SEO is not free – you have to pay with time or money to attract good customers
When you launch an SEO campaign, you get to choose how you will pay. You can pay with money or you can pay with time. No solution is 100% great while the other is 100% awful. It’s a judgment call.
Pay with money
When you pay with money, you run a pay-per-click campaign. The messages that appear on the right border when you perform Google searches are actually paid ads. You can get an ad there if you become a Google AdWords customer. You create a campaign, create an ad, determine how much you want to spend and then schedule your ads to appear.
Pay-per-click campaigns work like an auction. You set a price for how much you are willing to pay Google for every click the ad receives. The more you are willing to pay, the more often and prominently Google will display your ad. The opposite is true. If you set a price very low, Google will display your competitors’ ads more often and more prominently.
You need to decide how much you are willing to spend. That includes identifying how much your competitors are already spending. A client who did medical billing asked how much it would cost him if he ran a pay-per-click campaign. I did some homework. I reported that for his niche and keywords, he would have to spend $20/click. I also said he should budget at least 10 clicks per day and 30 days per month. We did the math and determined he would be paying Google at least $6,000/month. That is before he paid me for my time making the campaign work.
He almost fell out of the chair.
Pay-per-click can work. I ran a pay-per-click campaign for wedding planner near Lake Tahoe. The campaign ran so well she called me one day and told me to suspend the campaign…she was too busy.
I must warn you about pay-per-click. When your campaign ends and your ads no longer appear, you won’t have any content to appear in Google search results. Remember, you stopped your ads. People will no longer find you if your ads are gone.
Pay-per-click is one option. It works when it is run correctly, but you have to be ready to pay with money. On the flip side, you can pay with time.
Pay with time
When you pay with time, you run an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign. SEO campaigns involve more time but less money than pay-per-click campaigns. My SEO campaigns involve sitting down with the client and creating a 2,000 word Declaration of Expertise with sufficient content for Blogs, articles, press releases, YouTube videos and web site updates. It takes a lot of time and work. I also tell clients to wait 60-90 days after the first Blog post to see results. They understand they are paying with time and therefore must be patient. People who find me online find me because I am paying with time.
Pay with money or pay with time. Which strategy appeals to you? If you are in a hurry and have deep pockets, pay with money (pay-per-click) may work for you. If you are patient and willing to run a campaign that could take a few months before generating results, pay with time (SEO) may work for you. As I said earlier, no solution is 100% great while the other is 100% awful. It’s a judgment call.
Are you an early adopter or are you looking for the horse?
When it comes to utilizing new technologies, strategies and tactics, people fall into one of two camps. Camp #1 embraces the Early Adopter mindset. You try something new, knowing that you may have to figure things out on your own. Camp #2 embraces the “Where’s the horse?” mentality, trying to understand something 100% before trying it.
Let me ask…are you an early adopter or are you asking “where’s the horse”? New technologies, strategies and tactics could help you run your business better, improve your marketing and gain a comparative advantage over your competitors. This includes SEO and Internet marketing in general. These concepts are relatively young. Google was born in 1998. What year were you born?
Those who embrace new technologies, strategies and tactics enjoy prosperity. Those who hesitate or try to figure out something 100% before trying it…are jeopardizing their livelihood.
You should commit to being an Early Adopter. Here’s why:
The early adopter pursues new technologies, strategies and tactics. He ambitiously pursues them with the understanding that he may have to learn them on his own. Some features may not work. Some of his questions may never find an answer. He is happy with the Down side because he feels he is better off with the new technology, strategy or tactic. The UP side far outweighs the DOWN side.
My most successful business owner clients tend to be early adopters. They think about their comparative advantage. They ask how they can run their business better than their competitors. If a new phone will help, they will buy and start using the new phone.
Early adopters are more successful. While early adoption of new technologies is not the primary reason why successful companies are successful, it is a trait they share. Do what the successful do and you will be successful too.
Where’s the horse?
Do you wait before trying something new? Perhaps you have a “Where’s the horse?” mindset. Those with a “Where’s the horse?” mindset analyze something, trying to understand it 100% before deciding to actually try it. They hesitate before trying a new technology, strategy or tactic.
When the Ford Model T first appeared; those who bought them first had a comparative advantage. They found they could go farther, get there faster and accomplish more. They had a comparative advantage. Others stood on the side of the road and asked, “Where’s the horse”? What is your mindset?
Some business owners who are barely in business, or have gone out of business within the past few years, embraced this “Where’s the horse?” mindset. Sadly, some were my clients. I feel that is part of the reason their businesses are so weak or out of business. They waited too long before trying new technologies, strategies and tactics.
Let me ask…are you an early adopter or do you looking for the horse?
SEO has a bad reputation
The first five people who told me about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as an online marketing strategy shared bad experiences. They say they spent more money than expected. The results failed to meet expectations. A positive Return on Investment did not occur. It does not have to be that way. The opposite will be true, if you and your online marketing consultant run your SEO campaigns right. Here are the misperceptions responsible for the bad reputation. I am also presenting responses to each:
- Misperception: SEO and Internet marketing are too expensive. People sign up for SEO campaigns and spend more money than expected. They start with a minimal figure and find that is insufficient. Response: Have your SEO consultant create a very specific Internet marketing Statement of Work and budget. When the Statement of Work is nearly finished, he can come back to you with the results so far and ask if you want to increase your investment. You can break up a large online marketing project into bite-sized pieces that fit your timeframe, expectations and budget.
- Misperception: No instant gratification. As Americans, I am amazed at our need for instant gratification. If you want instant gratification, go to McDonald’s and order a cheeseburger. They will have a cheeseburger on the counter before you get the change back in your wallet. It is not that quick with marketing. Response: SEO, and online marketing in general, take time. You need to build credibility with Google’s web crawlers and also overcome your early mistakes. You need to build credibility, or a critical mass, before expecting prominent placement in Google search results.
- Misperception: Unknown end result. People sometimes don’t want to deal with the nuts and bolts of their marketing campaigns. They don’t understand their ideal customer, what their ideal customer will type in a search window or what your Internet presence looks like. They think everything will fall into place and the SEO consultant will make it happen. They tell the SEO consultant: “OK just do it…I do not need the details.” It’s not that easy. Response: Your SEO consultant should have weekly contact with you in the early stages of your campaign. You should know what he is doing and how far he is into your SEO campaign. You should not expect instant results. I tell clients to start measuring at 60-90 days after the first blog post. You may object when I say 60-90 days. Just remember, this is not McDonald’s.
Next time someone starts talking SEO or Internet marketing, stop and ask your perception of this strategy. Are you open minded or are you jaded with one or more of the reasons I cited (above).
What good SEO looks like
I want to share a story. This is a real-world scenario showing what good SEO looks like. A man goes home Friday after work. He says, “I want to meet three beautiful women tonight. I think they want someone with good hair, clean teeth and a nice suit.”
He takes a shower. He combs his hair, brushes his teeth and puts on his best suit. He goes to the bar. At the bar, he meets three beautiful women. He dances with all of them. At the end of the night, he collects their names and phone numbers. He goes home and says, “I was successful. I wanted to meet three beautiful women and get their phone numbers.”
The women all say, “He was perfect. He had good hair, clean teeth and a nice suit.” His SEO campaign was successful. He identified his target audience. He theorized on what they wanted. He was successful.
Your SEO campaign will run in a similar manner. You identify your ideal customer, what they want and then fill that need. It can work at the bar. It can work when you are trying to attract more customers.
What do you have to do to get more phone numbers?
Why should I do business with you?
When you meet people in person
“In 15 words or less…why should I do business with you?” I learned this in a rather harsh manner. I spoke at a networking group near San Francisco. Afterwards, a man walked up, slammed his fists on the table and said, “In 15 words or less…why should I do business with you?” I did not have a good response. I did have a good long drive back to Sacramento. By the time I got back home, I had a few good responses. You need a good response. After you have created an elevator pitch and are comfortable presenting it, condense it even further. You might meet someone who has heard hundreds of elevator pitches and wants something even more concise. They may want 15 words. You have to be ready.
When you have an answer, you look competent and invite new business. If you don’t have one, you may end up looking inexperienced to a prospect. I am sharing a few more similar responses for your review. They’re all 15 words or fewer.
- I can turn your problems into solutions.
- I’ve been doing this since ****.
- I can turn your problems into solutions. How can I help you today?
- I’m a business owner too. This works for me and my business.
- My customers are jumping for joy!
- I was skeptical at first, but I gave it a shot. It works great!
- My product is not the cheapest, but it is the best value.
- You won’t have to think about **** anymore.
- Pay me to think about ****. You’re running a business.
- It works. It works right. You won’t have to think about it at midnight.
Embrace one of these or create one of your own. I have created a worksheet to help you answer the “Why should I do business with you?” question. Visit http://idealcustomer.net for more information. Get ready for this question. You may need a 15-word response tomorrow.
When you create online profiles
In addition to face-to-face meetings, you will need this online. Online services such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter ask for a summary or headline. These are very short. You can take your 15 word response and use that as your Facebook and Twitter summary. You can use your 15 word response as your LinkedIn headline.
This will work to your benefit. When people search for the products and services you offer, they will see your name and your summary. If you employed a strong 15 word response and used that as your summary, you will get your summary in front of people who want to buy what you are selling. At the end of the day, we’re all asking: “why should I do business with…” Give yourself a fighting chance. Write a good response.
Why should I hire you instead of doing SEO myself?
That is a fair question. There is no secret behind what I do. I follow Hubspot’s Inbound Methodology. I use that strategy to create success. It works.
You can surely do this yourself. Perhaps you have too much free time. Maybe marketing is your favorite business activity. You can do this.
Perhaps the opposite is true. Perhaps you are a business owner. You already have enough to keep you at work 10 hours a day. Learning something new, knowing the learning curve is very steep and time investment is immeasurable, may not work on your end. You may say, “I’m running a business here. Let someone else do the Internet marketing thing.”
You can contract this out. Contract it out to someone who does this for a living. Hire someone you can hold accountable. It will be easier and cheaper for you to hire a professional and hold him accountable than to try doing this work yourself.
Yes, I am talking about opportunity cost here. Wikipedia defines opportunity cost as, “The cost related to the second best choice available to someone who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices.”
You should determine your opportunity cost. Every decision has an opportunity cost.
I pay a landscaping service $130 per month to keep my lawn and gardens looking good. I do not know what tools they use or how many hours they spend at my home. I do not supervise them. I do know that I can work two hours and make more than enough money to pay the landscaper. If I were to perform landscaping myself, I would spend more than five hours per month in my backyard and turn my back on much more than $130 of billable work because I did not want to pay a professional landscaper. Even if I did this work on a weekend, I treasure my time and feel the money is well-spent.
How precious is your time? What do you want to do at the end of the day? Do you want to go home, eat a home-cooked meal, play a game with your kids or watch TV for an hour? Some of your tasks must be performed by you. Some can be contracted out. Internet marketing is something you can contract out to a professional. Hold him accountable.
Your SEO campaign must include a great picture
You need a professional picture because you will have several online profiles that reserve space for a picture. That space is usually in the upper left-hand corner of your profile page. People who find you will see your picture before they see your name and summary. Make sure you have a good picture. Use it over and over and over. I have posted my professional picture so many times that I’ve stopped counting.
A good picture can entice people to learn more about you, or it can turn them away. With all other factors being equal, would you do business with a man in a suit or with a person who looked drunk when someone took his picture?
You can use other pictures to show you have a life. I ride my bike through the mountains. I give speeches. I volunteer with Junior Achievement. Posting pictures of you outside of work will help people connect with you. People connect with people, not corporate logos.
You should also make sure pictures other people post online, and tag you in, present you in a positive light. My friend took the picture of me holding my cell phone and then tagged me. That picture appeared in my Facebook profile. I had the option to untag my name from that picture. You have to be conscious of when people tag you in pictures. They can present you in a positive light, or they can embarrass you. Be conscious.
When something good happens, tell the world. I have a picture on Facebook, taken on the set at Sacramento’s NBC affiliate. I do not get into TV stations very often. Therefore, this picture will remain online for a very, very, very long time. I don’t get into TV stations too often .
Google personalization affects what your ideal customers see
Google has implemented personalization in your web searches. Google is recording your Internet surfing habits and striving to make search results very attractive to you. For example, suppose you live in Sacramento and have visited several triathlete websites within the past few weeks. You perform a Google search for “active and healthy things to do in Sacramento.” Google produces search results that prominently list triathlons. How did Google know you want triathlons? Google knows what you do. Google knows your web surfing habits. Google strives to produce search results that you will find very appealing.
You can test this theory. Go Google one of your favorite interests and record the results you find on page one. Then, login to your gmail account and perform the same search. You will get different results in the second search because Google will know who is performing the search. The results here should be more tailored to you and your interests.
When I test my campaigns, I go one step further. I search in Google Chrome, while logged into Gmail. I also search in Mozilla Firefox, an alternate web browser. I do not log into any Google sites in Firefox. Firefox gives me anonymous results.
Personalization in action
Here is an example to show the results are different. I logged into my email@example.com account and googled Sacramento cloud computing. I appeared on page 1, at positions 1, 2 and 3 out of 2 million results.
The second and third entries indicate personalized results. I can tell by the person figure on the left. Google knew who was performing the search and created entries it felt would appeal very strongly to me.
On the flip side, I also performed this search while not logged into my gmail account. Remember, the search term is Sacramento cloud computing.
I am on page 1 at positions 2, 3 and 8, out of 2 million results. None of these entries are personalized, since I performed this search anonymously (not logged in to my gmail account).
Next time you want to review your Internet presence, go google the key phrases you think your ideal customers would type in a google search window.. You can google yourself while logged into gmail or any other Google service and then log out and google yourself again. You will see a difference. Enjoy.
Want great SEO results? You have to work at it
Getting great SEO results is like getting 6-pack abs. The results will emerge gradually.
Sometimes people work hard on a marketing campaign and expect immediate SEO results. I am sad to say: campaigns do not work that way. A campaign for good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is like a campaign for good 6-pack abs.
A man wakes up one day and decides he wants 6-pack abs. He goes to the gym. He works out for eight hours and then looks in the mirror. No 6-pack abs. He loses faith. He thinks his time at the gym is wasted. In reality, his expectation of immediate results was unrealistic.
Another man wakes up one day and decides he wants 6-pack abs. He goes to the gym for an hour and also decides to stop eating movie theater popcorn. He goes to the gym five days per week for an hour. He does this for 26 weeks. At the end of 26 weeks, he looks in the mirror. Sure enough, he has developed 6-pack abs. He looks great. His campaign was successful.
Let me ask how you set expectations for your SEO campaigns. What results are you expecting? How quickly? Do you work hard for one day and then check your SEO results, or do you develop a solid habit and stick with it day after day, week after week? I know people who posted three tweets and then waited for the phone to ring. That does not happen. You need to build a critical mass and then wait for the results. They do not happen overnight. If you build and maintain good habits, good results will happen. Have faith.
How quickly can you expect SEO results?
SEO takes time, but the results are worth it. How quickly will it take for your company to see SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results? This can take a very long time and it can take a very short time. This depends on how much Google credibility you have.
You can wait months for any visible SEO gains. This would happen if you are new to SEO and have no Google credibility. You start by posting to a blog or tweeting twice a day. Google may need months before finding you and then deciding you have authority in your field.
Google favors three traits in your marketing: content, currency and backlinks. The more you have, the more credibility you have with Google. Let’s explore each one of these traits individually.
- Content. The more content you have, the more credibility you will command. A web site with 40 pages appears more authoritative than one with 11 pages. Google believes folks who visit the 40 page web site will find more valuable information and therefore thank Google for prominently presenting a link to that site.
- Currency. The more current your content, the more attractive you are to Google. Google views you as an authority that presents current information Internet users will find attractive. This is why newspaper sites appear prominently in Google searches… their content is very current. This also explains why blogs are popular. Bloggers can update a blog quickly and easily with timely content. Web sites, on the other hand, can grow stale. Some web sites have not been edited in over a year. One year on the Internet is a very, very long time.
- Backlinks. Google finds your site attractive when other sites link back to yours. This shows that you are an authority, according to those other sites, and therefore are more deserving of prominent placement. This helps explain why people openly contribute to others’ blogs. They can write content on someone else’s blog and include a backlink to their site. Google will find this and view your site as being more authoritative. Here’s an example: I contribute to our friend Stephanie’s blog at www.businessinfoguide.com and my entry contains a backlink to this page (the page you are viewing now). Google finds my blog entry and the backlink to my site. It is a legitimate backlink and works to my benefit.
If you are starting your SEO campaign and finding the above information new, you will have a lot of work to do before your pages appear prominently in Google searches. Have faith. Good things take time and that includes SEO campaigns that work.