When It Comes To SEO Services Be An Educated Consumer

Just because you receive an email from a firm saying your website is poorly placed organically or has supposed SEO issues does not mean that you have to take action. First off, I have a high ranking on Google on many of my services, and nearly all of my business comes in via my organic placement efforts, and I still get these letters!

If you do decide to work with an SEO firm, that is fine, just make sure that you are getting what you pay for and are an educated consumer about what they say they can do. Here is just one case study that should help you to be aware that you need to be careful, aware, and vigilant when you are shelling out your hard earned cash for SEO services.

Fees: Six months expense for a local business for SEO services $400 a month or $2,400 already spent

Services: SEO work plus articles to garner inbound links.

Review: After six months of service Google shows the site as having 223 links. Many of the links are from link farms or off-topic locations. As comparison we did a report for one of our long time blogging clients the same day we looked at this other client’s results, our client had 70,000 links. A different client we also reviewed for links had 11,000 links just from on-domain blogging. 223 links for $2,400 is not a lot of links. When challenged by the client, the SEO firm said typically they get results in regards to links in the ninth month. My analysis of this is that I have seen it take 90 days for links to happen and start building with an article program, but my next question would be let me see some of these articles and where are they syndicated. You may get better overall performance with your on-domain blogging efforts as our own clicnts have than with poorly written articles that may actually give you a black eye with consumers if they are not up to snuff.

Services: Website work for SEO – installed Google Analytics, created sitemaps…

Review: Yes these are all good things and should be done, but as a consumer you need to know that in many cases, and certainly in this one, Google Analytics was installed via a WordPress plug-in that took less than 12 minutes to install and once installed Analytics code appeared on all pages. WordPress will build a sitemap without your involvement once you install a plug-in. Don’t let SEO firms bill you big money for these things. Yes, they are important, yes they should be done, but when the report comes to you stating that these things took hours to do and were labor intensive, know that this is simply not true in most cases and certainly not if a WordPress plug-in is used to do the work or code installed in a footer include.

Services: Add keyword dense image alt tags and link title tags to website.

Review: Yes these things may be extra ways to capitalize on SEO, but did you know that most browsers now do not show an alt tag on mouse over. The information is only shown if you use a title tag. If you are paying for these things, go to your own home page and right click “view source” do a control + F to find title or alt. Is there even anything there? In my case study situation,  the SEO firm said that this was one of the things they had done. After six month of payment, at least the home page should reflect these items, and there was not a single keyword dense alt tag or link title tag on the page. With the home page being crucial for SEO placement, one needs to wonder why this is on the supplied services list and not visible on the home page of all places!

Services: Increase website traffic

Review: The case study client thought that the Google Analytics report showed good traffic. They were pleased with 250 visitors in a 30 day period. This is about 9 visitors a day! Good grief, that is awful traffic for having spent six months of $400 a month. This money would have been better spent on Google AdWords to drive qualified immediate sale generating traffic.

Our case study client has gotten in fairly deep with an expenditure of $2,400 that really has not given them much of anything. There are surely some SEO firms who will deliver what they say they will and are, but you as an educated consumer need to be aware of what you are paying for and confirm that you are getting it. In this most recent case the client did not get value for a $2,400 of expenditures with their SEO firm. Make sure you are not being charged for things you are not receiving.

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How to Get Your Google On!

Google is the top search engine and continues to stay that way even with increased pressure from Bing and Yahoo. So it is important that your marketing plan cater to this fact. So often I am asked what can I do to improve my search position on Google? Here’s how to “get your Google on”!

1. Redo your home page to include content and not mainly images. Search engine spiders cannot read images.

2. If you are using WordPress as the backbone for your website, contact a WordPress web designer to make these changes to your template:

  • If you have been archiving content like newsletters or blogs off-domain, get them on-domain now! If you aren’t blogging get your designer to create a page template just for your blog page. It must include the archives, categories, and tags.
  • Update your site navigation with links to point to the blog, create a new section just for your videos if you have them. If you don’t have videos get started creating simple ones and post them to YouTube.com ( a Google property) and embed them in your website. Start a regular informational content building program ON-DOMAIN.
  • Bring all old newsletters onto your site you have archived off-domain and housed at Constant Contact or other resource. Most likely a page will need to be created for each newsletter and then hard coded into the newsletter page.
  • Create a new reviews page on your website. Pull the favorable reviews from the web, link back to the original content. Build up the positive things. Link to the home page of the BBB showing your rating if you use them.

Get Google Maps going for any locations
Pricing is $240 per location for set up and then $40 each site for monthly account refreshes.
More info: http://www.mccordweb.com/internet-marketing/google-maps.php

Consolidate your efforts in Facebook. One page for all business. locations don’t be fragmented
Do Facebook Mini services for $8 per day
More info: http://www.mccordweb.com/internet-marketing/twitter.php#ghost

Get going on Twitter or remove the icon from your website
If you aren’t going to update something, don’t take a black eye remove the link from your website.
Twitter Mini $8.50 per day
More info: http://www.mccordweb.com/internet-marketing/twitter.php#ghost

Get blogging but only on-domain
Do the Topaz Level at the minimum two days a week for $50 per week. If you can afford a higher level do it!
More info: http://www.mccordweb.com/blog-writing/index.php

Get going with Google AdWords
Set up and first four weeks of account management is $699. I would recommend a landing page for each of the four ad group themes we would do. Landing pages typically take 5 hours at $80 per hour to create. You may need your blog designer to help with the contact form implementation as typically the landing page will have a small form at the bottom.

We recommend a click budget paid to Google of $500 per 30 days on top of our fees.
More info: http://www.mccordweb.com/internet-marketing/adwords-quick-start.php

Get your site confirmed and set up with the Google Webmaster control panel
Get a site map created and your site validated. Diagnostics can be done on demand to the site after set up.
Typically set up and validation is about 1.0 hours or so. We recommend monthly reporting once set up. We review placement on keywords, review your webmaster control panel, reload your sitemap. Set up is 1.5 hours and then monthly reporting is typically 1.5 to 2 hours billed at $80 per hour.

Build online reviews
I would highly recommend that you start approaching clients to build your online reviews. Get the email when setting up service, Offer to send coupons for the services you provide. In all your correspondence link to your Google Places pages for both locations and ASK for a review.

Remediate your online reputation
Make sure all employees know of any bad reviews you have received online and work to implement new procedures that solve those problems. Reviews may be scathing, but there is typically truth in them. Look at them as areas of constructive criticism.  All employees should believe that customer satisfaction is their job. It will show in your reviews, your referrals and repeat customers.

If you can’t afford everything I would do AdWords first, at the same time do Google Places, then the website changes, then the blogging, then Facebook and Twitter.

It is time to get your Google on!

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Trouble with White Space for Paragraphs in WordPress

We’ve recently had one of our writers upgrade his computer and move to IE9 and then nearly go bald pulling his hair out with blog control panels not holding his line breaks or white space between paragraphs. When he clicks save for the blog post, WordPress is removing all paragraph white space.

Here’s what we found and then recommended to him to fix the problem. This may help you with your problem too.

First I see tags in the code and some have a tinymc paste reference. This may be from copying and pasting your blog post directly from Word.

This is what I recommend that you do as we need to get a handle on this.

1. Write in Word so you can spell check and do grammar check. Copy your post and then paste it into Notepad. Copy from Notepad and then paste into the “Visual” tab view.

2. Do not flip back and forth between Visual and HTML view as this can cause a problem.

3. Add your links while in visual view. Do your publishing.

Although you may have been able to paste directly from Word to the control panel, something has changed and you should no longer do this.

To correct the problem, I went to HTML view, then I deleted all tags. Added the proper white space by clicking enter. Then saved the post, then previewed the post. All were corrected.

If you continue to have trouble, I would recommend that you work in Microsoft’s Live Writer. I use it sometimes and like it. You just add your blog login to the application and you can set up multiple blogs. Just make sure you post to the correct blog when you click publish. You can change the date at the top right corner.

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Google Add the +1 Button to AdWords Ads

Google is really pulling out all the stops when it comes to pushing the new +1 button. Now Google will be +1’ing AdWords ads. In fact I am seeing them already.

“The +1 button itself will appear next to your headline on search ads. Personalized annotations will appear beneath your Display URL. For example, Maria +1’s a page selling a neat laptop holder on a website. When a search ad
with that same URL appears, her friend Sam might see the ad with the note “Maria and 28 other people +1’d this.”

With the +1 button Google is banking on increased growth in the social sector. With your connections and friends now able to personally, via the +1 button, recommend sites and products ads are now instantly more relevant and personal.

Make sure as you allow the +1 button results to show up in your Google.com search results that you understand that others can see sites that you +1 and that this results can be tied to your name.

For AdWords, I would imagine that +1 button votes will count heavily into the hidden quality score factors in the months to come. Google may never tell us about this, but with relevancy being the code word for all Google does, I expect +1 to be SERP and ad changing pretty quickly.

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Google Rolls Out the +1 Button

This past week Google released access to the +1 Button. If you have not added it to your website or blog yet, here’s a link to the code generator. If you don’t know, Google has said that +1 button votes will be used to raise your position in organic results. Here’s what Google specifically says about that issue:

“Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For  example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search
quality. For +1’s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.”

That’s pretty big news! If you want to read all the FAQs here is a link to the help section on Google. Right now you have to sign u in Google Labs to have the +1 results be shown in your own personal Google.com search results. What is great is that you can +1 something right from Google.com or if the website has the +1 button installed, you can +1 it right from their website page.

We are encouraging all of our clients to get the +1 on their website and blog. We’ve only run into one problem with installation. In only one case it appears that there is an onLoad issue with other scripts that are showing on the page, but that is just one website out of several we’ve installed so far.

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New Facebook and Twitter Services

Facebook is so popular that our clients are asking us for more service options. Just this past week we have added some new levels of engagement to our Facebook and Twitter program. For all the details on Facebook visit our pricing page. For all the details on Twitter visit our pricing page.

We’ve also created a new special program for clients that want Twitter AND Facebook done together. Here are the details.

Facebook & Twitter Program – $530  per 4 Week Month ($26.50 per day)

In our Facebook  & Twitter Program we provide:

  • For Twitter: Four tweets a day Monday through Friday. Tweets will consist of comments, links to articles, tweets pointing to items on your website you sell as products or services, and interesting informational content that builds value for readers.
  • For Facebook: We provide Facebook profile or Facebook Fan Page updates,    interaction, posting of links and videos as well as interaction with your  Fans on a regular basis. We perform the following actions on your Facebook  Business page.
    • Seek to interact with fans every Tuesday and Thursday spending about .2 hours of time each day to comment on your fan’s comments and look for other areas to enrich the interactivity on your Fan Page.
    • Update your Facebook Fan Page status twice a day five days a week.
    • Add a special link or video from YouTube or your website once a week.

Our strategy at this level is to grow your Facebook activity while providing  additional Twitter benefits for clients who feel that they really want to be  involved in both platforms.

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