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MozCon Recap and Test Driving a Starship

MozCon 2014The past week, I had the joy of spending the week in Seattle to experience not only my first MozCon, but my first marketing conference. Having spent the majority of my workforce life in hospitality, most conferences were sponsored by food and beverage vendors and were dedicated to eating and drinking the latest and greatest while wandering booths pretending that you hadn’t already tried the meatballs, similar to Costco’s sample day.

Moz went above and beyond anything I could have expected.

There are so many things to mention about the conference, but I’ll recap the top five that really stood out to me.

5. Mike King – API Killah. 
This guy blew the crowd away entirely. If you were following the Twitter feed for #mozcon you would have witnessed a plethora of “I’m officially freaked out.”, “Mike King just blew my mind”, and “WTF?” tweets. He kicked things off by describing a user’s unique fingerprint they leave on each website which was interesting in itself. He then threw us down the rabbit hole of linking APIs to take that fingerprint to find out EXACTLY who each user was, their demographic, their location, their habits, etc. It was insane. Unfortunately, he didn’t also blow us away with his rap skills this year, but I’m told they’re pretty epic. You can download his slide deck from the conference here and follow him on Twitter under the handle @iPullRank.

Mike Ramsey Shuffleboard4. Mike Ramsey – Small Town Man, Doing Big Things
I had the awesome opportunity to meet Mike Ramsey before his presentation and watch him and Ed Reese clean the shuffleboard house at the Unbounce MozCrawl afterparty. The following day he gave his local search presentation and was nothing short of incredible. He creatively and seamlessly incorporated his hometown of Burley, Idaho into every aspect of his slide deck and polished it with gorgeous photography, strategic humor and even pictures of his kids (who may kick you in the face). His firm, Nifty Marketing, focuses on “making local search sexy” and they do a damn good job. Check out his slide deck here and follow the genuinely nice guy on Twitter at @MikeRamsey. He also loves Weezer. Just saying.

Tesla S3. Test Driving A Starship
I have the pleasure of living a short drive (read: long, but worth it) away from Seattle, but it is usually the best idea to cram as many things into the trip as possible. We decided to take a quick break from the conference to walk over to a little car company named Tesla to take one out for a spin. We fully warned our co-pilot that we weren’t planning on buying one for a while and she reassured us that no one is, because you simply can’t; they’re booked out on production for the next year and a half. That being said, we hopped in, played with every option on the 17″ display and took off into the streets of Seattle. With 100% of the torque going straight to the wheels, my face hurt afterwards from smiling too much.
Note: I did not get paid for this shameless plug.

MozCon At The Garage2. MozCon’s Partner Hub
Moz did a great job in picking several partners for the event who hung out outside and gave demos and information on their products. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of fun people and learn more about some of the partners that we use, or are definitely using in the future. Never once did I feel pressured to purchase anything, they simply wanted to share what they were up to and get to know their potential clients. Had great conversations and a fantastic time hanging out with Paul from Buzzstream, Oli and the Unbounce team, and Taylor from Optimizely! Look forward to seeing all of them at future events!

1. Content
I’m not sure the best way to really title this concept that was generated throughout the conference but it is a breath of fresh air. Sure, we can’t game Google search like we used to be able to, but they’re forcing to provide something the internet truly needs: Good Content. We can hate on Google and their 1000s of employed PhDs who tweak and twist their algorithm without anyone knowing the better, skewing our client’s search rankings we’ve pushed so hard to produce. We can get mad every time they name an update after an animal we will soon despise when we see at the zoo, but they’re pushing us to make a better internet. Nearly every presentation held an underlying tone that we can be as technical as we want, but in the end, just make your site better, publish something people will share, write articles readers will love and want to come back to read again. Stop worrying about the little wins and focus on the big picture. The saying I have been throwing around the office lately can sum up the greatest idea from MozCon, “Do the thing”. Time after time, we get caught in the weeds focusing on unimportant projects, or financials, or who knows what, the problem is that we ignore the main idea. #DoTheThing

0. MOZ
So I am probably breaking some sort of countdown rule by going all the way to zero, but I owe the biggest shout out to Moz for putting on a seamless conference. The production value was outstanding with incredible and entertaining videos, great music, food, shirts, and even stuffed Roger dolls. We’ll be back next year, Moz. See you all then.

Shopping for an Internet Marketer? Buyer Beware!

Taming the Wild West

The Search Marketing industry is trying hard to outgrow its Wild West roots. In fact, Google is demanding it by making a concentrated effort to rid its index of low quality content. Google’s algorithms continually evolve to demote and eliminate websites that employ such tactics as: keyword stuffing, manipulated links, doorway pages, hidden text, micro site networks, and exact-match-domain names. These spammy, old-school tactics used to work like magic, but are now liabilities.

In the past, business owners / nonprofits / universities, etc. could put up a website and that, in and of itself, was the achievement. Today, websites require constant updating in keeping with best practices for Usability, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), graphic design, and security protocols. It is a lot to ask of business owners, to display expertise in their field (e.g. auto repair) as well as internet marketing. More and more, internet marketing is requiring not only general expertise, but specialists who focus on one aspect. Trained professionals go to conferences to keep current on skills, trends, and best practices, as well as provide thought leadership through writing, speaking, and presenting. Staying current is an important part of the job description. Unsuspecting business owners need to be wary of internet marketers who have not kept up with best practices for attaining and retaining good rankings in Google search.

Who You Don’t Want to Hire:

Unfortunately, there are quite a few unproven, inexperienced people and agencies calling themselves internet marketers, SEOs and link builders.

  • Some are scammers and spammers who have nothing more behind them than a website, a free email address, and some low-cost helpers who may or may not know what they are doing.
  • Others have good intentions, but do not have the knowledge or expertise to deliver on what they promise.  Sadly, this category includes some traditional marketing or advertising agencies, and newspaper or yellow pages-type outfits. Most of the time, their backgrounds are in paid advertising, rather than in Search, and they cannot seem to get out of that mindset.
  • Some are using other people’s websites to experiment on and try to learn the business. 
  • Sometimes people will even offer to create a website and/or market it for free, but free isn’t always good.

While I have sympathy for newbies trying to break into the market, I don’t want to trust my online business to them any more than I would want to be the first patient an intern does surgery on. Too many people are scrambling onto the internet marketing bandwagon, without first getting appropriate training or earning their chops. None of them will really do you, the business owner, much good in the long run. 

The skill sets needed for successful internet marketing are in huge demand now. Most of us didn’t experience any slow-down during the recession. Now that the economy is picking up, seasoned marketers are raising their prices out of the comfort level of many small, local businesses, because we cannot keep up with the demand for our services. This leaves an opening for new players and scammers. Small business owners are left wondering whom to turn to.

How to Find Quality Internet Marketers

It is not usual to interact with agencies or individuals that are experts at selling. How do you know if they are also good at delivering results? Here are some things to consider when you plan on hiring an individual or company to help you to promote your business online:

Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations. Find out who is delivering new customers to them via the internet, and ask for details. This is the best way to begin your search for someone to hire.

Search online for the name of the person or company, and examine what you find. Have they written articles on their area(s) of expertise? Do they get paid to train other people in what they do? Have they done any public speaking on their topic? Have they earned the respect of their peers, through awards or collegial collaboration? Do they have a detailed profile on Linkedin that shows their own training and experience? If the answer to any or all of these is yes, then they are more likely to be legitimate internet marketers than not. However, the lack of any of these may not be a solid indicator of skills and results – it might mean that they are not concerned with marketing themselves.

Look at reviews and testimonials. Search for reviews of “name here” and complaints “name here.” Take what you read with a grain of salt, but it will give you an overall impression of the company. Be wary of the testimonials published on the company’s website.  After all, no one is going to place bad comments about themselves on their own website. If the testimonials you find are anonymous or only use a first name, they are not as believable as those that display the person’s full name and/or the name of the business.

Ask for references and then communicate with them. I would be very wary of anyone unwilling or unable or to provide references. Some companies insist on non-disclosure, but there must be one or two clients that they’ve worked for who would take a few minutes to speak with you.  If someone has done a bang-up job for them, they should be happy to tell you about it. Don’t demand too much of their time, but do ask what the agency did for them and if they were happy with the results. If they want to tell you more, then listen carefully. What you hear may help you determine if they would be a good fit for you or not.
 
Experienced, proven internet marketers do not make cold calls or send out unsolicited emails fishing for new business. They get plenty of business without using these types of sales tactics. My best advice is to completely ignore any sales calls or emails you receive that you have not specifically requested. Some of these companies are so persistent that you may even need to block their phone numbers and email addresses.

Some of these cold-calling outfits mislead you into believing they are calling from Google or that they have some special arrangement with Google. Most of the time, that’s completely untrue. Please see this article if you want to know Is That Really Google Calling?

Ask them about their guarantees. This is a trick question! No one who really knows Search Marketing will guarantee anything in regards to rankings. There are just too many variables and too many continual and unpredictable changes in Google to make any guarantees. If you hear guarantees about ranking on the first page of Google, run!  Don’t walk, run away!  Those who make such promises are either selling you paid placement via advertising, or their flimsy guarantee will only cover a handful of obscure keyword terms that will not bring you many visitors even if you do rank for them.

Ask them what they plan to do for you and why.  Many marketers will fit you into a pre-determined package of services that depends on your budget and time frame for success. Packages make it easier for the agency, allowing them to provide these services at a lower cost than those who are willing to customize a marketing plan just for you.  Customizing plans requires a thorough examination or audit of your current internet presence, so that the best opportunities can be discovered for your particular business.  You can expect to be charged for this research and planning. Only you can decide what is best for you, your budget and your business, but don’t buy a low cost package and then expect to get more than you are paying for.

Ask them which aspects of internet marketing they specialize in. This is another trick question! Back in the day, all internet marketers were generalists who were able to do just about anything needed. Now, internet marketing has become so complex that it is extremely difficult for any one person to be an expert in every aspect, especially if they haven’t been at it for very long. Subcategories of internet marketing include:  SEO, Local SEO, Social Media Marketing, Conversion Optimization, Email Marketing, PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising, Mobile Marketing, Content Marketing, Analytics, and so on. If someone tells you they specialize in just one or two phases, then that’s great, if that is the area that you need. If you need a well-rounded approach to your online marketing, then look for an agency that has yeoman-like skills in most of the above areas for the best results.  I’d liken this to choosing a family physician over a specialist for your primary medical care. The family physician can take care of most of your needs, and can refer you to a specialist when needed.

If you’re shopping for an internet marketer or agency to help you grow your business online, don’t be dazzled by fast-talking sales people.  Instead, do your homework and find someone you feel confident and comfortable working with.

 

Optimizing for the New Google Maps

The New Google Maps

Recently, Google has greatly changed Maps and it is now available to everyone. You can see a demo of it and sign up for it here.

Google Maps header image

Google Maps banner

The new Maps was clearly designed with two related goals in mind: to assist searchers in finding what they need, and to show them that information right within the search results, when practical. The new Maps is highly interactive, and its tagline, “Discover more with every click,” is designed to enfold users into a more comprehensive experience.

As you move around the map and click on different things, the map’s focus changes, and you see information that may be helpful or relevant, such as photos and directions (by car, public transport, bicycle, or walking). The map is also designed to learn from a user’s actions, and it adapts to become more personalized to their preferences as time goes on.  For example, if you tend to search for, ask for directions to and/or review vegan restaurants frequently, your new Map may begin showing the vegan restaurants near you as you travel around.

When new Maps first appeared, it seemed that Google was attempting to make rankings matter less by not showing businesses in the customary ranking order. But then, it began showcasing the top 3 businesses ranked in the Maps interface. This change not only makes the rankings continue to matter, but it makes ranking in positions 1, 2 or 3 even more critical than it was with the “classic” Maps.

Classic maps view vs new maps

On the Map itself, businesses with more location prominence (think of this as potential ranking power for Local Search) show up with bigger markers than other businesses, and their name is shown on the map. Other businesses have small markers, and some markers are downright tiny, and have no name listed.

new Google Maps result

Ratings, Reviews & Photos – Maps & Local Carousel

Although the new Maps and the Local Carousel were not released at the same time, both features highlight what Google thinks is most important to searchers: reviews, ratings, and photos. If you click on a map point in new Google Maps, a prominent box pops up with star ratings, the number of reviews, snippets of  from reviews, and a Google offer, if the company has one.  Positive online reviews make a difference in consumer’s choices.  The box at the top left expands to show those same features, along with the address, phone number, website, photos, and hours open on the day of the search.

1-New Google Maps 2

If you are not familiar with the Local Carousel, it is a row of listings for local businesses that Google displays at the top of some search results pages. Right now, most of the searches that result in a Local Carousel are related to the hospitality industry. We can only speculate as to whether this is will expand to other industries.

Here is an example of the Local Carousel results for the search query, “seafood near San Francisco”:

new Maps Local Carousel

As you can see, Google is showcasing ratings, reviews and photos.

Also, Google is displaying ratings, reviews, and photos in the Local Knowledge panel that appears when someone hovers over a local listing in the Google organic search results or clicks on a Local Carousel listing. Here’s an example:

local knowledge panel in Google Maps

In Conclusion

To be competitive in the new Maps search, you need to optimize your company’s Local Search presence. If you need more advice about how to maximize your Local Search presence, you are in luck! Our blog has a whole section devoted to Local Search! Help your business have systems in place to ensure that:

  1. You have great star ratings from past customers;
  2. You have plenty of good reviews from past customers; and
  3. You need high-quality photos that appeal to searchers on your website. These photos will appear in your knowledge panel, Maps listing, and Local Carousel listing. Ideally, your photos should convey aspects of your business that will appeal to searchers: kid-friendliness, accessibility, elegance, professionalism, attention to detail, etc.

If you haven’t yet taken a close look at the new Google Maps, get in there, poke around, see how it affects your company, and learn what your competitors are doing. Most importantly, make sure you have a continual system in place to deal with less-than-happy customers out of the public eye, and to encourage more good reviews by people who are happy with you.

Barnacle SEO for Local Search Success

Barnacle SEO for Small Businesses

In Local Search, we often use the phrase, barnacle SEO, which refers to the practice of getting listings on websites that rank for the terms for which you wish to rank. Will Scott, my buddy from Local U, coined the term, “barnacle SEO” in 2011, and defined it as: “Attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.”

Good use of barnacle SEO can help your business to get in front of searchers who may not otherwise find you online. This can result in referrals from search engines, review sites, and aggregate websites. You will likely find one or two websites that will send you a decent number of referrals, but you also might want to consider casting a broader net. Getting a few referrals from many different websites can have a nice, positive impact on your bottom line.

Face it: very few small business websites will ever rank #1 organically for the most well-searched terms that are applicable to them. Terms like “hotel,” or “doctor,” or “electrician,” or “Italian restaurant,” are usually dominated by powerful sites, like Trip Advisor (hotel), Health Grades (doctor), Angie’s List (electrician), and Yelp (Italian restaurants).  These brands are trusted, and people use them to find the types of businesses they list. Therefore, your business needs to be listed on as many of these sites that rank on the first page for your high-volume search terms as possible.

Here is an example of the top Google search results for the search term, “Denver steak houses”:

SERPS for Denver steak hosue

As you can see, the 4 top-ranking websites are not from steak houses in Denver, but from websites that list the steak houses in Denver. The first business-owned steak house listing is the fifth listing, and it is followed by 2 more directory-type websites, Yellowpages and Opentable. If you own a steak house in Denver, it would behoove you to be listed on as many of these aggregate and review sites as you can. The review sites are far more well-known, and they frequently appear in the first page of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). A listing on this Cityvoter page may not be one you could easily obtain:

SERP result for Denver steak houses

However, you can get free listings on Yelp, Urban Spoon and Yellowpages with just a little time and effort. Some sites, like Denver.org and Opentable, require membership, which may or may not be worthwhile for your particular restaurant.  You may want to investigate the return of investment (ROI) of your advertising with them.

DIY Advertising on a Budget:

Small business owners could benefit from a few minutes or hours of strategic research. Here’s how:

  • Plug in the search terms or keywords that are most applicable to your business into your favorite search engines;
  • Make a list of which websites appear on the first page of the search engine results; and
  • Investigate the websites in which these search terms appear; and
  • If you think your business could benefit from a listing, sign up.

If you’re not familiar with the referral sites in the results, take a look at them and see what opportunities there might be for you to get listed on them.  This is also a good way to see how your business peers are spending their time and advertising dollars. Consider paying to get listed on sites that look promising, but if you have a small budget, then just get started with the free ones.

In addition to being found on these sites and gaining more exposure and new customers from them, barnacle SEO can also help you to own a bigger chunk of the real estate on the first page of the search results.

Here is an example of one business dominating the search results for the query,  “jewelry repair Indianapolis”:

Example of SERPS for jewelry repair

This picture shows only some of the search results for Rudy’s Watch & Jewelry Repair. If you perform this search yourself, you will see even more results for Rudy’s on the first page. Way to be a barnacle, Rudy!

Common Myths About
Google Places

Myth #1: A business owns its Google Places listing.

Google Places owns all the business listings it publishes. Adapting to this fact may be difficult for some small business owners, because they are accustomed to having complete control over their listings in other directories, especially in the print yellow pages.  Businesses pay dearly for print ads in phone directories, and thus have control of their content. A Google Places listing is free, but the business owner has little control over it.

Myth #2: Google Places uses only the info that a business owner provides.

The myth that once a Google Places listing is verified, a business owner provides the information that appears in the online listing is just that: a myth. If Google simply published what people put in their business listings, their local index would be warped into uselessness by spammers. The information a business owner provides via the Places dashboard is just one set of data that Google takes into account. Google also considers the data it receives from data providers, trusted local and industry directories, government records, phone and utility companies, what is published on the business’s own website(s), and what it learns from other reliable sources. If multiple trusted sources disagree with what the business owner provides, that version of the facts may prevail over the owner’s input. David Mihm provides a great explanation of how Google gathers and uses data here.

Myth #3: You don’t need a website to prosper in Local Search.

In the past, many businesses with no website have been able to rank well in Google’s Local Search results. This trend has been changing over the past few years. The top 2-4 positions in most Local Packs that appear within the organic search results tend to be held by companies that have both a strong Google Maps ranking and a website with a strong Google organic ranking. If your local market is competitive, you are more likely to need a strong website to rank near the top of the Local Packs.

Search results for local locksmith

Myth #4: Your Business’s Google+ Page is now your Google Places listing.

Google Places and Google+ are not the same thing.  Places is still your local business listing and Google+ Business is the platform on which you can be social using Google’s network of connections. In many cases, but not all, the two can be associated with each other within one Google account, resulting in a Places business listing which has Google+ social features.  Your About page on Google+ is one of the spots where your business information from Places can appear.

Conclusion: 

As you can see, Google Places can be a great tool for your business, but it has to be managed deliberately, like any other aspect of your business communication strategy.

Do You Need A Mobile-Friendly Website?

Power to the people smartphone - red

Photo Credit: upshot.net

Business owners often ask if they need a mobile website. The short answer is a resounding, unequivocal:YES!

If you use the internet to serve existing customers, and you want to attract new customers, then you definitely need a website that renders well and is easy to use on mobile devices. This not only includes smartphones, but all sizes and makes of tablets.

You may ask yourself, “Why do I need a mobile website?” Again, the short, unequivocal answer is: Mobile is where your customers are.

Over 50% of mobile phone users in the US now have smartphones, and 80% of them say they don’t leave home without their phone.

Smartphone Penetration By Age Group

Google reports that mobile search queries on its search engine have exploded by 500% in the past 5 years.  It also indicates that 20% of all searches for phones and phone services take place on mobile devices, along with 25% of all searches for movies and 30% of all restaurant queries. Enormous numbers of searches for retail products, travel, financial and personal and professional services are also completed from smartphones.  (Do you hear that foot traffic? No? It’s the sound of people going to your competitors’ places of business, the ones that have mobile websites.) If you are in one of these industries, and your website is not mobile-friendly, you are losing out on a huge chunk of potential business.

This chart breaks out what kinds of mobile searches Americans are doing, and explores how on-the-go people shop online:

US Mobile Shopping Behavior 2012

In the United States, an estimated 25% of internet users do so only via mobile devices.

This trend is strongest among younger people, whose power-use of their smartphones keeps them wired 24/7, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. They communicate via voice, text, video chat, photos, as well as email and social networks, like Twitter and Facebook. They also get their news, weather and time from their phones instead of other media. They use their phones for searching, mapping, banking, shopping, and all kinds of entertainment: from gaming, to listening to music, to watching the latest movies.  (If you doubt this claim and need further proof, check out this colorful photo essay.)

If attracting and interacting with younger people is important for your business, you needed a mobile friendly website yesterday, not tomorrow.

If you operate a global business, mobile is even more important to your future.

There are more than 6 billion mobile subscribers in the world: more that 87% of our global population. Over 30% of those subscribers are in the rapidly-expanding Asian markets of China and India. Studies show that over 40% of online shopping in Brazil and Australia takes place on mobile devices. In the United Kingdom, the US and Canada, that number is about 30%.

There is a huge gap between those who or do not use mobile devices in terms of their access to information, timeliness of communication, and the ability to interact with others.  There is also an ever-widening chasm between businesses that get mobile marketing, and those who think otherwise. Check out Google’s Mobile Playbook: The Busy Executive’s Guide to Winning with Mobile if you are ready to get going.

Your customers and potential customers are rapidly moving into the future. Are you going with them or will you be left behind?

Why Get Listed University Works for Business Owners

The Get Listed Faculty at O'Doherty's the night before the 1st Get Listed University event.

Get Listed University has presented to nearly 2,000 business owners and marketing professionals since our innagural event in Spokane in February of 2010. It’s been amazing to be part of such an A-List team. It’s a priveledge (and absolute blast) to get to spend time with these wonderful people five or six times a year at these events. But what’s been even more incredible is talking with business owners over the years and being in a position to help. I’ve been thinking about Get Listed University a lot recently and wanted to put together a quick summary of why I think Get Listed University is so valued by business owners.

1) No Pitches. Ever.
I go to a lot of conferences. Nothing makes mad like traveling to a conference, paying the price of admission, and then getting pitched by a presenter. At Get Listed there are no “back of the room” sales, no pitching of our services in any way, and no uttering the cardinal sin of the conference upsell world,… “We’ll be covering that at the follow-up conference for just X dollars. Register today!” Nope. That just ain’t our style.

2) We Don’t Hold Back Any Content.
Not only do we not hold back content, we continue to find ways to provide even more content for business owners to use to their advantage. For example, this year we have created a more formal structure for our site clinics to really maximize it so you’ll have more time to ask any of our experts 1-on-1 questions about YOUR website.

3) We Provide Actionable Information & Real Case Studies
This information is not collegiate theory. You will literally be able to take these insights and apply them immediatelly to your business the following day. We use examples highlighting how real businesses use these strategies to improve their business. In fact, David is unveiling a new presentation in Spokane called “Prioritizing Your S*!t” that provides a roadmap of actions that will guide you along your way to online greatness.

4) The Faculty are Amazing!
I’m not kidding when I say how fortunate I feel to be part of this team. At times I feel like snuck in the back of the pickup when they left for town – and now they’re stuck with me :) These folks are the best in the business! We are so fortunate to have them back in Spokane again.

5) We Know & Respect Business.
We know running a business is hard. I believe all us have either owned a business in the past or are current business owners. We know it’s tough to committ a day to learn about online marketing and we work very hard to make every second count. We keep finding new ways to improve the events for our attendees. For example, for the Spokane event this year we added social media and paid search as well as expanded our site clinics.

Bonus) We Do Our Best to Make it a Dang Good Time!
We know your brains will be full by the end of the day. But we balance your efforts with a good dose of humor, enough food and snacks to keep you fueled up, personalized Q&A, and an awesome networking happy hour to close the event out right! It’s also important to note that our speakers don’t take themselves too seriously and are approachable the entire day with any questions you have for them.

What t-shirt will Mike Blumenthal be wearing this year? Oh, the suspense!

We look forward to seeing you at Get Listed this year! If you have any questions about the event please feel free to call the Sixth Man Marketing office at 509-624-5580 or going directly to the Get Listed University website.

Get Listed University – Spokane Agenda Video Preview

Get Listed University – April 27th, 2012

Location: Northern Quest Resort & Casino
Time: Friday, April 27th from 8am to 5pm
Cost: $199 (Save $50 by entering “SIXTHMAN” as your discount code at checkout.)
Agenda: Complete Get Listed Spokane Agenda
Capacity: The event is limited to 100 people and will likely sell-out. Register now!
Registration: Call (509) 624-5580 with any questions about registration or register on the Get Listed Website today!

We’re really looking to this year’s Get Listed Event. I’m excited knowing that I’ll get to hang out with the Get Listed Crew again soon. And so can you! These are some really amazing people, folks.

Awesome Analytics, Local Search, SEO, Social Media, & Converstion Rate Optimization Info

A big thank you to The Spokane Club and everyone that attended my presentation earlier this week at their Networking Breakfast! I really appreciated your questions, engagement, and enthusiasm. As I mentioned during our session, I want to provide additional resources for you to continue your education in the ways of analytics, SEO, local search, social media, and conversion rate testing. We covered a lot of topics in a short period of time and as a follow-up I wanted to create an awesome resource library for you. Now it’s time for you to choose your own Internet marketing adventure and learn from the best and brightest in the industry.

ANALYTICS, ANALYTICS, ANALYTICS
analytics-culture1conversions

As I’m sure you recall from my presentation, I hammered home the importance of understanding analytics. I’m not talking about “reporting” or “monthly reports” for your boss. I’m talkin’ about kick-butt, actionable analytics that teach, provide valuable insight, and inspire action. What’s workin,’ baby? What does the data tell us today? This higher level of attention to your data is not optional… if you want your business to succeed. You must “know thy data.” Here’s how:

Occam’s Razor – Awesome analyics blog from Avinash Kaushik
Web Analytics an Hour a Day – Great introduction to actionable analytics (also from Avinash)
Google Analytics Blog – Resource for understanding Google Analytics (beginner & advanced)
Google Analytics Videos – Educational videos that show how to use Google Analytics
Conversion University – A curriculum of analytics video tutorals
Analytics 2.0 [The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity] (Thanks Avinash!)

MAKE SURE YOUR WEB SITE CONVERTS TRAFFIC

I think it’s great when companies embrace new technologies and ways of thinking. Social media has taken the Internet marketing world by storm and generated all kinds of buzz (much of it well deserved) this year. However, I’m always wary of what I call the “Shiny Penny Syndrome.” It’s a condition where companies throw resources at the latest and greatest marketing techniques without testing and tracking what the shiny penny actually does. I’ve also seen companies completely stop doing what works (like email marketing) just because it doesn’t have that new marketing smell.

Don’t Make Me Think – Great read (really fast, too) about web site usability
Conversion Rate Experts – UK company focused solely on conversion rate optimization
108 Ways to Improve Conversion Rates (from Conversion Rate Experts)
Google Web Site Optimizer Blog (The Official Optimizer Blog)
Always Be Testing – Great book for learning A/B & Multivariate testing
Marketing Experiments – I love these guys. Their webcasts rock!

LOCAL SEARCH = LOW HANGING FRUIT

spokane-restaurants

As an Internet marketer I’m always looking for the low-hanging fruit–”the best bang-for-the-buck in the shortest period of time. And for most small and medium businesses that’s Local Search. Like I mentioned before, this doesn’t mean you stop doing everything else and go local only. It means that it’s time for a dedicated local search strategy to compliment your existing marketing efforts. Learn more from these experts:

David Mihm – Portland, OR Local Search expert & designer
2009 Local Search Ranking Factors – I’m proud to be a contributor to this research project :)
Mary Bowling – Denver, CO Local Search expert
Understanding Google Maps & Local Search – For those that want details, details, details.
Small Business SEM – Local Search + SMB Advice = Awesome!
Miriam Ellis – San Francisco, CA Local Search expert & designer
Chris Silver Smith – Cartographer & Local Search expert. Again, for folks that want the technical details.

ORGANIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)

There is a lot of information out there about SEO. In fact, there is so much information that it’s tough to know where you should even begin. These folks provide the best information and their content is always up to date.

SEOmoz – Free and premium levels of membership – Both are great!
SEO Book – Again, free and premium levels of membership – Great as well
Search Engine Journal – Free SEO content from a variety of SEO experts – including me starting next month
Search Engine Land – Center of the universe for all things search – Look through the categories
Vanessa Fox – She has an uncanny ability to explain complex details in very simple terms
Rand Fishkin’s HostingCon Preso – Awesome SEO explanation (and motivation for my art project)

BUT WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about social media. Remember, this socia media stuff is new for everybody so the importance of testing and learning from data is paramount. I think this bit of reading will provide good insight for you.

Outspoken Media – More than social media, but they cover it very well. Many good social media posts here.
Copyblogger – Read Copyblogger now! Writing is so freakin’ important. This is one of my favorite blogs!
7 Harsh Realities of Social Media Marketing – Great new post from Copyblogger
Trackur – Cool way to track social media mentions & reputation
Samepoint – See all mentions of your name or company online. A very cool social media monitoring tool.
5 Facebook Case Studies – Yes, 5 real case studies about marketing with FB.
Twitter, Tacos, & Trucks – The Story of Kogi Bar-B-Que

LIKE I SAID,… WHAT MATTERS IS HOW IT HELPS YOUR BUSINESS
Here’s an example from the presentation. I know it’s hard to believe,… but I didn’t even go to art school!
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WANT MORE INFORMATION? HAVE QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? JUST LET ME KNOW.

Please feel from to leave a comment below, send an email, or contact me at my office (509-456-4350).

Contributor – 2009 Local Search Ranking Factors

I was proud to participate in David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors project this year. It has quickly become one of the most anticipated articles in the Local Search industry each year.

David asked 27 Local Search experts to rate the importance of 49 criteria with respect to their influence on rankings in the Google and Yahoo Local “Universal” search algorithms. These are the factors that trigger a local map result from perceived local search queries. Since early 2008 all the major search engines now display a map for locally-focused keywords.

Gain insight into local search drivers and understand how your business can get found in Maps and increase online exposure.