SEO Extortion is a Real Thing…Here is How to Prevent It

Don’t become a victim of SEO extortion

Clients get extorted all of the time in the digital marketing and advertising realm, they simply may not call it ‘extortion.’ It is a hard topic to discuss for some, but paramount for all of us to have a ‘come to Moses’ moment. If you fall out of favor with your digital marketing company for some reason, be prepared for the possibility of becoming a victim of extortion. If you fail to pay your invoice…be prepared for the potentiality of becoming a victim. If you decide to switch vendors, get ready for a possible hijacking of your company’s digital assets.

What is digital hijacking or SEO extortion?

First, let us understand why this happens and what you can do to protect yourself. While the vast majority of digital marketing companies are very fair and honest…there are those who will take your entire website into the deep bowels of hell if you mess with them. Why does this happen?

  1. Late invoice payment
  2. Late or no final invoice payment
  3. You’ve decided to change vendors
  4. Or in this SEO extortion case, a simple threat of creating negative off-page SEO was enough for some companies to pay hefty sums just to keep a really bad SEO out of the search engine results pages [SERPS]. But Stanley didn’t stop there. Apparently, he created entire websites and potentially damaging content and threaten to let loose the SEO Kracken if GE didn’t pay up.
  5. Blackhat SEO practices used against you – I’ll address this in a future post.

Numbers 1 through 3 are very easy to prevent but may be a little complicated at first. Simply put, you must own the keys to your own kingdom. Know your passwords, login credentials, and location for signing in. Yes, it’s really that simple. Make sure you are in the loop and have final control of all services, portals, for social media, tracking, and advertising. This will help ensure that some nefarious digital marketing company can’t hold you hostage due to any of the aforementioned.

Is it really that simple? Yes, yes, it is. There are some settings that may be a little difficult to deal with at first. You need to learn the difference between administrative access and other access levels. That should be the worst of it. Imagine something so simple that can prevent a full-blown shutdown of your digital presence. Make sure you have the same access level or higher than your digital agency. I think the real challenge is making sure you have this at the beginning of your vendor/client relationship not at the end.

Why You Have Social Media All Wrong

[excerpt from my upcoming Ebook: The Truth About Digital Marketing (a working title)]

Just about everyone I’ve ever talked to about digital A&M always throws in the importance of social media. Business owners, industry professionals, and laypersons seem to believe that social media is the solution to all of their digital marketing needs. I kindly submit; everything you know about social media is wrong. Before you click away…consider the notion that social media is not an all-encompassing concept, rather it is a multi-tiered channel of communication.

Additionally, social media is not a high producing digital channel. It does not produce a significant supply of website traffic nor does it produce high conversion rates. I have been in digital marketing and advertising for over a decade now…and was working in the industry when social started to rear its head in 2006-2007. The reality is, social media, as a general channel, converts well below 1% while other channels like paid, direct, referral, and email are much higher [Average between these channels is around 2.5%]. Moreover, social signals and their importance/impact on your SEO and website are very nominal. And play little role in your overall success if a ‘share’ action isn’t taken.

With some of these number in mind, it is paramount to your business goals to take a deep breath and let us all put social media in the right place. Communication, branding, listening posts, marketing, and publication. Most certainly NOT conversion and a primary traffic source.

I break down the concept of social media into five primary segments. Social media communication. Social media listening. Social media A&M. Branding and brand reputation. And social media publication.  Each portion should be treated as a collective and individually. In doing so, less work will lead to better experiences for both your business, social communities, and would-be visitors.

Social media communication is simply that. How you communicate with your audience on the various platforms. The individuals who have opted to join your group, cause, or business want to hear from you. They want to engage with your brand. They are not on social media to buy anything or to be sold your newest trinket. They want insights, information, and unique content that they cannot get anywhere else. Provide these things to your audience and you will gain more authority within your group and have a much better opportunity to spread your message far and wide. Continue to be self-promotional and you will eventually find your hard earned audience turning their collective backs. In short; unique, high-quality, relevant content will help you engage and communicate.

Social media listening give you, the brand/company, the opportunity to listen to your audience. Much of business and corporate communication is one way. We are speaking and messaging our clients and customers but we are not actively listening to their ideas, thoughts, complaints, and compliments. Therefore, active listening and contemplative responding is key to a successful social media endeavor.

 Social media A&M is the active practice of advertising and marketing within various social platforms. Yes, it is paid inclusion. Yes, it can be very intrusive. And yes, 4 out of every Facebook ads are ignored. And yes, MySpace went out of fashion due to too many ads and poor content. Marketing and advertising on these platforms are best for brand awareness but not so much for conversions. The good news is they are very cost effective for a CPV [cost per visitor] standpoint.

Branding and brand management is critical in the age of big data and in light of public demand for corporate transparency. Leverage social media networks to take over your brand name and mitigate future negative comments, features, and commentary. Without question there is a social component here and one you and your company should not ignore.

Social media publication is one of the most important aspects of all social media efforts. What you publish and what social media outlets you publish on matter. If your business target is B2B your best publication option is on your site [of course] and on LinkedIn. If your target is B2C in nature, Facebook may be your best shot. Of course, mixing it up and sending out high quality content is the name of the SEO game more than the nature of social media. However, the two work hand in hand depending on how good the content is. Truly unique and excellent articles can have a very far reaching impact [consider ‘going viral’] and can produce excellent website referral traffic.

I encourage you, dear reader, to reconsider how you are approaching social media. It is a challenging endeavor and careful consideration should be given to how much time, effort, money, and ideation is need prior to diving in. More importantly, understanding the different areas of social media can help you make smarter decisions and work more efficiently. At the end of it all, digital marketing and social media is not about working harder…but smarter.

How Google Ad Words Is Getting You To Spend More

Google Wants to Help You To…Spend More…and this is how they do it

Fair warning. This post is more digital marketing [industry related] and may not be intended for the general business audience. As such, this may be painful reading for those not yet ensconced in the search. Read on at your own risk. Fair warning delivered. Moving on…

I wrote an article…one of my first, where I complained about the lack of service from those at Google Ad Words. You can read about it here. Not much for a post in 2009 but a post nonetheless. There was a time when the Google Ad Words team wouldn’t help you unless your business was spending at least $10,000.00 per month. Yes, it is true. I have been working in the search since 2002 and during the early years of the Internet [and yes, those were the early days], Google did offer whole teams to help optimize account for maximum effectiveness. Times were much different then. Easier in many ways and more difficult in others.

SEO was a twinkle in just a few marketing mangers eyes and paid search could make a company millions. In fact, PPC can still pull in millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands. I am a huge fan of PPC, in fact. Without question, PPC and drive highly qualified traffic and produce excellent ROI. However, over the past few years, the folks at Google Ad Words have been taking their collective jobs a little too far for my taste and I assume too far for the likes of other companies like mine.

You see, the folks at Google have been calling on clients regularly. Calling on as may clients as they can to help optimize campaigns and improve performance. Mind you, not just calling…but emailing…and following up…and emailing…and calling…and following up…getting you to spend more money. It seems as if the folks at Google Ad Words have gone a little too far. Their exuberance is surpassing their patience or surpassing their collective understanding of good business. In other words, their desire to help has had some negative affects on some highly performing paid search campaigns.

Sure, I have learned some new tricks. That is an easy task when Google continues to roll out new components and assets for Google Ad Words. For the help, I am thankful. But for the changes they have imposed on some of my clients and past returning clients…it has not been a very good thing. In short, Google wants to improve your overall performance to create a better search environment for users. Fully understood.

However, with many of the changes, they request or suggest; bigger monthly and daily budgets, higher bidding on keywords, and additions that will cost advertisers more money in the short and long terms. Yes, I do the same thing IF the situation requires it. But those people at Google carry some great authority and they can be very convincing. Of course they have done a great many good things within these campaigns as well. It can be very hard to decipher the difference between someone wanting to help just to help and someone wanting to help in order to increase the corporate bottom line. Make no mistake about it…Google makes BILLIONS off of Google Ad Words.

I fully respect Google, the founders, and those folks I have had the great pleasure to work with. But Google has to stop being the daddy of the Internet and paid search. There are hundreds of digital marketing professionals that know how to do the same job just as well as the insiders. Those of us that touch these accounts daily don’t need the insider/outsider creating more conflagration on the PPC cabin that has already been built. If I need any assistance, I reach out to Google Ad Words. And for all of their assistance I am grateful. I have stated such in several surveys.  But until I or any of us running PPC campaigns ask for help…or until internal folks at Google verify who is managing these campaigns…they should hold off on the calls, emails, and constant contacting. It is just a little too much.

Is it too much to ask just one more question prior to pilfering clients or asking for more budget? The question is…are you agency or proprietor? I believe it will open a door of opportunity and create better relationships. Thanks Google Ad Words team. I’m sure we will talk again real soon.


What Smokey Robinson and Motown can teach corporate America

Find a new groove and improve company morale with Smokey

Smokey Robinson is unquestionably one of the best and most wondrous voices in all of rock and roll, R&B, and blues. He is a true icon, poet, songwriter, intellectual, leader, and epic to behold on stage. In a recent article published on the Huffington Post, Smokey told H.P., how the song “My Girl” became one of the first hits for Motown and started a brilliant string of smash hits.

Smokey explains that the intention of the song was not about a girl but the idea of sharing his talent and gifts with other musicians [The Temptations, David Ruffin] and Motown for the good of everyone involved. The idea was more about sharing for the greater good over the importance of self. Sure, top brass asked Smokey to get some hits, however, the notion of doing something to benefit everyone was Smokey’s primary goal explains:

“I always was so happy whenever I got a hit record on one of the artists,” Smokey says. “They were my brothers and sisters. If I could do something to enhance their career and make things better for them, that made me happy.” [source]

Moreover, the article explains Motown’s management and their collective idea that if you wanted to work with any artist…you could. The idea of sharing for the greater good was equally as important and doing good for all involved. Music by its very nature is the oldest, greatest and most internationally known form of communication. It is no surprise that musicians and those involved in the business were the leaders way ahead of their time.

Motown produced some of the most influential, important, classic, brilliant, and rocking artist and groups in the history of music. The likes of Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations [my personal favorite], Stevie Wonder [another favorite], Michael Jackson, and many others.

So what can corporate American learn from Motown? The immeasurable benefits of cooperation across departments to improve workflow, communication, and production is a start. The importance of sharing individual and teams skills for the greater good of the entire organization and the realization that work should not be a four letter word. If you want to make great music it takes a full band of individuals to make that music shine and move the soul. This can absolutely be applied to big business. We just have to say, “YES!”

We spend over 60% of our lives working. Not for he good of mankind but for revenue, a board of directors, faceless shareholders, and the bottom line. So how about we take a few pages out of the most successful label in rock and roll? How about we start to share with one another. How about we work with each other as a team instead of backbiting and internal sabotage for that next promotion. It is time we learn to enjoy what we do [possibly for the first time in history]. It is time we realize we are all humans and we are truly in this together. Let’s drop the beat, pick up the mic, sing loud, and kick out the jams. Sounds a hell of a lot better than pulling another 9 to 5.


5 Things to Know When Working with a Search Agency

It’s time to finally get your SEO project done that you said you were going to take care of months ago. Your executive team knows it’s important, but that’s about it. You have to outsource the project because you know it’s too complex for you to completely take care of along with all your other projects and initiatives. The goal was to hand the keys on to someone else who knows SEO and paid search to get the job done right, but now you need to figure out how to be the liaison between your own team(s) and the search partner you have chosen to work with.

Here is a list of 5 items that will help you manage expectations in that relationship.


  1. You Will Not See Results Overnight

Search professionals evaluate SEO performance using pre-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are a combination of metrics that are specifically measured and defined to chart on-site performance or improvement. Most SEO projects do not see any improvement in on-page metrics for up to six or nine months after the project is completed. Depending on when and how you implement your fresh SEO can impact performance as well. For example, when Mobilgeddon hit in April, our clients that had just undergone a mobile-friendly updates didn’t see an impact immediately. Instead, they had to chart specific KPIs over the following weeks to see how mobile users’ interactions with the site had changed. Since those mobile updates time on site, pages visited, and visit durations began to incline incrementally.  These KPIs indicated that the user experience on mobile had improved.


  1. Micro Managing Someone Else’s Project Will Get You Nowhere

It’s imperative to know what your SEO partners are doing at any point in time, but trying to manage the project yourself is only going to make things more difficult. Your search professional is going to be spending hours at a time working on your project(s) and will not have meaningful updates for you every day. One meeting a week can even be too much. Two meetings a month and a call here and there is more than substantial for even larger projects. However, when too many people are in the mix messaging can get confused. Keep a schedule with predetermined deadlines with flexibility in mind. Some items are going to take extra time due to checks and balances. Work will need to be approved before one party can move forward. It can be difficult to get everything when your bosses say they need it, but remember, they don’t always know the methods behind these processes. This makes it all the better to outline duties [internal and external] ahead of time and scope the project with your search partner before you get started.


  1. Content is King

There’s a lot of hype in the digital space about “minimalist” and “one pager” websites. It seems like a great idea because everybody is doing it. Big brands in your industry are doing it too, so shouldn’t you be? Well, no. There are very few cases in which a one page website can be recommended. It is a proven fact that websites with more pages and more text get crawled more, and websites that get crawled more get more visitors, and websites with more visitors get more conversions. It’s that simple. If your business offers a variety of products and services you should have a page dedicated to each individual product or service. The better that copy speaks to your users the more likely they are to fill out a lead form or pick up a phone. If you don’t have good, quality content with specific, clear calls-to-action then you’re going to be missing out. Period.


  1. Don’t Panic If Your Traffic Dives

I see this happen every day it feels like. The second a website’s traffic tanks everybody wants to freak out. That helps nobody. There are a vast amount of variables to consider and a myriad of consequences that could result from a paid search perspective, a search volume perspective, and a web hosting perspective. We’ve seen sites go down without warning, traffic stop overnight, and anything in-between. The fact of the matter is that we aren’t always able to foresee when there is going to be a shift or dive in traffic to your site. However, when it does happen your digital partner is going to have protocols to figure it out in due time – that’s our job. Some people also seem to think that the traffic dips will last forever. Guess what? They won’t. Picking up a phone at 2am on a Saturday isn’t going to help anyone. The best thing you can do is document your findings as best you can, offer any insight you might be able to think of, and then let us do our job.


  1. Help Us Help You With Understanding What We Do

Another thing I cannot stress enough is how frustrating it can be when a client doesn’t know what questions to ask. Sometimes we will work with a team member on the client side that thinks SEO and PPC are the same thing, or reversed, or identical, or who knows what. We do not expect you to know everything, or even half of it. However, it is your job to know which questions to ask us. Simply put – we do not know what you do not know. I love teaching my clients new things about search. There are insights you can gain from your Analytics and reporting dashboards that can help marketing and sales teams immensely if they understand that data in context. There’s also a vast amount of research out there to keep yourself busy if you’re trying to break into the search industry. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that there is major news that impacts our industry every day. Whether it’s a monster update from Google or a new feature added to any Google product, there’s always a new tip, trick, or piece of information that can keep you ahead of the game.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Colin Mumma is a lead Searchologist at Searchology. He lives and breathes all things SEO and loves quality content. Colin has managed client campaigns at Searchology since 2014.[/author_info] [/author]

The dirtiest word in corporate America is…

There is no top ten list in this post. Only one word incenses and assaults my gray matter more than almost any other word or name in the English language. Sure, Ted Nugent is horrible. Yes, Trump is right up there too.  Covered rock and roll. Covered what-ever-the-hell Trump is now. Moist. Yes, that should go as well. Same for all of the truncated words that used to be full words but are not just too complicated for some of us to fully pronounce or text. There is just one more word I’d like to see drop off every list in the business world…VENDOR.

I’ve long believed that the most important tangible thing in life are the relationships you create and keep. There is nothing more comforting than knowing the known and knowing those who know you. The relations you keep help craft and define the future. A solid relationship continually perpetuates mutually beneficial goals and spurs personal improvement. A good relationship is much like finding a unicorn sleeping in a hollow – sun-drenched in a rainbow. A thing of wonder, magic, and beauty. Yes, it’s corny but it is a vision, no?  And come on…unicorns are cool. Although a liger or growler bear may suit just as well.

With a good relationship, or a really great one, you cannot associate a monetary value with it. Placing a value on such a thing is mostly impossible and should be avoided at all costs. Yet, in corporate America that is exactly what has happened. Relationships equal real money. Real returns. And, at times, real heartaches.

Over 60% of the US economy is service based. Manufacturing and producing consumable goods takes the remainder. As service providers, by default, we must commit to a relationship with clients, and other service providers. And it is during our calls, meetings, emails, Skype sessions, and other digital interactions, we are indeed creating relationships.

During our interactions we create mutual bonds of understanding, compassion, and empathy during our communications…building something more than a binding contract between two parties. We create support systems, sounding boards, call-chains, ideas, openness, and collaboration. We attempt all of this in the face of corporations and business that may want us all to pull the company line.

Vendor is the dirtiest word in corporate culture

As such, we use the name vendor when we refer to companies that provide us goods or services that are not delivered or provide from within our own corporate structure. Vendors help us move products globally, manage systems, monetize new digital channels, discover new areas of opportunity, improve workflow, deliver our latest gadgets, drive ROI, and in some situations, stay up all night to make sure the job gets done. Vendors can make the management team complete, the boss look good, and the board members happy.

However, most of the time…vendors are just that. Vendors. Or hucksters, street merchants, sellers, traffickers, hawkers, traders, and peddlers. Yes, we exchange services and good for money but do the majority of us not do much more? We do indeed. As vendors do we not strive to achieve the holy grail of business…the mutually prosperous relationship? Most certainly. Then why the horrid name vendor? It is demeaning, unsettling, repugnant, and certainly displaces the possibility of a healthy relationship. So let’s stop using the term.

Some change agents needed – lets bring back the warm and fuzzy

In order for business to run at its maximum, it requires people. People, by nature, require relationships and societies. We need to create more meaning and context in what we do as it pertains to our lives and livelihood. Why not? It can only better the human experience and erode the commoditization of those who work with and for our company and cause.

Sure, if we can really get this movement going, I believe we will have to make a few changes. We will have to come up with a new name for VMS [vendor management systems] and come up with some new terms to replace the crappiest term of all…VENDOR. But we can certainly do this together if we try. It shouldn’t be that hard. The Searchology team is willing to go first if you would like to build it together.

Alternates for the word vendor

  • Support team
  • Strategic partners
  • Vertically integrated specialists
  • Exterior experts in residence
  • Granite Team
  • Brand Champions
  • Dedicated account personnel
  • Team Wolf
  • Company name is always nice when tied to surname
  • Collaborative consultants
  • Searchologists

Whatever you decide to run with, you will have my full support as long as it’s not vendor.

What Your Executive Team Needs to Know About Your SEO Project

What Your Executive Team Needs to Know About Your SEO Project

Being the only marketer in your company puts a lot on your plate. Your executive team has given you the go for your new SEO project and you may be asking a lot of questions.

You know SEO is important and you know it’s a critical component to your online success. However, it can be extremely difficult to truncate the information for your executives in a way that makes sense. They are going to expect you to have a handle on major aspects of this project at any point in time. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when getting started with your new SEO initiative.

SEO Projects Are Not Short Term Solutions for Long Term Problems

Your boss might be wondering how your SEO project is going to directly impact leads or sales in the short term. The answer is that SEO is not a short term solution. SEO needs a lot of time and attention in order to be effective in the long run. It takes time to research keywords, write content, and optimize all your on page components [title tags, header tags, body copy, etc.]. However, if done properly your SEO work will pay you back in spades down the road. This is especially true if you back up your on page efforts with off page efforts – like paid content marketing and pay-per-click advertising.

Out-sourcing Costs Less than In-sourcing

Unless you have a quarter millions dollars to solely devote to SEO – you’re going to want to hire a firm to take care of the SEO work for you. If you were to choose to keep everything in house then you’re talking about hiring a team full time to take it on. There are many components of your digital marketing initiatives that will tie directly into your SEO project including pay-per-click and social. Relying on a less experienced marketer to produced desirable results in all these facets of digital marketing is a risky move. If you’re going with the option to out-source then there are ways to make sure you select a firm that’s best for you.

Each Business’ Website Strategy Is Going to Be Different

A website that sells car parts online is going to have a different marketing strategy than a project management firm looking for clients. Different types of organizations have different goals for their marketing teams. Showing ROI for an e-commerce site’s performance is different than a company that is investing their marketing dollars in quality, paid content and investing in other digital strategies. How do you assign monetary value to a view of a blog page or product page? It depends on how much these actions are worth to your business and assigning attribution value to each touch point there is with a visitor. Some businesses may want their website’s primary purpose to be for lead generation while other organizations in the same industry may be focused on producing content for that industry. Both strategies work, but they yield results in different ways.

Depending on where you’re trying to make an impact will determine what needs to be measured, why you need to track it, and how you’re going to use that data to make beneficial changes to your content and campaigns.

Think Long Tail for Keyword Solutions

Broad match terms with high search volumes are going to be much harder to rank for than long tail searches with lower search volume and less competition. Here’s an example:

“patio furniture” is a term with over 201,000 searches a month on Google. It’s a monster term. A term with that much search volume is likely to be competitive. However, that particular term doesn’t show nearly as much intent as “buy used patio furniture”, or “purchase used blue patio chairs” which are terms that demonstrate more intent. The searcher is most likely in the purchasing phase of the buying cycle and has already done their research about which patio furniture to buy. The searcher knows they want to “buy used” and therefore Google wants to serve up the best result to fit your query. The way to go about your long tail strategy is to think creatively and find terms that you can utilize in your content and PPC strategy.

Just because a search query may have a lower search volume doesn’t mean the term is weak. In fact, they should be considered the opposite – an opportunity.

Ask the Right Questions

Keeping all of these things in mind will help you ask the right questions when you begin your SEO project. What’s most important is having all the vital components of your website working properly so you have a foundation to build on. This means making sure all your analytics platforms are set up correctly and that Google Webmaster tools is installed properly. Without solid SEO you’re going to run into problems with inbound marketing programs and wonder where you’re falling behind. Make sure you’re collecting all the data you can and start writing quality content. The more content you produce the more likely your site is to get crawled, and in turn, deliver qualified traffic with directed intent to research or purchase.

Keyword Level Tracking for Calls Now In AdWords

Website Call Conversions Are Here

At Searchology, we love it when our clients see their click-to-call metrics. What gets us excited about these reports is that not only do we know where the call was made from, what time of the day they were made, or how long the calls were, it’s that they don’t cost our clients anything. When a visitor clicks on your phone number extension in your ads it doesn’t count as a click, and therefore costs you nothing. It’s having your cake and eating it too. How great is that? But wait – it gets even better. Now, in Ad Words, you can see which keywords are driving your phone conversions.

Seventy percent of all mobile searchers have called a business directly from PPC ads. This new functionality helps marketers get more information out of these calls.

A happy client makes for a happy business owner, so now more than ever seems like the perfect time to optimize your AdWords call extensions to see how they can be used to drive more conversions, or at least, more leads for your sales team. Here are some top-level reasons why this is good for marketers:

  • Associate more value of your PPC efforts to your sales team
  • Strengthen campaigns where calls are the highest form of conversion
  • Know which calls are more valuable
    • [i.e. Calls from page A aren’t converting as much as page B]
  • Automated bid adjustments target pages that drive the most qualified calls
  • Geo target areas with the highest amount of calls

How You Can Get Started with Website Call Conversions

In order to implement these new features and start putting them to use you must currently have a Google AdWords account with call extensions enabled and a valid phone number. If you already have those things in place head over to AdWords Help for setting up website conversion tracking for calls. Or heck, call us and we can do it all for you. (312) 316-7202.

Useful Links:

Visit Google’s Official Blog for AdWords for more information about how to implement click-to-call ads and website call conversions.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Colin Mumma is a lead Searchologist at Searchology. He lives and breathes all things SEO and loves quality content. Colin has managed client campaigns at Searchology since 2014.[/author_info] [/author]

Net Neutrality At Risk – What’s the worst that could happen?

Verizon just won a major battle against Net Neutrality. A US appeals court struck down the notion that the FCC can require major ISPs to treat all Internet traffic as equal. Put another way, this ruling opens Pandora’s box of paid channels for the rich and poor. Those that can and are willing for access to websites like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Netflix, Facebook and other major sites may have to pay top dollar. The possibility now exists for companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other provides to package websites and search engines much like you currently pay for cable packages.

Individuals who cannot pay for this access will not have access to major search engines, websites or access to small business website. Individuals with the ability to pay [potentially high prices] can have full access to information. So, what is the worst that could happy if we loose Net Neutrality?

  1. Small business websites and owners may have to pay premium prices to have their websites show up or be found at all.
  2. Individuals who cannot afford access to the Internet [above the price they currently pay for ISPs] will no longer have access to online information.
  3. Only the wealthy or well-off will be able to have full access [based on what the ISP deems worthy].
  4. News channels and independent news outlets will be shut down.
  5. The majority of websites on the Internet will loos massive amounts of website traffic, data, revenue and exposure.
  6. Small business who focus on e-commerce, m-commerce and rely on the Internet for their livelihood will be driven out of business.
  7. Small business who rely on the Internet to drive sales leads will see the lead flow choked or completely shut down, resulting in business closure.
  8. Large companies will have the ability to fully control what you see online because they have the budget to pay for what YOU see.
  9. The very basis of the Internet is: it is free for everyone. no one person or company has control of the Internet. opens the door of ‘freedom of information’ for all.
  10. The very thing that makes the Internet so unique is access and the level playing field that is created for all.

There is hope…Internet users beat SOPA and PIPA…they have not gone away but with consistant attention, debate and objection from the masses – be prepared to loose one of the most important inventions of all time.


Social Media is not what you think: Digital reality check

Social Media – A digital reality check 

I’ve been involved in online and Internet marketing for over a decade. I’ve executed paid search campaigns that have delivered 6 to 1 for every dollar spent…and 25 to 1 for every dollar spent. I’ve seen first had the impact of search engine optimization and the positive impact it can have on a website. This isn’t about me or what I’ve done for clients…not at all. This about giving social media a new name. Giving social media it’s due justice. The justice it deserves is a slow and painful death. I say draw and quarter the concept while we still can. Why would I say that? It is a little medieval is it not?

Social media is about communication. It is about listening. It is about providing something to your audience without the expectation of getting a sale in return. Social media is not about ‘media’ but about how we are interacting with one another online via new platforms. There is nothing new today that wasn’t in the Internet either in 2007 or 2005. It’s just become bigger.

Social media is thrown around and gets way more coverage than it deserves. Based on a recent article[s] from Search Engine Watch, social is a poor traffic driver at best and based on the traffic it does provide, it has very poor conversion rates. Typically, I’ve seen clients with conversion rates well below 1% and have never seen conversion rates above 1%. Optify has B2B conversion rates slightly higher at 1.22%. But this is still pretty low and what is the ROI for the effort? Internet visitors use the various search engines to find what they are looking for.

They use social media sites to [wait for it]…be social. They are not going to these locations to buy or be sold anything. Communication and being social is the primary goal and primary use for social outlets. That is not a complicated notion to understand. As such, using a direct marketing approach is not going to work with these outlets. Social media is nothing more than a way to communicate online. Social media is all about transparency  communication  community development, and sharing with others without the expectation you will get anything back. Is that so wrong? Not at all.

However, all of the major media outlets would have you believe that social is the silver bullet to attracting new clients and customer. The data does not support this theory. In fact, the data is showing that for small business owners, social media can be a colossal waste of resources. If there is no solid return on investment…why invest in social media? You shouldn’t.

Does this mean that you should avoid social media all together? No. It means you should use it the right way. Search engines are now looking at social media factors. Use your social media profiles to do the following:

  1. Protect your brand. If you don’t take control of your social profile your competitors may do it for you. Take over your profiles but do so if the locations house your target audience. 
  2. Use social media to provide useful information and content for your visitors, followers, and fans. Not to push your products and services.
  3. As share is worth more than a like. Thus – it is good form and practice to create shareable content.
  4. Be found on social networks. With Facebook’s Graph Search and more content being indexed by the search engines, it is best to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other online locations…if only to be found and have a link.
  5. Use social media as a communication tool and a listening platform. You may be able to learn a great deal from your clients and customers if you listen. Speaking delivers much less information than listening.

I encourage you to do the research on your own. Advertising budgets that are spent on social media is a mistake. Advertising budgets that create whole teams for the sole purpose of reaching out via Facebook and Twitter are NOT delivering a return based on the effort. BJ Mendelson has written the definitive book on the subject: Social Media Is Bullshit. It is worth the read and truly worth the time.

Don’t buy into to the hype and wonder where your advertising dollars went. You are much better off using pay per click advertising, display, or re-targeting. Save your energy, resources, and efforts for the real battles. Social media is really social communication…nothing more…nothing less.