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Archive for May, 2010

Sex, Lies, and SEO

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in Uncategorized

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Over the years we have noticed that clients either swear by or swear at their SEO Expert and there is no middle of the road on this one. With over a decade working on the SEO side of web sites I understand and deeply appreciate the value of SEO and I am a strong advocate of competing on both sides of the search engine.

SEO and PPC advocates often do not play well with each other because they have very different fundamental beliefs. These conflicting inputs from the business manager’s advisers cause great confusion in the manager’s strategic decision process. This is because the conversation is framed as one being better than the other. SEO and PPC are not better or worse, they are simply different. The secret to success is to use the right tool for the right job at the right time. Sometimes that is SEO and sometimes it’s not.

Google’s top priority is the best possible SERP

SEO is what Google thinks, and to understand how Google thinks you have to consider Google’s personality and the source of their success. Google’s number one unquestioned top priority is to produce the best Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for the query posed by the searcher. Google knows that if they produce the best SERP the searcher will have a positive experience and they will return to use Google again and again. It is their dedication to the searcher’s experience and the Quality of the SERP that is the essence of their success. Here is a flash of the short term thinkers in the world – Google values the quality of the search above money!

Lie #1: We can get your site to the top of Google Guaranteed.

One thing that makes me crazy about the SEO industry is that there are a fair number of people representing themselves as SEOs that have little or no understanding of what is really going on. Like the amateur magician they have learned a few simple tricks and they go from client to client selling the fast, simple, and “guaranteed” way to the top of Google. This is not to say that there are no good SEOs, there certainly are, but for every good one that we run into there seems to be ten that are less than honorable.  They falsely represent what SEO is and they propose that they have some magical skill which will instantly get you free traffic to your web site.  The rule here is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and anyone who guarantees anything specific in search is lying.

Lie #2: We will optimize your page to get to the top of Google

One sure clue that the SEO is lying is when they say that they will optimize your web site or page. This statement can be a partial truth but it is never fully truthful. The majority of the organic page score is not in the page source so you cannot optimize it by changing the page. Nobody outside of a small circle inside Google knows the exact formula and in reality no one person knows the whole thing. Our guess is that 80% of the organic score comes from items not on the page.  A top position in Google is earned by being an expert resource on the search query. An expert is defined not by what they say about themselves, but by what others say about them and this is the fundamental concept of the Google Search Model. This does not mean doing the basics on your page isn’t important, a good foundation is vital to the search-ability of your site. However on page search factors won’t get it done by themselves.

Lie #3: We will get you to the top of Google easily, simply, and quickly

Another clue that your SEO is lying is the statement that they will get you to the top of Google easily, simply, and quickly. There are a thousand ways to get to the top of Google and all of them are hard work conducted over a long period of time by very smart people. One trick is to create a page and show the client that it is in fact first on Google. Unfortunately this is not difficult to do but the page will not stay there. The trick works because Google values fresh content so when it finds fresh content it moves it up in the ranking to test it. However this freshness factor wears out quickly and if people do not click on your listing and get engaged by your content you will very quickly find yourself in position 5,000. The challenge here is that the highly optimized page is often horrible copy that nobody would read.

Lie #4: You just need more back links no matter where they are from.

We recently had a client that engaged an SEO to work on their site. The SEO set out to generate lots of inbound links, which normally would be a good thing except they were not concerned with the quality just the quantity.  The final termination to the relationship happened when they told the client that the quality of what was on the page was not important. The client intuitively knew that poor content pointed at his site would end up hurting his professional reputation and he was absolutely correct.  Like most things in life more is not better, better is better. Poor quality content will never get picked up by highly reputable sites and one link from a highly authoritative site is worth much more to your reputation online than links from poor quality sites. The risk here is that this approach might actually backfire on you.  Google has a whole department headed by Matt Cutts dedicated to finding these tricks and fixing them. Often the way that Google “Fixes” these tricks is by removing the pages from the index. The advice we give to clients all the time is that you should only try to trick Google if believe that your SEO is smarter than Google.  Google hires the best engineers on the planet who fanatically dedicated to the mission of creating the best possible SERP. So you have to ask yourself, do you really want to take that on?

Lie #5: People search for this keyword

Often times we find SEOs that have optimized for keywords that nobody searches for. They target what they call long tail traffic and they get great position because nobody cares.  One of the great tricks is to optimize for these words so the client sees the results and the SEO walks away the hero. This is until someone comes along and adds analytics to your site and shows you how many visitors you have for that keyword and how engaged they become with your web site.  Analytics is the way to measure your investment in SEO and make sure that the words you optimize for are also ones that you would be willing to purchase.

The Truth

We have many clients that are wildly successful with their organic keywords and they share a common trait. They are all people who are passionate about their business and they share that passion and expertise freely with the world. They write articles, white papers, books, speak to groups, answer questions in social media sites, and many other things. They are Evangelists for their business and the second they open their mouth or touch a keyboard you know it. These people are the resources that Google is looking for because they will provide the searcher with the most positive web experience and that is how you get to the top of Google in the long term.

The secret to a great organic position in Google is:

To consistently create meaningful content that is valuable to your visitor and contributes to building the best SERP. Help Google create a great SERP and they will be your best friend.

The Prime Directive of Adwords Ad Copy: Get to the Point!

Posted by Rob Dumouchel in ad copy, adwords

Monday, May 10th, 2010

This is obviously an ad for premium denim. Photo Source:

Have you ever watched a commercial on TV or seen an ad in a magazine only to wonder what it was actually for? Well in some advertising mediums that’s, sort of, okay. For example, if you’re Gucci, a glossy magazine ad featuring a boat full of Italian dudes in speedos is obviously an ad for very expensive shoes. A commercial involving a supermodel brushing her teeth riding a camel walking on the moon, probably denim related. Why not right? In Adwords this approach isn’t going to get you so far. When advertising in Search, if you can’t get to the point in a hurry you’re toast!

You have to remember that Search Marketing is a completely different beast from traditional marketing channels. There’s no need to be endearing or interesting with your search ads because the person viewing it is actually looking for what you do! I know it’s a weird feeling as a marketer to only be talking to people that are specifically looking for your products or services, but embrace that advantage and give the people what they want! With your 25 character Adwords headline you can attempt to be cute or clever, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If any part of your ad is actually read, scanned or glossed over by a searcher it’s going to be your headline so don’t mess it up! Get to the point and do it fast!

A lot of traditional marketers hate to hear this, but generally speaking in Adwords the more boring and straightforward your ad is the better it’s going to do. If you sell swim fins and someone searches for “swim fins,” your ad better be about swim fins! If you decide to be creative and talk about the beach or duck feet or something else not quite on point be advised your CTR will suffer! There’s a big difference between noticing your ad and clicking on it, don’t leave yourself on the wrong side of this equation.

Another major headline offender is leading off with your company name… in most situations this is NOT the right answer. While you may be a big deal to other people in your industry, there’s a good chance a prospect has never heard of you. Serving them an ad that’s focused on your company and not what they searched for is a lose lose situation. The searcher doesn’t get what they searched for, and you don’t get a visitor to your web site. As an added bonus, the searcher still doesn’t even know what you do because you decided to lead with your name as opposed to your value to them.

The “secret” of getting your ads to work in Adwords is to get to the point. Use the keyword as a clue to their interests and address that interest. When the keywords are tightly clustered and the headline is on-target the results can be amazing, even if the headline is boring. A surprisingly simple concept but most great ideas in marketing are simple after they have been discovered.

3 Questions Every Landing Page Needs To Answer

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in landing-page-design

Monday, May 10th, 2010

While your home page, and internal pages, may expound upon your site’s topic(s), the purpose of a landing page is quite different.

For what?

Exceptional landing pages are created when your first priority is meeting the needs of your visitors.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What question or problem are they trying to solve?
  • In typing their question or problem into a search engine query, what words or phrases will they be using?

When a visitor clicks on the ad or search result and is sent to a landing page, they expect the landing page to answer their question or solve their problem.

Think of it this way, if a customer came into your brick and mortar store and asked to see all of your “classic rotary phones” you wouldn’t show them your complete inventory of “Blue Tooth Headsets.”  You would take them over to your display of classic rotary phones.

Your landing page is a direct extension of your advertising message.  If your ad talks about “classic rotary phones designed for the digital age” then your landing page must deliver on that promise and talk only about “classic rotary phones designed for the digital age”.

Determining your audience helps you identify the keywords and phrases your landing page needs to focus on.  You should try to use these keywords and phrases throughout the landing page, and particularly in the first sentence of the first paragraph.

So What?
Now that you have visitors on your landing page, why should they continue reading?  What’s in it for them?

People are interested in benefits, which is not the same as list of all the product’s features.  Benefits are how your customers will experience your product.

In the case of our classic rotary phone:

  • Complete the look of your vintage home with a  perfectly replicated classic rotary phone, (show pictures of how the phone looks in a variety of vintage settings)
  • Every convenience of a modern digital telephone hidden inside the classic rotary phone exterior
  • That vintage sound and feel every time you use the phone (video of someone using the phone – complete with the click, click, click synonymous with rotary phone dialing)

Try to determine any objections, questions, and concerns the visitor may have, and answer those as well.

In the “classic rotary phone” example above, some of the obvious questions to answer are, “Is the sound and line quality as good as a modern, digital phone?” and “Will this work with my computer’s internet connection?”

Now What?

Your landing page has done its job and your visitor is ready to buy your product, sign-up for your newsletter or contact you, now what?

Once your visitor has decided to go ahead, don’t frustrate them….make it easy and obvious for them to complete the transaction.  Whether it’s “Buy Now” or “Contact Us” or “Sign-Up Today” your Call to Action tells your visitors how to take that next step.

There should be only one specific desired action for a landing page.  You want to keep the visitor focused on the job at hand (buying your product, or signing up for your service) and not confuse or paralyze them with several competing offers.

If your page is long and visitors will have to scroll, give them one Call to Action before they start scrolling and several others during the scrolling process.  Your calls to action can be worded slightly differently, but the ultimate purpose should be the same, no matter where they are on the page.

These three questions should be foremost in your mind when writing and designing your landing page.  Start by writing your landing page with your target audience in mind.  Use the words and phrases they will be using to search for your service or product.

Once they’re on your page, you will need to explain the benefits of your product or service.  Answer any obvious questions they may have, as well as any hidden objections you can think of.

Finally, by creating and placing several very clear calls to action throughout your page, you make it easy for the visitor to take the next step.

Written by: Carl Diamond who specializes in landing page conversion design.