SEO and SEM: Harder Than Most Think

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are suites of techniques used to get better results from search engines in a way that leads to more business or attention. The principles of these practices sound fairly easy, but the actual implementation is ofter much harder than most imagine. There are a few factors that few newcomers consider before entering these fields.

With the popularity of social media, many have forgotten how important search engines are. While many have changed their homepages to Facebook, Google is still the most popular website on the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful social platform, but the information it provides is still its main use. Having a high placement on the search engines for a popular keyword or term can translate to huge profits; being placed on page two, on the other hand, can lead to meager returns.

* Competition
With this in mind, it is little surprise that the competition for top placement on the search engines is so fierce. This competition ensures that those attempting SEO and SEM will have to compete against others with the same goal. Their work often cancels out, and the difference is made in small details that may be hard to determine. When it was a new field, SEO was fairly easy; today, competition has made it much harder.

* Algorithm changes
Another factor is that the search engine providers change their ranking algorithms constantly. When Internet marketers are able to accurately approximate the search engines algorithms, these can use this knowledge to rank many of their “money sites” highly. The result is often a poor set of results for those who use these search engines. Search engines compete with each other to deliver the best results for their users, and changing their algorithms to prevent users from driving poor sites to the top improves the results for users. Unfortunately, many honest website operators lose their rankings because of these changes.

* The Internet is always changing
Years ago, nobody imagined that social media would come to become an integral part of society. Much of the Internet’s social activity moved to the major social media platforms, and those who targeted decentralized platforms saw their revenue dry up. Additional, few prognosticators in the past believed that blogs would become some of the main news sources online; most believed that traditional news providers would entrench themselves as the top news sources. SEO and SEM require adapting to the ever-changing nature of the Internet, and hitting a moving target is always more difficult than targeting a known entity.

Fortunately, this difficulty also make it possible for SEO and SEM experts to gain an advantage on their competitors. If these fields could be distiled into a small number of activities, the most successful marketers would be those who worked the most, and the field would likely become unprofitable. The competitiveness and dynamism of the Internet allows Internet marketers to instead use creativity and inventiveness to improve their results instead of repetitive, boring work.


Using SEO Techniques to Improve Your Reputation

Business experts have known for thousands of years how important one’s reputation is. Customers only have a limited knowledge about you and your business, and a poor reputation can lead them to contact one of your competitors. A good reputation, on the other hand, can drive customers away from your competitors and even allow you to raise your prices. The Internet has radically changed how reputations are forged and reinforced; this can be great or terrible depending on how your reputation evolves online. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to restore your online reputation. Search engine optimization (SEO), in particular, can have a tremendous impact.

* Try to remove bad information
The first step is to find out if any bad information shows up when your search for your name or the name of your business. It may be possible to remove this negative information. Investigate the libel laws where you live and try to determine if the content violates laws designed to protect you; legal consultation may be necessary. If the information cannot be removed, the site may offers ways mitigate its effect. If the site allows users to leave reviews, try to encourage your loyal customers to leave positive feedback.

* Find positive information to promote

Before creating your own Internet properties, try to see if there are positive sites that you can promote using SEO techniques. Review sites and reviews from blogs can improve your reputation, and driving these results to the top of the page can have a tremendous benefit. Established sites are particularly effective at convincing customers to think positively of you or your business. In addition, established sites are easier to drive up the search engine results page.

* Create your own Internet properties
All businesses should have at least a basic website. When most customers search for your name or the name of your business, they are looking for your company’s website; ensure that they can find it. If potential customers cannot find your website easily, they are likely to visit other sites that might have negative information. Other web properties are becoming more popular. All businesses should have a Facebook page that allows customers to “like” the business. These pages also give you a platform with which you can share news related to your business. By interacting with customers, you can improve your reputation.

* Professional help may be worth the cost
SEO is a difficult field, and reputation management can be challenging. By hiring professional SEO and reputation management experts, you can expedite the process of restoring you good reputation. The costs of these services rarely exceed the benefit that a good reputation will have on your business, so do not be afraid to inquire about pricing and service information.

The decentralized nature of the Internet is what makes it so useful. The open nature also makes it easier for reputation-damaging information to spread quickly without a filter or perspective. By being proactive about monitoring your reputation and taking steps to improve it, you can use the Internet as a valuable resource.

Maximizing Your Pay-Per-Click Profits

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has become the dominant method of finding new customers online. With PPC skills, Internet marketers can find new customers and see a tremendous return on their investments. PPC also provide a flexibility and scalability unrivaled by other form of advertising. As with all business expenses, it is important to maximize the ROI of your PPC campaigns. Here are a few steps to achieve this goal.

* Start small and be creative
Of the the most attractive traits of PPC advertising is the fact that its cost scales linearly. In other words, running small campaigns does not cost a premium. Use this to you advantage by testing new campaigns before implementing them on a larger scale. Be creative with your different campaign ideas, and do not be afraid to try new strategies; sometimes the best results come from unexpected ideas, and PPC lets you try these ideas without risking substantial sums of money.

* Do not be afraid to be strange
Internet marketers are finding that some of the most effective campaigns are some of the strangest. Anyone who has been paying attention to online advertising has seen an increase in truly bizarre ads; these ads persist because they are successful. Most experts believe that the effectiveness of these ads lies in their ability to attract the attention of those who see them.

* Clicks do not always lead to sales
It is important to track which ads bring users to your website and whether these ads lead to sales. One of the downsides of bizarre ads is the fact that they may not effectively translate to sales. People may be clicking on them just to see what they link to but not be interested in that product you are selling. Effectiveness matters more than attention when you are trying to maximize your ROI.

* Do not neglect traditional advertising principles
The fact that the Internet is still relatively new leads many to toss out old advertising principles. Many experts, however, are realizing that these old ideas are important for creating effective advertising campaigns. Try to find old advertising guides and reference material to see what advice they give. Often, neglected wisdom from the past can give you the insight necessary to create the most effective advertising paradigm for the future.

* Help is available
The best way to improve your ROI may be to simply ask for help. Internet advertising consultants have seen hundreds or thousands of advertising campaigns and have insight that cannot be found on blogs and other websites. Experts generally keep the most helpful tips to themselves and only share this information with paying customers. If your company is large enough, the rates these consultants charge are well worth the ROI increases your company will see.

Internet advertising is still changing at a rapid pace, and experts agree that it will continue to change and evolve as time passes. Be proactive and creative, and do not be afraid to ask for help when seeking to maximize your company’s PPC ROI.

How To Blog For Success

Many people love to blog these days, and they hope that their blog will be noticed by a larger audience. However, as with many creative fields, it’s hard to wear the crown in the world of blogging. What are some steps that you can take to lead your blog on a path to success?

Choosing the Topic
First of all, you want to have some sort of specific subject. You’re more likely to be successful if you have a sports blog, celebrity blog, cartoon blog or other specific field as opposed to a blog that is about anything. Additionally, try to choose a topic that hasn’t been done a million times already. So many general food blogs exist, so if cuisine is your forte, why not choose a sub category such as whole wheat eating or holiday desserts?

Formatting the Blog
You want the blog to look attractive to your viewers. Choose a font size that is big enough for everyone to see without squinting but not so large that it looks as though a child scribbled on your site. Additionally, select a font that conveys the voice of your blog. Comic Sans MS could work well for a blog about child friendly activities in your town, while Arial or Times New Roman would be more appropriate for a blog about the latest trends on the stocks. Be sure to include pictures to give readers a visual aid.

Network, Network, Network
Try to get in with some other professionals in the industry. Some websites will allow you to blog specifically for them, and once you generate enough hits, you’ll start to get paid. You could try reaching out to some local news publications to see if they are interested in having an online blog segment to their paper. At first, you may not be paid for any of these ventures, but it is a way to get the word out there. Look for companies that might be interested in advertising on your page and see if you are able to have a share of the profits. When you earn money from blogging, you’ll have more money to put into sprucing up your blog and doing some advertising by yourself.

Have a Steady Audience
A large following is an important feature of many successful blogs. You want to be sure that once people read your blog, they keep returning for more. Establish a tone in your blog so that people have some idea as to what to expect. For example, if you have a funny sarcastic tone, you’re likely to draw in people who enjoy reading that type of material. Furthermore, be sure to update frequently so that readers are not left wondering what is going to happen next.

As with many jobs and hobbies, it’s going to take awhile to become successful. Don’t just expect it to happen overnight. You need to put in the work. Even if you don’t become the most popular blogger in the world, you will still have an interest that you love.

The Many Benefits Of SEM

If you are unfamiliar with the term, SEM refers to search engine marketing. It is a marketing method that involves increasing the visibility of a website in a search engine. Though some businesses prefer to use television commercials and banner ads, SEM is an acceptable and attractive alternative. The benefits listed below may help you reach an educated decision.

1. You May Reach Out To a Global Audience

When a business chooses to take advantage of search engine marketing, it ensures that it will reach out to a global audience. Local advertizing is commendable; however, you limit your level of influence when you limit a business to this option. If you want more customers, consider SEM. Your business will exist in the minds of people all over the world; this is not a dreadful thing.

2. You Show That You Are Serious About What You Do

The Internet is a fundamental part of modern society; many people use the Internet to socialize, shop for gifts, and research for school projects. Businesses have difficulty standing out because of the competition. If you want to differentiate your business, consider SEM. When you use SEM, you show your customers that you are important and authoritative. Customers may be impressed by your efforts, and they will reward you with sales on every level. Search engine marketing allows you many advantages when it comes to your reputation in the business world.

3. It Saves a Business A Lot of Money

Traditional marketing is expensive in the long run; if you choose to use traditional methods, you may go over your budget. This is dangerous for businesses of any size. When you use radio ads or billboards, you may limit your audience. If you want to attract younger consumers, the Internet is an excellent and affordable option. You do not have to spend a lot of money on search engine marketing. People may find you through specific keywords. If people are happy with what you offer, they may spread the word to friends and family members. You eliminate the need to spend more money on advertizing.

4. People May Access Your Site Every Day

If your business has a physical location, chances are high that you keep it open for a limited amount of time. Customers may worry that they will be unable to reach you once business hours are over. However, when you use SEM, you ensure that people may reach you at any hour of the day. This is especially valuable during certain months of the year. If a person wishes to contact you in the early hours of the morning, he or she may do so with little trouble. You are always available to answer questions and fulfill orders.

Every business owner wishes to be successful; if you want to expand your horizons and gather more customers, the information above should be kept in mind. When you use SEM, you ensure that your future is bright. You do not have to fall behind the competition.

Benefits of PPC for Small Business

Small businesses usually face special challenges when it comes to marketing and advertising.  Many of the conventional methods aren’t available to a small business due to budget restrictions.  Also, small businesses don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of money on an ad campaign and then waiting for that ‘brand recognition’ to kick in.

Basically, small businesses need to be able to limit ad spend and get quick results from the money they do spend.  That is why PPC is such a valuable option when it comes to advertising for small business.

What Is PPC?

PPC stands for ‘pay-per-click’ and it is one of the primary forms of online advertising.  The basic premise is that a business creates small ads that appear in search engine results pages, and then only pay if someone clicks on their ad.

Google Adwords is a pay-per-click program that most people are likely familiar with.  If you type in a search term into Google, such as ‘horse training’, the PPC ads will appear at the very top and along the right side of the page.  Also, you can choose to have your ads show on webpages that have content that’s relevant to your ad.

There is much more to setting up and running a successful pay-per-click campaign than simply writing an ad, but that is the general idea of how it works.  The way that the PPC system runs offers several benefits to small business.

Targeted Traffic

The fact that PPC traffic is targeted is one of the elements that appeals so much to many small business owners.  When you set up a campaign so your ads will only show when specific keywords are entered, you are essentially drawing in people who are already looking for the types of products or services you sell.  And while that doesn’t equal guaranteed sales, it will help narrow the field.

Quick Results

Many small businesses need results yesterday, and while PPC can’t turn back time, it can get results faster than any other type of advertising.  You can literally start a campaign in the morning and be seeing increased traffic to your website by the afternoon.

You’ll still have to continue the sales message on your website and convert the traffic, but PPC is a great vehicle to get them there.  It’s still important to do regular search engine optimization, but SEO can take months to see a spike in traffic, even when you do it right.

Set Your Budget

One the real benefits of PPC for small business is that you can set your ad spend, and your ads will stop showing once you reach that number.  You also set the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click on one of your ads.

For more competitive keywords such as ‘weight loss’ the cost-per-click it takes to get on the first page of search results is substantial, but skilled PPC experts are usually able to utilize techniques that will help keep you part of the action if you are in a competitive industry.

The fact that you’re able to have such control over your ad spend makes PPC a great equalizer, as ads from small mom & pop type businesses might be shown alongside ads from national chains.

You’re also able to determine where your ads are shown.  This means if you have a local business in Montreal, people from California aren’t clicking on your ads and costing you money when they have no intention of visiting.

Easy Tracking

Real-time accountability is another benefit of PPC for small business.  With PPC, you can track which ads and which keywords are resulting in visits to your websites, which ones are profitable and which ones are duds.

It’s common for advertisers to create two slightly different ads for each keyword phrase, then test one against the other to see which one performs best.  Sometimes, even the slightest change in ad copy can make a huge difference in click-through-rate.

How Does SEO Work?

In today’s digital world, you’d be hard pressed to find too many people who haven’t at least heard of the term SEO.  Anyone who has surfed the web has been the beneficiary of SEO.  Sometimes the results you get for a search query are relevant and right on the money, and other times, not so much.  But you can be sure that someone did some degree of SEO to get those sites ranked on that first page of search results.

 The Basics

SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’ and while the overall process is quite complex, the basics are pretty easy to understand.

Basically, SEO is the process of optimizing a website so that it is ranked on the first page of results when someone enters a search term into a search engine.  Since Google is the most popular and most used search engine, it is wise to have your site optimized to comply with the way Google does things.

Google likes to index pages on the web by using tools known as ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’.  When a search term is entered into the Google search engine, these spiders get to work.  They crawl over millions of websites and then deliver what the spiders deem to be the most relevant results to you in the blink of an eye.  The results delivered through SEO are on the left side of the page, and are also known as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ search results.  Paid results, or PPC are found along the right side and on the top of the page.

For most people, the whole process is beyond comprehension, but it is very important to get it right if you want your business to have an online presence.  Over 70% of people end up clicking on those organic results, and the vast majority of surfers never look past the first page of results.  So, in all likelihood, if you aren’t somewhere on that first page for your chosen keywords, you won’t be getting too many visitors.

Important Factors

There are over 300 different variables that go into determining whether your site will be ranked on the first page for a given keyword phrase.  Some of the more important factors include the body content of the site, the meta tags, title, keyword density, url and anchor text.

But even with all of those on-page factors, it’s been said that they only account for around 30% of your ranking score.  That means that off-page factors account for a whopping 70%.

Links from other websites back to your site make up the bulk of this number, as Google views each link as a ‘vote’ for your website.  Generally, the more high quality votes you get, the more relevant your website must be.  Of course, like with most things Google, that isn’t the end of the story.

Algorithm Changes

Google uses an algorithm or formula that assigns a score to different websites and helps them to determine which ones to show for specific search queries.

Since the whole point of a search engine is to display relevant results to users, Google is constantly tweaking the algorithm and making changes so it works more efficiently.  Most of the changes are unnoticeable, but sometimes they are significant.

The algorithm change known as ‘Penguin’ began penalizing websites that were ‘overly optimized’ in Google’s eyes.  Now, the quality of links pointing back to your site is far more important than the quantity.  Also, the quality of the content on your website must be of high quality and relevant and useful to your visitors.

Before, people would just stuff loads and loads of keywords into pointless text, or point thousands of links back to their own site from low quality sites to get ranked on the first page.  Basically, if you focus on high quality links and high quality content, you will never be penalized by Google, no matter how many algorithm changes they make.

Should I Outsource?

Whether to outsource SEO or not is up to each individual business or website owner, but as you can see it can really make your head spin if you aren’t immersed in the whole Google culture.  Obviously, outsourcing will cost money, but as a business expense it makes sense.  An awful lot goes into getting those sites ranked on the first page, and it may be better left to experts, so you can focus on running your business.