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What do you Mean SEO Competition?

Getting a good result in search engine marketing is challenging but getting a good result when you don’t understand what you are up against is much harder.

This article stems from over 13 years of continuous calls from people with a similar problem. The calls are so similar it sends a chill up my spine. “We hired an SEO company ## months ago and our results are horrible.” Some feel ripped off and others are frustrated and want the issue fixed. I often feel sorry for them but reality is my feeling sorry doesn’t fix the problem.

So now I am going to explain what the actual problem is and you can decide to listen or not; that is your choice, but we have been able to increase revenues in a number of well established companies to over 10 times what they where when they came to us.

Here is what you need to know to win:

Understand the goal

Most tend to think the goal is simply to be listed #1 in Google.

While ultimately true at its core, this is not really a goal. The real goal of SEO is to get the search engines to understand fully what you offer and this will in turn, provide great results for your website’s most relevant terms by helping them to show up in the search results ahead of the millions of other competing pages.

You and your SEO Company are competing against all the other websites that use even similar words that you want to be found for. There are often millions of websites listed for similar terms and many of them have hired SEO Companies or are performing SEO themselves and their goal is the same; to get great results for their website’s most relevant terms out of the millions of other competing pages.

Understand the Competition

The SEO Company has been hired to refine the impression the search engines have about your website. Website rankings are based on the reputation your website has established to be more informative, more authoritative or more relevant than all the other websites that are related to or discuss the same topic.

This can be thought of as a competition much like any sports event where the SEO Company is the trainer and the website is the athlete. To win it requires the athlete (website in this case) give maximum effort and then perform at its peak. The best results are always attained from great coaching and top performing athletes (website) and if either party doesn’t perform you can’t possibly win. I am often amazed at how many companies are not willing to put any effort into their own success.

Understand Your Involvement

Yes I said you are included in this process as well. So many times the person heading the project is unwilling or unable to contribute anything to the cause. It is your business that will be affected by an SEO campaign and if you can help out by providing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), a good SEO company can use this information to provide an edge against your competitors.

Like traditional marketing, it is always easier to get a good result if you have something to offer that differentiates you from the other competitors out there. The best success is achieved by working on providing something of value to the visitor. If you have something of value to offer, you will find that other websites will actually help make you more popular. Remember, the search engine’s main goal is to place desirable websites in front of the people searching for them. They need a reason to help you though!

Hiring your favorite SEO Company to optimize your website, then waiting for your phone to ring and orders to pour in is seldom successful. Success will come when you realize that you and your website are actually what is being trained.

Chris Genge

Website Optimization of Energy Conservation Companies

Some companies that are working on energy conservation will be very busy over the next few years. If your company wants to be involved in this opportunity you must be either well known or easy to find. The Internet is the best opportunity to ensure you are part of this growing industry. This requires a good website built with website optimization features and the right information that includes keywords people would use to find your company, this will ensure the search engine knows what you offer so the right people can find your website.

Energy Conservation Opportunities include:

  • Home Energy Audits
  • Building Energy Audits
  • Clean Energy Alternatives
  • Hybrid Cars
  • Clean technology manufacturing

Over the next few years, billions of dollars will become available to companies providing single family home energy audits and products and services to make homes more energy efficient. Millions of homes will be audited each year in order to improve energy efficiency and home owners are looking at these programs as an opportunity to upgrade their homes and reduce energy costs in order to attain their portion of the rebates and incentive programs. This means that heating and air conditioning companies will need testers and equipment to perform the tests.

Many countries in the world have developed programs to weatherize single family homes and provide rebate programs for home upgrades. The weatherized homes will not only provide many opportunities for businesses to increase revenue but also save costs to home owners by reducing their energy bills by 20-40% in gas and electric bills. This will decrease the dependency on utility companies.

Companies like Retrotec Inc have been providing the equipment needed for energy audits and building envelope testing for over 25 years. They have a full range of equipment for contractors to enable them to test homes and buildings of any size.

The government is looking at doing energy audits on large building since they consume enormous amounts of energy, much of which is wasted due to improper envelope construction. This means the heating or cooling is leaking out of the buildings at an accelerated rate wasting energy. There are companies developing technologies to repair the buildings and make them more energy efficient. This also includes the development of green building incentive programs and improving the green building technology. The programs will include building audits and retrofit construction to make existing buildings more energy efficient.

Bio energy alternatives are being viewed much more seriously and enable bio energy related businesses more opportunities. Bio fuels can include biohydrogen, biomethanol, cellulosic ethanol, myco-diesel, Butanol, Bioalcohols just to name a few.

With the push to accelerate development of hybrid cars in order to encourage energy efficiency and save resources this will be an opportunity to for companies to gain exposure and funding in this area.

There are several ways to provide the visibility for your company or ideas as the energy conservation industry comes alive, but the Internet is one of the most cost effective high visibility options available. Website development and optimization for search engines of these companies’ websites are essential to getting the visibility and funding needed to develop their specialty products and services.

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Using Effective Optimized Press Releases To Boost E-Commerce Sales and Visibility

As an e-commerce website owner, you’ll find that optimized press releases are an effective way to impact your e-commerce sales and Internet visibility.

Optimized online press releases can be very useful as part of a successful Internet marketing strategy. In fact, a well-presented optimized press release with good online distribution can typically be read by over 40,000 people in one week. Read more

What Benefits Lie In Pay Per Click Engines?

Pay per advertisements (or PPC ads) are Internet based, online advertising campaigns where the PPC ads with the highest bids are placed in a prominent location on a content related website or, more commonly with search engines, displayed at the top of the organic search results as “sponsored” or “paid” listings.

PPC advertising does not involve long design processes or waiting periods and can be implemented instantly.

These advertisements show up at the top of the page or next to the organic listing results, which are displayed for the searcher after a search query. These campaigns include monitoring programs that make post click tracking easy.

Value for the Money

Large and small companies can make use of PPC engines and it is often used to test the consumer’s reaction to a new product or service.

One of the great benefits of PPC is that it is so easily measurable, making an accurate return on investment calculation simple. The return on investment (ROI) of these campaigns is usually great as the targeted audience can easily convert to sales.

Because the cost of PPC advertising is not fixed it was traditionally considered risky and very expensive. Modern PPC engines bridged this problem by offering the option to set budget limits. You can easily and almost instantly change these limits should your budget change and thus have complete control of how much is spent.

Traditional forms of advertising have a fixed cost regardless of how many potential customers look at it.
With PPC advertising you only pay for the amount of people that actually click on the advertisement.
With many web-based companies their sales are directly related to the traffic they receive on the website. These types of companies benefit greatly from PPC engines and campaigns can dramatically increase profits.

How the Internet User Benefits

Internet users will only receive PPC advertisements that include the keywords that they searched for. The Internet users get an accurate search result as the ads are delivered immediately and show up either beside or above the organic search results.

Many of the PPC ads are from smaller companies as well since PPC advertising tends to put everyone on an equal footing. As long as the advertiser can sustain the PPC advertising budget, it really doesn’t matter how large or small the company is.

By clicking on a advertisement the user is directed to the website where they are most likely to find what they were searching for. PPC advertisements are subtler than flashy banner adverts that may annoy potential customers.

How Your Company Can Benefit

Making use of PPC search engines is considered to be much more effective than banner advertising as PPC search engines tend to deliver more traffic to your website and increase brand awareness.

Because the audience receiving these ads searched the very keywords your ads are built around, they are a more targeted audience and you are more likely to receive a better conversion rate.

Advertisements are easily modified and changes are instantly applied giving you the opportunity to immediately adapt and respond to a changing market.

PPC engines often have post click tracking programs with real-time data that can monitor and analyze the performance of your different campaigns by adding tracking codes to a website.

Post click tracking makes it easy to identify poor performing keywords and modify them to include more effective keywords, putting you in complete control of your PPC advertising campaign.

Target Market Behavior: Selecting Keyword Variations Based on Gender, Age or Region

Keyword Variations:  “Subs & Soda” or “Grinder & Pop”?

This article discusses how to select specific keyword variations to target people by age, location and gender and outlines why it is important to ensure that your targeted keyword phrases, your website and your text copy all work together to increase conversions and sales.

To aid in understanding this article, I will target potential visitors interested in a sub and a soda… or should I say a grinder and a pop?

I first looked at soda, soda pop, pop and soft drink to determine which phrase is more popular by location, age and gender.

I also took a look at subs, submarines, grinders and hoagies to uncover how the phrases differentiate based on the searcher’s age, gender and location; and how, as a website owner, you could be missing the mark if you fail to complete the proper research to find the proper keyword variations for your target market.

The Online Business Plan

Before most companies open up a brick and mortar business, they usually create a business plan.  Within that business plan, they outline their target markets:

  • Businesses or Consumers
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location

This information is generally heavily researched and decided upon to ensure the company’s success.

However, when most people have a website, they seem to only worry about how much traffic a keyword receives, not whether it is reaching the same targeted market that matches their online business intentions. Often times when I speak with business owners they provide a handful of keywords that they say are a must to sustain their online business.

Their chosen keyword phrases are usually the generic or broader term keywords that tend to attract anyone and everyone, whether they are a potential customer or not. Keyword variations are generally overlooked.

It’s important for website owners to give as much attention to their online business plan and business model as they would to their offline business to ensure that their website can be another successful marketing force for their company.

Keyword Research & Selection Tools

When Search Engine Optimization companies (SEOs) first began completing keyword research for clients, the tools were limited and we did not have a large amount of information that was available to us.  We were usually only able to obtain an estimated number of searches for a given phrase, and the number of competitors for that phase.

A lot has changed in a few short years and now many of the search engines are providing much more information; far more than ever before.

  1. Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool provides you with the average number of searches and last months’ estimated number of searches for a specific phrase. Additionally, you can receive a list of related keyword variations based on your website’s content.
  2. MSN AdCenter provides geographic and demographic information which allows you to ensure you are targeting the right searchers.
  3. Spyfu gives PPC and competitor data for both organic and paid search marketing. You can also receive a list of related keyword variations that your competitors are paying for on Google Adwords plus terms that are achieving top rankings within Google’s organic listings.
  4. Compete.com provides you with traffic patterns for your competitors’ websites, the top phrases they are using to bring in that traffic and information that tells you how much of their traffic comes from specific search phrases.
  5. SEODigger.com provides you with a complete list of top search phrases; plus Wordtracker & Yahoo! Search Marketing search estimates

Keyword Variations Based on Age, Gender & Location

All this valuable information, as provided by these online sources, will allow you to select keyword variations that target visitors by age, gender and geographical locations, which can make a significant impact on your conversions; and ultimately you’re ROI.

It is important to know your targeted market and the keyword variations used before selecting your keywords phrases for your SEO campaign.

Selecting Keyword Variations by Location

When targeting search visitors by location, website owners commonly put actual location in the keyword phrase; such as “Tampa SEO Company”.

There is nothing wrong with doing this, however if you offer your products and services on a national level then you’ll need over 6,700 keyword variations to target all the cities within the U.S.

The truth is that people from different geographical locations tend to phrase things differently, even within the United States. Often times the terms we use when talking are the ones we use when searching as well.

Subs, Submarines, Grinders & Hoagies

If you’ve ever gone to Philadelphia and asked for a sub, most likely they looked at you funny and said, “You want a what?”  They will then correct you and tell you that they call it a hoagie!

Although you were not wrong, people in different geographical locations may use specific terms that are not used in other parts of the world…or country.

    • Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey use the term “hoagies” more often
    • Ohio, Michigan, Illinois Missouri and Utah use the term “grinders” more often
    • Nevada, Florida, Arizona and South Carolina use the term “sub” more often.

Soda, Soda Pop, Pop & Soft Drink

When I visited Pittsburgh, people would ask me if I wanted a pop.  For the life of me, I kept thinking do you mean a soda?

When visiting South Carolina, people asked me if I wanted a Pepsi. When I said yes, they would ask me “what kind?”  I would say, “What kind do you have?”  They would say, “Orange, Sprite, Ginger Ale…”  It would seem that in South Carolina a soda is considered Pepsi and the name Pepsi isn’t actually being used as a brand.

    • Utah, Washington Wisconsin, Connecticut and Missouri use the term “soda” more often
    • Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah use the term “soda pop“more often
    • Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York use the term “pop” more often
    • Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia use the term “soft drink” more often

The end result is that although they are all trying to find a sandwich and a drink, they are all utilizing different words to accomplish the same end.

If you are attempting to attract a specific state or sub-region to your website, it is important to ensure you target the keyword variations that state or sub-region are likely to use.

If you are not trying to target specific areas, then you would not want to limit yourself by selecting only soda, or only subs; ensure that all the keyword variations are available within your content; essentially providing you maximum exposure.

Locating this type of information is becoming easier than it ever has been before, with the help of trend data from Google Trends.  This information can be used to find keyword and phrase trends throughout the world.

Note:  Please keep in mind that although I provided state specific information, your research may need to be city specific.  I live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and I order a sub, however in Philadelphia it is a hoagie.  Additionally, I drink soda and in Pittsburgh it was called pop.

Selecting Keyword Variations by Gender & Age

I believe it is important to know the Gender and age of your targeted market BEFORE you actually create your website.  Your website design and website copy represent you to your website visitors.  It’s important to know who will be seeing and reading your website.

Note:  If you were to create a website with senior citizens as your targeted market, you would want to ensure you incorporated the Website Usability recommendations for Senior Citizens; created by the Nielsen Norman Group.

Soda, Soda Pop, Pop & Soft Drink Variations

Below is the information I was able to research regarding gender and age for searches on Soda, Soda Pop, Pop & Soft Drink.  You’ll definitely see that there is a big difference within the genders and the ages.

GENDER
•    More women used the term “soda
•    More men used  the term “pop

AGE
•    More People age 13-18 use the word “soft drink
•    More people age 35-50 use the word “pop
•    More people 65+ use the word “soda pop

So now that we know that women love soda and men love pop; but middle-aged men and women love pop, let’s see what we found for subs.

Subs, Submarines, Grinders & Hoagies Variations

Below is the information I researched for both men and women of various ages who search for subs, submarines, grinders and hoagies.

GENDER
•    More men use the term “submarines
•    More women use the term “hoagies

AGE

•    More people 18-25 use the term “hoagies
•    More people 25-35 use the term “grinders
•    More people 65+ use the term “submarines

Seems like women love hoagies and men love submarines while the 20-30 crowd enjoy grinders.

Now subs and sodas aside, if you apply this information to your own website and do the proper research you will begin to look at your keywords, your website content and website design a little differently; ensuring they are geared towards the market you are looking to target.

If you wish to use keyword variations that target a specific age or gender you can download MSN AdCenter’s Excel 2007 Ad-on.

Popularity Keyword Search Trends

As new technologies emerge, so do new products, brands, companies and more.  Knowing what keyword searches change based on trends is important to sustaining your online business.

Google Trends provides trending data and history that will allow you to visually see how specific keyword variations have decreased or increased in popularity over the years.

It’s important to ensure that you take this information into consideration before you do your keyword research as well as throughout the year in order to keep up with new emerging trends and incorporate the proper keyword variations into your website.

Below you will find additional information I researched, which has some pretty interesting results.

Trends for Pop, Soda Pop & Soft Drinks

    • Over the past four years it appears that searchers are decreasing the number of searches for the term “pop”.
    • Although there are more spikes in 2007, people seem to use the phrase “soda” in 2008 as much as they have since 2004.
    • Over the past 4 years there appears to be a gradual decline in searches done for the term “soda pop”.
    • A fairly significant decrease can be seen for visitors who use the search term “soft drink”.
    • Although we see a decrease over the past 4 years for visitors who use the term “pop”, it is still much more popular than “soda pop”, “soda” and “soft drink”.

Trends for Subs, Submarines, Hoagies & Grinders

    • The use of submarines has seen a tremendous drop in searches over the past 4 years.
    • The use of grinders has been roughly the same, a few ups and downs but no real large drops or increases.
    • The term hoagies was nearly non-existent in 2004, but has grown in popularity over the past 4 years
    • The term subs has had a large increase over the past 4 years as indicated in the screenshot shown on the right.

Note:  Over the past four years, searchers have increased their search for subs.  Based on MSN Adcenter, this has grown due to both men and women ages 18-35.  I personally would like to believe that it is because more restaurants are putting up websites, uploading their menus and providing delivery information. Additionally Google is delivering localized results based on your IP address, as well as Google Maps providing maps and directions based on these types of searches.

One other thought is that more people may use their cell phones to do this type of search and Google requests your zip code to help show relevant results.  Let’s face it; there is no purpose in showing me sub shops in California if I live in PA.

Conclusion About Keyword Selection and Target Market Behavior

As you can see, it is important to use any data available to you when selecting the keyword phrases and the keyword variations you will be using for your website, but in order to do so you need to know your target market, by age, by gender and by region.

You need to know who is searching and how they are searching. The tools to accomplish this are now readily so use them often and use them wisely.

To learn more, visit our SEO Keyword Research Page, contact us Toll Free at 1-888-262-6687 or Email our SEO Consultants.

Recession Marketing Opportunities

During financial difficulties, the first thing businesses typically cut back is their marketing budget.

While seemingly a logical step, the reality is that continued marketing during a recession can mean the difference between long term success and failure.

In the past several weeks we have been bombarded with updates on the current economic outlook. Intensified stress in the credit markets, falling equity, increased unemployment, and a completely destabilized stock market.

With each news update the economic situation looks increasingly grim. Already the typical consumer has “tightened their belts” because of a lack of confidence in the economy; budgets are being lowered on both personal and business levels.

“Recession” is the term being used to describe the present economy and there have already been whispers of “Depression”.

While no one is “immune” during a recession, often it is the smaller businesses (local retailers and services professionals) that tend to suffer the most mainly because of their “lack” of marketing.

Faced with the current economic crisis, far too many smaller companies are adopting the “wait and see” approach yet, from a marketing perspective (based on historical data) this is a mistake.

When the economy is good and sales are plentiful, losing a few sales is something that can usually be tolerated affordably. It is during an economic downturn when one simply cannot afford to lose sales that as a business, you have the greatest opportunity for online marketing success.

Only a finite number of sales can be made at any given time. For every dollar in sales you make, it means your competitor is not only losing that sale to you but they can’t replace that lost revenue.

Therefore for every dollar in sales you gain, you move ahead of your competition by a factor of 2.

And, since many of your competitors are cutting their online marketing budgets during a recession, your opportunities for marketing successfully are compounded. Because of marketing (or the lack of marketing) the gap between a successful business and an unsuccessful one widens considerably during a recession. There is historical evidence to back this up.

Looking back at the Great Depression we are able to see some solid advantages to maintaining or increasing marketing strategies during a recession. Companies that maintained their marketing budget, increased in visibility significantly compared to their competitors who slid out of public sight.

This knowledge indicates that a recession actually presents the opportunity to move your company ahead of your competition in ways that would otherwise be unobtainable.

John Quelch on http://www.businessweek.com predicted the current economic situation.

Six months earlier, Quelch stated: “This is not the time to cut advertising. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”

Dave Chase with iMedia Connection did some research using data provided by Rod Polasky with archaeolink.com. In his article he covers in more detail the impact on advertising and the accompanying rise and fall of businesses during the great depression.

I encourage everyone to read Dave’s article for some fascinating history on some very recognizable Brand names who owe their success in part at least, to marketing during the Great Depression.

The facts presented show people do not stop spending during a recession; they just spend more time looking for a better deal. If you are not visible to your online customers, then your competitor will make the sale. A sale you cannot afford to lose.

While the rules stay the same for marketing during a recession today, the actual strategies have changed significantly.

When people research for better deals, they tend to research online nowadays, since it’s much easier than reading junk mail flyers or browsing through phonebooks, catalogs, newspapers or magazines.
In a time when your competitors have already started cutting their online marketing budget don’t miss your greatest opportunity.

If you are planning on delaying search engine optimization, or planning on cutting back on your marketing budget, take note of such names as H.P., Disney, Kellogs & Microsoft; all underdogs who previously took advantage of their Recession Opportunity…and they remain on top to this day.

Market wisely…but market you must.

Now is the opportunity to step up and be seen. Now is your opportunity to take sales away from your competitor and solidify your business as a leader in your industry for the future.

Creating a Successful PPC Advertising Campaign

A pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign must have the following:

Budget, Keywords, Ads, Sales Copy and Products.

The most common misconception is that having all of these will create a successful PPC advertising campaign or that the work, money and time needed to have these things can be done by the site owner alone, without the need of a professional PPC Advertising Account Manager.

What Makes A PPC Advertising Campaign Successful

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising SuccessOnce a pay per click marketing campaign is started, data is collected through analytic software and PPC reports provided by the PPC ad management agency. It is the analysis and executions made based on this information that can make a PPC advertising campaign successful.

Analyzing PPC Advertising Data & Executing Actions

A successfully managed pay per click advertising campaign uses report and analytic data to identify the following:

  1. Poorly performing keywords
  2. Keyword and industry related bidding wars
  3. Poor performance of ads
  4. Ad positioning and conversion or sales related to ad positioning
  5. Keywords that convert into sales and keywords that do not convert into sales (tracking ROI)
  6. Landing page performance, conversion and ROI
  7. Identify where in the sales process that sales and leads are being lost
  8. Site/server specific problems that are taking away from the site’s usability; costing the company sales
  9. Ad copy that converts into sales and poorly performing ads

It is this information that allows the PPC Advertising Account Manager to make informed decisions and execute educated actions that will effectively make the PPC campaign a success.

Changes That Make the Campaign a Success

Based on this information the PPC Advertising Account Manager can do the following:

a) Create and test new keyword phrases based on the high performing keywords and related phrases
b) Create, edit and adjust ad copy to increase click through rates
c) Edit and adjust landing pages to increase sales and conversions
d) Remove poorly performing keyword phrases, saving the client money and increasing their ROI
e) Make recommendations to site changes that will increase the users experience
f) Tap into new industry trends and make recommendations to the client allowing them to get ahead of their competitors
g) Modify ad positioning to get the best click through rate (CTR) that provides an increase of sales

These types of changes can reduce the cost of the PPC advertising campaign, increase PPC sales and leads; and create a valuable asset to the client’s overall online and offline marketing portfolio.

If you found this article useful and would like help creating a successful PPC advertising campaign please contact us or call Toll-Free at 1-888-262-6687.