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Click fraud is a bigger problem than many paid search firms will lead you to believe. In fact, many firms do not even bother to track click fraud and that is a fatal mistake.

Click fraud exists when advertisers maliciously click on the ads of other advertisers in order to drive up advertising expenses. Does it happen? You bet it does and it happens often. It is probably underreported, even by the search engine companies that provide paid search opportunities.

If you don’t track click fraud then you’ll end up paying a lot more for your paid search campaigns than is necessary. It will cost you money and it could land you with a negative ROI.

Reciprocal Consulting keep a constant eye on potential click fraud. We don’t want you to spend any more on your paid search campaigns than is absolutely necessary and we want you to make money on those campaigns because if you return a profit then we believe you’ll come back and use our services more.

In order to keep you away from danger areas, we do not use click fraud hotbeds like content matching. Instead, we focus on developing and targeting effective keyword groups so that you can make the most of your paid search management opportunities. As a result, our click fraud issues are significantly less than the click fraud problems that other paid search providers have.

>Web design is not as easy as it looks. There are specific mistakes and pitfalls to avoid and specific web design elements that will almost always be preferred over others. Here are 3 bona fide mistakes to avoid when designing your next website.

  • Irrelevant information, or information overload – This is a fairly common mistake. You design your website and it looks pretty, but you have put too much information in your site. As a result, it is difficult to read and visitors do not want to spend the time it takes to read every word. Sometimes, less is more. Only say what is absolutely necessary to get the business. Get in, close the sale.
  • Lack of visual elements – A web page with nothing but text is boring. Break up the text with images, videos, and other multimedia graphics. Make your pages look interesting and people will stick around longer.
  • Complicated navigation structures – Navigation is one of the most important aspects of web design. Make your site easy to navigate and the information easy to find. Otherwise, you’ll lose your visitors.

If you avoid these 3 web design mistakes then you’ll go a long way to improving your website and increasing your chances of closing the sale.

Competitive intelligence used to deal primarily with market research and product positioning. If you could ascertain your competition’s product launch plans, product and service offering strengths, and their marketing strategies then you could learn enough about the competitive landscape to work out your own product and marketing plans. These days, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Search engine optimization has become its own competitive arena. You can place that within the marketing realm, but you could just as easily place it within its own domain too

Regardless how you see it, though, you need intelligence on your competition’s SEO initiatives. Here’s what that intelligence entails, in a nutshell:

  • Number of web pages
  • Number and strength of inbound links
  • Keywords targeting
  • Search engine rankings per keyword
  • Web hosting relationships
  • Page load speeds
  • Code-to-text ratios
  • Unique SEO strategies implemented
  • Movements within search rankings

That’s just to name a few. You can drill down deep in the SEO landscape to find out more about your competition or keep it simple. It’s entirely up to you. But I recommend that you learn as much as you can about your competition’s SEO strategies, both those planned and implemented, as you plan your own campaigns.

If you want to compete online, competitive SEO intelligence is an absolute necessity.

A phrase that gets used a lot in many industries is “full service.” But what does that mean, exactly?

In terms of Internet marketing, if you find a full service Internet marketing company then that implies several things.

  1. First and foremost, it implies that the company cares about you as a customer. You are more than just a number. You are someone to be served.
  2. The company provides more than one type of service within the domain of its niche. By “full service”, we mean we run the gamut from PPC, SEO, and social media marketing to video production and web design. We offer a full range of services.
  3. Another thing that “full service” implies is a robust customer service initiative. You don’t just get told what will be done for you. You are shown powerful ways which the best Internet marketing strategies can make your company stand out. And then it is proven.

A full service Internet marketing company is one that puts you first, will do anything (as long as it is legal and ethical) to help you reach your online marketing goals, and has a wide array of services to offer with qualified technical personnel ready and able to carry them out. In essence, you can trust the service.

You know those Twitter Tweet and Retweet buttons? Did you know you can develop your own using Twitter’s API? It’s true. Twitter now has its own Tweet button and you can take it right off the shelf or develop your own. Get details here.

Mashable first broke this news a couple of weeks ago.

The good news here is that you can have your tweets and retweets counted by Twitter itself and not some third-party plug-in or application. There’s nothing wrong with those third-party applications, of course. But if you can get the same deal from the primary source itself, wouldn’t you like to have that deal? I would.

I think you may, over time, see some of those third-party tweet buttons go by the way side. As more users start to notice Twitter’s own Tweet button then I can see more users opting for it over the other applications. And there’s a good reason why.

What do you think? Is Twitter beginning its rise to dominance over social media marketing with its own Tweet button or this just much hype over nothing?

Do you know the difference between SEO and SEM? They seem to be synonymous terms, don’t they? Actually, there is a difference.

    SEO = Search Engine Optimization;
    SEM = Search Engine Marketing

There’s where the similarity ends – or begins, I might say. Now let’s move on to definitions.

Search engine optimization is the practice of using keywords, links, and other on-page and off-page factors to rank a web page in the search engines.

So what is search engine marketing? Well, it’s a bit broader term. It can encompass SEO, but it also encompasses pay per click marketing and any other form of marketing that directly relates to marketing through the search engines.

The key to marketing online is to get your search engine marketing to collaborate with your other marketing initiatives. Your PPC, SEO, social media marketing, display advertising, affiliate marketing, and any other marketing you do online should work together to brand your company and lead to more effective search engine positioning all around. If you do that well then you’ll go a long way to achieving a high impact reputation enhancing marketing drive. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

Online marketing is just another channel for your business. It’s not the only channel, but it’s an important. It will behoove you to learn the principles and then work them to your, and your customers’, advantage.

What can a search engine marketing consultant do for you? For starters, he can improve your current SEM plan just by analyzing what you are currently doing and making a few suggestions. But that’s not all. There are specific benefits to hiring a consulting firm to help you improve your search engine marketing efforts.

Here are a few of the benefits to hiring a search engine marketing consulting firm:

  • You get a month-to-month contract, not a long-term contract. If it isn’t working for you, end the relationship and go your own way.
  • Agency level support on all search engines.
  • You also get access to all Beta programs. As an individual doing your own PPC, you may not get that privilege.
  • Your marketing will be less expensive than using your in-house team. When you add in salary and benefits plus time off for sick days, etc., we’re way cheaper.
  • We’re trained in all aspects of SEM. You get a full crew that can handle all your needs from PPC to SEO.
  • A search engine marketing consultant is trained to understand each search engine’s unique specifications and operate within those guidelines.
  • There are no sick days or vacations. When you call, someone will always be available.

Search engine marketing is one of the most important channels for marketing your business today. Hire a specialist who knows the game in and out.

Before you hire a company to handle your Internet marketing, whether you want them to do your SEO, you PPC, or social media marketing, ask these questions (and make sure you get responsible answers):

  • How do you budget Adwords to simultaneously maximize the number of clicks and minimize cost?
  • How do you know which keywords to optimize for natural search and which ones are best left to the “bubble chasers?”
  • Which search engines have the lowest incidence of click fraud?
  • How do you set up a tracking phone number? Why should you?
  • How do you track and handle leads when they come in to your firm?
  • Is it better to have a lot of ad copy on a landing page or a lot of bullet points?
  • How do you write your ad copy so people will fill out your contact form or call you?
  • Where should the phone number be on a page? Which pages should have them?
  • How do you fix a “page highjack?”
  • Is there a penalty for putting too many keywords in your meta-tags?
  • What are the benefits of a “content management system?” What are the drawbacks?
  • How do you know when to use a broad match, phrase match or exact match in a Google Adwords campaign?

Internet marketing is not rocket science, but I wouldn’t say that anyone can do it either. The truth is, a professional company will look out for your bests interests. They’ll develop a useful strategy for marketing your company to your intended clientele. And it will make sense that they do the things that they do.

A Rank Report is a report you receive that details how search engine optimization efforts have affected your keyword rankings. It is generally composed of your list of keywords and how they rank at the top search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo!

The keyword ranking report has a start date and an end date for comparison purposes. If you know, for instance, that your most important keyword was ranked at No. 10 in Google, No. 5 in Bing, and No. 20 in Yahoo! on such-and-such date then you can judge your progress on another date three or six months later. That’s the benefit of a Rank Report.

The Rank Report tells you your current position for each keyword in each of the search engines, the previous ranking, the difference in the change, what page of the search results for each search engine the landing page for that keyword appears on, and your best ranking during the report period. That’s a lot of information, but all of it is necessary in order to judge your SEOs effectiveness.

Click the following link to see a sample Rank Report in PDF format. To learn more about how search engine optimization can improve your online marketing efforts, visit Reciprocal Consulting‘s main website.

One of the benefits to running a pay per click (pay per call) campaign is that you can track your phone calls to see where they are coming from. Call tracking results in the following benefits:

  • Fewer missed calls – When a caller calls she gets an automated e-mail and the call is stored in our internal database. You can get an on-demand call report at any time.
  • Call blocking – Receive only the calls you want to receive based on area code or state.
  • ROI tracking – Know for sure how much money your PPC campaign is making.
  • Call recording – Record every call for monitoring purposes and to better train your employees.
  • Get a local, toll free or international number – Use the phone number that best makes sense for your marketing and customer service purposes.
  • No additional charges – One monthly fee and no extra charges.

Track your calls to see how effective your PPC – pay per call – campaigns are. Get actionable intelligence and act intelligently upon it.

Visit our case studies page and you’ll learn how we’ve helped some clients save money on expenses while increasing revenues. We saved one client 47% on expenses and increased profits by 14%. How did we do this? With these 12 steps:

  1. Shifted content matching to serve targeted sites only
  2. Identified broad match keywords with low conversion rates and drilled down to exact referring keywords
  3. Rewrote ads and split tested to determine maximum click-through rates
  4. Started a keyword campaign based on competitor names
  5. Reduced image files to increase page load speeds
  6. Added a script to highlight referring keywords
  7. Improved shopping cart usability and lowered abandon rates
  8. Improved website’s internal search features
  9. Retargeted previous visitors to increase return rates at a fraction of the cost of PPC click-through rates
  10. Made navigation menus easier to read
  11. Regrouped keywords into tighter groups and rewrote landing pages to improve quality score
  12. Used special offer pages more effectively

We did all of this in 40 days. We’re sure we can help you improve the efficiency of your PPC campaigns as well. It doesn’t cost anything for an initial consultation.

You’ve likely heard of Yahoo! Answers. Thousands of people flock to the site every day to ask, and to answer, questions. For the answerer, it’s a great way to make oneself an authority on a subject. You answer questions and people respond with their own answers.

Quora is another question and answer site just like Yahoo! Answers. One of the best parts of Quora is that people can vote on your answers. The more people who vote for your answer the more likely you are to increase your reputations. Answers with the most votes rise to the top of the heap and the answerer gets a boost in reputation.

I think Quora is also a more attractive looking site than Yahoo! Answers. But there aren’t as many people using it yet. Nevertheless, it presents another chance for you to make your mark in a particular industry and be seen as an expert in your field.

Question and answer sites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers present a great way for people like you to make themselves a perceived authority. All it takes is a few minutes a day.

Yesterday we talked a little bit about Google TV and how it will change Internet marketing in general. Today I’d like to narrow it down a little bit. Specifically, Google TV promises to make big changes to video marketing. But how?

I think the most obvious way that Google TV will change video marketing is in giving video marketers more options. Currently, you have a few online video directories – like Hulu and YouTube – where you can upload your videos.

All the video directories have their own unique spins and ways to profit from video marketing. YouTube is the most popular. Google TV promises is to make those video channels available to more people. It is no stretch of imagination to consider that people who are not currently on the Internet will have access to it through Google TV.

Another way video marketing will change with Google TV is with distribution. I don’t know if anyone has considered this yet, but can you imagine uploading your videos directly from your TV, VCR, or DVD player to an online directory like YouTube or MetaCafe? It might not seem possible now, but I think it could be possible in just a few years to convert analog video like VCR recordings into digital in a few clicks – and you’ll likely be able to do that on your TV.

A third way Google TV will change video marketing is by making the videos a higher quality.

If this seems like science fiction, it is. But the technology is available to make it happen so it isn’t far fetched. In what ways do you think Google TV will change video marketing?

About every two or three years a new development in Web technology takes the Internet – and Internet marketing – to a new level. In 1995, Yahoo! offered us a web directory that made finding websites a whole lot easier. In 1998, Google arrived on the scene with its interesting new algorithms.

Shortly after that, pay per click advertising was introduced. PPC, however, would not really take off until around 2001.

By 2003, it was clear that social bookmarking was going to be a big part of Internet marketing. In 2005, YouTube made us all video marketers. Then, just a couple of years ago we all started getting into Facebook and Twitter. Social networking was a necessity for anyone trying to market themselves online.

Mobile technology is just taking off. But I think Google TV will surpass all of these previous technologies and will make the Internet even more ubiquitous than it is today.

Google TV was introduced just this year so it hasn’t really caught on yet, but I think it’s only a matter of two or three years before the popular conscience sees it as a useful tool. Then, everyone will want it. And when everyone wants it then it will be hard for serious Internet marketers to ignore. I think it will happen before 2013. Google TV will transform Internet marketing into a full multimedia experience. Now is the time to start preparing for that inevitability.

One question we get asked a lot is, “Should I start with paid search or natural search?” It’s a good question, and we have a ready answer.

We recommend that you start with paid search. There are some very definite reasons why. No. 1 on the list is paid search gives you an opportunity to test your keywords quickly. If you focus first on natural search you could spend a year or more testing keywords and still not come away with a definitive list of keywords that will help you reach the right market. It’s a much slower process in terms of seeing results.

Paid search, on the other hand, will give you plenty of opportunities to test your market and your keywords to see which ones are most effective for your marketing campaigns. And you can do it relatively quickly.

How quickly? You can have a good starting list of keywords and know which ones have the most profit potential in a week or less. That’s how quickly.

See now why we recommend starting with paid search and moving on from there? It’s not that natural search isn’t effective. It is. But you can get the answers you need right now much faster with paid search.

AllFacebook shows some interesting statistics about how Americans are using the Internet. Get this:

  • Americans spend 23% of their time online.
  • Facebook is 85% of that.
  • 36% of the time online is spent communicating through social networks, blogs, personal e-mail and instant messaging.

So what are we to make of all of this? Facebook is the shiznit?

Actually, people go to Facebook to socialize, to hang out with their friends. They aren’t there to be marketed to. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t engage with people in a powerful way about your brand.

While it’s an important marketing principle to go where the people are, it’s also important that you not intrude or you’ll be seen as rude and undesirable to do business with. For that reason, I recommend the following principles when marketing yourself through Facebook.

  • Less is more. Don’t be too aggressive.
  • Engage your followers with dialogue about important principles related to what you do. For instance, you might ask what your followers’ favorite kind of dance shoe is (if you are a dance instructor).
  • Don’t assume your followers are there to see you talk about yourself and your business all the time.
  • Get to know people – like at a party. Just schmooze. Ask them what they’ve got going on. Let people see that you are a real person.
  • Don’t spend all your time there. You’ll never get any work done.

Facebook is like any other marketing channel, only it’s different. The strategy is different than traditional marketing channels like direct mail and TV. Still, when you get right down to it, people are motivated a lot by the same dynamics online as they are off line.

Learn more about optimizing for Facebook.

Whether you are conducting a pay-per-click campaign, search engine optimization or social media marketing, you need to do some keyword research and pick the right keywords for your marketing efforts. But how should you go about doing that?

Of course, even if you’re just building your website then keyword research is in order.

First, study your competition. What are they doing? Write down any keywords you find on your competition’s websites. Analyze those keywords with regard to your differences and similarities to your competition. Does anything stick out?

That should help you narrow down your keywords to a niche that you fill within your industry. Now look for some synonyms. Using a tool like Google’s keyword research tool, enter your keywords and look for related keywords that might help you.

Now search for those keywords in Google and Bing and see what the competition is like. Are there a lot of websites targeting those keywords? That can be both good and bad. It’s bad because the more websites targeting those keywords the tougher your competition; it’s good because if there are a lot of websites targeting a keyword then it’s because that keyword is valuable.

After you’ve done all your keyword research, pick the ones that are best for your business. Those are the keywords that you’d expect a searcher to type into Google’s search box when they are trying to find the products and services you offer.

Don’t cut corners on keyword research. It’s an important part of your online marketing plan.

Testimonials are a very important part of any business. Make people happy and they’ll tell you about it. They may even tell their friends.

Well, Reciprocal Consulting has some great customers and we’re proud to announce that we’ve made them very happy. Here are 5 customer testimonials just for your eyes:

RP is the only company we’ve found that we can trust managing our PPC. Their intensive and consistent work building and maintaining our account stands out from the numerous providers we’ve wasted time and money with.

Thanks, Michael. And now here’s one from 3D Video Ultrasound:

You are dominating my industry in Southern CA on Google. I could not be any happier! We are creating a banner that will state anyone driving over 40 miles to our facility will receive an automatic 25% off any package. That should help with the further clicks. Great job Jacob…Thanks again”
3D Video Ultrasound, PPC Lead Generation

Of course, we do more than PPC and video marketing consulting. Let’s hear from an SEO client:

“…the day we signed our contract with Reciprocal Consulting the leads started comming in. They know what they are doing and they care about our bottom line. What else can you ask from an Internet Marketing Company?”
Real Estate Agency, PPC & SEO Lead Generation

And website development:

“Hey Jacob:
You did it. I got a nice couples lead today and will be seeing them this evening. GREAT JOB….keep tweaking whatever you are tweaking. Hoping I get more over the weekend.”
Marriage Therapist, PPC Lead Generation & Website Development

And we’re capable of helping people in any industry, even travel:

“Hi Dan:
Yes, things this month are great – and I like the most that the overall cost is down – thus far I am at $2400+/- and last month this time I was already over $3000 – keep up the good work!!! Thanks for checking in!”
Travel Website, PPC Lead Generation

Check out more great customer testimonials on our website. We love our customers.

Google’s blogs seem like they get a fresh start every day. From PPC and analytics to Google AdSense, Google has something to say about all kinds of things. The latest topic is small business.

The Google Small Business Blog will address the following topics of interest to small business owners:

  • AdSense
  • AdWords
  • Apps
  • Gmail
  • Analytics
  • Google Docs
  • Google Places
  • YouTube
  • Upcoming events
  • And other small business topics

It seems that the small business blog will cover a lot of topics that are already covered on other Google blogs except that you’ll be able to get a lot of the same information under one umbrella. It also looks like a way for Google to promote all of its offerings targeted toward small business owners. So is it safe to say it’s self serving?

I’d say that’s an unfair statement. It’s about as self serving as any other small business blog. The difference is, this one’s published by Google. So what does that mean? Two things, I think:

  1. The information will come from a credible source
  2. And the information will be naturally biased toward Google’s products

Both of those are a positive. But I wouldn’t stop reading your other Internet marketing blogs.

Social media marketing is like a microcosm of marketing in general. In the sense that you can drive traffic to where you want it using the proper social media marketing channels, you can run an effective marketing campaign in just a few hours a week. But how does the traffic flow?

We recommend that you use social networking like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the many other social networking sites online to drive traffic to your blog. You then use your blog to attract opt-in subscribers to your e-mail list. And you use your e-mail marketing campaigns to drive traffic to your sales pages.

If you use this model you will find that your sales pages will receive the most conversions. Your e-mail blasts will receive a fair number of conversions but not as many as your sales landing pages. Your blog will also receive a decent number of conversions but not as many as your e-mail campaigns. Your social networking profiles will receive the fewest conversions, but they will be a primary driver of traffic to your blog.

This is called a sales funnel. Establish your sales funnel and then work it to achieve the results you want to achieve. You can do that with social media as well as anything else.