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People who want free SEO and don't want to pay for it

A few days ago someone emailed me asking for a lengthy list of SEO books that I would recommend for people who want to do their own SEO.

My response was as follows:

"Certainly. How many hours worth of research are you looking for to construct this list of books?

Payment is $30 USD per hour and must be paid in advance via either PayPal or Interac Email Transfer."


They never responded to the email, possibly realizing that constructing a list of SEO books is a time intensive activity and thus would constitute "work".

I was not expecting a response either. The tone of my response was polite, but it implied the concept of "nothing is free" and if you want to do your work for you, then you had best be paying for my efforts.

So here is a handy SEO Tip... Either:

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH

or

PAY SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT FOR YOU

I have a life. I don't have time to waste constructing "lists" for people who are not paying me. If I have books listed on one of my websites, then please go read the website. I am not going to waste my valuable time doing research for someone else for free.

Expecting people to do your work for free may harken back to Tom Sawyer tricking his friends into painting the fence for him, but just because it worked for the fictional Tom Sawyer on his hick friends, doesn't mean that nonsense will work today.

Sheesh.


Clueless SEO Clients from H E Double Hockey Sticks

Once in awhile a SEO expert gets hired by someone who knows almost nothing about the internet, how SEO works, or even what a "keyword" is. Such clients are like babies in a crib fumbling around with Alphabet Blocks trying to make something. Are they trying to make a word? Are they trying to build a fortress out of the blocks. Nobody knows because they are so nonsensical.

The clients want something done to bring in extra customers. They heard from somewhere that SEO people are the experts when it comes to advertising, but they don't really know what it is they want beyond that.

Do they want Search Engine Optimization? Probably. That is what SEO stands for, but don't expect the clueless client to know that.

Do they want SMO? "Maybe. What is SMO?" they ask. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. "Oh yes we want that!" they say because they recognize the brand names and therefore think it must be a good idea (despite the fact SMO has very low Returns On Investment).

Do they want PPC? "Wait, doesn't that cost money?" Yes sir, everything I am listing costs money. "But I would be paying you to do PPC for me, which means I am spending money to have you spend money. Doesn't it?" Yes, technically that is true. But you get more bang for your buck if you hire an expert to optimize your PPC campaigns. "Oh, okay."

And so forth.

Take for example the image below...

In this humourous example of client cluelessness they have removed all text from the website, ignoring the advice of the SEO expert. They have done so without even consulting the SEO expert and then blamed the expert for their sudden reduction in ranking.

 Any SEO expert reading this will go "Yup, I've had something similar happen to me." because they can relate to dealing with clueless clients who ignore instructions.

It would be like if you were teaching someone archery and you ask them to aim higher. They ignore you and shoot, the arrow falling short of the target. Then you ask "Did you aim higher?" And they say they did not. Why? Apparently because some people are stubborn and refuse to listen to the expert - or refusing to admit the expert is right.

This happens all the time. Not just in SEO or teaching fields. It could be a simple matter of tech support.

"Sir, is the caps lock on?"

"Do you think I would have phoned you for tech support if I did not check to see if the caps lock was on?"

"It happens sometimes."

"Well I already checked it..."

A minute later. "Um. Okay, I got it working."

"Great. What was the problem?"

Click.

In the above example the person clearly had the caps lock on, but they didn't want to admit that was the problem. Partially because of embarrassment, partially because they didn't want to admit the expert was right in checking the most common causes first.

Back to SEO imagine for example by a client who asks to be in the top ten search rankings for a topic unrelated to their website. A keyword that is extremely popular like S E X. Meanwhile their website is for automotive insurance. You try to explain to them that they are asking for the impossible, to promote a website for such a popular keyword that is totally unrelated. The client explains their logic "If we get just a tiny percentage of traffic from that keyword then we will get way more traffic overall - and a percentage of that traffic will buy automotive insurance." Okay, yes, technically that is logical. But wouldn't it make more sense to focus on promoting the words automotive insurance - because then you are guaranteed to get a higher Return On Investment because that is what people are actually looking for, plus there is no way an automotive insurance website will come up in the top 10 for such a popular and unrelated keyword. It would be a complete waste of money and be "a drop in the bucket" compared to the 325 million+ websites out there containing the word.

It would be like a Toronto divorce lawyer wanting to show up in search results for New York immigration lawyer. Do they have a law practice in New York? No. Are they an immigration lawyer? No. "Oh but there are lots of immigrants in New York who need immigration lawyers and if they get deported they might come to Canada." Right. Twisted logic that depends on the possibility that people might come to Canada from New York, might come to Toronto, and might need a divorce lawyer. That is a lot of mights to be wasting your money on.

To my fellow SEO experts I give my sympathies. We have to deal with these clueless clients far too often. It is a blessing whenever you get a client who at least understands how keywords work and the importance of relevant keywords in SEO.

Who cares if you have a high Clickthru Rate if nobody is buying your product???

When it comes to PPC advertising you have to remember that you are Paying Per Click - not per view, and not per sale.

Pay Per View Advertising means that there is no guarantee that people will even click on your ad.

Pay Per Sale Advertising (commission sales) means the person hosting the advertising has no guarantee that you will even make a sale. Pay Per Sale is basically the Scrooge McDuck way of making money because it means you never spend a dime unless you are guaranteed a profit first.

You might be selling Useless Ugly Widgets (UUWs for short, pronounced EWWs) and frankly if your UUWs are really terrible nobody is going to buy them no matter how much you advertise. If you were selling Useless Cute Widgets you might actually make some sales, or possible Handy Ugly Widgets more sales - and if you were selling Handy Cute Widgets then they would be flying off the shelves due to the overwhelming sales. Paying someone on commission to sell HCWs is a waste of money because they sell themselves anyway. But nobody wants to waste their time trying to sell UUWs because they know it is an extremely difficult sale to make.

Pay Per Click Advertising is the happy middle ground between these two types of advertising, wherein the advertising host (publisher, search engine, etc) is still getting paid based on the number of clicks - and the advertiser is guaranteed traffic based on the number of clicks purchased.

However one of the problems I have noticed is that people place too much emphasis on attaining a higher Clickthru Rate (CTR), which for those who don't know is a measurement of how many people saw your ad and what percentage of people clicked the ad.

So for example if 1000 people viewed your ad and 25 people clicked it, your CTR would be 2.5%.

However let us pretend for a moment that you used false advertising to encourage people to click your ad. You jazzed it up and made it sexy. But when they went to your website they saw you were selling UUWs, exclaimed "Yuck! Who would buy that ugly thing!" and then left the page.

Which means zero sales.

[Note: I am going to be mentioning some statistics soon. If you want to learn more about these statistics please read Search Engine Click Thru Rates.]

Let us pretend for a moment you are selling real estate in Toronto and you are spending a LOT of money on PPC advertising. As a real estate agent your goal is to sell houses that are worth over $500,000 (or more) and you get 5% of every sale you make - which is $25,000.

But in order to make that $25,000 you might be spending upwards of $1,000 (or more) in advertising each individual house. If you are spending that on PPC and perhaps spending $5 per click (real estate advertising is very expensive and there is a lot of competition). That $5 per click only gets you 200 people to your website. Most of them will browse around and leave in the first 30 seconds. What you are after however are the people who spend 5 to 10 minutes on your website and then contact you asking for help in purchasing the house in question.

Now ask yourself, when it comes to house sales (or selling widgets) how important is the clickthru rate on the advertising?

Let us say for example you had a very high clickthru rate of 10%, would that be a guarantee that the people would browse around and actually contact you to buy your house?

The answer is nope. It has no bearing on sales whatsoever.

Having a High CTR is really just bragging rights.

Business Owner - "Oh look, people are clicking my ad quite often!"

Colleague - "Are they buying anything?"

Business Owner - "Err... Nope. Not yet. What am I doing wrong?"

Ideally what you want is a product that sells really easily, and then a high CTR would actually be useful because people would be acting like Fry from Futurama ("Shut up and take my money!"), but if you are not selling Handy Cute Widgets then having a high CTR doesn't actually mean you will be making sales.

And sales is what matters most when you are running a business and advertising it.

People tend to get distracted easily by shiny objects or bragging rights. Having a high CTR is really meaningless if you don't have the accompanying sales.

For example if your ad was shown to 1000 people, 25 people clicked it (2.5% CTR) and then all 25 people purchased your product, well then you've got yourself a hot ticket item that everyone will want to purchase. But that doesn't really happen however. Much more likely you will have a CTR that is too high and a Purchasing Rate that is too low.

For example did you know that the Purchasing Rate goes up after midnight in your time zone? Between 12 AM and 5 PM people are more likely to purchase things because they are tired, low on cognitive power, and more likely to buy foolish things. That is why middle-of-the-night infomercials are so profitable. People buy it because their cognitive powers are reduced and they are easily tricked into buying widgets they think are useful (and often turn out to be annoying to clean).

So your goal instead should be to advertise between the hours of 12 AM and 5 AM because that is the time period when people are more likely to whip out their credit card and make a purchase. With PPC you can actually choose to limit your advertising to a specific region in the world (your time zone, your city, or even specific neighbourhoods) and to limit the advertising to specific times of day when people are most likely to make a purchase.

Let us all pretend for a moment you are trying to sell Expensive Fancy Widgets (EFWs) then you might also decide you only want to advertise to people who live in rich Toronto neighbourhoods like Rosedale, Leaside, Bridle Path, etc.

Basically you explore every option available to you in an effort to increase the Purchasing Rate of your target audience.

Clickthru Rate Vs Purchasing Rate Conclusions?

Stop worrying about the clickthru rate and worry about how many people are visiting your website and what percentage of sales you are making. If you are getting 1000 visitors and 10 people buying your products that is better than getting 10,000 visitors and only 1 person buying a product.

The Problem with Revenue Per Sale (RPS) Affiliate Advertising

Let me start by explaining how affiliate advertising works.

The company, lets say it is Cute Fuzzy Widget Inc., sells a variety of cute fuzzy widgets - and they are having difficulties advertising and selling their product because nobody knows what a widget is, nobody cares and the product doesn't really sell itself.

So they start an affiliate program and let gullible people advertise their widgets for them, essentially for free.

The people who do the advertising are paid a commission for each widget sale they make.

Supposedly.

Maybe.

Rarely.

Often never.

The reason why is because affiliate programs which use a Revenue Per Sale (RPS) model often don't pay out. They get the free advertising, but often gyp the people doing the advertising / never actually pay out.

Basically, for the person doing all the work, affiliate programs are a complete waste of time. Especially for products that are difficult to sell.

It would be another matter if the product was actually something that was easy to sell - but this is not the case with the companies that use affiliate programs. The products, frankly, are horrible and often have really bad product reviews.

Finding a company with good product reviews that dabbles in affiliate programs is extremely rare. Why? Because their products sell themselves, sometimes via word-of-mouth. They don't even need to advertise. They keep making sales with barely trying.

Here are four commonly used advertising techniques used by affiliate programs.

#1. Spam. How annoying is that?

#2. Commission ONLY / Revenue Per Sale (RPS). Meaning you don't get paid unless they actually sell something.

#3. Faulty recording of sales. Even if you did sell their product, they might not tell you about it.

#4. Trashy products that are difficult to sell.

#5. Scams - meaning they are trying to trick people into buying something that they will never receive, or possibly even pretending to be a company they are not so they can trick people into giving their bank or credit card information.

#6. Unethical Advertising - Not just spam, but also fake landing pages, fake blogs, fake celebrity endorsements, etc.

#7. Pyramid Scheme Affiliates - Basically the idea wherein you recruit 3 people, they recruit 3 people, etc and for every person under you then you make more money. It just costs $699 to sign up...


The end result is that Revenue Per Sale (RPS) Affiliate Advertising is a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME.

So just don't bother.

Stick to cash in advance for every advertisement you do, Pay Per Click (PPC) and advertising that is guaranteed to pay out.

Social Media Experts = Funny


I must admit that "Social Media Experts" (people who deal primarily in Facebook, Twitter, etc) give online marketing a bad rep.

And what good is web traffic if it doesn't also increase sales?

Hiring a SMO (Social Media Optimizer) should have some kind of long term ROI (Return On Investment) goal.

Note - Less than 8% of people in North America use Twitter. And less than 1% of people actually READ Twitter. Most of them are just posting nonsense and hoping other people are reading.

And Facebook? Facebook is so full of spam that people are turning it off as much as they can, upping their privacy, reducing notifications, etc that trying to advertise a company on Facebook is also largely a waste of time and purely the result of a company bent on egotism instead of profits.

If you are egotist, then go ahead and hire someone to do SMO to promote you and your business for the sake of ego.

If you want to get traffic that will result in sales, hire a SEO expert instead.

Amusing SEM Images

Since my brain is on the topic of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Pay Per Click advertising today I thought I would post these amusing SEM images.





PPC Competitors, Costs and Conversion Tracking

An Essay on the Topic of Pay Per Click Costs and Conversions

By Charles Moffat - SEO/SEM Expert at designSEO.ca

Let us say for a moment that you are running a business, like say an essay writing / resume writing business geared towards university students, and you were thinking about advertising using Pay Per Click (PPC). But you don't want to jump into the business of PPC without knowing what your competitors are spending.

Well I am afraid we would never be able to get exact numbers - the results of other people's PPC campaigns are confidential, you would need to hack into their account and look at what they are spending per click.

But I can give you an educated guess based on past experience.

Competitors and Costs

When I Googled essay writing, three sites came up in the top advertising box. Based on my experience I would say they are probably paying between 40 cents and $1 (USD) to come up in that top box, with the biggest bidder being the one at the top.

If I wanted a more specific number I would need to make an Adwords campaign, see what Google's bid estimate is (which is always inaccurate) and then actually bid on the keywords in question - essay writing, essay help, resume writing, resume help, etc. Wait a few days and I would get a clearer picture of how much the competitors are bidding. Then I would alter my bids to determine exactly how much the competitors are bidding for the top spot, alter bids for specific keywords, experiment with different keyword combinations, etc.

Basically it is a lot of hours sitting at the computer on a regular basis viewing the results and experimenting to determine how to get the best results.

If you wanted to hire designSEO.ca to run a PPC campaign for you then you could create an Adwords account, add a small sum of cash to the account balance, send designSEO.ca the login/password and we could run an experiment for you to see roughly how high you need to bid to come up in the top box in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Our monthly fee for running such an experiment is $120 CDN (4 hours worth of work).

However I don't recommend going the PPC route just yet. If you are running a business it would be better to find out:

#1. How many visitors your website has on a monthly basis;
#2. How many new customers you gain monthly;
#3. What percentage of visitors become customers;
#4. How much gross profit you make off each customer, on average, over the course of a year.

The trick however is that not all visitors are looking to buy. People who click on ads are more likely to make a purchase. What the higher rate of purchase is is unknown, but we can safely assume it is a higher rate. I will come back to this later.

Once you know those 4 things then it would be a matter of creating a PPC campaign, experimenting to see which keywords work best, making a PPC landing page with a contact form (to maximize how many people sign up), and add Adwords Conversion Tracking to the contact form.

Conversion Tracking is a great tool. Basically you track which people click ads and actually fill out / complete the contact/purchase form - then you learn which keywords people click on and are more likely to convert them into paying customers. Over time you then determine which ads make the most conversions and thus are worth bidding more on.

Using Conversion Tracking you can then determine what the higher rate of purchase is for people clicking on your ads as opposed to people just browsing.

But for now I recommend finding out those 4 things I mentioned above before committing to any PPC campaign.

Once you do determine those 4 things contact designSEO.ca and we can help get your PPC campaign on the road towards advertising success and maximizing the return on your advertising dollars!

Essay Fini!


Protecting your Online Reputation

We are living in an era now wherein people need to control their online reputation or risk letting other people control it for you.

You might like having your privacy and anonymity, but if you are the type of person who makes enemies then you are going to be badmouthed by those enemies online.

Which means if you have avoided having an online presence then your online reputation can be ruined by a few bad eggs who see you as an easy target by messing with your online reputation.

By not protecting / promoting your online reputation then other people can gain control of your reputation and it will be very hard to fix it.

But not impossible.

Which is why SEO experts can also be hired to do online reputation management and repair. We maintain and improve your online reputation.  Enemies who badmouth you all over the internet will have their complaints and lies down at the bottom of the Google results instead of at the top.

And frankly, when you go for a job interview or are interested in a romantic relationship, chances are likely people are going to Google your name. Do you want them finding all the bad stuff people have been saying about you at the top?

Or all the good stuff?

You could try and sue people / websites for posting bad things about you, but that gets very expensive and difficult if the companies are based in foreign countries. It is less expensive to simply keep control of your online presence.

Lose control of your reputation and it can turn into a nightmare for your work and relationships.

If you've lost control of your online reputation please contact designSEO.ca for Online Reputation Management Services in Toronto



Why it is useless to link to Facebook or Twitter or similar websites

Okay here is the funny thing about Social Media websites like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc...

Every time you link to them via your website(s) those websites get the SEO benefit of those links and will rank higher on the search rankings - and your company website will end up ranking lower.

It is even possible that your company will website could end up ranking lower than your company's Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

Why?

A combination of factors including the fact Youtube, Facebook, Twitter all have good Google PageRanks. As such they get ranked higher easier.

Another factor is that Youtube, Facebook, Twitter all use rel="nofollow" on their outgoing links, which means that if you link back to your company website from those pages then those links don't count because they are "nofollow" links that are ignored by Google's search bots.

Thus social media websites get all the benefits of incoming SEO, and none of the negatives because every outgoing link doesn't count as a link.

So let us take an example.

Let us say your website is ArcheryToronto.ca and you are linking to several pages about archery in Toronto on Facebook like The Canadian Toxophilite Society, The Toronto Public Archery Range, etc.

Every link that goes to those Facebook pages benefits Facebook itself and boosts the rankings of those Facebook pages - but your website gets nothing in return.

Even if you were to post links on Facebook to your website (and get a little traffic from curious people who click those links), those links won't count as SEO as far as Google is concerned because it is all rel="nofollow".

And the same goes with YouTube, you could post a link like Toronto Archery Videos, which will ultimately benefit YouTube, but is it going to benefit your company website? Not really.

So the trick then is to make sure all your outgoing links are also rel="nofollow", so your company website maintains its position in the search rankings and the social media aspects of your company are further down in the rankings - but still be there.

Of course if your goal is to wildly promote your YouTube page, Facebook page, etc, then by all means link to them willy nilly. Just don't expect to make a profit off of them unless those pages are somehow rigged up to sell a product or service.

Local SEO + Peak Internet Hours

Awhile back I embarked on a change of career - becoming a personal trainer in Toronto.

Now in doing so I got my personal training certification, I created a website, and of course I started doing SEO for that website : www.cardiotrek.ca.

Now since I am an experienced SEO expert - who for my own reasons have decided I don't want to be stuck behind a computer any more - the quality of my Search Engine Optimization for that website is actually pretty good. I will still continue to do SEO and website design as a source of work, but my personal goal is change the focus of my career over the long term so I can do other things with my life.

So much so that despite my website's comparably small size and newness, I am now beating out many of my competition's personal training websites on PageRank, Alexa ranking and so forth.

Now part of that is unique content. I write fresh content for my website every day. Or almost every day. My goal for 2013 is to have 40 new posts per month, every month. By the end of 2013 I should have 480 new posts + the 180 from 2012 and the 10 posts I did at the very end of December in 2011. So by the end of 2013 I should have 670 blog posts and be getting a tonne of traffic.

But here is the beauty of it. My focus has been on LOCAL SEO for the city of Toronto. Yes, I still get hits from the USA and other places, but by January 1st my site was in the Top 5000 sites for Toronto and is currently ranked at #3,449. My goal in the next 2 months is to get it in the top 2500.

Now when I say Top 5000 sites for a specific city, that means I am competing against every other website in existence. Including p*rn. So getting in the Top 5000, Top 2500 or Top 1000 is a big deal because you have a lot of competition and you want to be higher in the priorities for people conducting local searches for personal trainers in this city.

And I can't limit myself to those keywords either. Its best to have a mix of keywords. Personal training in Toronto, fitness expert in Toronto, etc... and also to change the order to things like Toronto personal trainer, Toronto fitness expert and so forth. Sometimes I don't even use the name of the city because it is necessary to mix things up a bit.

And then there is the matter of how to get links and from what sources. I target (or create) webpages that contain the name of the city and have something to do with exercise, dieting, losing weight, weight lifting, fitness... you get the idea. Sometimes it may only be Ontario or Canada, but it is important that the keywords are there.

The next factor is the keyword density. For that I use the site http://www.wordcounter.net which not only tells you the number of words, the number of characters, but also the keyword density of the most commonly used words in the text you are writing. What you want to do is keep the density of certain words below 5 percent, or even better, below 3 percent. So for example writing this blog post I know I need to use the word trainer a little more so that the keyword density is a bit higher and that I need to use alternative words for TO like GTA, Hogtown, Downtown York, and so forth. Nobody actually uses those words in regular speech, but if someone is looking for a trainer downtown then at least I have improved my odds by making sure the density is good.

You will notice by now that I am now avoiding using certain words and trying to use other words like exercise, fitness, weight lifting and so forth. The reason for this is sometimes you need to add extra fluff to "fatten up" a blog post or article so that you can bring the percentages of all the major keywords down a notch.

One way to do this and still maintain interest is to change the topic slightly. For example I am next going to go back to my original topic, which is the issue of hourly internet usage in North America.

Most internet users in North America are online between the hours of 6 PM and 12 PM. The peak time is around 10 PM. This becomes an issue when trying to track visitors to your website and you start to learn that most visitors show up during the afternoon and evening. If your goal is to only have people from North America then the hourly visitors to your website should look like the chart up above.

Of course to have results that look like that you need hundreds of daily visitors, which in my case they should all be looking for exercise advice. If you're only getting 10 hits per day there really is no point trying to track what your hourly views are based on the time of day. For me how accurately your results look like the chart above is a reflection of how well you are doing with your Local Search Engine Optimization project. If its pretty close you are doing a good job... if its totally off and you're somehow getting a tonne of hits from another country then you're evidently doing something wrong.

And that is really all that is good for, a measurement of success.

There are several more things I want to talk about before I finish this post.

1. Length of content matters. The more content the better. Try to write articles that are between 1000 and 2000 words long.

2. Variable length also matters. Don't write long articles or short articles all the time. Try to write different lengths so that your content is more unique.

3. Write from the heart as often as you can. If you are reading this, actually reading it then you know I am writing from the heart.

4. No amount of training or practice in SEO will make you perfect in this industry. Nobody is perfect and this is an ever changing industry. It is one of the reasons why I love the exercise industry, it just regurgitates old diets and exercise fads, slaps on a new fancy name and then sells the repackaged formula. Its not perfect, but it works. Being a trainer in that industry allows you to set your own hours and work as often as you see fit.

I am getting off topic here, but that sort of thing happens when you write from the heart.

The last thing I suppose I should talk about is SEX APPEAL. If you can make your topic sexy in some way - and that is easier to do in the fitness industry - then you will gain extra traffic (and customers) because you are effectively selling sex. It really comes down to the three things people want most of all: Food, shelter and sex. Adding that extra edge to your topic will draw in extra readers and can garner extra customers.

And more customers is really the true sign of a successful webpage. Yes, its nice to track the local statistics and see how well your site compares with the hourly chart, but at the end of the day the end goal of all marketing is to get more customers to the cash register. Or in my case, more people who are overweight, possibly obese and they want to lose weight, look more attractive and feel better about themselves. And sex appeal on a webpage helps.

Happy SEOing!

See also
Niche Topic Advertising - Toronto Personal Trainers
If you need SEO, SEM or SMO help in Toronto then you need to contact designSEO.ca
Get started by emailing contactus@designseo.ca.
Consultations are $30 per hour.