Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dog Training and SEO: Yes, They Are Similar!

We have a new dog in our house: Buddy.  Buddy is a 12-week-old black Labrador retriever.  Buddy is busy trying to teach us who is the "top dog" in our house, and we are busy trying to catch up to Buddy's intelligence level.  It's a bit of a struggle, and it's a lot of fun.

SEO and Dog Training: Yes!
I do SEO.  (You know that if you're reading this).  And I teach SEO. So I am always looking at life from the perspective of a teacher.  And there is nothing better than trying to train a puppy to teach you a lot about learning, and training, and understanding, and behavior.

Your Website is Your Dog

You are you.
Your website is your dog.

You might be unsatisfied with your website right now.  Perhaps it doesn't rank on the top of Google.  Perhaps it does, but it gets clicks but no conversions.   You need to "train" your website, and you need to "train" Google.

They both have minds of their own.


And they're gone.  You have to "learn" how to "train" your website.  It won't train itself.  And it won't be automatic.  You have to "learn" how to "train" it.

Are you ready?

Training Your Puppy and Training Your Website

So today, we were leash training Buddy.  Or attempting to. So we learned - 

  1. Dogs like to pull on leashes.  Pulling is fun. And if they get their way... pulling is rewarded.
  2. To get the dog to do what we want, we have to think like a dog - if I pull... I get what I want.  If I don't pull..  Reverse that.  Teach the dog that when it pulls, it doesn't get what it wants.  When the leash is slack, it does.
  3. We have to practice in baby steps.  Step, step - OOPS the leash is being pulled. STOP.  Step Step Step - GOOD DOG... OOPS the leash is being pulled STOP.  Oh, SQUIRREL.   Dog wants to go OVER THERE, but you want to go OVER HERE.  STOP.
Reinforce the behavior you want.  Dis-reward the behavior you do not want.  And communicate with your dog.  Think like a dog.  Be patient.  Be willing to take baby steps.  You can do this.

SEO and Puppy Training

Well, first of all, I am now 'the student,' vs. being the 'teacher.'  This whole "dog / puppy training thing seems overwhelming.  My mind is overloaded.  (As yours might be when you try to "do" SEO). I am flooded with too many instructions, and the world is spinning.  Second, I don't speak or understand dog.  I don't UNDERSTAND what he wants to do (first of all), and I don't UNDERSTAND how to tell him what I want him to do, second of all.

I have to "learn" how to "train" him.  That's hard (but it's fun, too).

And third, what are the secret mysterious techniques to puppy-training?  How do I learn them?  How do I take baby steps?  I don't want to take baby steps!  I want immediate results (just like in SEO), but I can't get them.

I have to learn the rules of "the game," and implement them - slowly but surely.  Success is possible but not without patience, understanding and lots of hard, hard work.

Puppy training or SEO.  Both require a lot, starting with the realization that you don't know how.  So look to people who do.  And patiently try and learn.  Step, step.  OOPS pulling on the leash.  STOP.  Step, step, step.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why Testimonials are Stupid (For SEO).

You say TomAYto.  I say TomAAAHto.  Who cares?  Google cares.

You put on your website:

Testimonials about Our Company

People search for

Reviews About Your Company

Who cares?  Google cares.

Many, many, many, many more searches of 

"reviews of" company so and so


"testimonials" about company so and so

(See screenshot below)

YET - most companies have a TESTIMONIAL page TITLED TESTIMONIALS when they should have a REVIEW page TITLED Reviews.

You gotta speak / write / think like a customer.  Not like a marketer.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Facebook Organic Reach - Dying a Long, Painful, Disillusioning Death

RANT about Facebook Organic Reach and Facebook Pages.

(NOTE: I do not necessarily believe ALL of this... but I do believe some of it.  And clearly the disillusionment with Facebook by marketers is coming on strong).

Facebook's Early Years

Facebook Organic Reach
Remember Facebook's early years? As a marketer, you would encourage your customers to "like" you on Facebook, so that you could "stay in contact" with them. You'd use Facebook to alert them to special offers, tips and tidbits, and they'd interact with your Facebook page - all for free. Sure, you'd throw in the occasional BUY MY STUFF post but 88% of it was just pure interesting, build a community.

The Death of Organic Reach on Facebook

Well, my friend:



Facebook is clearly out to make money - nothing wrong with that.  More and more, the ONLY posts that show in one's newsfeed are those from friends and family.  Plus some ads.  But zero, zilch, nada or nearly nothing from "pages."  In fact, as an individual you literally have to click OVER to Pages that interest you to see things.

It's as if Facebook doesn't like Pages any more.

Facebook's Truly Evil Idea: Bait and Switch Zuckerburg-style

It's as if Facebook did a BAIT AND SWITCH -

Hey, marketers!  Help us build Facebook - ask, encourage, cajole, beg, motivate your customers to LIKE your pages.  Then, we'll stop showing your pages, and you can advertise to reach YOUR OWN customers.  And - to make matters even more ghastly, we'll SELL your CUSTOMERS to your competitors, who can target customers who LIKE your page.

Wow.  Thanks Facebook.  FOR NOTHING.

~ Sincerely, 

Every Marketer Who Helped You Build Facebook
And Now Must PAY to reach his own CUSTOMERS.

Note to Self

Note to self: re-build email list, which was left abandoned and stagnant during the "Golden years" of social media.

  • Listen to - Marketplace's article on the death of Facebook Organic Reach, here.

What do you think?  Do you think Facebook organic reach is 

  1. Dead?
  2. Dying?
  3. Always a scam, just a bait-and-switch scam that was inevitable?
  4. None of the above.
  5. Problem?  What problem?  We love organic Facebook.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Facebook Organic Reach - Nearly Dead?

On Google, you have "organic" reach via SEO and you have paid reach via "AdWords." While they don't always place nicey-nice with each other, you have to give Google some credit: there is such a thing as organic reach, as getting to the top of Google for free.  It takes work, yes, but it opens opportunities for small, hard-working companies with little or no budget.

Facebook Organic Reach
Not so with Facebook, or hardly so, or it used to be so.  Facebook is slowly but surely grinding away on the "pages" of corporations, clubs, and businesses.  Facebook is becoming a social media site in which "friends" and "family" can communicate with each other, for free... but "Brands" aka businesses can't.

Bye Bye Facebook Organic Reach

Is that fair? I can't really say.  But it is really more and more a reality.  Which means for many of us to abandon any hope of using Facebook for "organic" reach, and perhaps using it ONLY as an advertising vehicle. You can put a LOT of effort into a Facebook page, and yet it has little to no organic reach.

Here is a New York Times article on the subject, reflecting a whole mass of articles on the blogosphere on the decline of "Facebook for Free."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Wanting, Learning, Planning, Doing: SEO & SMM Success Paths

Yesterday, I finished my two-day workshop at Stanford on "Personal Branding." Many of the participants came up, thanked me, and used the "fire hose" reference. I had given them a "fire hose" of information on SEO and SMM (Social Media Marketing).

SEO and SMM from the Fire Hose of Learning
Yes, I had. There is soooooooo much to learn.  Soooooooo much to know.

Some advice in terms of success in SEO and SMM

  1. Wanting. You gotta WANT to learn.  Attitude is everything, and certainly the first step towards success.
  2. Learning. You gotta realize SEO and SMM are GAMES. Games with rules, games with competitors, games with judges, and games with winners and losers.  You gotta learn the rules.
  3. Planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail. You gotta "make a plan" - step #1, step #2 and so on and so forth.
  4. Doing. You gotta DO it.  You can't just "think about it."  You gotta do it.  Know your keywords. Implement them on page. Build links. Get social mentions.  Tweet (if it makes sense). Instagram (if it makes sense).  Just like Nike says, "Do it."

You can succeed, fire hose or no fire hose.  You just gotta "do it."  Good luck!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

LinkedIn Reference Search & Your Digital Footprint: Be Careful!

Here's a feature on LinkedIn I didn't know about: reference search. Available only to premium (a.k.a. paying members), it allows them to find contacts who
LinkedIn Reference Search
have worked at the same companies at you. So the scenario is -

  1. You are applying for a job at Company X.
  2. The recruiter at or for Company X is a LinkedIn premium subscriber; he can "research" who works or worked at your current company, Company Y.
  3. He can reach out to those people and ask about you, "as a reference," even without your knowledge. So these are references, but ones you do NOT select or put forward. Yikes! If Coworker A at Company Y does not like you, he can give you a bad "reference" and wreck your job prospects.

Reference Search Exists Whether You Like It, Or Not

Many people - myself included - didn't even know this feature existed. And now there's a lawsuit about it on privacy grounds. The thing about Internet privacy in general is that, pretty much, you should go on the assumption that there is no privacy. Be careful about your "digital footprint," and be careful about being nicey-nice with everyone these days. You never know.

For the New York Times article about the lawsuit, click here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Metrics, Metrics, Metrics!

I majored in Russian Studies at Harvard, after originally wanting to be a Spanish Literature major. Numbers were not exactly, "in my blood," though I was good with math. Well, in the circuitous route that is life itself, here I am spending 99% of my time with SEO, AdWords, and Social Media. And increasingly on metrics.

Marketing and Metrics

Metrics and Marketing
Marketing and metrics, metrics and marketing. The old sage, "I know half of my advertising dollars are wasted... I just don't know which half" still haunts many of us. But we live in an age of metrics - clicks, impressions, click thru rates, placements, conversions, etc., etc. Metrics matter!

I had the (mis)fortune of interacting with a San Francisco Ad Agency (that shall remain nameless), who attempted to feed one of our mutual clients a bunch of baloney. Branding and RTB (real time bidding and this hocus and that pocus). But... refusing to give any data - about placements, about impressions, about clicks.

To be so insane as to argue that people "don't click on ads," they just get an "impression" in their mind and then Google the company name, or call them out of the blue (even if the ads do not have a telephone number). Then when the mutual client asked for some metrics...

Ain't Gonna Give You No Metrics

Nope, nada, not gonna give you. We don't "give" metrics to our clients.

Wow, I thought to myself. The unwillingness to give data speaks volumes about how strong the advertising is.

I'm not saying that everything can be measured.  I don't worship clicks or even conversion data. I believe in branding!  I believe in advertising!

But a complete unwillingness to share any meaningful data - that speaks volumes about what's really going on here.

People who have facts on their side are usually quite willing to discuss facts; people who don't have the facts... not so much.

Questions about Metrics & Marketing

So, questions for you my dear readers -

  • Is your ad agency, SEO firm, consulting or whoever willing to provide metrics?
  • Do you have an idea of what metrics are meaningful?
  • Do you have a healthy skepticism of both "too much faith in metrics," and "too little?"
Metrics, metrics, metrics.  They're not everything. But they are something!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Google: The One Trick Pony

Today's New York Times has an article about the frustration of Wall Street with Google. Frustration? How can that be?  Google is a "cash cow," racking in dollar after dollar via AdWords. But there is reason for frustration - a lot - because beneath the surface, Google is actually doing a very poor job as a company. The company has one, and only one, serious source of revenue: AdWords. And that revenue largely comes from the desktop.

Other Attempts to Make Money: Not Working

Google's Cash Cow

Other attempts by Google are not making money.  My favorite to kick: Google Glass.  No money there, and really no real traction for those silly glasses.  Or self-driving cars. We aren't even close to the age of the Jettisons!

But what really really irks me is Google Places!  First it was Google Local, and then it was Google Places, and then it was Google+ Local, and now it's Google My Business.  Google has a GOLDEN opportunity with local to compete with the likes of Yelp - form a real community of Googlers sharing opinions about products and services...  But the interface is terribly difficult to use, the customer service non-existent, AdWords express is a bear to work with.  We could go on.

Time for New Management at Google?

So Google - a "genius" company if there ever was one - is missing the most obvious golden opportunity for new revenue - Google+ Local... and instead focusing on Google Glass, self-driving cars, and what was it - Oh yes, Internet access via balloons.  If I were a shareholder - I, too - would be Googling "new managment"  (Sorry Eric).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Google Suggest Haikus - Fun With Google Suggest!

Google suggest is a lot of fun. Put in a few words, and look for funny (or sometimes NSWF) stuff.  There is even a website that tracks Google poetry.  I am working on a project in AdWords, looking for negative keywords, and here's what I found - 

To find your own use or check out Google poetics.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Customers from Hell: How are They Created?

There's a Star Trek episode in which the Enterprise enters an alternative universe and an "evil" Kirk emerges onto the ship (The 'Enemy within'). The whole episode is about who is the "real" Captain Kirk: the nice one or the evil one?

Creating a Customer From Hell

Creating the Customer From Hell

Most of my students think of me as a "nice" guy... But - like most of you - I have my evil streak.  There are certain companies - Verizon, and now HP - that I truly, truly hate. Recently, my HP desktop failed, and I have had to make call after call after call to HP technical support.  They seem unable to fix even the simplest of problems - generating an RMA number and accepting the return for repairs of a computer under warranty - and "run around" is a nice way to describe how I have been treated.

I even went to an HP consumer forum and posted a "plea for help," only to have some rude moderator tell me I was in the wrong place!  So HP tech support can't help, the forums can't help... and I have a non-functioning $1600 computer that is only 9 months old, and seems to be completely worthless. Am I a powerless consumer?

Am I a Customer from Hell for HP?

So...  I am officially becoming a "customer from Hell" for HP.  I am dedicating my life to informing the world of how much I hate this company, its products, and everything that it does. Once, it was a great Silicon Valley company... but today... it is but a dying wreck of itself.

How does this fit into marketing?  Well... what are the ways that you (and your company) are creating "customers from Hell?" Not just people who dislike you, but people who loathe you. People who are so angry and disgusted with your service that they will create blog posts, YouTube videos, and other Internet content that will "scare away" potential customers?

The Internet and the Unhappy Consumer

We live in a funny age. Today customers who are unhappy can really publicize their unhappiness, as I am publicizing my unhappiness with HP.  I might even do a viral video of me destroying my computer with a sledgehammer to the tune of Miley Cyrus' "wrecking ball."  Heck, perhaps I will even Twerk to it.  Oh well, must keep sense of humor (Captain Kirk).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Death of Progressive's SEO-friendly Home Page (and What it Does Not Mean for You)

It's no secret to anyone who's taken an SEO class from me that I have admired the website for its SEO prowess. The (former) website was clean, simple, and followed SEO practices, especially the idea of "link sculpting." The original home page sported header tags, with links down to defined landing pages, and nifty thumbnails. They even had short sentences following subject / verb / object principles. Oh it was beautiful: an SEO work of art.

Cometh The Trainwreck

Click to see original home page layout.
Well, they've revised their home page!  Take a look at it now.  Yikes! First of all, there's TWO Flo's creepily looking out at you, like Flo suddenly has an evil twin. Gone is the SEO simplicity of simple one-click links to landing pages, around defined phrases.

Now, instead we have the graphics department run amuck.  Foo-foo graphics, and text simplicity. Whereas previously we linked down to 'Motorcycle Insurance' now we link to the phrase 'Motorcycle.' (Bye-bye keyword phrase). Not to mention that the entire element is now inside of an A HREF / anchor tag. It's code gone crazy, and SEO gone nuts now at Progressive.

Flo will soon be unhappy, no?

Not Exactly

Progressive will probably not see a dramatic decline in their Google rank. Why not?

  • Links. Unlike you or I, they have a massive amount of inbound links.  Link energy will forgive them for many errors, not the least of which this terrible, horrible, rotten no good new home page layout.
  • Competition. Most of their competitors (Geico), have also transitioned to foo-foo image-oriented home pages.  Geico used to beat the pants off of Progressive a few years back, and then Geico messed up its home page. So possibly Geico will now regain the number one spot, now that Progressive has gone off and shot itself in the foot
For you, or I, however, we usually have to play by the basic rules of SEO. Meaning: one click links from our home pages, around defined phrases.  We don't have the luxury of producing trainwreck home pages, as Progressive sadly has now done.  The rules for small sites are much more rigid than those for sites with the kind of link footprint that Geico and Progressive enjoy.

Do what I say; not what they do.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Video Marketing: New (and Old) Options for any Small Business

Video is huge on the Internet! Rumor has it that YouTube is the #2 search engine, far ahead of Bing, and today Facebook got the limelight with an announcement that it, too, is moving heavily into video. In fact, creating a compelling (viral? shareable?) video is a great marketing strategy for any non-profit or business.  Just witness the ice bucket challenge, or dear future mom.

Useful Links for Marketers on Video

Video Marketing
Beyond having a concept for a great video (note to self: the videos that get shared are emotional - funny, sad, sentimental, shocking), where can you post and share your video?  Here are some useful links - 

  • YouTube. I think of YouTube as the "foundation" of a video strategy. You just gotta have a YouTube channel, and you just gotta upload videos to YouTube.  Learn more here.
  • Facebook. Facebook isn't so much a place to "store" videos as it is a place to "share" videos. You can read their latest announcement here, and a New York Times piece about it, here.  You can read all about how to upload a video to Facebook, here.
  • Vimeo.  The cognoscenti love Vimeo, but quite frankly, I think of it as an also-ran. It does not have the marketing capabilities of YouTube, so I would use it only if you are in the high-end photography market.
Those are the major ways to get started with video, but remember - uploading a video is not the same as promoting a video.  For that you gotta think SEO (optimizing the video title, content, and responses), and social media (you gotta think - who will share this puppy, and why?).

Short Video Services

Beyond the majors, there are short video services that are really interesting and possibly of use - 

  • Vine. This is Twitter's super short video service.
  • Instagram Video. This is Instagram's service (owned by Facebook)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Humor in Marketing: Some Funny Links

Humor and marketing... go together... But sometimes it's a pretty cynical humor. Here are two sites I've come across lately that are pretty funny and have some relationship to marketing...

Site #1 - Tom Fishburne: Marketooner

Mr. Fishburne is a very funny cartoonist, and he takes his wicked wit and points it at the hypocrisies of the marketing profession. I especially like his latest spin on the ALS "Ice Bucket" challenge - 


Google Poetics

Another website that's pretty funny (but apparently died in June) is Google Poetics at

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Instagram & Hyperlapse; a Social Network that Marketers Should Pay Attention To

OK, I get it. I wrote a headline that ended in a preposition. Shout out and apology to my High School English teacher Mrs. Kimrey: SORRY! But Instagram is here to stay, up and coming, and definitely a social network that we marketers should pay attention to (oops... sorry another preposition). Instagram has a new service out called Hyperlapse for video.

Instagram Fun

Some Instagram fun, first:

Check out this time-lapse video of a woman's pregnancy journey. Short, sweet, tells a story. Oh, oops that's on VINE, Twitter's product. So what we mean is that short videos... can be very fun, powerful, interesting.  Funny short videos, marketers? Here's a short video on Instagram, by Rachelarich, who writes,

My first #hyperlapse of this week's brilliant issue of @fabmagpics, out with @thesun on Sunday. The #selfiestick is sooooo last week

So marketing TODO's for Instagram:

  • Explore Instagram as a user.
  • Set up an Instagram account for your business.
  • Brainstorm some fun, marketing ideas (which like all social media marketing are FUN first and MARKETING a distant second).
  • Check out Hyperlapse and Vine from Twitter.
Instagram is coming of age in so many ways.  Pay attention!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Google+ vs. Blogging: Which is better for promotion?

So with Google killing Google+ authorship, and the reality that most people use Twitter or Facebook for real social media activities... the question becomes: 


Outside of Google+ Local, which is pretty successful, isn't the reality that few people use Google+?  So shouldn't anyone who uses Google+ (yours truly included) migrate to Facebook or Twitter?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Techtimidation: Another Disease of SEO and Social Media

Many marketers are not techies. And many techies are not marketing. Yet to succeed at Internet marketing - whether it's SEO, Social Media Marketing, or AdWords - you need three perspectives to work together:

  • Marketing - you need the perspective of marketing, which tells you who your customer is, what they want, and positions what you offer in the way most likely to lead towards a sale.
  • Web Design - you need a good-looking website, so when the potential customer lands there, he is "convinced" that your products or services are worthy buying, or at least pursuing.
  • Web Programming - most websites need some technical functionality, such as a search engine, feedback form, or other technical aspects of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) like XML sitemaps, meta tags, or structured data.

To succeed, you need these three perspectives to work together. But, alas, they often do not. One of the marketing diseases I often run into is called TECHTIMIDATION.  

Techtimidation Explained

Techtimidation is when your "techie" attempts to intimidate you.  It can be blunt, as in "Do you know how to code HTML? Do you know what an XML sitemap is?" Or it can be more subtle, as when they just roll their eyes and refuse to let you manage the website in such a way that it not only functions on a technical level but it also functions on a marketing level.

The point, after all, of most websites is to SELL something.  It doesn't matter how beautiful it is to the Web designer, or how amazing it is to the technical Web programmer if it doesn't work as a marketing vehicle.

Yet in many meetings, you'll confront techies who talk down to you, who use technical mumbo-jumbo to intimidate you into silence.

Don't let them. If your website doesn't work as a marketing vehicle, it doesn't matter how beautiful it is (sorry, Web designers), and it doesn't matter how technically "cool" it is (sorry, Web programmers).  It has to ultimately lead towards sales leads or sales.

The goal of a website is to sell something.

So don't let the techies intimidate you. If your website isn't generating sales or sales leads, it is NOT working. Fix it, and either persuade or get rid of anyone who gets in your way. Don't be intimidated!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review Marketing: If You Do Nothing, You'll Get Worse than Nothing

For so many local businesses, the reviews on Google+ Local and Yelp are absolutely critical.  Why? There are two major reasons:

  1. The more reviews you have, the more Google trusts you, and the higher you show on search results page. Reviews help you get to Page 1, Positions 1-3, on Google! If you are a restaurant, they position you to the LEFT in the carousel.
  2. Customers use reviews to vet businesses. They do a quick Google or Yelp search, and then they read or scan your reviews. If you have many positive reviews, they'll pick up the phone and call, or they'll send you a quick email. If you have negative reviews, they will never call.

The Unk Unk's: You Don't Know What You Aren't Getting

As Donald Rumsfeld said, there are the "known knowns" and the "unknown unknowns" or "unk unks".  Meaning, you do NOT know the customers you do NOT get because your reviews SUCK on Yelp or Google+.

They just do NOT call / contact you.

If you do nothing - here's what you'll get:

So, please: create a REVIEW strategy - ASK for reviews from happy customers.  Simply asking for reviews is the best first step towards building a powerful review system for your local SEO.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Analysis Paralysis

There are steps to success at Internet marketing. First, you have to want to succeed. Second, you have to learn what to do, learn the rules of the game, and third, you have to actually "do it." It's like baking a cake: reading about it in a cookbook isn't enough, you actually have to break some eggs, throw in some flour, and butter and cook the thing.

Analysis Paralysis
Which leads us to analysis paralysis. This is one of the diseases of marketing that afflicts companies big and small, but seems to strike with more virulence at the larger companies. If one is a small business, and two a partnership, then three or more is an endless corporate meeting at which everything gets discussed, and nothing gets done.

Signs of Analysis Paralysis (SEO)

In search engine optimization, these would include:

  • Inability to decide on target keywords - you know you need keywords, but you just can't agree on what they are, so your team goes round and round and round with lists and lists and lists of keywords, but never a prioritized list.
  • Inability to change the website. Now that you know those keywords, you need to implement on the website: changing TITLE tags, META DESCRIPTION tags, and of course web content. But you can't because you, the content team, the web team and every other team can't agree on how the website should look or feel.
  • Metrics ad infinitum. You start some changes, but the boss wants hard and firm metrics about everything - which isn't available, or possible, and absent firm metrics... inertia / no decision is made.
Similarly with all the other aspects of SEO such as link-building. Your company decides it's "too hard" and so you never actually do it. You know you should, but you just don't get started.

Signs of Analysis Paralysis (Social Media Marketing)

In social media, the hallmarks of analysis paralysis are things like knowing your company needs a Facebook page, but inability to agree on what it should look like; or knowing you really should claim and set up your Yelp listing, but inability to actually go claim it, and optimize it. Or fear. Fear is a big one in social media.

Your company realizes that you can't "control" what people might say on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and so determines it is better to just stay out of this for now, not realizing that the conversation goes on with or without you.

In sum, analysis paralysis is the affliction of knowing you should do something about SEO, about Social Media, about Internet Marketing... but an inability to actually DO IT.

Go break some eggs!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dear Boss: The Letter We Should All Send (But Don't Dare)

If you're a Dilbert fan, you'll know that Dilbert's pointy haired boss is always coming up with hairbrained scheme to "improve" the company. Today, because SEO is allegedly "free," as is social media... many of us confront bosses who think we can just do free marketing without money. But free doesn't mean easy, and beyond the money budget, there's the time budget (or as I refer to it the blood, sweat, and tears budget).

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Here's my draft letter to send to your pointy haired boss, if you have one.


Dear Boss,

First of all, I want to thank you for barging into my office this afternoon while I was eating lunch at my desk, or as those of us who are Internet savvy call it, 'Sad Desk Lunch' ( Second, I'd like to make sure I understand your perspective on our Internet marketing strategy:

    Internet Marketing Letter
  • SEO is free, and we should really prioritize getting our company to No. 1 on Google.  Please just go "figure it out" and "make it happen."
    • Free placement on Google is waaayyyyy better than paid placements via AdWords, so let's just cut our advertising budget.
    • There's no budget for training, so just "figure this out" on your own.
    • We also have no budget for content creation, nor for any expert help on how to play the SEO game to win.
  • Social Media, like SEO, is free, and if we just set up a Facebook page or Twitter page, people will flock to our company and we'll have not only zillions of fans but zillions of direct sales.
    • There's no budget for training, so just "figure this out" on your own, as well as no budget for anything else.
    • And we can't really create interesting content, or position the company in any interesting way: our sole content options are product posts to sell our products, directly.
Oh, and there's no budget for extra help, or staff to do all this blogging, posting, and traffic... AND we need to do everything: Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Blogging... so just please "get it done, get it all done."

Do I understand your perspective?  (Check here: __ yes or __ no). 

Now that I've grasped your perspective, let me explain a few things about Internet marketing, all in the "can do" spirit that made our company great.

:-) (that's an emoticon, conveying how happy I am to have this project).

First of all, thank goodness that I have copious spare time! Because I not only have tons of spare time to figure all this Internet marketing stuff out (on my own), but I also have lots of extra time to re-launch and optimize our website for SEO, and endlessly blog about our products. I don't need any additional staff to do this because fortunately, I don't sleep and (as you see), I generally eat lunch at my desk. So content creation is officially, handled.

Second, let's move on to our website.  Of course the graphic designers either don't want to change anything, preserving the beautiful look-and-feel of the site (that no one visits) or charge us a ton of money for each and every change. We can't change our platform, which we purchased from your son-in-law in 1999, and upgrade to WordPress or something modern. And the product staff insists on calling our products by esoteric, non-used names, that no one searches for. So (un)fortunately my hands are tied in terms of changing the website, but no matter.  I'll figure this whole website thing out.

Third, let's discuss our competitive landscape. We are in an industry that is ruthless, up against competitors who are spending thousands of dollars and hiring expert consultants to get to the top of Google and Bing. So basically you are saying to me to get us up at the top of Google, for free, using little to no resources. But again, because I am an Internet marketing superstar, don't worry.  We'll trounce the competition simply by being leaner and meaner.

Firth, I want to point out that we are link-challenged. No one wants to link to us, because generally all our website is about is buy, buy, buy our stuff, and we have no budget to reach out and schmooze potential link partners. But perhaps I can get free volunteers from the local college to conduct link outreach to uninterested third parties and via some miracle, they'll spontaneously link to us, crushing our competitors who are of course spending thousands of dollars on link-building.  Don't worry boss!  We'll get a plethora of links!

Finally, just a few words about social media. Despite the fact that you want us to dominate all seventeen critical social media (starting with Facebook and ending up with that bizarre little social network owned by your nephew in Croatia), I can certainly get that done; despite the fact that we have no time, or money, budget for creating engaging content. We'll just throw up a Facebook page, and in no time have zillions of fans, liking out pages and posts, which will generally be low quality fluff about buying our products. Or, if we're lucky, we'll cross-post YouTube videos of you and the other bosses at the corporate retreats reading our annual reports verbatim. The fans will flock to Facebook and YouTube to engage with our informative executive posts.

In sum, I don't need training, I don't need money, I don't need help... I'll get us to the top of Google, and the top of Facebook, all on a shoestring, and by engaging our fans and followers, triple our sales while cutting our advertising and marketing budget.

Do I get my raise now? Oh, just kidding of course not.  Now let me get back to my sad desk lunch.

P.S.: Beyond getting us to the top of Google and dominating Facebook, I will also track in-depth metrics in Google Analytics documenting how our free efforts have paid off immensely, all at no extra charge.


Your embittered Internet Marketing Expert
Susie Marcom

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yelp Matters (A Lot More Than You Think) for Your Small (Local) Business | Share This List

Yelp MattersYelp (, of course, is one of the largest local "yellow page" systems on the Web. Consumers use Yelp to find local businesses - restaurants and bars, plumbers and hair stylists, even marriage counselors and attorneys. Powered by the largest (and most enthusiastic) local review community on the Web, if your business is local, then you should be using Yelp for your Internet marketing!
 Here's a TODO list to hand off to whoever is in charge of local marketing. Email this TODO list to your marketing team member(s) and have them check off the items on the list as indicated by: 

TODO:  Done: ❐ Not Done: ❐ Other: ❐ _______________


Copy / paste this short link into an email:

Or use the social share icons below:





#1 - Determine if Yelp Matters to Your Business

Do you have a local business? In the olden days, did people search for you via the Yellow Pages? Are you a restaurant, bar, marriage therapist, local attorney, plumber... essentially anyone for whom it would make sense to be listed in the "Yellow Pages?" If so, Yelp matters to you.

(Even if you are not a local business, Yelp has a benefit to your SEO. So everyone who can get listed on Yelp, should try to be listed.)

Imagine you are a customer, searching for the product or service that your company offers. How would you search? What keywords would you enter? Would you use Google, Bing, or even Yelp directly?

Try a few Google searches, try a few Bing searches, and ask a few customers if they use Yelp, with the goal of identifying your target keywords.

Yelp is more than Yelp. What do I mean? Yelp drives not only Yelp but has a huge impact on Bing and on Google.  First, many consumers use Yelp directly. So if your business is listed on Yelp, you have a chance to show up. Second, Yelp drives many of the reviews on Bing. Try a Bing search ( for a query such as "plumbers in Dallas" ( and you'll see Yelp review counts to the right of the listings returned. Finally, Yelp often shows very high on Google searches. Search for "watch repair" on Google and you'll often see Yelp listings high on the Google page.

Yelp matters -

  • On Google: many times, Yelp listings enjoy top placement on Google searches.
  • On Bing: Yelp drives reviews on Bing for many local offerings.
  • On Yelp: many consumers head directly to Yelp.

Therefore, if you are a restaurant or bar, the use of Yelp is pretty obvious: you gotta be on Yelp, especially if you are in any "blue" city such as New York, San Francisco or Seattle. Even if you are in Dallas or Phoenix, many consumers use Yelp. But even if you are in a smaller city and your business is something like an attorney, a marriage therapist, or even a plumber, many consumers go to Yelp, or go to Google (and then to Yelp), or go to Bing (and then to Yelp).

  • If you're local in any way, shape, or form, you gotta Yelp.  It's that simple. 

Your first TODO, therefore, is to ask yourself and your team these questions - 

  • Do local searches matter to our business? Are customers searching Google, Bing, or Yelp for businesses like ours via keyword queries such as "plumber," "marriage therapist," or "best Italian restaurant?"
Does local matter for our business? Does Yelp matter?  

YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

#2 - Claim Your Yelp Listing

Now that you've decided Yelp matters for you and your business, you gotta find and claim your Yelp listing. This isn't as hard as it seems, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to Note: this is the business Yelp website, not the primary Yelp website at, which is used by consumers!
  2. Choose a login and password.  Note: do not lose this email, as it is incredibly difficult to re-claim a claimed business listing, or reset your business password.  So do not lose the Yelp login and password for your business!
  3. Follow the Yelp steps to find your business, and claim it.
Usually, you'll find your business on the Yelp website. Then you claim your business by verifying usually by telephone; so make sure someone is "standing by" at your business to answer the phone when you claim you listing.

Have we claimed our free business listing on Yelp?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

Extra credit: have we stored our Yelp login and password in a safe place? (We'll need that to modify our listing).

#3a - Optimizing Your Yelp Listing: Define Your Keywords

Now that you've claimed your listing, it's time to optimize it! Optimization refers to making sure that your business listing contains the keywords that people search for on Yelp, on Google, and on Bing. If you are plumber, for example, you'll want to brainstorm how people search for plumbers. If you are a personal injury attorney, you'll want to brainstorm how people search for personal injury attorneys.

Go to or the Google Keyword Planner ( and research keywords and key phrases. You'll quickly realize that people do searches for plumbers such as "24/7 emergency plumber" or "toilet repair," and for personal injury attorneys they might search for subspecialties like "medical malpractice attorney" or "slip and fall attorney."

Identify your core keywords as well as "helper" words (often best, top, top-rated) that people attach to relevant searches. Identify related ways that people might search for you (e.g., "toilet repair" for a plumber, or "medical malpractice lawyer" for a personal injury attorney).

As I teach in my online classes on SEO (, understanding your keywords is a critical first task. You gotta know your keywords and key phrases.

Have we researched our Yelp keywords for our business?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

#3b - Optimizing Your Yelp Listing: Write Up Your Listing

A Yelp listing has three parts:

  • Specialties: a description of the business, especially the products and/or services that you offer.  Character limit is 1000 characters (use to count).
  • History: a history of the business, also limited to 1000 characters.
  • Meet the Business Owner: a place to describe the business owner or manager, also limited to 2000 characters.
  • Categories: relevant categories for your business, pre-determined by Yelp.

Now it's time to write up your listing. Take your keyword list, and write keyword heavy content for your Yelp listing. 

If you are a personal injury attorney, for example, you should write sentences that explain your practice areas as in 

We are a top-rated personal injury attorney serving Dallas, Texas, and nearby communities like Plano or Irving. Our practices focuses on medical malpractice, slip-and-fall litigation, as well as dog bites.

I've highlighted in yellow the target keywords. The trick is to include not just your core or primary keywords but adjacent keyword phrases and helper words. Your Yelp listing should reflect common ways people might search for your business.

Note that Yelp has censors who read your description, and they will bounce a listing that is overdone. So include your keywords, but do not over do it!

For "extra credit," be sure to add photos to your listing, and in the "captions" of those photos embed some of your keyword targets.

Have we written a keyword-heavy listing on Yelp for our business? 
Did we upload some nice-looking photos?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

#4 - Cross-link Your Yelp Listing

Google and Bing pay a lot of attention to your Yelp listing, First and foremost, if your Yelp listing contains that same target keywords as your website, this reinforces your keyword focus. So make sure that your keyword list occurs on both your website and on Yelp. Secondly, if you cross-link your website to your Yelp listing and make sure that Yelp links back to your website, you have made it easy for Google and Bing to substantiate that you are a legitimate local business.

So your next TODO is simply to link FROM your website TO your Yelp listing, and vice versa.

Have we cross-linked our website to our Yelp listing? 
And our Yelp listing to our website?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

#5 - Solicit Reviews (in a Very Nice Way)

Now that you have claimed your Yelp listing, optimized your Yelp listing for your target keyword searches, and cross-linked your Yelp listing to/from your website, you are pretty much set. The next big factor that influences whether you show up at the top of Yelp, Google, and Bing has to do with reviews.

Get reviews!  But be careful: do not pay for reviews, do not engage in fake reviews, and do not participate in any nefarious schemes.

Essentially, the more legitimate reviews you have on Yelp, the higher you'll show on all of the search engines, including Yelp. This is especially true for Yelp but it is also true for Bing (which is intertwined with Yelp) and for Google (though to a lesser degree on Google).

So now you need to go out and get reviews.  But wait: before you do that read the chapter on "how to solicit reviews". There is an art and science to nurturing positive reviews on Yelp, on Google, on Amazon and other review sites. So don't do anything about soliciting reviews until you've read the chapter on "How to Solicit Reviews."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Facebook Page Reach & Algorithm Changes: Some Thoughts

If you are a Facebook marketer, you probably know by now that in the last few months Facebook seems to have pretty dramatically changed its algorithm. Your "page reach" may have declined substantially. What you used to get "for free," Facebook seems to be wanting you to "pay for" via advertising, "boosts" to your posts, etc.

What's Going On? Big Picture Thoughts

Facebook Algorithm Changes
What's going on is the same game that has been played since the Internet began. First, a new marketing vehicle (Google, blogging, MySpace, email marketing) comes along. It's great! It's free! The users are not that sophisticated and the companies that produce it "give away" their product, including "free advertising" to participating companies. Think Google in its early days; think the Display Network on Google, think of email marketing in 1995. Next, everyone swamps into the "new" thing.  Third, the company or companies that produce it begin to "monetize" their content: they "raise prices" and make it more difficult to reach customers "organically." Their solution: ADVERTISE.

That's what's going on as Facebook matures. Facebook is more cluttered than ever, AND Facebook (now a public company) wants (NEEDS) to make money. So both of those trends mean LESS "free stuff" for you as an advertiser, and MORE paid stuff.

Possible Solutions to Facebook Changes

What can you do?

  1. Pay to reach more fans. That's respectable, if expensive. On Google, it's called AdWords, on Facebook it's called "Boost" as well as other forms of advertising.  But basically call in your manager and explain to her that the FREE game is ending, or at least becoming substantially more difficult, and it's time to pay up.
  2. Work harder (than ever) on organic reach. On Facebook, the idea here is to REALLY engage your fans with better, more interesting, more provocative posts... posts that a) get likes, b) get comments, and c) get shares.
Facebook isn't doing anything that revolutionary: it's simply following the time-honored Internet tradition: first it's free and uncluttered, then its a hybrid of cluttered, pay up, and (harder) free.

Here's a wonderful in-depth article on the topic: "7 reasons why pages should stop complaining about Facebook reach"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inside AdWords: New "Innovations" Coming from Google AdWords

AdWords made some major announcements today (April 22nd). The main thrust seems to be better integration between desktop and mobile devices. You can read about them at

I'd say "Enjoy," but does anyone really enjoy AdWords? If you do, tell me why in the comments.