The Importance of Encouragement

Hello dear readers,

discouragedBeen super duper busy (nothing seems to change), but I feel I just have to throw something out – if no other reason than to get myself back on track here. By the way, I’m in the final stages of preparing my self hosted blog, more on that soon. Enough blabber, let’s get on with it.

We Work Hard.

While I certainly don’t speak for everyone, I’d like to think that most of us in this industry work pretty darn hard for our clients – often times going above and beyond scope to make sure our client’s campaigns are as successful as possible. I know for myself, a 50-60+ hour work week is the norm, and my wife has to tell me to stop working more than she should. Even still, I love what I do so much that I find myself researching blogs, reading marketing, copywriting or programming books and running experiments even during my free time. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting, or rewarding career.

Enter: The Jerk.

These people live to ruin your day. They show up around every corner – and their words or actions can cut deeper than any knife. One of the most telling examples of the power that ‘the jerk’ has was described by Muzz Skillings from the band Living Color. After being asked what it felt like to perform in front of 60,000+ screaming concertgoers as the opening act for the Rolling Stones, Muzz said (paraphrased):

All I remember was running across the stage from side to side, taking it all in while we played our songs – it was the greatest feeling in the world – until my eyes landed on someone 10-15 rows out on the stadium floor. He stood there unmoving, his hand raised, with his middle finger pointing straight up at me. Out of all those screaming fans, that’s what’s stuck in my head…

I’m wagering that you’ve been there before, also. Maybe you created a design that you were really proud of, only to have someone tell you it’s crap. Perhaps, despite your best efforts and hard work,  you failed – and then you were told how worthless you are. (geesh, that WOULD suck…I’m getting depressed here.) What I’m trying to say is this: negative comments can consume you and prevent you from trying to be great – if you let them.

What if…

But what if someone you respected came up to you today and told you how much you were appreciated – that they really like what you do, and said keep it up – how would that make you feel? The point is, even though most of us know that we can’t win every battle or please every person, we still WANT to know that someone appreciates us. I don’t care who you are, or what you do – everyone likes to hear some encouraging words. If you’ve ever had someone come along and say just the right thing at exactly the right time, you know exactly what I mean.

So here’s the skinny:

Today, this week, heck – even this month – try and encourage someone. If it’s a design you like, email the designer personally and let them know how great you think it is – if it’s a blogger you read a lot, or maybe just found – let them know something they said helped you, or that you think they’re really great and you just thought you’d tell them.  Even if don’t agree with what they say, instead of putting them down – provide some positive feedback and maybe direct them to some additional resources if their information is wrong. (note: stalking someone and showing up at their home to give them a hug may be going a bit too far, so try and use your best judgement.)

I’ll leave this post with a rather excellent quote from Jesse Jackson – “Never look down on somebody unless you’re helping them up.”

Now go do something wonderful today – I know you’ve got it in you.

SEO Search Scam – BannerTargeting.com

Attention business owners and anyone that’s seeking to rank on the first page of Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine!

If it SOUNDS too good to be true – it is. If you pay companies like the one I’m about to show you, before doing any research, you probably shouldn’t be handling the marketing budget for your account.

On to the scammers….today’s search engine scam company is http://www.bannertargeting.com.

Very similar to a scam SEO company I wrote a post about last year, could even be the SAME company for all I know.

Here’s what they do:

It’s my suspicion that they target new domain purchases hoping to catch the “brand new to the internet” client.

To begin with, you’ll probably get an unsolicited email that says something like –

Hello,

Let us introduce you to our unique technology, which can place BILLBOARD OF YOUR WEBSITE ON TOP OF ALL MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search), framing above all your competitors!

Watch our technology introduction here <http://www.bannertargeting.com/demo.html>

To see how our technology works, go to our website and see our ONLINE DEMO in 3 easy steps:

1. Go to bannertargeting.com/onlinedemo.html (don’t waste your time.)

2. Enter your URL <http://yourdomain.com> where indicated: <http://www…>

3. Enter your keyword – and click VIEW ONLINE DEMO! (to see how we try and fool you)

You also can Request Quote for list of desired keywords here <http://www.bannertargeting.com/getaquote.html> or by phone (800) 691-1328 (give them a call!) and our SEO specialists will give you estimate traffic and cost of chosen keywords. (I wonder how much they’d charge me for the keywords I listed. Hope it’s not more than $500,000.00)

With our technology you get:

– Top Placement for 1 year (on our bogus framed page)
– Exclusive Keyword registration
– No Pay Per Click fees (we only charge a one time ridiculous fee)
– Highest possible visibility (on our bogus framed page)
– Keyword-Targeted Visitors to your website (Reach consumers the exact time they search your keywords-*giggle snicker*)
-suckered.

Below are some quick screenshots I grabbed, in case you’re not sure if the “legit” company you’re talking to is the same one I’m talking about.

Start here to get scammed. We'll happily walk you through losing your $

Start here to get scammed. We'll happily walk you through losing your $

This should raise a red flag. You can't REALLY think this will work, can you?

This should raise a red flag. You can't REALLY think this will work, can you?

If only it were true. No one will ever, ever see this page. Except maybe for the sucker that buys into this scam.

If only it were true. No one will ever, ever see this page. Except maybe for the sucker that buys into this scam.

Hopefully, you did not dump a penny, much less a million dollars on this crap. If you did, however, give me a call – for $300,000 I’ll make sure your story gets to the top of google. That’s a 30% discount – and the offer’s ONLY good til Dec. 2009, so ACT NOW!

Google Includes Local Search Results for Generic Searches – But Does It Work?

Yeppers, Google went ahead and pulled the trigger on something we knew was coming for a while; Including local search results even if you DIDN’T add a location to your search query.

But is it effective? ehhh..yes and no. Mostly yes.

They state on their official blog

How do we guess your location? In most cases, we match your IP address to a broad geographical location. You can also specify your likely location using the “Change location” link on the top right corner, above the map.

Well, I think the key word here is “broad”. My guess is that if you’re near a major metropolitan area, your results will probably not be far off. If you’re on the outskirts of one of those areas, you may need to refine things a bit.

To show what I’m talking about, I did a few quick searches – Here are the results (click the images to view larger):

First up- SHOES

shoe_search_local1

Hey, hey – guess which shoe company is on top of their local optimization! Go payless!

Only problem is – I didn’t do this search from Tampa – I did it from Brandon, which is 20 miles east. ehhh- still, I can’t complain too much, since they do give you the option to refine your location.

Here’s a bigger problem:

Let’s do a search for “fish food” for my hungry fishies:

ouch. I don't think mr. gills would like me to take him here.

ouch. I don't think mr. gills would like me to take him here.

Admitedly, I doubt there a huge number of people searching the internet for local stores that sell “fish food” for their pets, but you never know.

However, it does seem like there is one industry google ain’t giving any love to for local searches, and that’s SEO companies.

Here’s what I get when I search for “seo company”:

ummm...where's the local results? no map? argh.

ummm...where's the local results? no map? argh.

Again, not to totally discount this feature – they do present local results when I performed a search for “internet marketing company”, but as I’m sure you already get the point, I didn’t see the need to include another screenshot.

What does this mean for SEOs and online marketing agencies? More focus on local optimization for sure – we know already that the “big 10” map results get some pretty decent click love, so make sure you update your client’s information!

What does local search without the geo modifier look like in your town? I’d love to know –

More Proof the Internet Is Good For Business.

Let’s start the New Year off with some GOOD news to get you motivated!

According to a November report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, online advertising revenue totaled $17.3 billion in the first nine months of the year, compared with $15.2 billion in the year-ago period.

“If you look at the Internet relative to other sectors, it’s amazingly robust. No firms have gone bust, they’re all still there — even Yahoo,” said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeff Lindsay.

Sometime in the second or third quarter of next year will be the start of the next bull market in Internet stocks,” he predicted. “It’s just a matter of holding on until then, which they all seem to be able to do.”

A lot of that revenue came from Yahoo Shopping and Google’s newly re-branded Product Search.

While Yahoo is still No.1 in comparison shopping, according to ComScore, Google is burning up the internet e-commerce highway – managing to land a spot in the top 5 for 2008. In a recent post, Arnold Zafra brought up the growth numbers for Google’s Product Search (formerly Froogle) – up 768% from one year ago!

While Google’s 11.8 MILLION unique visits in November 2008 doesn’t come close to Yahoo Shopping’s 27.6 Million uniques for the same month, it’s still a remarkable achievement. I didn’t necessarily expect the growth to be that fast, but it’s completely understandable. I’ve been recommending Google Product Search to many of our e-commerce clients as another revenue of traffic for product sales because of it’s simple setup and easy functionality.

Wal-Mart Vs. the Internet. Guess Who’ll Win.

Wal-Mart really screwed the pooch when they issued a takedown notice to SearchAllDeals.com (a coupon and retail discount search engine) for the posting of their “SUPER SECRET BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS” – which aren’t scheduled to be released to the public until Nov. 24th, the Monday just before Thanksgiving. Loren Baker has the whole story here.

Why is this a problem? Aren’t they just protecting their proprietary information from their competitors?

Yeah, maybe. But that really misses the big picture.

Don’t you WANT people to hear about what awesome deals you’re going to have on Black Friday, from as many sources as possible? If someone told me that a promotion we were getting ready to release in a week is already being picked up and promoted on a dozen high-traffic websites for FREE, my first reaction would NOT be to pick up the phone and call all those sites or send them letters telling them to remove the promotional offer.  More likely I’d be picking up the phone and bragging about how much business we’re gonna get.

Besides the fact that Wal-Mart probably can’t do anything about it anyway, since you can’t copyright prices, the only thing their lawyers are doing are giving their company some bad press.

That should certainly help out their sales. Not.

Adwords Quality Score Update – Yea or Nay?

Well, after much bemoaning from their internet advertisers, Google has finally improved upon their “Quality Score” rating for keywords inside of Adwords.

Previously, a keyword would be labelled “inactive for search” if it didn’t meet the quality guidelines set up by Google. e.g. your ad for new sneakers includes a bid for the keyword “milkshake” – google looks at your ad, your landing page, and the landing page load time – if it doesn’t cut the mustard with their algorithm, your ad won’t show when someone types in that keyword.

Admittedly, this is an over-the-top example. Most advertisers wouldn’t waste their time including keywords that are THAT irrelevant. Where it became an issue is when someone might be selling milkshakes in their ad, and their landing page is focused on dairy products – they bid on the keyword phrase “ice cream milkshake recipes” – only to find out its’ quality rating isn’t high enough, thus the ad never appears when someone types in that keyword phrase, or you’re forced to increase your bid amount to show for those terms.

Hopefully, this new “dynamic quality score” improvement will help ease the pain-

Here’s a quick snippet from Google’s adwords blogpost announcing the update:

* Quality Score will now be more accurate because it will be calculated at the time of each search query
* Keywords will no longer be marked ‘inactive for search’
* ‘First page bid’ will replace ‘minimum bid’ in your account

here’s a snapshot of what you might see now when looking through your keyword performance in your adwords campaign.

your quality score sucks. thank you, google.nice way of saying- "you ain't gettin many clicks with this"

At first glance, and probably for MANY keyword searches, it’ll be helpful in determing which ads, and keywords perform best consistently or across different content sites, but looking deeper it means advertisers will have to spend a significant more amount of time optimizing landing pages and creating more targeted campaigns for keywords that may or may not have been relevant to the end-user in the first place.

Here’s a better example – you sell fasteners on your website. Your ad for “cheap galvanized nails” with a previously active bid of $1.00 for the search term “wood connection hardware” is no longer “relevant” enough to show up on the first page of the ads, unless you modify the content of your landing page, or more likely, pay the new bid cost – which will probably be double.  (I’m not saying this is actually happening for this keyword search, but it IS happening for many of our clients in similar scenarios)

At this time, it looks like Google’s just trying to make some more cash off of its’ advertisers. And advertisers, it looks like we need to analyze what we’re charging for when managing a clients’ ad campaign.

read what google says about their recent update – google’s quality score update.

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How to Lose All Your Internet Marketing Clients (using Google Calendar)

It happened so innocently and without any ill-intent. That’s what makes this all the scarier.

At our office, we’ve been working on better ways to manage our project status, tasks, etc.. between employees and management. One of the things we discussed was which calendar sharing program we should all use – some of us were using Outlook, others were used to using some type of desktop calendar time-management program, and myself – Google calendar.

Now I have used Google’s docs, various widgets (toolbar, igoogle, notebook, reader, maps, etc….)for quite a while now, and am quite aware of what to keep private and what to make public.

I realized when getting ready to share my google calendar with my co-workers that once I made it public, anyone could see it, so I nitched that idea pretty quick.  After discovering this though, I thought “well, it might be interesting to see if anyone DID post some public calendars up”… So I shuffled through the calendars under the search term “internet marketing”. Like I originally thought, most of the visible posts were either promotion dates for a company, such as company outings or training seminars – a few boring task dates such as, “perform campaign recap”, or “check PPC activity”, etc… and then there was this, which I made sure was cleaned up a little –

Maybe NOT the best place to store Credit Card Info for your Clients

Maybe NOT the best place to store Credit Card Info for your Clients

Holy Crap.
That’s great. Your client provides you with their Credit Card #, the little 3 digit code on the back, expiration date, Full Name AND address and what do you do with that, brilliant marketing company? Wait ….I know this one….. oh yeah – post it in a PUBLIC CALENDAR!!?

I actually debated for a few moments on how to handle this one. Was this just a case of a rookie employee not understanding the privacy status of the calendar, or was this blatent negligence by a company that warrented us notifying the victim personally?

I won’t tell you what we did, but I will say that ignorance and stupidity don’t get you too far in court, so if you are in a position where you deal with or have access to client information, or anyone’s personal information – think before you stick that info up on the internet. Even if you THINK it’s secure.