The Art Of Internet Marketing

Last week, I had a rather nice discussion with a top SEO in Liverpool. It was regarding the tricky subject of SEO outsourcing. Like others, we receive lots of unsolicited emails from companies who wish to partner with us. It’s very tough, as our reputation is the key component of our business strategy. To make sure we find the right candidate, we try to have a discussion around current marketing issues and this brought up some interesting points…

The way advertising used to work, is by interrupting you, by intruding on your TV or radio show, or with full page ads in print. Then the smart companies – all of whom produce very average products like soap and toothpaste – would take everything they earned and reinvest it back into more ads. Eventually, having heard or seen the message enough times, you might try the blue box instead of the yellow box, next time you’re in need for what’s in the box.

These days… the best advertising comes from your friends. From social networks. From the conversations of people with like minds and tastes.

What you need to do is to create something remarkable. Special enough that it evokes emotion and compels people to leave comments on your blog and discuss the idea. To be successful in today’s market, you need a product worth talking about.

Then you need to create a story. It’s the story that people will relate to, claim as their own, and repeat to anyone who would listen. If you tell a better story, you can ask a lot higher price for your product. Then having a remarkable product, and an exceptional story, people will find you, and buy your product for the story. They’ll want to tell their friends, family, coworkers and anyone else who will listen.

Suddenly everyone is running around telling your story. They start doing the interrupting, that the advertising used to do. That’s what it means to be remarkable. In the near future… who knows? Maybe you’ll create something remarkable, package it in a marvellous story, and have everyone talking… doing the interrupting, that advertising used to do.

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Press Releases and Search Engine Optimisation

I’m still constantly surprised that many companies still don’t take advantage of SEO. There are many, however, that issue press releases on a regular basis. As part of our SEO packages, we cover press release optimisation. What they don’t understand is that press releases can be part of your SEO efforts, and can be used to gain presence in the editorial results of the search engines, even if it’s not a direct presence for your actual domain.

Press releases, in the traditional sense, were meant to reach out to journalists with the hope that a publication would pick it up, call someone within your company for comment, and gain a presence within the traditional media community (television, radio and/or print) to enhance your image and further your business.

Any SEM that offers SEO outsourcing, listen up… Press releases in the digital media environment can do all of that, plus a bunch of other cool stuff. Even though many continue to issue press releases, few have made adjustments to their efforts to include press release optimisation for the digital community and to further their interactive marketing — and specifically SEO — efforts.

By paying attention to a few important details, it’s possible to craft an interactive press release and create synergies within your other marketing efforts:

Step 1: Creation of the Press Release

Write for the editors you’re trying to reach traditionally, as well as the search engines.

Headline: You must have a catchy headline or else no one — aside from the search engines — will read it. If you want the most from your efforts, include at least one relevant keyword phrase that people search for.

Copy: Mention the keywords of focus for the release within the first paragraph.

Linking: Many press release distribution companies allow you to include keyword-rich anchor text in links. These links should be directed to specific URLs within your Web site that, ideally, have a title tag, header tag, and content that supports this same keyword phrase. There’s great SEO value in having links on other Web sites linking to you, using keywords that you’d like to rank for within the anchor text of the link.

Tags: Many distribution partners allow you to tag your press release with keywords that you’d like to have this release associated with.

You’ll have to wait for Part 2 of this post for distribution and more press release benefits.

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How To Create Ideas That Spread

How to create ideas that spread. How do you do this yourself or do you try some SEO outsourcing? We know, here at SEO Liverpool, the big challenge is coming up with the ideas.

We can look at what’s worked, but many successes don’t tie back to your business. As with all Search Engine Marketing, there are different ways to approach this. The Coke and Mentos case (one of the largest scaling virals) doesn’t get you to consume more of those products.

3 Rules:

1) Thou shall know thy customer – find out what customers are looking for.

2) Thou shall be remarkable – about doing something different from what you’ve done before.

3) Thou shall try, try, again – most efforts don’t take off. Every try improves your chances.

Brainstorming the ideas:

Need to ask – what do customers love about you? In our case, small businesses like us because we have a small business. What do customers not like about you? Whats your biggest challenge? Address a problem like customer service.

What sparks online conversation? You must always be part of the conversation – important to be in the forums and social networks.

Can you do something outrageous like the Coke and Mentos and Will It Blend? Gets the marketing message across. Can you do something funny? Funny sells. Scary also tends to go viral.

Tie into holidays or events like the Olympics. You can find cool charts that show Twitter activity, with spikes. Great, see whats getting people to talk about online.

Can you get the most of something? Biggest this, etc.

What do you want people to say about your company? Can you get people to address this?

Create or embrace controversy? Can be dangerous.

Underdog stories.

Look at your analytics. See what sends people to your site. Not just traffic but engagement. How long are they spending on the site (Anyone involved in web SEO should be doing this!)

What motivates customers? Price? Service?

Look at your capabilities. Look at your budgets and limitations. Can you create and edit videos? Can you create and edit Flash games? Can you create and edit widgets? Do you have a skilled writer? Do you have a skilled researcher? Humorist? Do you have an email list or can you buy one? Can you partner with a non-profit?

Understanding campaign costs. If something is free, you must know if the ROI is sustainable. Starbucks got in trouble by canceling a free offer that went out of control. A competitor took advantage of that. Know your break even points.

Can you do this in house, or do you need to outsource this? Bring all this together to know your starting point.

Make it easy for people to spread content. Establish relationships. You need to be involved in the community. That’s the key. You lose that credibility of the pitch if you’ve never been heard of before.

Before pitching – aim for at least half of these:

1) Read at least 3 posts on their site.

2) Comment on one or two existing posts.

3) Write at least two sentences that are unique to the person pitching. Needs to be personal.

4) Have at least one other person read the email before you sending it.

5) Contact the blogger to share feedback before the pitch.

6) Keep track of which sites you pitch. Can get tough to manage a big campaign.

Must do’s before pitching:

1) Make sure your pitch addresses the person by NAME. Simple but few do it.

2) Make sure you have the right email address. Don’t send to webmaster@domain.com unless you are looking for the right email.

3) No mass emails! People will know.

4) Be transparent. Let them know who you work for.

5) Spell check your message.

6) Familiarise yourself with their readers. Read the comments.

7) Ask yourself in all honesty if the pitch is really relevant to readers.

8) Check to see if they have a policy about accepting pitches.

9) If you pitch multiple writers at the site, let them know in the text of the email.

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What do we need to think about when we hire an SEO?

SEO Liverpool have initiated pub-based discussions over the Christmas period with our SEO Manchester colleagues. A couple of days ago we got into the hiring in-house or SEO outsourcing services, and the competencies you should look out for. For example, when choosing an SEO, you might want to ask some questions like these:

* Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
* Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
* Do you offer any web marketing services to complement your organic search business?
* What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe?
* What’s your experience in my industry?
* How long have you been in business?

If you’re thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you’re considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site.

Can’t remember anything else about that night!

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Adwords Quality Score Help Part 1

As an Online marketing company with our web SEO and PPC training it’s very common to get questions on Google Adwords quality scores.

More and more, ranking positively in paid search listings is less about how much you pay and more about the “quality” of your ad campaign. But what goes into making up your quality score? We’ll take a closer look at quality factors and give tips on increasing the perceived relevancy of your campaigns.

What is a Quality Score? The old model is kind of a bid to position situation. Quality score essentially is a dynamic value assigned to each keyword, and is the basis for defining quality and relevancy of your ad. So the higher your quality score, the lower your minimum bid and the higher your ad placement.

Google rolled out Quality Score in 2005, and they revised the algorithm in 2007 to incorporate landing page relevance, and then later on allowed their users to see it

The key thing is that Google believe that delivering more relevant ads would create more value for users. If search engines can deliver more relevance that makes them look good and then you look good.

So Quality Score is a way to make searches more relevant.

Where to find the Quality Score? You need to drill down to the ad groups and specifically shows each of the keywords, you need to click on “customise columns” and then quality score. So it gives you a feeling of how good or poor your keywords are.

Historical click through rate for each keyword affects your Quality Score, the relevance of the ads and the quality of landing page. Also your account history, history of all click through rates and ads in your account. Of course there are factors as well that won’t be revealed to us.

Relevance and landing page are the key things.

Case study: We had a client who came to us as part of their whole SEO outsourcing requirement. They were managing their own campaign and they currently had an average minimum bid of 40 pence, and 5 ad groups, and each ad group had 100 keywords. It turned out that 72% of their keywords had poor Quality Scores.

So the first thing we did was come in and create more, smaller, more relevant ad groups. Then we developed more relevant ad copy for each group. Then we optimised the landing page using Google’s web optimiser. And we tested to see what was and was not working. So some results: the average minimum CPC went down to about 8 pence, click through rates went up about 11%, conversions went up from 2.6% to 4.2% within 2 weeks, the quality score for over 50% of the keywords went from poor to great. And then after a month, anything that still had a poor rating, we just deleted them altogether.

So the key thing is you need to test and keep an eye on quality score. Many people miss out on this.

Hot tip: You probably should allocate about 10%-15% of your budget specifically to testing. You will learn what’s working and what’s not working.

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Does Google Conduct Minor Toolbar PageRank Updates Between Major Updates?

Summit Online Marketing are asking the question most people who participate in search forums ask themselves. Does Google, on occasion, update the toolbar PageRank score of a particular web site between the major and mass toolbar PageRank updates that are reported?

As an SEO company, why do we ask this question? Well, if you visit enough blogs and forums, you are bound to see a thread or five with the title, “PageRank Update.” These threads are fairly noticeable and we find spot them on a fairly recent basis.

Real Webmasters involved in SEO outsourcing are noticing updates to their PageRank scores in the Google Toolbar. This happens all the time, and then they jump to the forums to be the first to announce the next PageRank update. But then you see a mass response of replies saying, “no PR update here.”

So is it possible that what that SEO Webmasters have noticed was a true toolbar PageRank update for his site? Maybe. There are a few possibilities, the most likely is that he or she is hitting a different data center with different PageRank scores. But I would not rule it out that Google does push minor PageRank scores to the toolbar between major updates.

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