A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

What Google Wants You to Care About

Google now has a new feature that gives some interesting insight into what they care about.  More accurately, it shows what they want YOU to care about.

To see it, login to your Google Webmaster Tools account.  (Don’t have one?  Go signup now.)  Then, choose the website you have decent rankings and traffic for, and choose YOUR SITE ON THE WEB > SEARCH QUERIES.  See screenshot below.

Google Webmaster Tools

The resulting screen should look like this.

SIDE NOTE:  The screen shot is for this blog (www.TheJungleMap.com).  Please understand that search engine rankings are not what I’m trying for with this blog.  (In other words, I rank for a lot of strange things that I never meant to.  I also don’t rank for things I would like to – because I’ve never tried.)  Your results will hopefully look a lot different.  (My other sites do, I assure you.)

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Important points to note

1.  Google shows your AVERAGE position
In other words, ranking reports are not that valuable.  Just because Web Position Gold (or some other ranking checker) reports that you are ranked #2 does not mean you always do.  Rankings vary by time, geo-location, and many other factors that fluctuate.

2.  Google shows your CTR (Click Thru Rate) before position
Honestly, we all need to stop caring about our rankings.  Good SEOs know this.  Ranking #1 does not mean you get the click, let alone the conversion.  A lower ranking can get good clicks.  Other times, a top ranking will get no clicks.

What Google wants you to care about…

Google’s clear message here is that you should focus less on specific rankings and start focusing on getting the click.  This has been the message of Google’s advertising program (AdWords) and now the message is migrating to natural search.

By the way, Google has always wanted users to click on Ads in Google.  (No surprise.  AdWords is how they make 97% of their income.)  They encourage us to write ads that people will click on by emphasizing CTR as the goal.

But now the message is being extended to your natural listings.  They want you to care more about getting the click.  How?  Mostly, by writing better title tags and description tags which will encourage users to click on your listings over your competitors. 

NOTE:  Good SEOs have known for years now that title tag writing is not just about rankings.

What you should care about…

As interesting (and yet not surprising) as this new development is, don’t be too fooled. 

Google is trying to make their search engine the best it can be.  They want users to love the results they get on Google.  Clearly, if users are happy with Google, they keep coming.  If the users keep coming, you keep advertising.  Simple as that.

But as online marketers and website owners, your emphasis should not just move from trying to get a top ranking to trying to get more clicks.  Rather, your goal should be to get the conversion (sale, signup, etc).

The ranking is important.  The click is important.  But the sale is most important.

Remember, search engines don’t have wallets.  People do.

What’s next…

If you want to know exactly which keywords convert into sales, and then how to get the RIGHT rankings and clicks, the best tool you could have is a good Google AdWords campaign.  It’s the starting point for successful search rankings that bring profits.  Done right, AdWords can teach you exactly which phrases bring in the money.

I know.  I do it for my e-commerce sites all the time.

(Pardon the shameless promotion, but our Google AdWords class is this  Thursday and Friday if you want to learn exactly how.)

I am Going Dark

For the next two months, we’re working on a new, big project here at Hippo.  So you won’t be hearing much from me.

I’ve got my entire team really focused on this new initiative.  We’ve got a lot of people involved and I need to stay focused to succeed.

As you can imagine, it involves a lot of Internet marketing and I really want us to hit this one out of the park.  So, I’m learning a lot as I go.  In fact, once I’m done I’ll probably teach a new class on the subject and show what we did, including the corresponding results.

Even though we are busy, I will still be doing…

Please check those out.

Apple iPad? Google ChromePad? What it means to SEO

IPadThe Apple iPad announcement was the biggest news of the year so far, hands down.  Some say it’s just a big iPod Touch.  Some think it’s the next big thing.  Others complain about the lack of features.

But let’s talk about the SEO & Internet Marketing implications.

Gtablet-lgBut first, let’s move beyond just talking about the poorly named iPad.  It’s barely been a week since the announcement and already we’re hearing rumblings about Google making something similar. 

Why not?  Google is turning Chrome into an OS and have already ventured into hardware with the Nexus One!  Check out the images and videos on this page and see what you think of them. 

Personally, I like the idea of having a slim, non-keyboard appliance to browse the Internet and check email on.  It would be a little easier to have something like this near the couch and perhaps even take with me on short non-work trips.  I welcome the idea.  After all, that’s what I use my iPod Touch for and I love it!

Let’s face it, the Internet is not just confined to a desktop or laptop anymore.  It is there.  But it’s also on our phones, our video games, and elsewhere.

SEOHow does this affect SEO?  How does it affect your Internet marketing plans and efforts?

This should not surprise you, but search will still be a major part of these methods of using the Internet.  But it may look different.  

Like Google does now, we will start to see much more than just ten links to web pages.  We’ll see links to videos, images, news, social media, etc.  We’ll see personalized results and localized results.  You’ll soon start to see different results on your laptop, your phone, and perhaps even your “pad”.

So your exact ranking for a particular phrase will become even less useful than it is now.  But SEO is not dead.  Do you SEO best practices.  Work your on-page factors and get your links.  But most importantly, just be the best at what you do.

If you’re still staring at PageRank and obsessing over your exact rankings, it’s time to move on.  Start improving your site and being the best at what you do, no matter what it is.  Write intelligently.  Make good content.  Have good prices.  Create quality video content.  Be the best. 

It’s not hard.  But it does take work.  Build a business, not just a search engine ranking.  It’s in your best interests long-term.

Real Time Search Doesn’t Validate Social Media

As I mention in the beginning of all my Internet Marketing classes, Search Engine Marketing (both SEO and PPC) is a completely different form of marketing.  It’s different than most anything we’ve ever known.

Other forms of marketing and advertising tend to interrupt.  Television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and billboards all interrupt in one way or another.  They all blast their message at you, whether you want it or not.

Search engines are different.

With Search Engine Marketing (SEM), the customer blasts us.  They tell us what they want.  It is reverse broadcast marketing.  We just need to be at the right place at the right time.

To illustrate, Search Engine Marketing is more like farming than hunting.  If you build good sites and links, your customers will come to you.  You don’t need to find them and hunt them down any more.

What about Social Media?

It’s different.  It’s more…  well…  social!  Many compare it to being at a party.  People may mention that they are wanting something.  They may even ask others for advice.  But that is just a small part of what they are saying.  They don’t expect to be directly sold on something.

Along comes real time search!

So now, Google is taking content from Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and putting these comments into search results.  Does that mean that if you want to do well with Search Engine Marketing, you need to be all over social media?  It may seem so.

But not so fast.  Let’s think about this.

For WHICH results is Google showing social media results?  If you type in direct queries for services or products, what will Google show?  Typically, they will show their paid and natural listings.  Sometimes they show local or news results.

But for services and products, they will seldom show real time (social media) results.

When do they show up?

They only show up for subjects that are being talked about a lot.  Don’t believe me?  Over the past few weeks, real time results show up for “Tiger Woods Mistress” and “Google Nexus One Phone”.  They typically won’t show up for “Charlotte Dentist” or “Wii game” or “Internet Marketing Training”.

Sorry Social Media Experts…

I believe in using social media.  After all, I teach a two-day class with Brandon Uttley on it.  But Google’s real time search does not validate the value and need to do social media.

Use social media to network, build awareness, and communicate.

But don’t expect Google to send potential customers to Twitter or Facebook.  They’d rather have your customers click on the Google listings (especially the paid ones).

Micro-Hoo! Good for advertisers, not for users?

So the announcement was finally made this morning that Microsoft Bing will now power Yahoo search for 10 years!  You can read the details here and read Danny’s notes on the conference call and Q&A here.

This is good news for advertisers!

Let’s face it.  We all start our search campaigns at Google AdWords.  They own by far the majority of all searches.  We fine tune them, our competitors start bidding like idiots and it drives our prices up.  We’re forced to do the things we should do like A/B test ads, landing pages, etc.

We do all this because we want to be the best we can be on Google to get the best price.

Do we advertise on Yahoo and Microsoft?  It depends on if we have the time, energy, and desire.  Each had a small piece of the pie.  So even if we did eventually move to Yahoo and/or Microsoft, it was always later.

For myself personally, I would simply copy what worked in Google.  It wasn’t worth much else.  Microsoft and Yahoo were just too small to care much about.

Now there will be one tool (MS AdCenter) to get on both.  I know I’ll be jumping in a lot quicker now.  MS has always had good ROI for several of our clients and Yahoo wasn’t bad either.

If I can now advertise all in one tool (for both Bing and Yahoo search), I’m more likely to do so and to improve it.

Great news for us as advertisers.  Hooray!

What about users?

The news might not be quite as good here.  If you search at Yahoo or search at Bing, will you get the exact same results?  Probably. 

If you can’t find what you want at Google or Yahoo/Bing, where do you go next?  Nowhere really.  Maybe Ask?  Twitter?

However, the truth is that when you search on Google now and don’t find what do you want, what do you do?  Honestly?

You go back to the search box and type in different (or longer) phrases.  Market research shows that very few people switch engines.

So I guess it’s not that big of a deal after all.

Conclusion

The bottom line?  It’s great news for us.  I’m sure it’s great news for Microsoft.  (We’ll see over time if it’s great news for Yahoo.)

For my clients and students, I’ll be in touch regarding what this will mean specifically for you as more details come out.

SEO Link Building in Charlotte

Last night the Search Engine Marketing Association of Charlotte held a free meeting open to the public specifically on link building.  The last couple days, we’ve been trying to figure out the format, but it ended up going well.

Scroll down to see the pictures.

I counted almost 50 people there in person and Darin told me we had an average of 20 or so watching live online.  In fact, over the course of the first hour, we had 80 people come in and out of the live stream.

Here’s how it went…

I took the first ten minutes or so to try to explain the basics of link building.  My slide presentation is shown below.

Then, we had some open debate/discussion for about 30–40 minutes about things to know about link building.  Keith Schilling, David Kyle, Jon Payne, and Robert Enriquez were all sitting at the front forming sort of a panel.  But others in the audience jumped in as well.

At that point, we were going to split up and let people meet each other in order to build links, but it didn’t really happen.  People just started talking and networking and Keith and I saw no reason to interrupt.

I tried to get a few pictures before I left while everyone was just chatting among themselves…

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Overall, I thought it went well.  I posted more pictures on Facebook here.

If you attended, what did you think?  Good meetup?

Legitimate Link Building in Charlotte

I’m sorry that this post is somewhat short notice, but the Charlotte SEO Meetup organizers are planning a pretty cool free meeting for Thursday, July 9 at 6:30 PM.

You can click here for the details on the Legitimate Link Building in Charlotte Meetup.

Here’s the inside scoop…

Last month the organizers got together and tried to plan out the next several months worth of meetings.  We try to do 4 free meetups every year in order to let everyone in on what we are doing.  We were due to do one specifically on Link Building.

One of the organizers had the idea of organizing a “link swap meet” of sorts.  His idea was that there are several website owners and marketers in the room.  Why not find a way for them to meet each other and determine if there is a legitimate way for them to naturally link to each other?

We all sort of laughed at the idea and even compared it to “speed dating”.

Yet, the idea of meeting the other members and finding out if there were good, natural ways for us to legitimately link to each other was a great idea.

So we’re doing it.

Here’s what I’m thinking.  We’ll start with some basic explanation of linking.  Then, move on to open discussion about link building so everyone gets a chance to express opinions and debate stuff.

Then we’ll move on to a “structured link swap meet”.  I’m thinking of using cards to make this work.  Here’s my idea…

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1.  INDEX CARDS – Hand one out to everyone attending.  Ask them all to write on one side the names of sites they would like others to link to.  On the other side, they should list how they could link to others.

2.  PLAYING CARDS – Give everyone one.  Then, ask all spades to meet in one part of the room, hearts another, diamond another, etc.  Within each group, each person will have the opportunity to explain what they wrote on their card to the others.

After 10 or 15 minutes, ask everyone to switch.  Each Ace would meet in one area, Jacks, Queens, and Kings each in another.  That way everyone gets to meet a completely different group of people.

After 15 more minutes, just break.  People can then talk to whoever they want.

3. BUSINESS CARDS – If anyone finds someone else that might be a good match for link building, they should swap business cards and work out the details after the meeting.

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What do you think?  Will that work?  Please comment below.

Corey

PS:  I’m really running late on getting the word out about this event.  So please spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, etc.  I would really appreciate it.  It’s a free event, so let anyone know.

POSTSCRIPT:  Sorry guys, but I had to go through and delete some of the back and forth comments we had going on below.  It was a bit excessive.  I’m trying to keep some of the good ideas, though.  Please continue to post any ideas you may have in the comments below.

Using Social Media is not Social Media MARKETING

I have a bunch of friends and colleagues that work with social media, especially in the Charlotte area.  I greatly appreciate all their comments and forward thinking.  I have nothing against social media and use it daily myself.

However, just using social media does not make money.

I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings, but it’s true.  Using social media is like using search engines.  It does not make you a consultant, trainer, or expert.  It simply makes you a user.

It seems more obvious when it comes to search engines, but for some reason people that use social media a lot seem to think they can charge money to show companies how to do what they do.

In contrast, there IS a great need for social media MARKETING.  That third word is the key.  With search engines, we use the paid placements and “natural” rankings to get more money, more clients, more positive attention, or whatever other goal is desired.  We also do this for clients.  Businesses pay for marketing.

Social media marketing has a similar potential, and maybe even more.  But this is very different than just using social media.  It is about getting results.  Lots of followers isn’t results.  Getting the right people to not just follow you but to take some sort of action is.

What really makes social media cool is that it can be used for more than just marketing.  It can be used for customer relations, public relations, and more.

But the part that excites me (and I think will excite most businesses) is the potential for social media MARKETING.  For years now, marketers have been learning how to use paid methods and organic methods to market themselves and/or their clients.

Similar to search, social media marketing has paid opportunities (think Facebook ads for example) and “organic” methods to get natural (free) attention.

I know that life is not just about money.  But if you do want to make money, it’s time to look beyond being a social media user and becoming a social media marketer.

There’s a big difference in my book.

How to Hire an SEO

I’ve been doing Internet Marketing including SEO since 2003.  In doing so, I often get asked “How do I Hire an SEO?”  The question can get asked any number of ways, such as…

* How do I outsource SEO?

* Who should I hire?

* What should I ask an SEO before I hire them?

* Do you have any students I can hire?

* Can you review these proposals before I hire an SEO?

(more…)

Serious SEO Info you can use

Most of the time I keep this blog pretty light.  I talk a lot about what’s happening in the SEO community in Charlotte and touch on various Internet Marketing topics.

But here is some serious SEO info.  It may be a little deep for some of you, but it contains valuable information you can use.  It comes from Leslie Rohde, a StomperNet faculty member. 

Truth is, StomperNet is impressive.  I get their magazine and recently attended StomperNet Live.  But they can be a bit high-pressure and their stuff tends to be expensive – valuable, but expensive nonetheless.

Regardless, Leslie Rohde is a serious SEO Engineer.  To put it in prospective, Jerry West once told me over lunch that HE thought Leslie is a genius.  Quite frankly, Jerry is a genius in my book.  So I think you get the point.

Leslie Rohde released a video this weekend that de-bunked LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing).  If you find that interesting, go watch this video.  If not, the really good stuff is in the next video found here

If you do any SEO for clients or for your own websites, you need to watch that 2nd one!  It is 14 minutes long.  But the explanation that he gives about harmonizing your on-page factors, your internal linking, and your external linking is DEAD ON! 

Seriously, it explains exactly why many of the techniques we have been using over here at Hippo Internet Marketing have worked so well and always will.

Check it out when you have the time and leave a comment below if you like it as much as I did.  I look forward to your thoughts.