.  But we got 25 positive responses in about 24 hours.  When we raised the total number of possible attendees, we got five more within the next 24 hours or so.

One of the things that makes this so amazing is that we are broadcasting the entire thing live on UStream – Click here.  In fact, we are planning to record the whole thing and break it into clips that can be downloaded into an ipod.

I’m thrilled to see the excitement that is building for this.  I came up with the idea only because I constantly wonder who I can send clients to when they want something specific that I don’t offer.

I hope it serves this purpose for many others.  There is no shortage of work for online marketers.  It’s time we work together.