SEO/SEM/Social Media Marketing – STOP – 4 Reasons Why!

[This article was originally published on LinkedIn (7-28-14) in slightly different form.]

web genius picKarl “Web Genius” Steinmann here. I’ve been doing traditional SEO/SEM/social media marketing for a long time. I've ranked pages, videos and even whole sites to page one, number one on Google. I've spent years in the trenches doing all the dirty jobs, from content creation to backlink generation. Recently, I've spent a lot of time on social media, which, as many will agree, is an additional huge and largely worthless time suck. I've even dominated the entire first page of Google, controlling ten out of ten slots! Few SEO firms can deliver anything like that. The upshot is, I know of what I speak.

So here's the thing: In my considered opinion (and I know this is going to be controversial) professionals and small businesses operators have been thoroughly deceived by the industry about SEO/SEM/social media marketing. In fact, I have come to the rather radical conclusion that for most, online marketing is a more or less complete and utter waste of time and money!

Unless you're doing paid search the right way, that is! But more on that below. Continue reading SEO/SEM/Social Media Marketing – STOP – 4 Reasons Why!

Lawyer Leads with Google Adwords – Free eBook!

web genius picKarl “Web Genius” Steinmann here. I'm working with a number of law professionals these days, and plan to work with more. As part of my ongoing “mission” to bring more people into the fold of PPC marketing, I wrote The Google Adwords Verdict specifically for legal eagles. It's all about the best way to generate “lawyer leads” and “attorney leads” I know of or have ever seen. It's seriously powerful stuff.

ppc marketing-pay per click graphicThe thing is, this “lil ebook” really applies to any profession or business which either has A) a high initial customer value and/or B) a high lifetime customer value. So while it's geared specifically for lawyers and attorneys, it's lessons are near universal, and can be applied to any business enterprise or profession. Best of all, it can make you a lot more money!

Continue reading Lawyer Leads with Google Adwords – Free eBook!

Google Hangouts Help – FREE eBook – Bad Ass Hangouts

Google Hangouts Help – Get It Now!

Since you're here, it's pretty obvious that you know about the power and potential of Google Hangouts. And it's also a pretty good guess that you're here seeking help with Google Hangouts. So don't feel bad! Despite what your internal dialogue may be saying, it's not you! You're not stupid, and you're not alone.

google hangouts helpGoogle Hangouts are incredibly valuable, powerful things. The technology is amazing. But like much of the whole Google+ suite of products, it's interface and instruction set seems to have been specifically tasked to the proverbial room full of monkeys (possibly not even trained). Continue reading Google Hangouts Help – FREE eBook – Bad Ass Hangouts

How to Get Page One Ranking in Google – If You Dare!

Everyone who is serious about having a successful website is concerned about web ranking, and more particularly, about achieving a page one ranking for one or more relevant keywords. Even in the age of social media, it's a real issue and concern.

In just the last few years, Google and the other big search engines have incorporated what are called “social signals” as a critically important metric for determining the quality of content. Once upon a time, before Facebook and Twitter, it was all about SEO and backlinks. Now social is the single most important driver in determining whether you have a page one ranking in the search results – or not!

The truth is, it has been and still relatively easy to game the “ranking system” with backlinks. Backlinks can be bought and built with relative ease and at a reasonable cost. But it's much, much, MUCH harder to fake real virality (i.e. human interest and real sharing). The folks at Google, being pretty darn smart, have figured that out. Besides the fact that social sharing is very relevant anyway, it's become the prime indicator for Google of whether a site is worthy of being ranked well.

As a consequence, it now weights social activities such as Likes, Shares, Favorites, etc. – the above mentioned “social signals” – as the single most important factor in determining page rank. SEO and backlinks still matter – just not nearly as much as they once did.

The upshot is this: if you want to “rank on page one,” you'd better have good social signals.

So, these days, the ranking algorythm – which is the top-secret formula concocted by Google to determine a page's worth – pays a lot of attention to Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest, etc. Just as you ought to pay careful attention to Matt Cutts' “social signals,” particularly in the following video.

Matt Cutts, being a Google insider and the company's point person on all matters related to SEO, page rank, backlinks, webmastering, etc. is the recognized authority on “how Google works.” One would be very, very wise to pay very close attention to what he says and heed his advice.

Mr. Cutts releases new videos frequently, answering questions from the public (if extreme web dorks can really be considered “the public”) and generally dispensing valuable info without guile.

No matter what web masters and business owners may think of Google, that is all to the good. Without Cutts, we'd know even less about the inner workings of Google – and we don't know enough as it is.

These days – as always – the company's driving imperative is to provide the best user experience for it's users as possible. To that end, Cutts is helping web masters to the extent that he can, without giving away the exact details that would allow the unscrupulous to take undue advantage.

Quite often neither Cutts nor Google discloses enough information to truly satisfy, particularly for those of in the web marketing community who rely heavily on our understanding of how Google works to do our jobs. Fortunately, through trial and error and judicious reverse-engineering, the general parameters of the Google algorythm have been understood. We want more, but what we do know is sufficient for a high degree of success, and what it takes to get a page one ranking.

In the above mash-up of Matt Cutts' various presentations, one can learn a tremendous amount. But as with all information presented online – regardless of the source – one must assess with a jaundiced eye. It is important to know whether information is to be trusted. To some degree, only time and experience can lead to true wisdom and discernment on this, as in any, subject.

So having said all that, follow what is presented here only if you dare! 😉

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Small Business Marketing (Infographic) – Did You Know Series | Part 3B

Part 1A | Part 1B | Part 2A | Part 2B | Part 3A | Part 3B

So here we are, the end of the road for our Small Business Marketing Infographics – Do You Know series. Part 3B of 3 parts. We hope you've learned something of value along the way.

86% of web surfers look for local businesses to patronize! | So can they FIND YOU to BUY FROM YOU? Take the Google Test to find out how your small business marketing is doing! | Brought to you by

Presumably, you just took the FreeGrader test. If you haven't you can head on over to FreeGrader right now and get your score. The test looks at more than just where you are in Google, but across the web as well. It analyzes your overall small business marketing footprint, if you will.

As shown on the infographic above, what we're looking for is a score of 85-90. A score that high (or higher) is fantastic, and represents a very sold web presence in which there is a high probability of being found in local web search. But if you didn't score that high, there's reason for concern – the lower the score, the greater the concern!

NOTE: the FreeGrader test is really only a loose, rule-of-thumb assessment of your overall web presence. A much more comprehensive online “audit” is usually recommended.

In any event, we think the data we've provided, combined with the tests you've done for yourself, should have done two things for you: 1) convince you (if you needed it) that having a strong web presence is critically important today, and only becoming more so, and 2) that there is no avoiding it if you want to be relevant to your local marketplace (and even in business at all).

So, there are basically two ways to go about fixing a less-than-stellar score from FreeGrader. And if you “flunked” the prior tests (GetListed and Google) too, you've really got a lot of work ahead of you.

1) You can attempt DIY (Do It Yourself). 

As discussed in my article series The Small Business Marketing Catch-22, this is a daunting task, but it's not impossible – just improbable. Most small business owners, entrepreneurs and managers simply don't have the time.

The reality is that if you're not an SEO/social media expert, odds are you're going to have to become one. Why? Because you have to know what to do, even if you're only directing the efforts of others (like the college kid you thought could run your social media efforts).

You may “save some money” over the cost of hiring a professional, except that in place of money, you'll be burning time. Lots of it. And in so doing, you'll be taking yourself away from the things you are really good at (and presumably like to do), only to embark on a very, very steep learning curve that comes complete with an ever-changing, highly confusing curriculum.

2) You can hire an expert. 

No matter how you do it, what's entailed is nothing less than building out a web presence into all the right channels, in the right sequence and using the right techniques, to get the fastest results possible – all without upsetting Google!

See, Google likes it when sites grow organically. In fact, it will give maximum love to sites it really likes. Conversely, Google hates it when people try to game the system and “cheat” their way to success online.

Do even the right things in the wrong sequence – or too fast – and you can jeopardize everything you're working so hard to build. Playing in the sandbox was a fun thing as a child, but being in Google's sandbox is not a good thing.

Now the definition of “cheating” online is a gray one, because one man's perfectly acceptable, if aggressive, web marketing campaign may be another's shameless efforts to buy success. Ironically, Google loves it when you “buy success” – so long as it's the Adwords advertising platform you're buying it with. Otherwise, not so much.

The objective of an effective small business marketing strategy online is to create the kind of web presence that causes a significant portion of all those web searches, calls, leads and visits to come to you. It can be done with “free” methods, or paid ones (the aforementioned Adwords, as well as Facebook ads and other ad networks) or a combination of the two.

The old expression “all roads lead to Rome” is an apt one in this circumstance. In fact, in many marketplaces today, it's entirely possible to utterly and completely dominate it. You wouldn't necessarily know that such a thing was possible just by looking at Google search results. Somehow, all the slots are always filled, right? But just because they are filled, doesn't mean the competition knows what it's doing.

The fact is, very few folks in the local marketplace know what they're doing online these days. While it's entirely possible to have a decent web presence entirely “by accident” in small markets, we do not recommend total apathy and/or ignorance as an effective small business marketing strategy!

What we do recommend is that you take your online marketing and web presence very seriously. Doing it right means having all the leads, business and sales you could ask for – even to the point of “owning” your local market. But not doing it right is fraught with peril. Not only will you be losing out on business you could and should have, with every day you wait you're making the competition stronger and your future chance to “get in the game” harder and harder.

We recommend kicking your small business marketing into high gear with all speed, and we're here to help if you think you need it.

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