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Many business owners believe that if they hire more than one SEO to work on their website, then they’ll get better search rankings. Not necessarily.

You really should only hire 1 SEO per website. You can hire a separate SEO for each website if you think you need to, but you should only use one SEO per website. Why is that?

We call it optimization purity.

Every SEO has his or her own style and they may use different strategies. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other. That may be the case, but the real point is that if you use two SEOs to optimize the same website, they could cancel each other’s efforts. One could hurt the other and that would hurt your website.

Your SEOs aren’t going to use the same tactics. SEOs in general are a secretive lot. They don’t want the competition to know their trade secrets. So they could use the same strategies and tactics and not know it. That could lead to duplicate content issues or lead to you have a reputation as a spammer, which could hurt your optimization over the long haul.

You’re better off playing it safe and using only one SEO per web property. You’ll be happier and more successful in the end.

These days, just about title=”website content”>every website has an About Us page. But they are largely misnamed. The page isn’t really about you at all. It’s about your customers and when you write it you should go to great pains to make it all about your customers.

How do you do that, exactly?

For starters, you don’t have to write it in second person. I’m not talking about that. What I am suggesting is that you make your About Us page content focused on the needs of your customers rather than on your need to talk about yourself.

Here are five ways to ensure that your About Us content answers your customers’ – or potential customers’ – questions about your company:

  1. Tell them what year your company started, and when you started working in your sector if your company is new. They want to know what experience you have to solve their problems.
  2. What inspired you to start your business? Were you trying to solve a particular need?
  3. How is your business unique? What sets you apart from the competition? Drive these points home. They are your selling points.
  4. Define your service area.
  5. What causes and charities do you support? People want to know so don’t be shy about telling them your community service hot buttons.

If you answer these 5 questions on your About Us page, you’ll go a long way to meeting the expectations of your website visitors and potential customers.

For years now Google has encouraged advertisers to spend money on Google AdWords by giving away $50 credit to new advertisers. In many cases, if you set up a new Web hosting account, you got this credit from your host. Google is still doing this.

Now, Facebook has joined the party.

Starting next year, Facebook will give away $10 million in free advertising to small business owners.

There’s more to the story than Facebook merely wanting to steal your business from Google. That would be nice for Facebook, but they really want you to start advertising on their platform – even if you continue using Google AdWords.

Most small business owners haven’t figure out how to use social media as a marketing tool. But they understand advertising. With 800 million + users, Facebook has a huge opportunity for small businesses to tap into the company’s user base and that’s why they are willing to give you $50 in free advertising to get you to at least try it.

I think the opportunity is a great opportunity for small businesses. Google AdWords has proved to be a very effective marketing channel for businesses that have tried it. Facebook’s advertising platform is a different animal, but it’s an animal worth riding nonetheless. Pay per click is no longer a search engine advertising tool; it’s gone social.

Domain Sherpa conducted a study involving generic domain names and non-generic domain names on pay-per-click advertising. Their conclusion was that generic domain names were better for PPC advertising than non-generic domain names.

Heck, we could have told you that.

Generic domain names are not only good for PPC, they’re also good for organic search. The reason is real simple.

Searchers perceive generic domain names to have more credibility in the search results. Taking the divorce lawyer example provided in Domain Sherpa’s article, would you rather sit down with an attorney from DivorceLawyer.com or one from VladimerLaw.com?

For some reason, DivorceLawyer.com carries more points in terms of credibility and reputation when conducting a search at one of the search engines. That’s because the searcher is looking for a divorce lawyer. Unless that searcher is searching specifically for a brand name, no single brand is going to stand out as most credible in a generic search for a service.

That’s why generic domain names are preferred for SEO and PPC by most search engine optimization experts.

I think generic domain names work better for SEO as well, for similar reasons. It’s a matter of credibility where the generic search is concerned. When planning your next online marketing plan, take that into consideration.

When it comes to optimizing your content for social media, are you including your e-mail content? That includes your e-mail newsletter, e-zine, and your special e-mail promotions. That also includes e-brochures, e-cards, or whatever else you send through e-mail.

Here are 4 ways to ensure that you make the most of your social media opportunities when optimizing your e-mail content for social sharing.

  • Add social buttons – This is the most basic way to encourage sharing your e-mail content. Do all your e-mails include buttons for social sharing?
  • Add links to your social media profiles – You can do this easily and without drawing undue attention to your links. Slip them in naturally and get you’ll get great responses.
  • Encourage discussion – Start a discussion about a topic on Facebook or Twitter, then link to it in your e-mail. Ask your subscribers to comment and join the discussion. You’ll be surprised at how many will do just that.
  • Send a separate e-mail – Instead of constantly promoting your social media profiles in your newsletter, send a separate e-mail inviting your subscribers to follow you. Tell them why they should follow you. Tell them what you are doing differently than your competition.

Social media optimization includes using your e-mail subscriber list to drive traffic to your profiles. Are you doing that effectively?

If you’ve been keeping up with the Facebook craze, then you know an overwhelming majority of Facebook users don’t like the recent changes. Well, you might be among them. Here is a funny take on the those changes (borrowed from All Facebook):

Facebook Dr Seuss

Most people, when they think about doing business online, think of it in terms of online marketing. Of course, you are marketing your business online. There’s no doubt about that. But what you are really doing is building a Web business.

The big question is, what exactly does it take to build a Web business? What components are necessary?

Here are 5 necessary components to building a Web business in 2011.

  1. A website – It can be a simple website or a huge monolith. Either way, you need a website. Your first step in building a Web business is to design a powerful website.
  2. Search engine marketing - SEM is a multi-component endeavor that includes paid search marketing and organic search marketing. With organic search you could be building links, which we call off-site SEO, or you could be increasing your on-site content value through blogging, articles, or other on-page content.
  3. Social media – Promote your content through social media where you’ll build inbound links and your relationship.
  4. Video marketing – Video marketing has become a mainstay of building an online business too. If you do it right, it will pay huge dividends.
  5. App development – App development can refer to iphone and other mobile apps or social media apps like those you find on Facebook. Either way, app development is becoming a huge marketing channel online.

What ways do you use for building your Web business? Do weigh in.

A recent poll shows that 84% of Facebook users don’t like the new changes, especially the changes in news feeds. Are you one of them?

It’s important to point out that the changes Facebook made were to make their shareholders and advertisers happy. They weren’t for the end users.

That said, if you are a Facebook user, understand that you are a free user. In order to be able to continue using Facebook for free, the company will have to make money from somewhere. Advertisers want to be able to market their products to you. Shareholders want the company to be able to make money. Facebook executives are in the awkward position of trying to balance all of these interests.

So what about the changes? Were they good? Some of them actually are.

If you took a look at Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address at the f8 Conference recently, you’d have noticed that Facebook is introducing a concept they call Timeline. This will transform your personal profile page into a timeline of your life. You can manage it any way you want.

Even better, Zuck says when you play the social games available to you through Facebook, you won’t get those annoying pop-ups that you see continuously notifying you of your friends’ activities.

While the new Facebook changes may be annoying many people, the people who are most put off by them are getting to use the service for free. It will be the advertisers paying for the changes.

It seems that social media marketing is now a foregone conclusion. If you’re not doing it, you have no future on the Web. You can even be doing it poorly and you’ll have a better shelf life online than someone not doing it at all. Thanks a lot, Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, they’re supposed to make a big announcement today. Are you listening?

This kind of suspense makes me wonder a few things.

  • If you’re already No. 1, should you be talking about revolutions? I mean, I thought Facebook had already revolutionized social networking.
  • Is Facebook, even just a little bit, somewhat concerned that they might lose a few users if they go off the deep end and change too much?
  • Does competition mandate a change? (I wonder if Google+ would say “yes?”)
  • Will the average user like Facebook even better after the new changes, like it less, or about the same? And will that even matter?
  • Could Facebook be preparing the way for businesses to be more interactive through its social networking interface?

There are a lot of questions that can be answered about Facebook’s coming announcement. They’d all be speculative. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I’m a bit anxious, aren’t you?

Do you have free giveaways on your website? If not, why not?

Free giveaways, if you give it some thought, actually aren’t free. They do cost you money and you should get something of value in return. So what does that mean exactly?

Let’s say you own an auto body shop. You provide dent and pain repair and also perform basic automotive services like tire rotations, tune ups, oil changes, and fixing flats. What if you wanted to increase your business over the long term? What could you provide for free in exchange for something of value that you receive in return?

You could give away a free tune up in exchange for an e-mail address so that you could send out your weekly auto maintenance newsletter. Or you could give away a coupon for a fixing a flat tire free of charge when a new customer purchases a more expensive service like getting their vehicle painted. The coupon could be delivered by e-mail upon payment through your website when the new customer schedules their appointment.

There are all kinds of ways to make giving away free products and services work for you. You just have to think creatively. But the truth is, it works. And you should be doing what works.

The best online marketers have known for at least six years how to use pay-per-click advertising to improve their organic search rankings. Here are 4 ways you can use PPC to make your organic search marketing more effective:

  • Keyword Research – One of the most popular ways that PPC advertisers use their ads is to test new keywords. If you achieve high click-throughs on your keywords, then they should also be good for your organic search campaigns.
  • Testing Meta Descriptions – If the ad text in your ad is effective, you’ll get more click throughs. You can use that same text for your meta descriptions, however, the ad text is limited to 70 words. The best meta descriptions employ 80-150 words so you might want to add a little bit more to those when you convert them.
  • Testing Page Titles - If your PPC ads generate activity, then you can re-use your PPC ad titles for your web page titles as well.
  • Testing Landing Pages – PPC is perfect for testing new landing pages. Do they convert? If they won’t convert for PPC, then they won’t convert for organic search either. Test them with PPC, tweak them, then use them for organic search.

Pay per click advertising offers the perfect opportunity to test for organic search. Don’t let that opportunity slip away.

Prospecting is something that every business has to do. Methods change, but the prospecting continues. In the last few years, many businesses have found it more profitable to perform their prospecting online.

One online prospector likens the process to gardening. Here’s why:

  • Prospecting is like “growing,” not “killing” – a reference to the war analogy
  • You can’t control everything. Embrace uncertainty because when you are a gardener you deal with Mother Nature and no one controls Mother Nature. You can’t control your prospects either. Nurture them instead.
  • Prepare to be disappointed and surprised. Sometimes what you think is a sure thing turns sour while other things you didn’t think would happen turn into huge successes. That’s cool.
  • Take out the weeds. These are bad employees, worse customers, and other things that can kill your business.
  • Things change. Embrace the change. You can get by without that “necessary” component of your business. Be prepared for the worst and deal with it in reality.
  • Be persistent. Gardening is a little-bit-every-day thing. Never give up on it. If you do, your garden will die (and so will your fruit). Your business is just like a garden. Be persistent.

When you consider that prospecting for new clients is more like gardening than war, you’ll spend some time nurturing your prospects and treating them like a harvest.

Blogging for business can be any number of things depending on your business model. I have found a blog to be a great marketing tool. But many businesses use blogs in different ways. Here are 5 ways you can use a blog for your business.

  1. Branding – A blog can be a great way to brand yourself. You can use it to communicate important messages about your business periodically so that your customers and potential customers understand your brand better and engage with you on your blog in discussions about your brand.
  2. Search engine optimization – Many businesses use their blog for SEO. They target their keywords in blog posts repeatedly until they gain a certain level of search engine traction.
  3. Reputation management – A blog can also be a great reputation management tool. Use it to improve your position in the search engines as well as your reputation online.
  4. Social media marketing – Many bloggers take their blog into the social media arena and use it for reaching out to others in their niche in a very social way.
  5. Customer Service – Other businesses use their blog as a customer service tool, fielding questions about their products and services that they then can use to engage their audience in a conversation.

If you use your blog for any of these purposes, then you are on the right track, but these are not the only ways you can blog. In what ways do you use your company blog?

I love this quote from SEO Theory’s rant on search engine rankings.

We need to stop thinking and talking about “the ranking algorithm” and start thinking about “the ranking system”. The search engines are bringing field artillery to the gunfight and you’re standing there with a water pistol. You have to scale up your metaphorical landscape so that you’re talking about the same level of complexity they are.

I agree that it’s silly to talk about a ranking algorithm. It should really be called a ranking system. It’s so complex that no one can dissect it and come up with answers, though many SEOs have claimed to do so. What we can do is test our web pages and see if we have some understanding of what is working.

Are you testing your SEO tactics? Do you know if it works when you add a link from a particular types of website? Do you know if using one keyword phrase makes a difference over another?

Search engine rankings are some of the most complex systems known or devised by man. You can’t second guess them. You can’t predict. And you can’t really reverse engineer them. But you can observe them.

Every once in a while I read a blog post or hear some SEO somewhere, or a social media marketer, start proclaiming that SEO is dead or keywords are useless. But I notice that they have pretty well optimized web pages themselves.

The question comes to mind, What are their motives?

Maybe they’re trying to create a ruse to throw other SEOs off track and stop optimizing their web pages. Or maybe they’re sincere and misguided. Or maybe they just have some brilliant insight into the future direction of SEO. Whatever the case, I’m pretty sure they’re wrong about keywords. They are not useless nor are they out of fashion.

Keyword stuffing is useless. Keyword density is WAY out of fashion. But keyword-optimized web pages are still very much en vogue.

The search engines still return results for search queries that match keyword-optimized on-page content. As long as they do, keywords will still serve a purpose. But managing your keywords in a way that search engines will reward them is paramount. Otherwise, you may not rank as you think you should or you may find yourself at odds with search engine policies. Both scenarios are bad.

Don’t listen to the naysayers who say that SEO is dead or keywords are useless. Maybe some day they will be, but that day is not today.

Michael Martinez of SEO Theory says you should stop writing meta descriptions. Why? Because the search engines ignore them. But do they?

Yes. Sometimes they do. But many times they don’t. Which is why you should continue to write your meta descriptions.

What the search engines don’t do is use your meta descriptions to rank your websites. However, they DO use them for their snippets. Not all of the time. But much of the time. And because they do use your meta descriptions some of the time as search result snippets you should go ahead and continue to write them.

So when do the search engines use your meta descriptions for search results snippets? Typically, when it suits them. Technically, when those meta descriptions are just right for the search query.

What it really boils down to is control. Do you want Google and Bing to control what searchers see in the search results or would you prefer to have some of that control for yourself? Remember, there’s no guarantee the search engines will use your meta descriptions at all. But when they do, you want them to use the meta description that you wrote. You’d prefer that, wouldn’t you?

If you want to leave the perception of your business and your web pages to Google’s and Bing’s ability to present your information, then by all means stop writing your meta descriptions. But if you want to have some control over your reputation, then go ahead and spend a little extra time crafting a good meta description.

Competitive intelligence is a very effective way to gain an edge on your competition in the marketplace, but it’s best if you keep it ethical and legal. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your competition doing to you. In other words, don’t break the law.

Still, legal concerns aside, you can spy on your competition in a number of ways (all of which are legal). Here are 7 of them.

  1. Subscribe To Their Newsletter – Just about every company has a newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Companies often share their latest developments with their newsletter subscribers first. If you’re on the list, you’ll be in the know. Subscribe to the print version as well as the e-mail/digital edition.
  2. Follow Their Blog – This is something you can do anonymously. No subscriptions necessary. Just log on once or twice a day and see what they’re up to.
  3. Follow Them On Twitter – Almost everyone has a Twitter account these days. Are you following your competition? You should be.
  4. Newspaper Clippings – People and companies still make the news the old-fashioned way. Are you clipping any print news about your competition? You should be. But also include clippings of online news – websites, blogs, etc. Anything that is newsworthy should go in your drop file.
  5. Check Out Their Facebook Page – These days, companies are as likely to update their Facebook page before doing anything else.
  6. Stay Connected On LinkedIn – Is your competition active on LinkedIn? Have you even looked. Many companies have their employees answer questions on LinkedIn. You should be there right alongside them.
  7. Download Their Mobile Apps – If your competition has a mobile app, you should be using it.

There’s no telling what you’ll learn about the competition if you do these 7 things. Competitive intelligence today isn’t like it was 20 years ago.

Internet marketing has grown into a powerhouse. You have so many marketing channels available to you online now that it’s difficult to keep up with them all. Some of them might be for you and others won’t be, but it’s nice to know what’s available. Here are 21 online marketing channels you can use to market your business today.

  1. Your blog and website – I’m assuming they’re one entity. Your blog can be on the same domain as your website, but if yours has its own domain, then that’s two channels.
  2. Search engine organic listings
  3. Article directories
  4. Knol pages
  5. HubPages
  6. Squidoo lenses
  7. Pay per click ads
  8. Twitter
  9. Facebook
  10. LinkedIn
  11. Google+
  12. YouTube – Video marketing has reached its time.
  13. Article directories
  14. Foursquare
  15. Google Places
  16. Bing Maps
  17. Groupon
  18. Forums
  19. Niche online communities
  20. Website and blog directories
  21. Mobile apps

Not all of these marketing channels will be for you, but you can certainly find a dozen or so that you can employ effectively for your business. Your first step to finding the right online marketing channels is to analyze your business and determine where your customers are. Where you’ll find your customers, that’a good place to start.

Get a consultation with a Web marketing expert today. Discover the best online marketing channels for you.

If you’ve ever read the book “Men Are Mars, Women Are From Venus” by John Gray, then you’ll appreciate the sophisticated sarcasm in Mike Blumenthal’s post about Google Places and your small business.

While local SEO is a bit different than your ordinary run-of-the-mill SEO, it’s still important to point out the trickiness of the SEO game. Google’s algorithms are not there to serve businesses. They are there to serve searchers. It’s important to understand that when you enter this playing field.

The second thing to understand about SEO – even local SEO – is that you have a responsibility to figure out what will increase your rankings. It is not any search engine’s responsibility to ensure you are ranked – or even indexed.

A third thing to understand, and this is particular to Google Places, is that your local listings will not appear in the same order on every search query. Two people can make the same exact search and be within two blocks of each other and see two different sets of results. That’s because location relative to the searcher is one of the criteria for returning search results for any query. That’s an important thing to know.

When it comes to Google Places and local SEO, don’t get wrapped up in thinking about it in black and white. There’s a whole lot of gray in there.

A new craze in social networking has companies starting their own private social network. Is this a good thing? Does it benefit the company?

There are lots of reasons why a company might want a private social network. You can’t share sensitive information through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Those are unsecure environments. But Chatter, a website that specializes in providing private social networks for businesses is a secure environment.

In order to use Chatter, a person has to have an e-mail address from your domain. If they don’t, they can’t join your network. Pretty simple.

But what uses does a private social network have?

For one thing, you can use a private social network if you have multiple offices – either in the same city – or in various geographic locations. The private social network will allow you to collaborate more easily across distances. You can build better relationships between your office locations and the employees at those locations.

You can share information more efficiently through your own private social network. Instead of sending out an e-mail blast to everyone who needs to know, you can post one message to your network and the people who need that information will be able to access it.

A private social network can also be beneficial for training purposes.

There are a myriad of reasons why you might want your own private social network. Chatter is free and open source. That’s not a bad deal.